Sermon Summary from Nov. 12, 2017
Mark 16 (NIV) • Pastor Tim Tseng
Main point: When God fully encounters us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we will resist the temptation to put the gospel on the shelf. Rather, the fear, awe, or discomfort we feel are the beginning of God’s work in us, namely, a complete transformation of our priorities, outlook, and decisions.
Review: We are at the end of the Gospel of Mark. Like the other three gospels, Mark’s story of Jesus is like the Star Wars trilogy. Rather, the Star Wars trilogy is like the life of Jesus. Mark 1-11 is like the first Stars War movie. Under the shadow of a powerful, dark and evil empire, a hero arises. Like Jesus, Luke Skywalker eventually discovers his identity and calling. Jesus confronts the empire and seems to have won as he enters Jerusalem triumphantly. Similarly, Luke destroys the Death Star. But, the Empire Strikes Back! In Mark 11-15, the Sanhedrin turns against Jesus. His disciples abandon him. And Jesus is crucified. Darkness appears to have defeated our hero. But today’s scripture (Mark 16) is like the Return of the Jedi. Jesus rises from the dead and is about to launch his new kingdom through the gospel.
Problem: When we treat the gospel too much like the Star Wars trilogy, we are tempted to put Jesus on the shelf just like we do with movie DVDs. When we treat the gospel like mere entertainment, other priorities will also become more important. One of the reason why I felt called to join Intervarsity’s Graduate and Faculty Ministries is because we need grad students and college professors who make Christ the center of their lives. Those who do not put Jesus on the shelf will be among the most influential and innovative leaders of our society. And I want to be part of this unique ministry.
Mark seems to be saying the same thing. The consensus among bible scholars is that 16:9-20 was added. Mark appears to have abruptly ended his gospel with verse 8 with the closing words “the women (who saw the empty tomb) were afraid.”
These women did not anticipate that Jesus would rise from the dead. They came with burial spices to bring closure to their experience of Jesus. They were prepared to put Jesus on the shelf.
But when they realized that Jesus had been raised, instead of rejoicing, they trembled with fear. We know they eventually told the other disciples about their encounter at the tomb, but at this very moment, they were frightened.
The lesson: And for us, this is a wonderful lesson and reminder. When we encounter the risen Lord, he disrupts our tendencies to put him on the shelf of our lives. We realize that the gospel is real and that we are called to be faithful disciples. So we need to make the resurrection real by showing others the plausibility, desirability, and tangibility of the Gospel in our lives, our families, our small groups, and our church.
The women in Mark 16 demonstrated the first work of grace – which is to teach us the fear of the Lord. Verse 2 of Amazing Grace says it well:
’twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear, The hour I first believed.