The Good News. (A sermon on Mark 16)

Alexander_Ivanov_-_Christ's_Appearance_to_Mary_Magdalene_after_the_Resurrection_-_Google_Art_Project

 

So we have studied for 16 weeks now Mark’s gospel of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. We’ve learned the teachings of the coming Kingdom of God and last week we talked about the cross. Jesus killed on a Roman execution device. Tonight we will talk about resurrection.

 

16 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 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. 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.” 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.

 

 

 

Now we all have been raised with meanings and understandings about what exactly is going on in the Easter story. The Death and the Resurrection of Jesus. It’s part of the core of our belief and it is at the core of our salvation.

So my first question for you is…what is salvation?

 

Then the second question is…We have studied the Gospel of Mark for sixteen weeks, what is the good news of this gospel?

 

Are your answers to these questions the same?

 

Because the gospel message is the tool to which salvation comes? It’s in Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed- a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.”

 

See the main message I grew up with is there is good news because there is bad news.

 

“The bad news is that your sin has separated you from God and destined you to eternity separated from him to be tortured in hell. The good news is that Jesus has paid for your sin with his death and now clears the way for you to go to heaven.”

 

Now I don’t want to abandon all the points of this particular message but rather show that if THAT’S IT we may be leaning too far in one direction. See a lot of the church kids I worked with this is all the good news was to them. It was about going to Heaven. But more so not going to hell. So salvation then is about a place. Or more so salvation is about not going to a certain place? And yet when the apostles teach the gospel in the book of Acts well that fundamental part of the gospel that I and these kids were raised with isn’t an idea that’s present.

 

One of the best questions I was ever asked by a pastor was this: If all the treasures and all your family and your animals were in Heaven but God wasn’t…would you still want to go?

 

And so I want to ask you a crazy question. Bear with me. It’s all to bring you to a point. I want to ask you to pretend you’ve never heard about heaven or hell. Take the fiery hell out of the equation. Take heaven out too just to be fair.

So you have never heard about heaven or hell, what then is salvation?

 

Under that thought how might the actions of a Christian change?

 

Because if salvation is merely a place well what baring does that have on this life? This is why many kids have no fruit to their faith and fall away after being “saved at camp” It’s why maybe many of you left Christianity because for you all Christians were were judges about who was going to well. Their only concern was who was going to hell and how they were going to heaven without you. And so to you the good news was boiled down to a ticket. The good news is merely a way to get past the bouncer at a club. Only in that analogy and idea, apparently God is the bouncer. And so maybe the good news you heard actually sounded like bad news.

 

The good news is better than that.
And if we believed this, and we all understood this, we wouldn’t just send kids to camp and hope he says a prayer and then “GREAT! The deed is done! Go on your way!”

 

 

No if we understood the good news was better than that we would act more in the world today, now. Because we would understand that the gospel is not just about a then. But rather the hope of then draws us to see the world a new way.

 

So what is salvation?

 

Can anyone name the other great salvation story found in The Bible?

 

The Exodus story is the fundamental story of the Jews. God has sent someone to rescue us. Moses comes to bring God’s people out of captivity. And he does. He frees the Israelites from their slavery. But what is the rest of the Old Testament describing? See Exodus is getting the slaves out of Egypt and the rest of the story is getting the Egypt out of the slaves. They keep falling captive to old ways. To different gods. To their doubts. But they’ve been saved from this and they forget it all the time. In fact they say of their salvation it would be better for them to be back in Egypt than to wandering that desert in freedom. It’s hard getting the Egypt out of the slave.

Paul writes in Romans: 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

 

See Paul is a Jewish man describing the sin in our lives with this Exodus language. It’s how he understood the world and it’s how he reveals this truth to God’s people in Rome.

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

 

 

In the book of Acts Peter and John are brought before the Sanhedrin and they share these words:
“Jesus is “the stone the builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.”

 

Salvation, Peter says, is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.

 

So salvation then is a person? Well what does that even mean? Now the words there are significant because of the Egypt of Jesus’ day; which we have spent a lot of time talking about – ROME. And the parallels should begin to make sense.
Now Peter’s declaration was so powerful because the good news announcements of Caesar, the declaration of the Roman Peace were brought with these words.
“Salvation is to be found in none other save Augustus, and there is no other name given to men in which they can be saved.”

 

The Greek word for salvation “soteria” was typically associated with Roman and Greek imperial power. The rule and protection of the emperor was “Salvation.” To be under Rome was to be “Saved.” Josephus, the Jewish historian called God the Israelites hope for “salvation.”

 

So when Paul and Silas declare “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household.” Salvation in the ancient world was less individualistic. A person’s salvation was communal, part of the salvation history. Salvation was about being a part of the alternative. The true peace of the world. Before the followers of Jesus were called Christians they were identified as those who belonged to “The Way”. A movement.

Salvation was about being a part of the alternative. Salvation was about deliverance.

Rome promised salvation by granting the people with something we talked much about “The Roman peace.” Should you submit to them and pay them tax they would let you keep your culture and religion and you would be protected. This was the salvation of the Romans. The salvation of Christ will not be about peace through bloodshed and silence but a peace won through love. Salvation is dying to your former ways. Dying to the slavery of Egypt and Rome and being sanctified and rescued to be different than the pagans. Rescued from the lives of sin and corruption and a worldview that is bent on violence. The world of oppression that you now live in. That you are a part of. That you contribute evil to. The one of being concurred, of being slaves, of being hated, would you like to be rescued from this?

 

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

This understanding of your freedom is appropriately called salvation and it’s the very thing we learn from resurrection. It’s not just that Jesus died blameless without sin or any accusation against him. It’s not just that he survived death. He survived a Roman death. And that is KEY for the Roman audience of persecuted Christians. The truth of the resurrection empowers us to live abundantly now against the oppressive powers of the world that trap and yank us into a life of sin. And so what is your Empire. What is holding you captive? What are you a slave to? What is condemning you, oppressing you, keeping you from living free?

Because the resurrection is an offering of new life. New creation. New heaven. New Earth. Because the truth of the resurrection is offered to us!

 

16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

 

So is salvation about going somewhere? Spiritually speaking, yes! It’s about God delivering you out of Egypt, out of Rome, out of Sin and out of death. Salvation is you discovering your freedom. When Paul writes about sinful humanity he is ALWAYS talking about how we have forsaken our freedom to pursue false Gods and false worldviews.

 

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

 

See “God” is just a fancy word for a mystery. Rather than letting some things be a mystery people limited the truth to what they could see, touch, taste, and observe. So they worshiped below the full truth. All the other religions in the world have tried to define this mystery but they contained it in such a way that was short of the truth. How many of you have a pagan view of God? These people worshiped the sun, the river, the bull, the elephant instead of the one who created these things. Because it’s what they could see and measure. Which is all atheism is too. This god is limited to what you can see taste touch and observe but it’s short of the truth. Because the truth is the mystery.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Paul is speaking of all the pagans and how indifferent we have become to seeing the folly and destruction of their practices. That our hearts aren’t broken that the world lives condemned. That people are enslaved to destructives lives instead of the order God brings a person to live abundantly. If you’ve read the minor prophets then you know this is the constant mistake of the Israelites. They keep returning to their slavery. They keep practicing as the pagans do.

 

In 1 Corinthians 6: Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. You have been freed from this way of living.

See the pagans worshipped their gods by practicing these things. They were sexually immoral for their gods, they made idols, they broke marriage vows, men would take younger men and rape them for their gods. These were the practices of pagan worship and so do not participate in them. This way of life is contrary to the life of the kingdom of God.

 

Don’t do those things, some of you used to but those are the practices of the pagans! They are destructive and they do not lead you to God. Set yourself apart from the pagans and teach them what salvation looks like. You are free because Christ took on all of this destruction when he died on the Roman cross. When the very people whom God chose fully fell to the corruption of Rome.

Here’s what I mean by that. They freed Barabbass the Jewish revolutionist who violently attempted to remove Rome. By this method he tried to bring the long awaited Kingdom of God. The Jews chose the pattern of this world. Violence for victory. They chose the salvation of the Romans when they chose Barabbas over Jesus the Christ. They chose peace through violence instead of peace through love, and compassion, and sacrifice.

This is what is being talked about in Romans.

 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. –Romans 12:2

 

Salvation is the alternative brought forth by Jesus’ blood shed on the cross. And it demands that you find your freedom now. You don’t have to live for the world. You don’t have to live in your captivity. You don’t have to live under Rome, under Egypt or under sin-the root of all this slavery.

Because For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21

 

Salvation isn’t just some destination when you die. Salvation is the invitation of the world bought through what Christ survived on the cross. Salvation is victory over the enemy. Salvation is power to survive injustice. Salvation is the new creation. Salvation is true life. Salvation is the way. Would you like to be a part of it?

Salvation is the reconciliation of all things. And that my friends is some GOOD NEWS.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation[g] under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
See often times that continuation bit get’s mumbled up into a works based way into heaven. That’s why I wanted to shift your idea of salvation. No the continuation of the faith IS the deliverence. It’s the unfolding victory of Christ over you and over the world.

 

Because it is NOT the world of the Egyptians, it is NOT the world of the Romans, it is God’s world and it is and it will be God’s kingdom.

Would you like to be a part of it?

The reconciliation of all things?

So did Jesus come so that we could go to heaven someday? Is that it?!? All it boils down to is giving you hope about something that might happen someday somewhere else?

 

What you find in the teachings of Jesus is aggressively attached to THIS life and the beautiful part is that it extends beyond this life. It is eternal.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers,(They promoted a destructive and pagan worldview) but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. –John 10.

The alternative to a life enslaved by sin and slavery and corruption is what Jesus came to bring and that is life abundantly. Would you like to be a part that?

Think about all the questions the disciples are wondering after Jesus dies? Is it always going to be like this? Will the world ever get better? Is hope real?

The people of God believed God would act decisively to put an end to war, violence, racism, famine, and rape and all the wrong things of the world. The disciples thought Jesus was this chance. That a day was coming when God would say enough! To anything that disrupted the shalom the full peace of the world. Things that survived in the world now would not survive in the world to come. But notice where they thought these things would happen.

HERE. Our home.

The hope and discussion of the scriptures is THIS world being reconciled and healed, and transformed and made new into the paradise God gave us in the beginning. This reality of shalom, of everything in its right place is called “heaven.”

This is the story of the Bible. This is the story Jesus lived and told. And this is how the Bible ends.

21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

 

There’s heaven where Shalom sees its fullness and there’s Earth where things are two ways, good and bad.

What Jesus talks about is the day when heaven and earth would be the same place. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus insists in this story that this new creative energy and salvation of the world begins with him. That through this great work on the cross and through the even greater work of his resurrection a day would come where every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus, NOT Caesar is LORD.

So when Jesus heals a person this creative energy shows that this new world has already begun in him. When he feeds the hungry He’s showing his redeeming work. And when he dies on the cross and rises from the dead the early Christians rightly saw this as the first act of the newly created world.

 

So why this way? Why Jesus? Why the cross? Because when you are asking your girlfriend to marry you, you don’t send someone else. When you are inviting someone to begin a new life with you, you go yourself. The resurrection is the proposal, would you enter this life with me? It’s why the bible calls the Christ our groom and it’s why his followers are called his bride.

YES!

God has come in person, in Jesus to invite all of us to be a part of the new world that God is creating and not even the world of the pagans or Rome or sin or the enemy will have any grip on this world. And that is good news.

The empty grave then is a display of God’s power and it is the proof of the new creation. Jesus dying and rising again three days later is a display of the power to overcome the very worst of pain, and suffering, and evil that anybody in this world could ever experience.

This new kind of life has victory over pain and suffering and even death. Jesus calls it eternal life. The endless life lived at peace with God.

What Jesus doesn’t say is “I came so that you could live with me in another place.” “He says would you like to start now?”

So baptize yourself to show the world around you that you are not about that former way of life but you are about the kingdom of God. Because you want life and life abundantly.

See creation is not some finished thing to go find your place in. Creation is unfinished. The NEW creation is about restoring, healing, reconciling. See Genesis was here’s the world go make it.

The resurrection is here’s the new world, would you like to be a part of it? The whole thing is being healed come and see.

When you live as God intends for us to live. When you are obedient and loving to others. That’s being the life of heaven now. That’s doing God’s will here as it is there.

Give the hungry food now because there will be no starving in heaven. Love your enemy now because there will be no enemy in heaven. Take care of the homeless now because there will be no homeless in heaven.

You get to live the victory of the resurrection. The victory of the kingdom of God.

Or you can be the roman, the pagan, the hell inducer. And who wants that?

The advancement of the Kingdom of God is the great commission.

14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Give the people a choice. The Salvation of the Empire and the ways of the world? Or the salvation of Jesus? One brings your life condemnation. The other brings eternal abundant life.

 

Teach people to live the Jesus way. The followers of “the way.” Living the life of heaven now. The freedom from hell and condemnation now. This new life, this new strength to endure the pain and suffering and the hatred in this world is called salvation. And this salvation allows you to live with joy and generosity and love and this my friends is called eternal life. And this my friends IS the Kingdom of God.

 

The new invitation is the ongoing victory of the Christ. The Alpha and the Omega. The truth of our beginning and the truth of our end. He is WITH US. And this message should transform us. Because it isn’t just about where you go when you die but which reality will you live? Because there are heavens and hells now! May we overcome the Hells the gehennas, the Valley’s of Hinnom by sharing this good news of Christ our Savior and the Kingdom of God. Because this gospel invites us into our active purpose of bringing the there…here. Preparing this place for our masters return. Where God’s will is done here as it is in Heaven. Because our home and salvation is NOT in this world. It’s in the name of Jesus. It’s in the Kingdom of God.

And this kingdom my friends, is at hand.

And so if you would like to give your life to THAT well then I would love to introduce you to Jesus.

THE WAY.

THE TRUTH.

THE LIFE.

And that my friends is the Gospel, the good news, the euangelion of Jesus Christ, the messiah, THE SON OF GOD.

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