“The Crucified One Was Raised!”
The figure of Jesus, to many people, can be likened to a rubix cube – a puzzle that you work and work at figuring out and then often feel like you’re no closer to any kind of solution than when you began. So you put it back in the drawer, and then maybe after a while you pick it up and tinker with it again, and maybe for a time you feel like you make some progress but in the end, just as before, you are no closer to solving the puzzle, and back in the drawer it goes.
For many people, Jesus is like that. And, as long as he is like that to you, he won’t be meaningful to you; he’ll be stuffed in the junk drawer.
But, if Jesus is such a crucial figure – if who he is and what he did has significant implications for our lives – then don’t you see how problematic it is if who he is and what he did remains cloaked in mystery?
And, how can this be the case in so many people’s experience with the one who said, “Seek and ye shall find”?
See, Jesus wants us to find him; to understand him & know what he’s all about; to be able to grab on to him and have him be real source of hope and meaning and hope to us — not just some vague mystery — because as long as he is mystery we can’t hold on to him and we can’t find real hope – only imagined hope – only wishful thinking – which is no hope at all.
And, so, the ultimate question of Easter then; the ultimate question of life, then; is what was Jesus all about? What is the central thing about Jesus that we need to know if we want to know him? And that, without knowing, Jesus remains lost to us?
Well, this passage that was read tells us. In v5; in 2 words in the Greek; the author Mark tells us the two central facts of Jesus that if we want to know him and understand what he is all about, we need to know these 2 things and that if we miss these 2 things, then we miss him: That Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified one, has been raised from death.
1) The crucified one; 2) was raised from death.
These two central facts are the gospel message and were central to the message upon which the church was founded: That Jesus, the crucified one, was raised from death.
In Acts 2:23-24, the first Christian sermon ever preached, the apostle Peter, says this: “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.  God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”
A few extra details; a few extra words, but the basic point boils down to those two facts: Jesus was delivered up to death – crucified; but God raised him from death.
In Romans 4:25, the apostle Paul, summarizes the gospel message: “Jesus our Lord was given over to death for our sins; and he was raised to life for our justification.”
2 same basic realities, further step of spelling out the significance of those: he was delivered for our sins; and he was raised for our justification.
We’re going to look at these 2 facts and their meaning:
- Jesus was crucified for our sins.
Jesus was not merely or primarily just a good moral teacher, even though he did teach about morality; Jesus was not a social revolutionary who was interested in shaking up the power structures of our day, even though he did say things about justice. Jesus was not just a religious guru giving good advice about how to live the good life, or teaching us how to get our best life now.
Jesus was primarily first-and-foremost: savior. Savior, who came to save sinners.
Paul: “This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world, sinners to save.””
When Jesus first came on the scene, John the Baptist – who was appointed by God to prepare people for Jesus – when he saw Jesus he said: “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
This is an allusion to the OT sacrifices where, when the people sinned before their God, that sin incurred a penalty – a debt – which had to be paid. And, God, instead of making his people pay for their sins, allowed them to sacrifice a lamb in their place. And the priest would place his hand on the head of the lamb – symbolizing the transfer of the sin of the people onto the lamb, and the lamb would be slaughtered.
The lamb was a substitute – who took the place of sinful people and died in their place, so that the people could live.
And, John the Baptist, calls Jesus the lamb of God; because all those other lambs in the OT were temporary provisions – lambs can’t pay the penalty for humanity’s sins; but they pointed ahead to the true lamb of God – Jesus – the only perfect human without his own sins to pay for; who graciously became our sacrificial lamb.
Jesus the crucified one: crucified for our sins, he died in our place, as our substitute, to pay the debt we owed God but could never pay.
He was condemned, so we could be forgiven. All our sin, past present future, was placed on him and he paid the penalty by suffering the wrath of God that we deserved.
He didn’t come to show us how to live so we could try to save ourselves; he came to save us. To die in our place. To be crucified and delivered to death for our sins.
Jesus himself says that he came “to seek and save the lost”; and that he came “not to call the righteous, but sinners” – not people who thought they were righteous and had it all together, but people who knew they needed forgiveness and divine rescue.
And so, if that’s who Jesus came for: which category are you in?
Most of the time, people think that to come to God, you need to clean yourself up and prove your worth – that it’s an exclusive club for the good people who meet a high enough standard; Jesus said, there are no good people; and to come to God, you only need to admit your sinfulness – this is a club open only to the unworthy – the poor in spirit.
And, because Jesus was crucified for our sins, it’s because of that that he can be the King of Grace.
See, look who Jesus (through the angel) addresses: 1) women – they are the first eyewitnesses of the empty tomb, and the resurrection. Women in that day / culture were looked down upon, in fact, their testimony in court would not be considered valid. But God chooses those who the world despises; he lifts up those the world casts down and he gathers in to his family those the world spits out – he is the king of grace.
2) look what Jesus (through the angel) tells them: 2) “Go and tell the disciples, and Peter”
This is one of the greatest phrases in all the bible. Because, all throughout this account, we have been reminded of the “elephant in the room”: the disciples are absent.
-On the way to the tomb, it’s remembered by these women that they discussed who would roll the stone away for them – for it was very large. Probably would require several men to do… But you see, this is a not-so-subtle way of reminding the reader: “where are those disciples, anyway?” He had 12 of them who were his closest followers and friends and confidants… We’re reminded by this question that they are all absent. None of them are visiting him, none of them bought spices to anoint his body; no, they fled; they are hiding; one of them betrayed him; and one of them denied him – Peter, under the intimidation of a young servant girl, denied him vehemently 3 times.
“Go tell the disciples, and Peter” – of course it’s technically unnecessary to add Peter since he was included in with “the disciples”… Or is he? Perhaps, Jesus knows that Peter is wondering if the designation “Jesus’ Disciples” includes Peter anymore or not?
But Jesus singles out Peter, to assure Peter of his grace to those who fail him – and that’s good news for all of us. Because if Peter, in his failure, is still kept by Jesus’ grace; if his failure hasn’t put him outside the realm of Jesus’ love and outside the status of Jesus’ follower, then there’s hope for us too.
There is no failure that is too big for Jesus’ sacrifice to cover – it was enough to handle your sins and my sins; and so we can come to him – we can only come to him, in our failure, in our weakness, in our sin,
Our failure isn’t the last word, but his grace is.
Even women, who are exemplars of faith compared to the disciples, even they have imperfect faith. When the earliest witnesses discovered the empty tomb – they weren’t all happy and excited – they weren’t high-five-ing, saying “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” “Just like he said!” No, they don’t initially have faith – but fear; they don’t even initially do what the angel says (to noone, nothing they said – emphatic). Eventually, we know that they did, but initially: They are terrified!
If you’ve struggled to find faith, to believe in the truths of the gospel and the claims of Jesus; then you are in good company with those earliest witnesses.
Eventually they did have faith, but it took some time; it took some struggling; and so if you have imperfect faith; if it’s taking some struggling to get to faith, you’re in good company with the earliest believers – none of them were expecting this; none of them grasped it easily. But the power of the message of the gospel broke through their fears and unbelief, and it can do the same for you.
Everyone, in the story, is in need of grace; and so that’s why it’s good news that everyone in the story encounters the King of Grace.
Have you looked to Jesus as your savior, who died for your sins?
- He was crucified for our sins; so he is the King of Grace.
- He was raised to life for our justification; so he is our source of Hope.
If Jesus didn’t die, then not only do we lose the cross, but we also lose the resurrection. Some people have theorized that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross; he just passed out. If that’s the case, then not only do we lose the grace and forgiveness that the cross provides to us, but we also lose the hope of the resurrection because we don’t have a resurrection, we have only rescucitation. We don’t have a Jesus who was raised, only one who was revived – there’s a world of difference.
The Roman Empire crucified hundreds of thousands of people during their centuries in power, and there is not a single recorded example of anyone ever surviving crucifixion.
They were experts in crucifixion – and crucifixion was not only a terrible and painful method of torture, but it’s purpose was to put to death the tortured victim – not to just inflict pain and let them go, but to inflict pain until the point of death, however long or short it would take.
They were experts in crucifixion. hundreds of thousands; not a single recorded example of anyone ever surviving.
Jesus the crucified one; but that’s not the end of the story. Jesus the crucified one, was raised. He was raised up from death to life for our justification: so that in his new life, we could have new life; by his victory over sin and death, we could be delivered from sin and death.
So that in him, we could have a new relationship with God; eternal life; and so that we could receive the greatest privilege in the universe: to become children of God, and know the love of God.
You see, his being raised from death was our justification – the proof that his death paid for our sins & conquered death so that we could have new life.
The resurrection, is sort of like, among other things, the receipt – the proof of payment – that God accepted his payment for our sins – If he died and remained dead then he himself was defeated by sin and death as every other human in history; but since he rose, we know that his death was unique: his sacrificial death was accepted by God for us, and successful in paying for our sins – and that by his new resurrected life, we too have life and victory over death.
Jesus was literally – really – no longer in the tomb. The women aren’t told, “look in your hearts, and see that Jesus is alive in your heart.” What hope would that give us? That we could then pretend that there’s hope when we face death?
No, the angel says, “Look at the place where he was laid.” They’re pointed not to having a mystical experience of a Jesus who is alive not in real life but in their minds or hearts – no, they’re pointed to reality; the the actual place where Jesus physical corpse was physically placed – and he is not there, because he was risen.
Death isn’t the end for those in Christ – this world isn’t all there is for those in Christ – but there is new life which Jesus calls abundant and eternal – a free gift to all who put their faith in the resurrected Christ.
If you’ve ever really thought about death – if you’ve experienced death up close, you’ve seen not only it’s despair – you’ve seen it destroy life, you’ve seen it steal hope; but you’ve seen you’re powerlessness against it. Try as we might, we can’t avoid death. We can’t beat death. Apart from Jesus, death is the ultimate victor and ruiner of all that we strive for and hope in in life.
But Jesus, he was not powerless in the face of death. During his life, he raised others from death as easily as you would rouse someone from a sunday afternoon nap – he treated death like a nap. He conquered it, and so turned it into a bee without a stinger – that can’t harm us anymore.
But Jesus gives us hope, that in him we can find life on the other side of death.
Life was on the other side of death for Jesus – and it will be for us if we are in him.
Jesus here (through the angel) reminds his disciples of a promise he had made to them; back in Mark 14, he predicted his death, and promised them that after 3 days he would rise, and even though they would flee he would meet up with them in Galilee.
I’m going to die; but after that I’ll meet up with you. He promises that after his death, he’ll meet them – he’ll be there for them, with them.
Apart from Jesus’ resurrection, on the other side of death is only death and decay; darkness, despair – no hope. But, for those who have faith, he is on the other side of death; life is on the other side of death.
Hope – darkness; meaning – emptiness; joyful presence of God – loneliness and sadness. Not even death can stand between Jesus and his people; not even death can prevent Jesus from keeping his promises to you – and so if death can’t, if you’re sin and failure can’t; what can?
“I’ll see you on the other side of death – immediately; with grace for all your failures, bringing hope no matter what happens in this life.” Life is on the other side of death, for all who believe in the resurrected Christ.
Crucified one – King of grace.
one who was raised up from death – source of Hope.
Question is: Is he your King?
I don’t know why you came here today – maybe just because it’s easter and that’s what people do on easter; maybe someone’s been inviting you and you figure if you come once you’ll shut em up for a while; maybe you don’t even know why you came.
But, whatever the reason you came through those doors, here is what Jesus wants you to consider before you leave, as you leave, and every day after that:
Is he your king?
The earliest Christians believed sincerely – wholeheartedly – that Jesus, the crucified one, was raised, and that just as he said, that in believing in him we have life in him – eternal life; abundant life.
It’s nearly certain that Mark’s gospel is cut off at the end – that this isn’t where Mark purposefully ended his gospel. If you’re looking in your bible you may see a “longer ending” to Mark’s gospel, and that is certainly not original to Mark’s gospel but rather was added afterwards. In fact, grammatically, though it’s not impossible for a greek sentence to end as v 8 does, it’s very very unusual – and it more naturally reads as though it’s been cut off mid-sentence.
So, the question is, what happened to the end of Mark’s gospel? We can only speculate, although 2 possibilities: 1) it was lost – if it was the last page, it got torn off or torn in half on accident and was simply lost. 2) OR: Mark didn’t finish.
Maybe Mark got sick, or interrupted in some way. , or, persecution which caused him to flee; or martyrdom. And considering that Mark was most likely writing in Rome during Nero’s reign, it’s speculative, but possible that Mark was martyred in Nero’s reign. Maybe that’s why he didn’t finish writing.
Whether or not that’s the case: The 12 disciples were all persecuted and nearly all put to death for their faith.
And, they were so convinced that Jesus the crucified one, was raised, that even facing their deaths they held to their faith in him.
And, they gave their lives to the one who gave his life for their eternal salvation and security.
If Jesus was crucified for your sins and raised to life for your justification: if he gave all for you; you owe all to him.
The women went to honor Jesus’ dead body; and it was a fruitless task because he was not dead; he was raised. And, the question for us is, what will we do with the risen Christ? They went to honor him – at personal cost to themselves – though he was dead; if he lives, there is even more burden and necessity to honor him now that he is alive, ruling and reigning over all – will you honor the risen Christ? Will you give him the glory?