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Terrified of the Unknown

  An Arab chief tells a story of a spy who was captured and then sentenced to death by a general in the Persian army. This general had the strange custom of giving condemned criminals a choice between the firing squad and the big, black door. As the moment for execution drew near, the spy was brought to the Persian general, who asked the question, "What will it be: the firing squad or the big, black door?"

   The spy hesitated for a long time. It was a difficult decision. He chose the firing squad.

   Moments later shots rang out confirming his execution. The general turned to his aide and said, "They always prefer the known way to the unknown. It is characteristic of people to be afraid of the undefined. Yet, we gave him a choice."

   The aide said, "What lies beyond the big door?"

   "Freedom," replied the general. "I've known only a few brave enough to take it."

 

Don McCullough, "Reasons to Fear Easter

 

Mark 16:1-8

    Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. [2] Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. [3] And they said among themselves, "Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?" [4] But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away--for it was very large. [5] And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. [6] But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is 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 into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you." [8] So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

*The women purchased the spices on Saturday evening after the Sabbath had ended so they could go to the tomb early the next morning and anoint Jesus’ body as a sign of love, devotion, and respect. Bringing spices to the tomb was like bringing flowers to a grave today.

The angels did not roll away the stone so Jesus could get out, but so others could get in and see for themselves that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, just as he said.

Mark says that one angel met the women at the tomb, while Luke mentions two angels. These accounts are not contradictory. Each Gospel writer chose to highlight different details as he explained the same story, just as eyewitnesses to a news story each may highlight a different aspect of that event. Mark probably emphasized only the angel who spoke. The unique emphasis of each Gospel shows that the four accounts were written independently. This should give us confidence that all four are true and reliable.

The resurrection is vitally important for many reasons: (1) Jesus kept his promise to rise from the dead, so we can believe he will keep all his other promises. (2) The resurrection ensures that the ruler of God’s eternal kingdom will be the living Christ, not just an idea, hope, or dream. (3) Christ’s resurrection gives us the assurance that we also will be resurrected. (4) The power of God that brought Christ’s body back from the dead is available to us to bring our morally and spiritually dead selves back to life so that we can change and grow (1 Cor. 15:12-19). (5) The resurrection provides the substance of the church’s witness to the world. We do not merely tell lessons from the life of a good teacher; we proclaim the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The angel made special mention of Peter to show that, in spite of Peter’s denials, Jesus had not disowned and deserted him. Jesus had great responsibilities for Peter to fulfill in the church that was not yet born.

The angel told the disciples to meet Jesus in Galilee “as he told you” (see Mark 14:28). This is where Jesus had called most of them and had said they would become “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19), and it would be where this mission would be restated (John 21). But the disciples, filled with fear, remained behind locked doors in Jerusalem (John 20:19). Jesus met them first in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36) and later in Galilee (John 21). Then he returned to Jerusalem where he ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:12).

 

Psalm 27:1

A Psalm of David.

    The Lord is my light and my salvation;

    Whom shall I fear?

    The Lord is the strength of my life;

    Of whom shall I be afraid?

*Fear is a dark shadow that envelops us and ultimately imprisons us within ourselves. Each of us has been a prisoner of fear at one time or another—fear of rejection, misunderstanding, uncertainty, sickness, or even death. But we can conquer fear by using the bright liberating light of the Lord who brings salvation. If we want to dispel the darkness of fear, let us remember with the psalmist that “the LORD is my light and my salvation.”

 

John 3:18

    He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

*People often try to protect themselves from their fears by putting their faith in something they do or have: good deeds, skill or intelligence, money or possessions. But only God can save us from the one thing that we really need to fear—eternal condemnation. We believe in God by recognizing the insufficiency of our own efforts to find salvation and by asking him to do his work in us. When Jesus talks about unbelievers, he means those who reject or ignore him completely, not those who have momentary doubts.

 

Pastor Tom Nelson tbc4/12/2001tnelson1@se-tel.com

For Prayer Line www.townbranchchurch.com

Granny Warrix’s Cookbooks www.townbranchchurch.com

May God Bless you and yours richly and pray for blessings for the Town Branch Church

 

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