Expositional Devotions: Mark 16:1-4

aaron-burden-113284Do you want to know what I hated most about school? I hated the end of PE and recess. You know what it’s like. You are running and playing and laughing. Maybe you just started a new game with your friends. But whatever the case, you hear that loud whistle! Or, that loud shout, “Line Up!” You have to stop what you are doing and go back to class. Nothing would upset me more than leaving a game unfinished. When recess or PE was over, it dampened my day.

Well, on a much, much greater level, all of Jesus’ disciples were deeply saddened when Jesus died. They didn’t know all we know about Jesus’ death and what it meant for them. They thought Jesus was going to save the world and rule as a King, but they never thought he would take his kingdom by dying.

When Jesus died on the cross it was like a loud whistle blowing to stop all of the disciples’ hopes and dreams. Their leader, friend, savior, and God was dead. They saw him arrested. They saw him mocked. They saw him beaten. They saw him crucified. They saw his body taken off a cross. They saw him placed in a tomb. As far as they knew, it was all over.

Can you imagine what must have been going through their minds? Jesus had made claims to being God and the Messiah who would save his people from their sins. They must have at least thought, “Maybe he was not who he said he was.” Now, they trembled alone and afraid. They were scared because they knew what was probably coming. Their leader had been arrested. The religious leaders hated him. Their next move would have been to silence Jesus’ followers. I’m sure the disciples could not understand why the one they had fully trusted and followed for three years was lying dead in a tomb.

But that is exactly the point of our passage today. Jesus was dead and buried. Dead. Buried. Three women tried to honor the body of Jesus by bringing spices to anoint him. They waited because they were not able to buy the spices and oils necessary to anoint the body on the Sabbath. When they arrived at the tomb, they were wondering how they would be able to move the stone to gain access to Jesus’ body. What is the main point? Jesus is clearly dead.

The difference between the first disciples and us is massive—about 2,000 years! We have the privilege to know just what the death of Jesus means. While the first disciples were afraid when they learned of Jesus’ death, we can be confident and courageous! Satan’s day ended the day Jesus died.

As Jesus’ lay dead and motionless in the tomb on Saturday, he was in the process of unleashing all the power that sin and death hold over us. As you read about the death and burial of Jesus, do so with total joy, knowing what those first disciples did not know—that the one who lies dead in the tomb has given new life to all who come to him in repentance and faith.

Main Idea

As Jesus’ lay dead and motionless in the tomb on Saturday, he was in the process of unleashing all the power that sin and death hold over us.

Discussion Starter

Why is it important that we have this evidence that Jesus was actually dead?

Prayer Points

Thank the Lord that Jesus was truly dead, so that we can truly live.

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Eternal Roots

pexels-photo-2A truly blessed man is a man who has been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. In fact, the ultimate example of the blessed man of Psalm 1 is Jesus himself. This psalm is a great description of Jesus, the one in whom his Father was well pleased (Matt. 3:17). By God’s grace and the sinner’s God-initiated faith in Jesus, a man is saved. Through union to the Blessed God-man is a man truly blessed.

Psalm 1 is very figurative and eloquent in its description of a truly happy person in God. This glorious Psalm is a continuous contrasting distinction between the righteous and the wicked. One way leads to life, and the other leads to death. The difference is where the righteous and wicked have been rooted. The righteous are rooted in God, while the wicked are rooted in the world or themselves.

Rooted in God

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers (Ps. 1:3).

The Psalmist compares a blessed and righteous person to a tree. All trees have roots. The stronger and healthier the roots, the stronger and healthier the tree will be. The same goes for fruit on a vine. The fruits of a vine are utterly dependent on the strength and health of the vine. The reason a man is blessed is because he has been rooted in the Word of God by meditating on it and delighting in it (Ps. 1:2). He has therefore rooted himself in God, sinking into the rich soils of his delightful Word.

The psalmist continues the metaphor by saying that the tree (the blessed man) is planted by streams of water. This water, this stream, flows directly from the heart and mind of God. We can be certain of this since the tree yields proper fruit for the season, and the leaves do not wither. The resourceful supply of the life-giving stream produces fruit in this tree.

If fruit did not yield from this tree, then there is an issue with the roots. There is no negative issue with God, and therefore fruit is yielded; “its leaf does not wither.” Commenting on Psalm 1, John Calvin writes, “[T]he children of God constantly flourish, and are always watered with the secret influences of divine grace, so whatever may befall them is conducive to their salvation.”[1]

Those who are in Christ Jesus will produce fruit because of the Soil they are rooted in. It is good soil, and it is planted beside the stream of life flowing from the fountain of God. These fruits greatly benefit others and glorify God. God is glorified greatly when it is clear that without him there would be no fruit. Without the stream flowing in an otherwise dry land, the tree would indeed wither and not bear fruit. The tree is utterly dependent on the life-giving streams of water.

Likewise, those who are in Christ are utterly dependent on God for life and for fruit bearing. We only prosper by his grace for the sake of his glory and the sake of others. Blessed is the man who is rooted in God, for he indeed will know God and know eternal life (Ps. 1:6; John 17:3).

Rooted in the World

The only alternative to being rooted in God in this life is being rooted in either the world or being rooted in self. These two are basically the same, as ultimately what the man is rooted in rather than God is sin or wickedness. Verse one describes men who are not rooted in God as “wicked,” “sinners,” and “scoffers,” which directly contrasts the way of the righteous and blessed man who is rooted in God. It can easily be deduced from the psalmist’s images of a blessed man that a wicked or sinful man is a tree in a dry land, not by streams of water.

Therefore, this tree will not produce good fruit, and it will ultimately die. Living a life filled with wickedness, sin, and scoffing is a life rooted in the world, and it is a life that is slowly decaying under the hot sun of fleeting pleasures. The wicked are also described as chaff, which is the husks and straw removed by threshing.

There is another place in Scripture where the wicked and sinners are compared to chaff. In comparing those who repent with those who do not, John the Baptist describes how Jesus is both a Savior King and a Sovereign Judge: His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat [blessed men; righteous men] into the barn, but the chaff [wicked men] he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12, emphasis added).

Now that is a picture to behold! Jesus gathers his people to himself, and the rest he burns with an unquenchable fire. This is evidence that Jesus clearly believed hell is most definitely real. The illustration of the chaff is indicative of the truth that the wicked will not see the kingdom of God. All who are not tied tightly to Jesus Christ, and all who are not rooted in the Word of God will perish eternally. Period. There are no questions asked.

If you are rooting your life in sin, in this world and in yourself, take a long look at this text and see that you are a tree without fruit; a tree in a dry land without a supply of water; and a chaff that is blowing about in the wind only to be tossed out and burned with a fire that is unquenchable, for you have forsaken the living water of King Jesus.

Drink and Be Satisfied

While both trees in this metaphor are in a dry land, one will live and one will die. The tree by the streams of water will live, and the other will die in the desert. This world we live in is a massive desert, and we are all trees in it. The deciding factor for our eternity will be whether or not we are rooted in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, delighting in him beside the streams that flow from the overflowing spring of God’s grace which leads to eternal life.

The only alternative is that we are rooted in the desert of this world and the sin that corrupts it which leads to eternal death.In the words of the psalmist, “the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Ps. 1:6).

Delight in the Word of God today, and drink living water at the spring of God. It may take deep reading and meditating, for the fight against temptation and sin is real and tiring, but the joy at the end of the journey is more than sufficient and is truly satisfying, as God will be greatly glorified. The spring flowing with living water is high at the top of a mountain, and the trek is difficult and wearisome. But when the climb is over, those huge gulps of water will be so satisfying, and the Spring will be glorified.

Read. Meditate. Delight. Live.

*This post originally appeared as a chapter in my book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God.


[1] John Calvin, Commentary on the Psalms, Abr. ed. David C. Seale (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 2009), p. 2.

Morning Mashup 04/18

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of book recommendations, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul | HANNAH ANDERSON

 

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No Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of God | AIMEE BYRD

 

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ARTICLES

MOVIE REVIEW: THE CASE FOR CHRIST | THE BLAZING CENTER

Zach Bartels: Be prepared: it kind of wrecked me, but then again, I’m easily affected by movies. And I was inspired by this one. Upon leaving, I kind of wanted to start a huge investigation of some kind that would result in a complex web of photos and string in my basement.

TWO KEYS TO FLOURISHING IN THE DIGITAL AGE | DESIRING GOD

Tony Reinke: Always connected to the web, always connected to social media, a smartphone with a camera is the most addictive tool of communication ever invented.

 STOP CALLING HEBREWS 11 THE HALL OF FAITH | J.A. MEDDERS

J.A. Medders: The Hall of Fame, in every sport, is an incredible but temporal accomplishment. By faith we look to a heavenly city where duds, the forgotten, the overlooked, are welcome by faith in Christ’s accomplishments. His and his alone.

2017 BOSTON MARATHON | THE BOSTON GLOBE

Proud of one of our Trace Crossing members, Jim Brown, for running and finishing the Boston Marathon.

10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT CATECHESIS | CROSSWAY

Joe Carter: Catechesis a form of religious instruction, typically presented in oral form. The instruction is usually based on a book or document known as a catechism, which contains a summary of principles, especially of religious doctrine, often in the form of questions and answers. 

VIDEOS

THE CASE FOR CHRIST MOVIE PREVIEW

A SNEAK PEAK OF NEW CITY CATECHISM