This last chapter of Mark gives us the empty tomb, the resurrection and two options for an ending to this Gospel.
Dear Heavenly Father
We thank you for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This event shows us that he was more than an ordinary man.
We believe and rejoice in the fact that he died for our sins. We accept the fact that he rose and then ascended into heaven. We are grateful for his present intercession for us and look forward to his soon return.
We offer up our prayers to you in his name,
5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 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. 7 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.”
The women went to the tomb that Sunday morning only to find that Jesus was not there. His body was gone, and the young man (apparently that is how the angel appeared) told the that Jesus had risen.
This event, Christ’s rising from the dead is the basis of our faith.
If Christ had not risen, we would not have what the New Testament declares is most important. The gospel would be pointless. Christ would not have secured complete victory over death for us.
But Christ has risen from the dead. Our sins are covered by his blood. He has won the ultimate victory over Satan, sin and death. We can be confident he represents us before the Father and is seated at his right hand.
Today we look at the birth of Christ from the standpoint of God giving us his Son.
You have given us more than we could ever repay. You have put us eternally in your debt by sending your Son Jesus to live a real human life and to die a very human death for our sins.
We thank you for his humility, and the fact that he would be born as any normal human child and grow up through his teen years into adulthood like any other human being.
And we thank you for your salvation.
As the psalmist asks, what can we give you for all these benefits that you have given us?
We will receive the gift, receive your salvation and receive the free gift of eternal life.
Help us to live that life that we live completely for you, beginning now but lasting forever.
Here in Luke 1, we get the stories leading up to the births, and even the conceptions, of both John the Baptist and his relative, Jesus Christ. After the angel Gabriel speaks to John’s father, we read, in Luke 1:24,
After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived.
Gabriel also speaks to Mary. When he does, he says, in Luke 1:34-35,
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
Gabriel announced God’s plans to these interested participants before the children in question were even conceived. This tells us something about God’s plans, and ours.
I’m reminded of what God said to the prophet in Jeremiah 1:4-5,
4 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Jesus, John and Jeremiah all had obviously special roles to play in God’s plans for his people. Without getting into a too-lengthy study on the subject, there is ample evidence to conclude he has specific, and therefore special, plans for each one of us. Each human life is important and a part of God’s plan.
The plans for each person are not special because of who we are. These plans are special because of whose they are and whose we are as a result. If God created us with a plan, then that is something we need to take seriously.
There is a prayer from Hilary of Poitiers (who you can read about here), in which he says,
Before I came to know you, I was nothing. I had the misfortune not to know the meaning of life, I was without understanding of myself, I was nothing of what I am now. It was your mercy that gave me life. I have no doubt that you decided it would be good for me to be born, for you are good, you had no need of me and you would not have given me life if it had been to my detriment … *
Personally, I would like to live out the thoughts expressed in that prayer for the rest of my life. Hilary does not express God’s plan or purpose for him. He only admits that he can trust that it must be good. God is good and deserves that kind of trust from us, his created beings. Whatever God’s purpose and plans are for each one of us, may we fulfill them to the utmost.
*from Early Christian Prayers, edited by A. Hamman, translated by Walter Mitchell
On the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Kenny Washington takes us through Mark 15.