Read Mark 16:1-8
Jesus rose bodily from the grave.
It is necessary to say bodily, because there are inventive storytellers in the world.
There are those who say that Jesus never died.
The theories, explanations and denials are too numerous to list. Some say the disciples stole the body. Some say that Jesus fainted. Some say that Jesus is a mythical figure that never really existed.
There have been recent claims that the tomb of Jesus has been discovered and that He stayed dead.
The very morning He rose from the dead the resurrection was attacked. The soldiers came back to Jerusalem with the report of the resurrection and immediately the Jewish leaders invented a story and paid the soldiers to tell everyone that the disciples had stolen the body.
Muslims dispute the fact of Jesus's crucifixion, arguing that Allah would never have dishonored His prophet by allowing Him to undergo such a death. Muslims believe that Jesus was miraculously caught up into heaven and that someone (perhaps Judas Iscariot) surreptitiously took His place on the cross.[i]
It is not surprising that there is such a concentrated attack on the resurrection. It is the single most significant event of history.
I am not going to try to give all the historical proofs and evidence for the resurrection in the short time we have together. Rather, I am going to point out some relevant facts that can help us in our lives. Lee Strobel recently wrote a book titled, The Case for the Real Jesus, where he brilliantly lays out many convincing arguments and evidences for the historical facts surrounding the life of Jesus.
What is significant for you and me today is that Jesus rose bodily from the grave. Notice, I said, “Bodily.” This is an important point. To deny that Jesus rose bodily from the grave is to deny the resurrection. The body is not evil. However, the body also must be redeemed. It has been corrupted or damaged by sin. The consequences of sin are far reaching. What God created perfect is now subject to pain, suffering, disease and death. The body also has to be freed from the effects of sin.
Notice that I say, “the body also.” The soul is separate from the body and is also subject to death because of sin. A resurrected body is no good to a condemned soul. The resurrection is the proof that God accepted Jesus’s sacrifice on our behalf.
The bodily resurrection also shows us that Jesus was completely human.
One might think that it would not be necessary to say this. However, we tend to forget just what it means that Jesus was human.
Hebrews 5:8 speaks of Jesus learning obedience from the things that He suffered. Isaiah 53 speaks of Him growing up before Him. Jesus was not born with the ability to speak. He was not preaching after 3 days on Earth, nor was He doing advanced calculus within the first weeks of His birth.
We cannot comprehend how Jesus could be fully God and fully man, but this is the truth that we learn from Scripture.
The women were bringing burial spices to the tomb to anoint a dead body. The spices would have been used to cover up the smell of a corpse. While the Psalmist said that God would not allow His chosen one to undergo decay, these women were not thinking in these terms. They were thinking “dead body.”
This serves to point out the fact that Jesus was very human and that His death was very real.
Hebrews 4:15 teaches us one of the meanings of this fact. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin.” (NIV)
We worship Jesus. He is our Savior and our God. Yet, during His time on earth His stomach would have gurgled when it was empty. In John 4, John tells us that Jesus was tired from the journey as He sat by the well. The gospel writers tell us that Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat, apparently tired from a long day of teaching.
It is essential to our faith that we understand that Jesus was a historical person. That He had a body with needs, appetites and desires like you and me.
This is important for us to be able to understand how He can both identify with us and intercede for us. This is what Hebrews 4:15 points out. He understands.
However, the bodily resurrection is also important to us for our understanding of our hope.
1 Corinthians 15:22-23 says, “22Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. 23But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.
We who are believers live in hope of the resurrection of the dead. We speak of heaven quite frequently. The stories of people who have apparently died and come back to life are fascinating and spark our imagination for what life will be like after death. However, this is not the end of the story. 1 Corinthians 15 goes on to tell us:
51But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
54Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
55O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
This is it! Victory over death!
Jesus is still fully God and fully man.
We will have a body like His resurrection body. He is the first to be raised, and we will all be raised with Him. Please do not misunderstand. We will not become God like Him. We will have a resurrection body like His.
This is the great hope of the believer and we must not lose sight of it. One reason we must not lose sight of this hope is given in 1 John 3:3, “All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure.” (NIV) Our joyful hope in the resurrection is a purifying influence in our lives. It gives us perspective. It helps us to see and choose what is truly good, rather than having vision limited only to what our physical eyes can see.
Jesus was completely human and we see it gives us hope that He can identify with our weakness. It also promises us the great and final victory over death.
I want us to notice one more thing. It has to do with His bodily resurrection and His humanity. It is His consideration of His friends.
Jesus had just won a tremendous battle. He had sweat drops of blood. He had cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” Now He was on the other side of that battle.
The women came to the tomb. Mark tells us they entered the tomb and were shocked to see a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. Mark also tells us this is an angel, a messenger of God. There are so many miraculous details: the stone rolled away, the empty tomb and the announcement that Jesus had risen. Mark tells us that the women left so terrified that they did not speak about it.
In all this victory and all this joy, Peter’s name comes up. The angel said, “Now go and tell his disciples including Peter . . .”
Peter had failed Jesus. When Jesus was going through the worst part of the battle, Peter had denied he even knew Jesus.
We can see ourselves like Peter. Easter and the resurrection are exciting for the rest of the world, but Jesus cannot love me. I have done something that I cannot forgive myself for; why would Jesus forgive me?
One of Jesus’s first concerns upon His resurrection was Peter.
Jesus told a story about a shepherd who at the end of the day was missing one sheep. That shepherd left ninety-nine sheep alone in their pen to go and search for the one missing sheep.
At the resurrection, He showed what this meant. His first order of business was to check on His friend. Can’t you see He does the same for you?
Whatever your failure, put your name in here:
Go tell my disciples and ____________.
He is just that human.
He is just that Divine.