Mark 16:1-7 (The Message)
1-3 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so they could embalm him. Very early on Sunday morning, as the sun rose, they went to the tomb. They worried out loud to each other, “Who will roll back the stone from the tomb for us?”
4-5 Then they looked up, saw that it had been rolled back—it was a huge stone—and walked right in. They saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed all in white. They were completely taken aback, astonished.
6-7 He said, “Don’t be afraid. I know you’re looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the One they nailed on the cross. He’s been raised up; he’s here no longer. You can see for yourselves that the place is empty. Now—on your way. Tell his disciples and Peter that he is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You’ll see him there, exactly as he said.”
One of my favorite children’s story writers is Dr. Seuss. The best character Dr. Seuss ever came up with has got to be Horton the elephant. I love that guy. Remember that flaky duck mother who left her egg with Horton and said, “Would you watch this egg please?” She leaves that egg and hits the road. Horton stays with that egg until it hatches. He’s a wonderful mother. Remember that great line Dr. Seuss gives to Horton? He says, “I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant is faithful 100 percent.”
It’s devastating when people break their word. It can feel like betrayal. It crushes the spirit, drains the hope and often the joy of living right out of us. This is where those first disciples were on that Sunday…
When Jesus came on the scene preaching the Good News of God’s Kingdom, people found hope. Many believed in what Jesus was saying. It seemed to ring so true in their life. Incredible as it seemed, somehow they knew, deep down inside—man, this is the real stuff.
Many believers abandoned their old lifestyles and followed Jesus full-time; a few even gave up very lucrative careers, all to follow Jesus. And they did it without regret or remorse. But then it happened. Jesus was arrested—fairness was nowhere to be seen. He was delivered into the hands of Roman authority—Justice was thrown out the window. And when that wasn’t enough—the religious leaders incited the crowd to cry out for Jesus’ crucifixion.
They saw him after the Roman soldiers had beaten Him; bleeding stripes on his back, with chunks of flesh missing or just hanging there. They saw him led to Golgotha, and they watched the spikes being driven into His hands and feet. They watched as he hung in agony, and then—die! As bad as it was to watch the death of Jesus, it was even worse for them—for their hope and peace and joy died also. Maybe some of them felt betrayed by Jesus. They thought he hadn’t kept his word to them. We all need people who will keep their word.
When you experience a person who keeps promises, it’s a life-changing experience. Some of the greatest historical moments have been moments where people kept their words. In May of 1942, when the United States evacuated Corregidor, a submarine came to take General MacArthur and his staff to Australia. Before MacArthur got on that submarine, he made a very famous promise: “I shall return.” MacArthur had a flair for the dramatic. But it went deeper than that. When the war in the Pacific turned, American troops began to fight their way back toward the Philippines.
Some advisers in the Pacific theater felt it was foolish to try to go back. They said, “Just bypass the Philippines, and go on.” But MacArthur felt a sense of history—a promise had been made. He went back to Leyte Gulf, and you may remember the famous Life magazine photograph as MacArthur stepped on the beach to keep a promise.
What you need to remember this Easter and for the rest of your life is this: God Meant What He Said And He Said What He Meant. God Is Faithful 100 Percent! He promised Abraham that all nations would be blessed through him. And He kept that promise. He promised Moses that He would deliver the people from slavery. And He kept that promise. He promised Joshua that He would fight for them. And He kept that promise.
He promised David that he would be king. And He kept that promise. He promised through the Prophets that the Messiah would come. And He kept that promise. He promised Joseph that Mary’s child was the Messiah. And He kept that promise.
Easter is a wonderful time to remember that God keeps His promises to us. Easter isn’t about new clothes and dinners and egg hunts. Easter is about Jesus—The One who keeps His word to us. There’s not a single promise that God makes to you that He doesn’t keep.
The angel says to the women, “He’s alive.” Jesus of Nazareth is alive. There’s no mistake about it. It’s not a phantom-spiritualized-Christ that the angel is talking about. It’s Jesus of Nazareth. This is the historical name of our Lord—His name, plus the city, Nazareth. Jesus of Nazareth is alive. He has conquered death. And He kept that promise. He will meet his friends in Galilee, as he said He would.
Everything that Jesus had told them—it’s all true! “Tell his disciples and Peter that he is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You’ll see him there, exactly as he said.” That’s what the angel said. Jesus keeps his word.
I want to reflect upon the amazing fact that Jesus still keeps His promise. God meant what He said, and He said what He meant. God is faithful 100 percent! This Easter and for the rest of your life, you need to remember:
He Loved Us Then, He Loves Us Now, And He Will Always Love Us—Just Like He Said.
Before the Cross, Jesus said in John 15:12-13, This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. The fact of the Cross is nearly 2000 years old. If He loved us while He hung on that Cross—and He did love us—do you really think at any point now he will stop loving us?
Nothing you can do will make God love you more than when Jesus hung on the Cross. And nothing you can do will make God love you less than when Jesus hung on the Cross. His love is given to you without any conditions. His love never has any small print. There are no exclusionary clauses.
You can count on God’s love. 1 John 4:16 says, “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” God is offering us all a love relationship because He is love. God meant what He said and He said what He meant. God is faithful 100 percent.—Just like He said He would.
God Will Forgive Us—Just Like He Said.
On that Cross He said it. In the middle of that pain, He said it. While people were mocking Him, He said it. While soldiers were gambling for His clothes, He said it. While those who were closest to him were doubting and giving up hope, He said it! What did He say? Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And if there is sin that has not been confessed and if there are sins you haven’t repented of, Jesus says it to you: “Father, forgive him, he doesn’t know what he is doing. Father, forgive her, because she doesn’t have a clue.”
Forgiveness was extended from the Cross to all those who were inflicting that pain and mocking his Mission. His forgiveness is not just to those around that Cross. This to us as well. It’s this Word that Jesus still speaks today. He speaks it into every broken heart—every filthy-sin-stained heart every moment of every day. And if there is anyone here today who thinks that they have gone too far to be forgiven, remember—God meant what He said and He said what He meant. God is faithful 100 percent. —Just like He said He would.
Finally, God Will Stay With Us—Just Like He Said.
Tombs are memorials and markers to what used to be; monuments to the past. They are designed to remember what was is not forgotten. But The Tomb on that first Easter was empty then because He was alive. There’s all kinds of speculations about where the tomb of Jesus was around Jerusalem. Some say it’s The Church of The Holy Sepulcher, and others day it’s The Garden Tomb. Several spots claim to be that place, but know what? That doesn’t matter—because He’s not in tomb. Tombs are for dead people.
Jesus said in Matthew 28:20, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Stalin is buried in Moscow. Mohammed is still in a burial vault in the city of Medina. But I don’t care about which place Jesus was buried. Truth is, He’s alive. He conquered death, and now He seeks to live in the hearts and lives of those who accept Him. Jesus Lives Today, and He comes to live in us by the Holy Spirit because God meant what He said and He said what He meant. God is faithful 100 percent.
Can you really walk away this morning, of all mornings, when you remember that God meant what He said and He said what He meant? God is faithful 100 percent? Can you really put off going deeper in your relationship with Jesus? How can you hold back a part of you knowing that God meant what He said and He said what He meant? God is faithful 100 percent? How can you pass this off as just another holiday and go back to life as usual knowing that God meant what He said and He said what He meant? God is faithful 100 percent? He was faithful to those first Followers, and He will be faithful to YOU 100 percent.
And the beauty and wonder of all of this, is that He doesn’t expect you to understand 100% how He will transform your life back into the glory of His Image. Because He is faithful 100%, He doesn’t give up on His plans when you try to make changes to that plan. And because He is faithful 100%, He will not stop loving, forgiving or transforming you when you mess up or want to give up. God meant what He said and He said what He meant. God is faithful 100 percent!