The Hope of Easter: Mark 16:2-4
The picture of the first Easter morning was bleak. The disciples had believed that Jesus was their hope and the hope of Israel. They thought He was the one who was going to save and deliver them from Roman rule and oppression. Three days earlier their hopes were dashed. Jesus, the one they had looked to, had been crucified. All hope was gone.
Perhaps you are in a situation in your life where you have lost all hope. You are at your breaking point. There have been glimmers of hope, but your last hope has died. You don’t know what to do. There is nothing else to look to. All the hope that is in you has expired. Easter, as it did for the the disciples, brings fresh hope into our life and situation.
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James brought spices to Jesus’ tomb to anoint Jesus’ body for burial. We read, “Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. They were saying to one another, who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb? Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large” (Mark 16:2-4 NASB).
It’s significant to note it was “very early on the first day of the week.” Real hope is found early in the morning. That is why Jesus, “In the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35 KJV). Elisha’s servant “had risen early” (2 Kings 6:15), ultimately to find God had brought deliverance to Israel. Joshua was facing his first great battle as Israel’s leader, and had risen early to seek the Lord when he met the “captain of the host of the LORD” (Joshua 5:13-14). If we will begin to seek the Lord early before our battle begins, God will bring renewed hope into our life and situation.
In our passage, the two Marys had risen early and gone to the tomb, not knowing who would even roll away the stone from the tomb. When they arrived, “Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away” (Mark 16:4 NASB). “Looking up!” Our situation may seem bleak and impossible, but I’m here to tell you that Easter – Resurrection Sunday – gives renewed hope. Where we have been hopeless and downcast, Jesus’ resurrection causes us to raise our heads and “look up” once again. As we examine scripture, the word look or looking can bring fresh new perspective into our lives. Let’s examine a few scriptures that deal with “look” or looking.
Your blessed hope. Paul wrote to Titus, “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus2:13 NKJV). Paul was writing concerning the second coming of Jesus. Easter not only causes us to look to the resurrected Christ, but ultimately Jesus’ return for us – “the blessed hope.” As we look to Jesus, we not only have the hope of His return for us, but also that He will gloriously appear to us in our situation. Notice, He is “our great God and Savior.” What a proof text to His divinity. As God, there is nothing too hard for Him – nothing in our life or situation He cannot handle. He is there to bring us salvation – both eternal salvation and salvation in life’s situations. Jesus is our blessed hope. Let’s steadfastly look to Him!
Your redemption is drawing near. Jesus said, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28 NKJV). He had been talking about Jerusalem “falling by the edge of the sword, and being led away captive into all nations” (Luke 21:24 NKJV), and “men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:26 NKJV) . Everything may be coming in against you. Fear is gripping your mind and your “heart failing them (you) from fear.” In the midst of it all He challenges us to “look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Your deliverance is on its way. Look up and lift up your head — victory is coming!
Your help. The Psalmist said, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills — From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD” (Psalm 121:1-2 NKJV). Are you in trouble? Are you in need of help today? Lift up your eyes to the one who alone can help. Our God is “A very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1 NKJV).
Victory in the battle. Joshua was facing his first major battle as Israel’s leader. The challenge before him was great, “he lifted his eyes and looked” and before him stood the “Commander of the army of the LORD” (Joshua 5:13-14 NKJV). This was a manifestation of Christ in the Old Testament. He looked to Him and received the guidance and direction he needed for victory in the battle. We too will find the needed prescription for victory as we look to resurrected Jesus.
A successful conclusion. As you look to Jesus, God promises to bring you through to a successful conclusion. The writer of Hebrews says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2 KJV). “Looking unto” means to look away from other things and to fix our eyes on Jesus. There are many things vying for our attention, but we must turn our eyes from them and fix our sights on Jesus. He both began our faith (Roman 12:3), and will finish it. Paul wrote, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it” (Philippians 1:6 KJV). “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” ( 1 Thessalonians 5:24 NKJV).
No mater what you are facing, He is faithful to finish what He began, and all He has called you to. The good news is, it doesn’t depend on us. He is the author and finisher of our faith. We are merely co-laborers together with Him (1 Corinthians 3:9).
Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus this Easter, the following year and beyond – until He returns. He is our blessed hope, our redemption (deliverer), victory in the battle, and He will bring us through to a successful conclusion. When everything is coming against us let’s look up, lift up our heads, and fix our gaze upon Him. He alone brings hope.