Sunday, 22 April 2018

From Despair to Ecstasy

From Despair to Ecstasy

Mark 16:1-8

                Dr. Carl F.H. Henry wrote, “Jesus planted the only
durable rumor of hope amid the widespread despair of a hopeless world.”
                At the entrance of the tomb the first whispers of that wonderful rumor—“He has risen!” And then it spread through the streets of Jerusalem! And it is still being shared today—some rumour!!
                This rumour began amid hopelessness and despair according to Mark 16. The women brought spices to anoint Jesus’ body but they were not sure about how they would get into the tomb to do this. Yet upon arrival the stone had been rolled away from the entrance and when they set about their task, there was a young man dressed in white sitting there. He said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Jesus who was crucified is risen.” The women left the tomb and out of fear, said nothing to anyone.
                What were they thinking as they left the tomb? Joy, hope fear?  They were in awe and amazement and even maybe bewildered, shocked, numb?  Maybe they were caught up in an ecstasy of wonder in learning that Jesus is alive.
                When the women came to the tomb they were concerned about how to get into the tomb to be with Jesus’ body as there was a large stone which blocked the entrance. Yet when they arrived they no longer had a task to perform. Jesus was alive. The body was gone but the grave clothes were left behind. The cloth that had been around the Lord’s head was neatly folded and separated from the other grave clothes. The strips of linen that had been around the body had not been unwrapped or unwound. They were lying the form of a person as though the body had vanished from inside them.
                In John’s account of the resurrection story, it is because of the grave clothes that Peter and John were convinced that Jesus was alive. The story of Jesus’ empty tomb and the resurrection spread the Christian story very quickly. It was not a rumour—it is  a central fact of human history. Jesus is alive.
                Recent debates indicate that Jesus’ resurrection is still not certain. But when a rumour spreads and is proven false it usually does not last in its telling for over 2000 years.  Jesus is alvie. And this affirms our faith in God because of his love for us all he gave us Jesus. Jesus came not only to teach and heal, but to give us hope beyond our death. And this is what He did by rising to new life. Do you believe in the resurrection of Christ? How else would you explain the empty tomb?
A rumour of hope led to the establishment of the Christian church as believers came to know the Christ of the resurrection as the Son of God. People gathered like Jesus gathered his disciples and ate together, shared love and worshiped God because there was no need to be afraid. Are people afraid to be identified as Christian today by attending church? What does this say about putting our faith out there? Is it by action only and not in the words or the way we live? What does this mean for us/ you?

We praise you God for the gift of Jesus and that he rose from death for our sakes. Help us to spread the story to others that it is not a rumour, but that you have received His Spirit and know in your heart and mind that he is alive. Help us to believe this with our whole lives and lie for Jesus. Amen.
Resource:  (based upon) Ray Stedman, “A Rumor of Hope: The Good News of Easter” Discovery House Publishers, Our Daily Bread Ministries, 2017. (p.23-28)

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