Load-bearing walls support the weight of the house. You don’t take those down, because if you do the house will come tumbling down. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the load-bearing wall of Christianity. If you take the resurrection of Jesus Christ out, all of Christianity comes tumbling down.
Paul says it like this in his letter to the Corinthian church:
“But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:14-17).
Because of the resurrection, we have an incredible hope. And at the close of the Gospel of Mark, we see four wonderful effects of our incredible hope through the story of the people around the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
Our Incredible Hope Compels Courage
The effect on Joseph of Arimathea was that of courage (Mark 15:42-47). Joseph had been a secret follower of Christ, and when Christ died he stopped hiding and courageously stepped forward to show his love for Christ. Joseph was a respected member of the Sanhedrin. He was part of the Sanhedrin that had conducted a ridiculous trial of Jesus. He may or may not have been at the trial. But, we do know that he did not agree with what they were doing, but out of fear, he said and did nothing to stop the proceedings (Luke 23:50-51). He most likely did not want to lose his position. Joseph made up a group of other Jewish leaders who believed in and followed Jesus…quietly, out of fear (John 12:42).
Initially, Joseph was characterized by fear. But, now, he was making his profession of Christ known. He took his first step of courage by going before Pilate to ask for Jesus’ dead body in order to give Jesus a proper burial. This was a big deal for Joseph. One, Pilate wasn’t all too happy with the Jewish leaders right now, so approaching him for anything would be a bit frightening. Two, he was going at it alone. Three, what would all of his colleagues think? Four, he was committing professional and social suicide. But, he did it anyway.
Remember, we don’t step out in obedient faith when we are no longer afraid. We step out and do it when we are afraid. We do not pray for God to remove fear without praying for Him to strengthen our resolve to do what He wills while we are still afraid. Joseph stepped up and made it known that he was a follower of Christ. Joseph was making his belief in Christ known and decided that the least he could do was care for and serve Jesus in His death by giving Him a proper burial.
Will you have courage and profess Christ as your Lord and Savior and resolve to step out in faith and obedience and exalt the name of Christ no matter the cost?
Our Incredible Hope Develops Devotion
Pilate granted Joseph’s request and Joseph, along with the Pharisee, Nicodemus, took Jesus’ body and gave Him an honorable burial in a tomb that Joseph had bought. In verse 47, we see that the two Marys who had been with Jesus while He was alive and who were witnesses to His death on the cross had followed Joseph and Nicodemus and saw where Jesus had been buried. They were faithful disciples of Christ, and it is to these women that Mark turns our attention (Mark 16:1-5).
We see great devotion to Jesus from these women. They were with Him while He was alive, serving Him. They were there when He was humiliated and crucified. They were there when He died, and they were there when He was buried. But that wasn’t enough. Now they sought to serve Him further. They were so devoted they were determined to serve Him until they could no longer do so.
The Sabbath was past, which would have ended by Saturday at 6 p.m. Early Sunday morning, they went to the tomb carrying spices to further anoint Jesus’ body. Jesus was so precious to them that they wanted His dead body to smell good until His spirit left Him. There were no markets open that early on a Sunday morning, so they had prepared for this by buying them as soon as the markets would have opened the evening before after the Sabbath.
Do we show this kind of devotion? Do we give time and energy and effort to love Him through prayer, study, ministry, obedience, and trust?
Our Incredible Hope Exacts Excitement
These women were amazed when they arrived (Mark 16:6). They came to the grave expecting to find Jesus’ dead body, but instead, there was an angel. Mark says they were “alarmed.” The word means to be utterly astonished or greatly amazed. It means to be moved to a relatively intense emotional state because of something causing great surprise or perplexity. They were beside themselves in bewilderment and fascination. They were trembling, they were astonished, they were afraid, and they were filled with great joy. These women were an excited emotional mess.
You come looking for a dead body, you expect to find it, it’s not something that just gets up and walks away…right? The stone had been rolled away and Jesus was gone!
Our Incredible Hope Propels Proclamation
These women were the first witnesses and were the first commissioned to profess Christ’s resurrection. Their stunned amazement quickly turned to proclamation (Mark 16:7-8). They did not have time to soak in the wonderful reality of the good news that Jesus had risen, but they went immediately and announced it to the disciples. They were overwhelmed by the appearance of the angel and the great mystery of the resurrection.
From there on they, along with the other disciples, proclaimed what is so fundamental to our incredible hope:
- Death could not hold Jesus down. “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him” (Romans 6:9).
- Christ is indeed God. “[Jesus] was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:4).
- Christ has defeated sin and death. “[Jesus] abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10).
- Christ gives us eternal life—our very own resurrection from the dead. “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:4-5).
Unmistakable Effects on Us
This is our hope in Christ—because of His resurrection, we are assured that we will share in His death and His resurrection to eternal life. Death and sin have lost their dominion over us, because Christ defeated them both at the cross and by His resurrection He has secured for us who believe a place in Heaven with Him.
This incredible hope should have an unmistakable effect on us. It should:
- Compel courage to live for Him and make our belief in Him known.
- Develop devotion to prioritize Him in all our thoughts and affections.
- Exact excitement, knowing that we are saved from the punishment and penalty of our sins and that we have been set apart to live for Him.
- Propel proclamation, making use of our time to tell others the good news about Jesus Christ—His life, burial, and resurrection.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).