Today we conclude our message series Jesus In Action from the book of Mark. We’re going to look at the final events in the ministry of Jesus in the last two chapters of Mark. This morning our message is entitled “Jesus Is Alive.” We’re going to be talking about Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, burial and resurrection. For most of us, this is a familiar story that is at the heart of what Christianity is all about. But today, we’re going to look at this story through three lens.
The first lens is that of the historical facts and the implications for us today. Peter, preaching on the day of Pentecost after Jesus rose from the dead said …
Acts 2:23-24 (ESV) 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.
The death of Jesus was not an accident, it was not a defeat, is was part of the plan of God and the reason that God sent His Only Son Jesus into the world. After being dead in the tomb for three days, God raised Jesus up from the dead, never to die again. Thus, Jesus is alive today. Without the resurrection, there is no forgiveness of sins, there is no salvation, there is no hope for our future, Christianity makes no sense. But Jesus did rise from the dead.
Acts 2:32-33 (ESV) This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
There were hundreds of eyewitnesses to Jesus risen from the dead. All those who disputed the report of Jesus’ resurrection could not produce the dead body of Jesus because it didn’t exist. After Jesus rose from the dead, He ascended into heaven and now rules and reigns over heaven and earth. Because He ascended and rules over all, He is able to pour out the baptism in the Holy Spirit on all those who ask for it, from the day of Pentecost until He returns again.
Acts 2:38-39 (ESV) And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
The only logical and rational response to Jesus’ death and resurrection for any person is to repent, be baptized in water and be baptized in the Holy Spirit. That is the historical lens that impacts our faith and salvation.
The second lens is that Christ’s story is also our story.
Galatians 2:20 (ESV) I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Spiritually, when we believe in Jesus, we are crucified with Christ, we die to our old way of life. We are also spiritually resurrected as Christ was and we are born again to a new life lived by faith in Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:20 (ESV) But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
But there is even more. Since Jesus has been raised from the dead physically, we also will be raised from the dead and receive an eternal glorified body at Christ’s return. We shall be like Jesus and live with Him forever.
The third lens that we should look through this morning is as a pattern for the stories of our lives. God has plans or might we say visions for our lives. But oftentimes these visions go through the same pattern that Jesus’ went through. In order to see God’s plans and visions for our lives fulfilled, we need to understand this simple pattern. The visions that God has for our lives are not easy to be accomplished because of the opposition of Satan. Just as Jesus was ridiculed, rejected and falsely accused, so we will face many attacks on the vision and plans that God has for us. In fact, there may come a time when we think that the vision is dead, that there is no hope in it being fulfilled. The temptation would be to simply give up on it. Yet, if we persist in prayer and faith, God has a way of resurrecting His plan and vision for our lives and seeing it fulfilled, often in a miraculous way. So let’s look at this familiar story through new lens to prepare us for the visions and plans that God has for us in our day and time.
Mark 15:2-3 (ESV) And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things.
Even though Jesus was the perfect Son of God and never sinned, He was falsely accused of many things, including blasphemy. Indeed, He was the King of the Jews and that was considered treason against the Roman empire. Pilate, the governor, did not want to execute Jesus, so he proposed releasing a notorious murderer named Barabbas.
Mark 15:9-11 (ESV) And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead.
The Jewish chief priests were insistent that Jesus be crucified. They stirred up the mob with false accusations against Jesus to side with Barabbas.
Mark 15:12-13 (ESV) And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” And they cried out again, “Crucify him.”
The crowd, consisting of Jews, Jesus’ own people had turned against him. Even though He had done nothing wrong, they were crying out for His unjust execution.
Mark 15:15 (ESV) So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Pilate, even though he knew what he was going to do was wrong, gave in to the pressure of the mob and released Barabbas. Jesus was taken away to be crucified.
We must understand that people are the same today as they were in Jesus’ time, God is the same today as He was back then and Satan is the same and has the same strategies. We as believers and the church are being and will be falsely accused of many things. People who are unbelievers are part of the world ruled by Satan and so tell lies like he does. In fact, the reason that people are unbelievers is that they believe lies rather than the truth.
So, when you are seeking to carry out God’s plan for your life, you will encounter the lies of the enemy, the false accusations of Satan. Some will be direct temptations or lies that Satan speaks to you in your mind. Other lies and discouragement will come from people in your life or the false prophets of mass media. Every temptation that we encounter in life is a form of a lie, just as the first temptation in the garden of Eden. Lies and temptations must be countered with the truth of God’s Word that we put our faith in.
God has a vision for your life, a vision for our church and a vision for our country. Don’t be discouraged by the lies of the enemy, but believe that as you persevere in prayer, that vision of God will be carried out. After being falsely condemned …
Mark 15:19-20 (ESV) And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.
As Jesus was being prepared for the crucifixion, the soldiers mocked him and beat him. The demonic attack on the Son of God was carried out by unbelieving soldiers.
Mark 15:24 (ESV) And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take.
All aspects of Jesus’ crucifixion was according to the prophesies of the Old Testament, down to the casting of lots for his garments. That speaks again that the death of Jesus was part of God’s plan known to Him from the foundation of the world.
Mark 15:31 (ESV) So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself.
The Jewish leaders continued in their mocking of Jesus indicating their complicity with Satan’s attack on Jesus. They, along with Satan, planned that when Jesus was killed, He would remain dead. But that was not to be. Satan, as usual, had overplayed his hand and was actually carrying out God’s plan.
Mark 15:34 (ESV) And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
As Jesus was dying on the cross, the sins of the world were laid upon him. God the Father could not look on Jesus with the weight of sin upon Him and so turned away from His Only Son. For the first time in eternity, the Father and the Son’s relationship had been broken by the sin of the world.
Mark 15:37-38 (ESV) And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
Finally, Jesus died on the cross, sooner than most of those crucified. Mark indicates that curtain in the temple that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place was torn in two. The Holy of Holies was the place where God’s presence dwelt in the temple and could only be entered by the high priest once a year. The tearing of the curtain indicated that the way into the presence of God was now open to everyone who believed. Yet, Jesus’ death was not, could not be the end of the story.
Let’s talk a little more about God’s vision and plans for your life. God has many plans for each of our lives. Plans for good. Plans for our relationships and families. Plans for our work. Plans for our ministry in the church, plans for being a witness for Jesus. Sometimes, I would say oftentimes, it may seem as what God had planned seems dead, that it is never going to happen. Now, we must be careful to be sure that the plan or vision we are thinking of is from God. For if it’s not from God, God may stop it and that is for the best. But if the plan is from God, sometimes, He allows is to be challenged or to take longer than we think it should take. That is where we must not get discouraged, we must persevere in prayer and keep our faith until it comes to pass.
The classic example in the Bible is Abraham and Sarah waiting for the son of promise, Isaac to be born. That promise seemed to be dead so many times, but they grew strong in faith and ultimately it came to pass. In my own life, I believed from my college years on that His plan was for me to be married and have a family. Yet, relationship after relationship didn’t work out and the years dragged on. Yet, I did not give up hope and finally I met my wonderful wife Carol and we were married when I was 38. And being married at a later age didn’t stop us from having seven great children. Don’t give up on God’s plans for your life.
Mark 15:46 (ESV) And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.
After Jesus died as certified by Roman soldiers, he was laid in a tomb. A large stone was rolled across the tomb entrance to prevent anyone from coming in and stealing the body. We know that Roman soldiers were stationed to guard the tomb to also prevent any tampering. The government didn’t want the body to be stolen and the false news of Jesus being raised from the dead to be spread.
Mark 16:2, 4 (ESV) And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. … And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.
When the three women came to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body, they were shocked to see that the large stone had been rolled away. The tomb was open and they went in and saw an angel seated inside.
Mark 16:6 (ESV) And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. The angel announced to them that Jesus had risen from the dead and his body was no longer in the tomb.
As we continue reading Mark’s account, we see that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, to two disciples on the road and finally to the eleven disciples.
Mark 16:15-16 (ESV) And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
The disciples had been hiding in fear of the Jews and Romans. Even though Jesus had told them that He would rise from the dead, they really didn’t believe it. It seemed too impossible. Yet here He was giving them instructions. Their task was to take the Gospel to the entire world. Everyone on the planet must be given an opportunity to believe in Jesus. Those who believed would be saved and those who didn’t would be condemned.
Mark 16:17-18 (ESV) And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Those who believed would be known by doing the same things that Jesus did. They would cast out demons and heal the sick. They would be protected from the attacks of the enemy and they would speak in tongues, as demonstrated throughout the book of Acts. So the risen Lord was giving orders to His disciples back then that apply to all disciples of Jesus of all ages. He is the Lord and we are His servants. Jesus had defeated death and in His victory, we are victorious.
According to the Bible, death is the greatest enemy and Jesus has defeated it. For the believer, death has no fear, for it is simply to doorway into the presence of Jesus. If Jesus defeated death, then no other enemy or no other problem is too great for Him to defeat.
What things are you seeking God for in prayer, either for your own life or for the life of someone close to you? Perhaps it seems as though the answer to your prayer is dead, it seems impossible. With God all things are possible. Keep believing and keep praying and God will raise up the answer to your prayer. You may be praying for a lost loved one or one who has wandered from the Lord. Don’t get discouraged, don’t give up hope. God will answer your prayer and bring life to the one you are praying for that is spiritually dead. Maybe God has a goal or vision for your life, but it doesn’t seem to be happening. Keep believing, keep praying and in God’s time, it will come to pass.
The election has seemed to go against God’s purposes for our country. Don’t get discouraged, don’t give up hope. Keep believing for God’s will to be done, keep praying and believe God for a miracle. It is God’s desire for our government to maintain freedom of speech, freedom of religion and justice in our courts. It is God’s desire for us to live in a country that honors Him and His church. God’s will is to bring revival to our land and to give us a righteous government. Satan does not have the last word, Jesus does. Jesus has defeated Satan, death and all evil.
Today, we’ve looked at the trial, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are so grateful for what Jesus accomplished for our salvation and for our future. As followers of Jesus, we follow in His footsteps in life. As Jesus was falsely accused, so we will be persecuted as well. As Jesus was crucified, so we die to our old way of life in sin. As Jesus defeated death through His resurrection, so we enjoy eternal life now and look forward to the resurrection of our bodies. Jesus is the victor and we have the victory through Him.