Sermons

< Back

Just As He Told You

April 01, 2018
By Pastor David French

 

See the Weekly Bulletin

Just As He Told You
Mark 16:1-8

Most faithful translations of the Bible have a strange note right after today’s reading that says something like: Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include verses 9–20. And there is a lot of evidence that Mark stops at verse 8. Some commentators think that Mark’s account of the resurrection was so bland that scribes later added notes to the text to help explain the ending. A generation or so later, other scribes took these notes to be part of the text.

You can understand why they might have thought that when you consider the short version of Mark’s resurrection account. A few women purchased some spices after sunset on Saturday. The next morning they’re on the way to the tomb wondering who would roll away the stone, when they discovered the stone was already rolled away. When they looked for Jesus’s body, they see an angel who tells them that Jesus has risen and is not there. These women run from the tomb in fear saying nothing to anyone. And that’s it.

At least in the other Gospels, the disciples see Jesus. They talk with Him. They eat with Him. They see His wounds. The other Gospels record the words of Jesus for us to consider. I can understand a scribe wanting the reader of Mark to get the rest of the story. When you hear Mark’s short ending, you hear the announcement of the resurrection from the angel in the empty tomb. And while it is true that Mark doesn’t give us a whole lot, he does give us something very important. Listen again: “Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 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. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” … Did you hear that? … Just as He told you. The angel finished his message by reminding the women that Jesus keeps His promises; that Jesus was doing just what He said He would do. All four Gospel writers record Jesus promising to rise from the dead. The disciples heard these promises.  They didn’t understand them, but they did hear them.

It wasn’t until after Jesus actually suffered, died, and rose that the disciples could begin to understand what Jesus had been telling them. This angel is, if you will, shaking them out of their understandable resurrection stupor by saying in effect, “Guys, He told you He would be handed over to sinners to be killed and on the third day He would rise. He has kept His promise, so you really need to think back on His other promises and expect Him to fulfill those as well.”

This just as He said to the women at the tomb is in effect Jesus’s answer to Satan’s question to Eve in the garden: “Did God really say …?” But even with the question answered, Satan won’t give up.  To this day, satan wants us to believe that it doesn’t always turn out the way God says it will. He wants us to doubt God’s promises and to stop listening to God’s Word. Satan, in effect, whispers in our ears: “Look around.  This is not just as He told you.” But the truth is … this sinful world is just the way we have been told it will be. And yet, Satan, the world, and our own sinful flesh still try to lead us away from the truth, away from our salvation.

So, don’t be surprised if you have a hard time believing all of God’s promises. Don’t be afraid when doubts arise in your mind. These are but signs that God is with you as the struggle for your soul continues. (And while the struggle may continue today, we do celebrate that the battle is over. The victory for your soul has been won.)

The disciples also struggled with the truth of the gospel and they talked to Jesus face-to-face! He personally taught them for three years. Still, they were terrified when He died and shocked when He rose. The promises that Jesus made to you and me may seem too good to be true, but the resurrection of Jesus assures that He can and will keep them all. As we read in 2 Corinthians: “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are all ‘Yes’ in Christ.”

And Jesus has made some amazing promises. In John 6 we read, “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Or in the Upper Room at John 14, “In My Father’s house are many rooms; if that were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

With these words and others, Jesus promised that the day will come when the universe as we know it will come to an end.  On that day He will return to judge the living and the dead. He has promised to take you and me and all believers to be with Him forever. But Jesus’s promises aren’t just for the hereafter; they’re also for the here and now. As we see at the end of Matthew’s Gospel when Jesus promised, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Jesus also promised that in these last days He will come to us in a special or sacramental way so that we might know He is with us. In, with, and under the bread and the wine of His Supper, Christ’s very body and blood are offered to us for our forgiveness and strengthening each time we come to His table, even as we are proclaiming His death until He comes.

And yet, while a true means of forgiveness, the Holy Supper is not the only way God promises His forgiveness. Listen to another promise that He made to His disciples. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld” (John 20). These words give the authority to forgive sins to all who believe, that is, as you forgive one another, Jesus also forgives.  Truly, His gifts are for all.

Listen to another promise Jesus made, this time about His Word.  He said, “If you hold to my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” His Word is living and active, and when you hear the words of the prophets and apostles from the Holy Scriptures, God sends His Holy Spirit to create or sustain faith in you through those words.  And the Holy Spirit reminds us through St. Paul, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing (comes) through the word of Christ.”

Jesus has even gone so far as to make us God’s children as we read in John, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1). And that happens as we “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18–20).

Yes, Jesus has made some amazing promises to you.  Promises you’d have no reason to believe except for one thing … He promised to rise from the dead, and He did. The words of the angel remind and assure us again this Easter morning that our risen Savior, Jesus Christ, will keep all of His promises just as He told you.

In His Name, Amen.