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.
As was often the case, Jesus found himself in another argument with some Pharisees.
11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.
The interesting thing is that Jesus did in fact give a number of signs pointing to his being the Messiah. The Gospel of John is perhaps the clearest on this point.
The first was his changing the water into wine, after which John 2:11 says, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.”
After healing an official’s son, John 4:54 informs us, “This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.” Later we read, “Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him,” in John 12:37.
And of course, near the end of his Gospel (John 20:30-31) John writes, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
The best way to understand Christ’s point in refusing the Pharisees the sign that they seek may simply be that he’ll be the one to decide what sign(s) he is willing to perform. Their job and ours is merely to accept the signs that he gives. His ultimate sign was his resurrection, but of course they didn’t accept that one either. We must do so if we are truly to be his followers.
When we deal with God, we need to maintain a healthy attitude of submission. Making demands on him reverses the relationship. He may do what we ask if he so chooses, but he is not obligated. On the other hand we need to always be at his service. If he makes a demand on us, it is only right. The only right response is to do what he says. This becomes easier the more we accept the fact that he knows and wants what is best for us and teaches us through this process.
These words that Jesus spoke to Jairus regarding his daughter can easily apply in any number of situations that we face. Here is how they appear in context.
35 While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”
36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”
The context in this case is vital to understanding what Jesus is saying.
Jairus came to Jesus as his daughter was dying, asking for help. Before they got home, however, the daughter had died. When all was lost, Jesus encouraged Jairus with the words, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” As it happened, Jesus raised her back to life.
Why does God so often wait until all hope is lost? Perhaps it is so we are more focused upon hoping in him. There is something spiritually healthy about being brought to the end of ourselves. Self-sufficiency can be an enormous obstacle to faith. Hope in anything or anyone but Jesus can redirect us away from trusting him.
When it is obvious that we cannot do anything to fix our situations, and neither can anyone else, God has the opportunity to intervene without interference. He must like that, because he puts us in that place of helplessness pretty often.
What hopeless situation are you facing right now? I am facing a few of them, but I won’t clutter this post with their tedious descriptions. Christ’s message to us might be the same as his message to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; only believe.”