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The Sobering Realities of the Resurrection

April 12th, 2020 Resurrection Sunday

Minoh International Church
Pastor Joseph Ricohermoso
Mark 16:1~8
マルコによる福音書 16:1~8

1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, 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, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'”
8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

Mark 16:1~8


マルコによる福音書 16:1~8


Our Bible text this morning is about the resurrection, but it seems out of place. I mean, the mood. We’re here in a spirit of celebration. We’re joyous over the news of the victory of life over death. We feel great joy.
But the women who first witnessed the empty tomb had nothing but terror: “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid” (verse 8).
しかし、空っぽになった墓を最初に目撃した女たちは恐怖しか感じませんでした「女たちはおののき恐れながら、墓から出て逃げ去った。そして、人には何も言わなかった。恐ろしかったからである。」 と8節には書かれています。
What a way to end a Gospel! Many scholars think that the Gospel of Mark originally ended right here at verse 8. Later, someone who copied the manuscript thought Mark could have ended his Gospel on a more positive note. So he added a few paragraphs that were more positive and upbeat. That is, Mark 16:9~20.
Anyhow, let’s listen to what St. Mark said happened on that first Resurrection Sunday.
The day after the Sabbath, three (3) women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, went very early to the tomb where they had laid the body of Jesus (v.1). They were truly devoted to Him. Their intention was to anoint His body with aromatic oils and spices to offset the odor of decomposition. Actually, that’s how they prepare a corpse for burial, which they were unable to do on Good Friday.
They worried about how they would get inside the cave-like tomb, for a large stone had been rolled in front of it (v.3). It was relatively easy to roll the stone in front of the opening to the tomb, but once it slid into the groove cut in the bedrock, it was difficult to move.
When they got there, they discovered the stone had already been rolled away (v.4). That was their first and mildest surprise of the morning. When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man seated there dressed in white, presumably an angel (v.5).
Naturally, they were alarmed (v.5)! The word alarmed in Greek is a very strong word. Another translation renders it this way: “They were completely taken aback, astonished” (MSG).
The angel said in vv.6~7, 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, 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, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'”
天使は6節から7節で、「6驚くことはない。」と言いました。そして「 あなたがたは十字架につけられたナザレ人イエスを捜しているのであろうが、イエスはよみがえって、ここにはおられない。ごらんなさい、ここがお納めした場所である。7今から弟子たちとペテロとの所へ行って、こう伝えなさい。イエスはあなたがたより先にガリラヤへ行かれる。かねて、あなたがたに言われたとおり、そこでお会いできるであろう。」と言いました。
Now, they were really afraid. Verse 8a says, “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb.” They were so afraid they disobeyed the command of the angel and told no one. They were unable to speak at all!
Why be afraid? Because they were so invested in this Jesus of Nazareth, and when He had died on the cross, their hopes died with Him. They were devastated by His death. But why did they not shout for joy with the resurrection of their Lord? Why did they not get so excited that they would run out to tell Peter and the other disciples the good news?
Let’s put things in perspective. If Easter simply gives religious expression to our good feelings at the beginning of spring and the beautiful cherry blossoms, if it simply is a symbol of our longing for immortality, we can be emotionally touched by the music, with a little more positive outlook on life.
But since Easter is based on something more solid than mere longings, and it rests on the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead, then Easter is truly sobering.
The New Testament writers did not think that what happened to Jesus at that point in time was an isolated event. They were convinced that what happened to Jesus was just the start of what would happen to everyone. As Colossians 1:18 says, “And He [Jesus Christ] is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead.”
There are Sobering Realities of the Resurrection. What are those realities? Let me suggest three (3) sobering realities of the Resurrection.

  1. If Jesus was raised from the dead, life is far more unpredictable than we might have thought.

One driving motivation of life in the 21st century has been the effort to gain control. Our intellectual effort, every scientific pursuit, is aimed at discovering how the laws of nature can work for us. The more we understand, the more we harness, the more of life we’ll be able to control.
We have unprecedented faith in science and technology that if we come across a problem, we assume there must be a solution. If a problem seems to defy solutions, such as climate change or the coronavirus, we assume it must be somebody’s fault. For example, calls to close China’s wet markets, where they sell live and exotic animals, are a sure target.
At a more personal level, we seek to gain and maintain control over our lives: education, finances, health, relationships, etc. We’re doing everything we can to make life predictable. We don’t want any surprises that will turn things upside-down for us. We assume that if we take this step and that step, we control the result. We live in a world of cause and effect and predictability.
But do you see how the resurrection of Jesus Christ breaks that inevitable connection between cause and effect? Dead men don’t rise from the tomb! Our natural world dictates that when a person dies, the body decomposes; that’s the end.
If Jesus was raised from the dead (and He was), the world of cause and effect is upended. Natural law still operates for the most part. But the fact that natural law did not operate at that one point in history means a great crack opens in the wall of predictability.
An Arab chief tells a story of a spy who was captured and then sentenced to death by a general in the Persian army. This general had the strange custom of giving condemned criminals a choice between the firing squad and the big, black door. As the moment for execution drew near, the spy was brought to the Persian general, who asked the question, “What will it be: the firing squad or the big, black door?”
The spy hesitated for a long time. It was a difficult decision. He chose the firing squad.
Moments later shots rang out confirming his execution. The general turned to his aide and said, “They always prefer the known way to the unknown. It is characteristic of people to be afraid of the undefined. Yet, we gave him a choice.”
The aide said, “What lies beyond the big door?”
“Freedom,” replied the general. “I’ve known only a few brave enough to take it.”
「自由がある」と将軍は答えました。 「大きな扉を選ぶ勇敢な者は、ほんの数人しかいなかった。」と将軍は言いました。
Who knows what might happen with a world of possibility? Who knows what the future will hold if Jesus is alive?
No wonder the women were afraid. The 2nd sobering reality is:

  1. If Jesus was raised from the dead, the things we hold dear in this life diminish in importance or significance.

Since Jesus was raised from the dead, and that’s a sign of what’s going to happen to the rest of us, then an eternal existence surrounds us. There is a limit on this life. Important things just aren’t that important any more: careers, financial security, and pleasure. What are these things next to the reality of eternity? A pixel on the screen, dust. They pale in significance.
David Konigsberg: “If this century is remembered for anything, it will perhaps be for the speed with which we embrace things and then let them go.”
ニューヨーク在住の芸術家デビッド ケーニヒスベルクは、「今世紀について人々が思い出すのは、恐らく、私たちが物事をいかに早く受け入れ、そしてそれらをいかに早く手放すかというスピードの速さであろう。」と言っています。
Viktor Frankl: “Clinics are crowded with people suffering from a new kind of neurosis, a sense of total and ultimate meaninglessness of life.”
If Jesus has been raised from the dead, how can you go back to life as usual? What’s the point?
No wonder the women were afraid. The 3rd sobering reality is:

  1. If Jesus was raised from the dead, God said yes to Jesus and the way of life revealed in Him.

Jesus traveled a road that not many of us are eager to walk. He showed the way toward true happiness: not in self-seeking but in self-giving. His road is not upward mobility but downward humility. He gave Himself to us as a servant taking upon Himself the full burden of our sin. He descended into the depths of humiliation, shame, and death (c.f., Philippians 2:6~8).
Do we see what it means that Jesus came from the dead? God is saying, “This is the kind of life I will bless. This is the kind of life that will have eternal significance. This is the kind of life that reveals my will.” If Jesus was raised from the dead, we can’t simply patronize Him as a well-meaning Teacher whose ideas are irrelevant for life in the real world. We have to believe that His way of life is the authentic way of life.
イエスが死からよみがえられたとはどういう意味でしょうか? 神は言われました、「これが私が祝福する人生です。これが永遠の意味を持つ人生です。これが私の意志を表す人生です。」もし、イエスが死からよみがえったとしたら、この世の私たちの人生とは無関係に、神を単なる良き師として好むことはもうでき無くなります。私たちは神の生き方が本当の生き方であると信じなければなりません。
He showed us that if we are to gain life, the only life worth having, we cannot cling to it selfishly. But we must be willing to let go of it. And if we would gain the glory of Easter, we must be willing to undergo the pain of Good Friday. Following this Jesus can get you in trouble. Yes, it can even get you a cross.
No wonder the women were afraid. These are sobering realities of Easter. I can see why the women fled in terror from the tomb.
I prefer life more predictable, under my control. I prefer thinking that what I’m worrying about is really worth all the effort. I prefer to think that God is going ahead of me to smooth the way, to make things comfortable and pleasurable for me. But the resurrection of Jesus from death pulls the rug out from under all that.


Then, what are we doing now? Why this mood of celebration? Why the singing? Why the joy? Because there is some good news this morning. For each of these sobering realities of the resurrection, there’s a flip side that is good news indeed.

  1. Since Jesus was raised from the dead, life may indeed be unpredictable.

That’s scary. But the good news is we can give up our humanistic attempts at trying to be like God and control life. We can give up all of that anxiety that we have in trying to make sure everything works out just the way we want it to work out. We can relax and quit trying to be God and instead trust God.
Whoopi Goldberg was asked, “Why haven’t you done something significant since the movie, ‘The Color Purple?'” Her answer: She said, “I’m a working actress, not the cure for cancer.” She might have said, “I’m not God.”

  1. Since Jesus was raised from the dead, this mortal life may be diminished in importance.

But the good news is that the suffering we experience in this life will not be the final thing said about us. God used the horror of Good Friday and the suffering of Jesus to bring about the salvation of the whole world. If this good can overcome such evil, we know that God can bring redemption in all of the pain of our lives.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

2 Corinthians 4:16~17



  1. Since Jesus was raised from the dead, we must follow Him to the cross, and that’s scary.

But the good news is that on the far side of the cross is the empty tomb. On the other side of Good Friday is Easter. Obedience does lead to the death of self, but paradoxically, the one who willingly loses himself or herself out of love for Christ and other people gains the only life worth having, the life that will extend for all eternity (Philippians 1:21). We may die with Christ as we surrender ourselves to God’s will. But we will not die in the final sense, for Easter means that we shall also live with Christ for all eternity.
Some years ago, I went to a hospital in Murrieta, a city in southwestern Riverside County, California, and visited a pastor’s wife who was dying of cancer. Her first words to me when I entered the hospital room were “Pastor, I’m not afraid. For underneath is the solid rock of the resurrection.”
It took the women and the other disciples a little while to work this out. At first, they were afraid; they were terrified. But then when they began to think about it, they understood what that meant for them; their terror was transformed into joy. They took to the streets proclaiming the Good News.