Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, and Salome brought spices to anoint Jesus’ body…When they looked up, they saw the stone had been rolled away. They saw a man sitting on the right side and they were alarmed. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “ You are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him… He is going ahead of you into Galilee there you will see him. (Mark 16:1-7 NIV)
This is it. This is what Easter is all about: The resurrection of Christ. This is the event we celebrate at this time of year Fluffy bunnies and chocolate candies are inconsequential. Here as the women go to the tomb the great plan of God is finished. By what has been accomplished at Calvary we can be forgiven of sin and have peace with God. The resurrection of Christ is the foundation of the Christian faith. We look to other tombs: Muhammad, Confucius, Buddha, Joseph Smith, even Charles Darwin, they all remain in their graves. Only Christ has risen. And with that resurrection comes the hope of eternal life to all who believe and place their faith in Jesus.
Joseph of Arimathea…went boldly to Pilate and asked for Christ body…So he gave the body to Joseph…he took the body down, wrapped it in linen cloth, and laid it in his own tomb cut out of rock. (Mark 15:43-46 NIV)
This man was a follower of Christ and member of the council like Nicodemus.
We know Nicodemus came to Jesus at night and talked with Him. We know the council was divided by Him, and we learn that Joseph went to Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus. For Joseph this was a bold move not because of Pilate but because of the Jews. By asking this Joseph made no secret of his acceptance of Christ. We to should live boldly and confidently in Christ not caring about what are family or the world says about our devotion to Jesus. We should never be ashamed of Him who gave his life for us. There were those on the council that did come to a saving knowledge of Christ. They did recognize Him as the Messiah. But those who recognize Christ will always be the minority. The majority of people today would go along with the Pharisees in rejection of Christ. That is why it is so important that we show our love for Christ as boldly as Joseph did. So others may see that we belong to Christ and repent.
At the sixth hour darkness covered the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”…With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Mark 15:33-38 NIV)
The darkness no doubt was a sign of the Father turning away from Jesus. The sight was more than He could bear. God’s love sent His son to the cross at His will. Because God was interested in our restoration to Him; Jesus was now experiencing the full price of sins penalty. He was suffering the complete wrath of God for sin – separation from the Father. Forever thrust from his presence is the penalty for sin. That is death: Never to know God or to have fellowship with him. Christ bore this penalty for us and as a result God’s wrath was satisfied. How do we know? The veil of the temple was torn in two. The temple was God’s place of meeting his people Israel under the Old Covenant. That veil stood for the inaccessible presence of God. God was not accessible to Israel they could not come into his presence. The only one who could enter was the high priest and he could do it only once a year. By removing the veil God was now accessible through Christ. The wall of separation was torn down. The gap between God and humanity was now bridged. All can come to God we have confidence to approach him because of Christ sacrifice.
Jesus was brought to a place called Golgotha…and there they crucified him… it was the third hour when they crucified him…They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right, and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him. In the same way the Sanhedrin also mocked him saying, “he saved others, can’t he save himself? Come down from the cross and we will believe you!” (Mark 15:22-32 NIV)
In a moment of time Christ found himself alone as he hung dying on the cross. The disciples had fled, the religious leaders mocked, the world scorned him, and worst of all the Father had forsaken him. It was truly an unbearable load to bear. But Christ went all the way out of love for the world – so that we could be forgiven of our sins. He could have come down off the cross if He so chose to. The Pharisees could not understand why He hung there. It was not because He was powerless but because He was obedient. If Christ had come down at the Pharisees invitation he could have shown that He was the Son of God beyond doubt. But even then would they have believed? We are grateful Jesus didn’t because it meant forgiveness and life for us. We could never experience God’s love and forgiveness, fellowship or grace if not for Christ. The love of God is beyond understanding.
Now it was the custom… to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man named Barabbas was in prison for insurrection and murder… Pilate asked, “Do you want me to release the King of the Jews?” he knew it was out if envy that Jesus had been handed over to him. But the chief priest stirred up the crowd to have Barabbas released instead. “What shall I do with the King of the Jews?” he asked. “Crucify Him!” they shouted. (Mark 15:6-13 NIV)
Funny how public opinion is so feeble at times. The Jews hailed Christ their king as he entered Jerusalem not a week before this moment; throwing cloaks down, waving palm branches, and even singing and quoting Scripture. Now disillusioned, these same Jews cried out for their king’s death. Instead of releasing Christ they release a murderer. Barabbas was an unpleasant fellow to say the least. Is that really who they would rather see walking the street at night? When we look at the big picture in this scenario it was a condition of the heart that was seen in the Jews. They choose Barabbas over Jesus. Are there any Barabbas’s in your life? Have you substituted Christ for some other idol of your making? When it comes down to it every time we choose to walk away from fellowship with Christ we have just sat Barabbas in his place. Whoever or whatever our Barabbas may look like he is in a place he does not belong – Our hearts. We can repent of that idol worship and give Christ first place in our lives and hearts. Or we can just keep shouting, “Crucify!”
Early in the morning…The Sanhedrin brought Jesus to Pilate having condemned him to death. … The chief priest accused him of many things. So Pilate asked, “are you not going to answer the charges? …but Jesus made no reply and Pilate was amazed. (Mark 15:1-5 NIV)
Jesus’ silence during the trial is astonishing. He made no defense though He was accused of many things. All of them were false. But that is what is so astonishing about His silence. When we are accused of something we have done, we always try to make a defense. If we have done something wrong and we are accused then we are guilty and there is not much we can do about it. We can accept the charge because it is true. Being accused falsely is something altogether different. We feel the whole world is against us. The gossip, slander, backstabbing, etc. we feel betrayed and all alone. While being accused falsely Jesus did nothing, not one word did He utter in all this. There is a lesson we can learn from this I believe. The Pharisees knew who Jesus was. They knew they could not find fault in him. Like Daniel in the Old Testament He was faultless. I believe Jesus’ silence is defense in itself. He said nothing because he did not have to. His life spoke for him. And the Pharisees knew it too. We should learn from the Master that out lives should not require a defense with words but a life shown in holiness through faith to a lost world.
While Peter was below in the courtyard, someone came up to him and said, “You were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” but he denied it. He said, “I don’t know what you are talking about.” and he went out to the entryway. Sometime later someone said to those standing around Peter, “He is one of them.” but he denied it again. After a little while those standing near asked, “surely you are one of them for you are a Galilean.” Peter began to call down curses on himself and swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” at this the rooster crowed and Peter went out at wept bitterly. (Mark 14:66-72 NIV)
This is undoubtedly the most familiar story of Peter in all of Scripture. None have been preached on more. It seems that Judas is familiarized because he betrayed Jesus, and so Peter is famous for disowning him. But that is not the end of Peter’s story. We see Easter morning the angel tells the women to go tell the disciples AND PETER that Christ will meet them in Galilee. Did you catch that? AND PETER. Tell Peter he is not forsaken. Tell Peter he is not rejected. Tell Peter he’s got another chance. Peter denied Christ out of fear but after Jesus reinstated him he had a determination to live for Christ that he would hold to the rest of his life. Was it out of obligation because he denied Christ that he wanted to follow Christ? No it was undoubtedly out of the love and forgiveness Jesus showed Peter after his resurrection. To know Jesus had not done to him what he did to Jesus must have been overwhelming. What can you say to such love? You can’t say anything. You just choose to live the rest of your life for Christ.
The high priest asked again, “Are you the Christ, The Son of the Living God?” “I am,” Jesus said. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God and coming on the clouds of heaven. The high priest tore his robes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “you have heard his blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned Him to death. (Mark 14:61b-64 NIV)
Here Jesus is making a statement to Caiaphas himself. Jesus could not be any clearer. He told him, “and you Caiaphas will see the Son of Man coming in power and great glory.” Somehow Caiaphas saw Christ. What I want to draw attention to is the fact that we will all see Jesus one day. Whether by His coming or by our death we will all see him. What is important is HOW will we meet him? Will it be as Savior or judge? Do we accept Christ’s claim that he is the way, the truth, and the life? And that he has made satisfaction for our sins? Or do we reject His claim as savior of mankind and go our own way? Caiaphas met him as judge because he rejected him repeatedly. Knowing that Jesus’ message was different and that his power was supernatural he still hardened his heart to the Scriptures and their vindication of Christ as the promised Messiah. So he was judged. We don’t know if Caiaphas died before A.D. seventy or if he was killed in the mayhem when Jerusalem was overthrown. But one thing is certain. We have no promise of tomorrow. What we do with Jesus determines our eternal destiny. Caiaphas showed that he had no need for Jesus; do we learn from his mistake and embrace Christ as our Lord or like Caiaphas show the same disregard?
They took Jesus to the Sanhedrin… They were looking for evidence so that they could have him put to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their testimony did not agree. Some stood up and said I heard him say he would destroy this man-made Temple and rebuild it in three days but even their testimony did not agree… Then the high priest stood up and asked, “are you not going to answer these accusations?” All the while Jesus said nothing. (Mark 14:53-61 NIV)
The trial of Christ shows us one thing for sure, namely, the Sanhedrin had nothing on Jesus. However much they despised and hated Him, they could not truthfully accuse him of anything except exposing their own hypocrisy. These men show us an important part of our old human nature that still struggles for survival within each and every one of us. That cancer is resentment.
Resentment must take root before there can be hatred. No one has ever just walked up to someone they did not know and say, “I hate you.” There must be a cause for hatred. That cause comes from a heart condition called resentment. That is what first flared the Pharisees hatred of Christ. Every time Christ spoke against their hypocritical hearts and godless attitudes, whenever the people cheered after Christ for his authoritative presentations of God’s word, which the Pharisees could not match, their resentment of Him grew. Beware of resentment! Resentment, if left unchecked, will consume you, like it did the Pharisees.
Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priest, the teachers of the law, and the elders. Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi” and kissed him. (Mark 14:43-45 NIV)
I find it interesting that it says here—“Judas one of the twelve.” Judas is identified with the twelve as he betrays Jesus. What is intended by such a statement? Judas was an eyewitness of Jesus’ life. He saw wonderful things as he walked with the Lord. Yet, here he is three years later on the opposite side of Jesus in the Garden.
As the leader of the high priest’s band to arrest Jesus he arranged a sign to top it off. So Judas was not just a shadowy figure in all this who hid behind a fern while the mob took care of business. He was an active agent who followed through all the way to the face of Jesus. Truly it is people like this who I believe the book of Hebrews has in mind when it says that they crucify the Son of God all over again and subject him to public disgrace. People like this trample the blood of Christ under their feet as if it were a common thing. Blackest darkness will be their lot forever. It is a grave warning for any who reject Christ. Let us hold onto Christ with an undying love and devotion.