FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap!
The Sunday Recap is a brief fly-by of what we did during Sunday worship. Did anything land with you from worship on Sunday? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?
Food For Thought:
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior's blood?
Died He for me who caused His pain!
For me who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be That
Thou, my God, should die for me?
No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
And Can It Be, verses 1 & 4
Confession of Sin:
Prayer of Confession
Heavenly Father, we confess that our glory has been our own comfort, rather than your Son's cross; that we have craved the fellowship of those already like us, rather than the fellowship of Christ's sufferings; that we have worked to save our own lives, rather than lose our lives for Christ’s sake and the gospel. Have mercy on us, Father, and grant us the gift of gospel repentance. Cleanse us by the finished work of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and restore to us the joy of your salvation. Amen.
Words of Grace
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
1 John 1:8-2:2
Confession of Faith: The Children’s Catechism Questions 101-104
Q. 101. What is the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment is “You shall not steal.”
Q. 102. What does the eighth commandment teach you?
A. Not to take anything that belongs to someone else.
Q. 103. What is the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment is “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Q. 104. What does the ninth commandment teach you?
A. Never to lie, but to tell the truth at all times.
Sermon Text: Mark 15:40-16:8
15:40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. 45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. 46 And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.
16:1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back— it was very large. 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.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
- An authentic witness (15:40-41, 47; 16:1)
- The courage to stand with Jesus (15:42-46)
- The meaning of the resurrection (15:6-7)
Compared to the other gospels, Mark's gospel ends abruptly with the fearful response of the women after witnessing the empty tomb. Why does Mark end his gospel this way? When we look at the book as a whole a clear answer emerges. Throughout the gospel story when men and women are faced with the power of God they don't know how to react (e.g. 4:41; 5:15, 33, 36; 6:50; 9:32). For example, take Peter in Mark 9 when Jesus was transfigured before him and suggests building three tents: one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. "For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified (9:6)."
For many people doubt and disbelief in Christianity is thought to be a modern problem. A problem that educated, scientific people have but not more primitive, ancient cultures like the people you read about in the bible. While it is no doubt true that many modern people have trouble believing what the bible says, so too do the people we read about in scripture. Mark ends his gospel the way he does to show us that no one expected Jesus to rise again from the dead. In other words, the resurrection was as hard to believe for Jesus' followers as it is for many today.
So then what does Mark give us in this closing section that can move us from fear and doubt to faith and joy in Jesus Christ?
The first thing Mark gives us is evidence for an authentic witness, a reliable account of what happened. Notice three times (15:40-41, 47; 16:1) Mark mentions three women who witnessed Jesus' death, burial and empty tomb. Also notice all Jesus' male disciples have fled. They are nowhere to be found. The mention of three of these women by name means they were known by Mark's readers. They could go and ask these women what happened and what they saw. It's a way for Mark to cite a source for his information, like a footnote. However, there is a problem. In ancient cultures a woman's testimony wasn't allowed in court. Women were marginalized and not seen as reliable witnesses. So then why does Mark include them as the witnesses to the most significant events of Jesus' life? If you were trying to write an account to convince people of its veracity this isn't how you would do it. The only plausible explanation is that Mark isn't making this story up. He didn't feel at liberty to change what happened even if it would make it more "plausible" to his contemporaries. No, what we have here is an authentic account of what really happened and in a way consistent with the way God works: God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Cor. 1:28-29)
However, to begin to believe the story of the gospel means you will never be the same again. The story of Joseph of Arimathea illustrates for us the change that takes place when faith lays hold of Jesus. Joseph was a prominent member of the Sanhedrin, the most powerful religious body in Judaism, which condemned Jesus to death for blasphemy. However, we learn from John 19:38 that Joseph was a follower of Jesus, though secretly out of fear. But the time had come in Joseph's life when his love for Jesus displaced his power and prestige and even his political safety. He "took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus" (15:43). Think about it. Jesus was dead. He had been condemned for blasphemy by the religious leaders. He had been condemned for treason by the political leaders. Joseph had nothing to gain and everything to lose by identifying with Jesus and his cause by asking for his body. But that's precisely what the gospel does. It replaces what you most love, even really good things with a courageous, bold, fearless love for Jesus. You may have power and money and prestige but they are no longer who you are, the proof you matter. Joseph comes as a challenge to each one of us as Mark's gospel comes to a close. Where do you stand with Jesus? Who do you say that he is? Are you fearful and timid because you are building your life on something other than Jesus and you don't want to lose it. Or are you experiencing the freedom and courage that comes with throwing your whole life in with Jesus?
What's your reaction to Joseph? What did he understand that we need to understand if we are to move from fear and doubt to faith and joy? We need to understand the meaning of the resurrection. Jesus' resurrection means a new beginning, the old has passed away and the new has come. Death and sin have been vanquished in and through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Mark takes great pains to show Jesus really did die bodily and that he rose again bodily (15:44-45; 16:6). In other words, the resurrection is the beginning of the end. It is our assurance, that one day God will make all things new, even our very bodies (Rom. 8:18-25). The resurrection also means grace for failures. Jesus had promised that after he was raised up he would go before his disciples into Galilee (14:28). Here in verse 7, the young man in the tomb reiterates the same and specifically mentions Peter, who denied Jesus three times. Despite the fact that Jesus' disciples didn't keep there word (14:26-31), he kept his. He has come to forgive and restore! This reminds us again you are not saved by what you do. You are saved by what Jesus has done! Last the resurrection means there is hope for better things yet to come. Perhaps you feel like a failure, a traitor and you wonder if God could ever accept you. Notice what hope verse 7 holds out. You will see him again! This is the good news and the promise Jesus holds out to all who trust in him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)
- What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
- What questions does this passage raise for you?
- Was there anything that bothered you?
- What stands out to you most about the ending of Mark's gospel and the role of the women?
- What is your reaction to Joseph and his courage?
- What do you most need to hear and believe from vs. 6-7 and why?
This is the 52nd Sunday Recap. Hard to believe I've been sending these for a whole year. In light of that fact, I would love to hear your thoughts on theSunday Recap. Here are some questions. Feel free to write back with any thoughts.
1. What have you liked about the recap?
2. How could I make it better or more useful to you?
3. How do you use the recap in your daily life?
4. Should I continue sending these out each week? (I don't want to add one more thing to your inbox.)
Songs for this week:
How Firm a Foundation
Psalm 130 (From the Depths of Woe)
O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
Come, Ye Souls by Sin Afflicted
Jesus, Lover of My Soul
Sermon passage for this week: Galatians 2:1-10
Until next time,