Sunday School Lessons


Commentary by Walter Albritton


April 20


Up from the Grave He Arose, with a Mighty Triumph Over Death!


Mark 15:1 – 16:8

Key Verse: Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. .

        Mark 16:6


            Death could not keep Jesus sealed in the tomb! This was the startling news received by the women who went early in the morning hoping to anoint his dead body with spices.

            Imagine the shock on their faces when the angel said, “He has been raised; he is not here.” Devastating sadness turned to unbelievable joy. Their hearts pounding with excitement, they returned to share the good news with Peter and the disciples.

            Today is Easter, and we are Easter People! On this glorious Sunday, we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. We share in his victory over sin and death. We affirm with glad hearts that because He lives, we shall live also. This is his promise to believers.

            Let me, however, issue a word of caution. My concern is expressed in the song that pleads, “Lest I forget Gethsemane, Lead me to Calvary.” Here is a good reminder. In our eager celebration of Easter, we must not forget the degree to which our Lord suffered in paying the price for our sins.

            Easter will mean more to us if we have first made a personal journey to Calvary. We need to retrace the steps of Jesus as the soldiers led him, pushing and shoving him, through the streets in shame.

            You see him there, do you not? He is exhausted from a long night of trials, verbal abuse, and brutal flogging. The cruel whipping has left his back bleeding. Blood drips from the torn flesh on his brow, the crown of thorns having done its grisly work.

            What appears to be sweat on his face may actually be saliva, for merciless men have spit in his face. Unthinkable cruelty he is experiencing right before your eyes.

            Exhaustion and the weight of the cross on his back cause him to stumble. A man passing by at that moment, Simon of Cyrene, is compelled by the soldiers to help carry the cross. Simon does not object. He even gives Jesus a hand as they make their way to Golgotha, the place of a skull, where the crucifixion will occur.

            Simon stands nearby now, awestruck by the rough treatment of the soldiers. They show no mercy as they stretch Jesus out on the cross. You and the other bystanders wince at the sound of hammers viciously nailing the hands and feet of Jesus to the wooden cross. Listen, you can hear the terrible thud as the heavy hammers strike the nails.

            The soldiers show little emotion. Crucifixion is their work. Watch now as they raise the cross skyward, dropping the bottom of it into a hole. You can almost see the flesh of Jesus tearing as the weight of his body sags against the nails. Blood is everywhere.

            Walk around the cross. Take a good look at it. Hear the heavy breathing as three men struggle for air. You can hear the cursing from the angry thief, the mockery and the laughter of the soldiers who consider their role just another day at work.

            The man suffering and dying there, on the center cross, is doing this for you. Say these words to yourself, “Jesus, you are dying for me, for me, for me.” Let his dying become personal to you.

            Charles Wesley did. That is why in his hymns he cried, “for me, for me, he died.” Wesley learned that, felt it, knew it, when he made his own personal journey to Calvary. The great singer of Methodism affirmed not only that Jesus died “for all,” but that he died “for me” as well.

            Listen now to what Jesus is saying. Yes, amazingly, he is speaking. If you cannot hear everything he says, be sure you hear with your own ears those three words, “It is finished!” Understand now, he is not talking about his agony being over; what is being completed before your very eyes is the plan of God that opens the gate to heaven for you.

            Consider this staggering thought: without his death, you would have no hope of salvation. His death means that you will not have to endure eternity without God. That is why what John says is so breathtaking:

            “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, NKJV).

            Now, finally, you can make your way to the tomb. You can look inside, and as you “behold the place where they laid him,” you can hear the angel say, “He is risen; he is not here.”  Allow the words to resonate in your soul, for the announcement of his resurrection is the best news the world has ever heard.

            However, do not hasten back to “the real world” until you see, as the women did, the Risen Christ standing before you. Listen to him, for his message is still the same: “Go and tell others!” He still expects his disciples to “go tell it on the mountain” that hell and death have been conquered by the mighty power of our God.

            Now, and only now, are you ready truly to celebrate Easter. Now the focus of Easter can never again be frivolous things, like new clothes, bunnies, and Easter eggs.

            Now, perhaps, you are ready to fall on your knees, as the amazed women did that first glad morning, and cry with Paul, “thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

            Yes, Easter is our day to celebrate God’s gift of eternal life through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, as we celebrate, we can never, ever, forget the terrible price Jesus paid for our salvation.

            We are indeed Easter People, but people with a vivid memory, and a grateful heart, because we have personally walked where he suffered, and stood outside the grave that could not keep him. We have seen it, heard it, felt it, with our own eyes, our own ears, and our own hearts.

            Now, we are ready to sing with all our hearts, “Up from the grave He arose”! Happy Easter! Glory to God! + + + + +