Fearful of Life


Date: Easter Sunday Text: Mark 16:1–8 www.kongsvingerchurch.org If you would like to be on Kongsvinger’s e-mailing list to receive information on how to attend all of our ONLINE discipleship and fellowship opportunities, please email [email protected]. Being on the e-mailing list will also give you access to fellowship time on Sunday mornings as well as Sunday morning Bible study.


Welcome to the teaching ministry of Kungsvinger Lutheran Church. Kungsvinger is a beacon for the gospel of Jesus Christ and is located on the plains of northwestern
Minnesota. We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sins and salvation by grace through faith alone.
And now, here's a message from Pastor Chris Roseberg. The Holy Gospel according to Saint Mark, the 16th chapter.
When the Sabbath was passed, Mary Magdalene and 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 is 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. This is the Gospel of the Lord. Christ is risen in the name of Jesus.
Amen. Death, we're all familiar with it, and unfortunately, it recently visited one of the congregations
I serve. You all know Emanuel Lutheran Church in Radium, Minnesota. This past Friday was Good Friday.
I conducted a Tanabray Good Friday service at Emanuel, and then promptly finished up and drove as quick as I could to start it and do it again here at Kongsvinger.
When I arrived home, I received a phone call from Lane, and the phone call was terrible.
He announced, and sadly, was weeping, sharing the bad news that his wife had passed.
And if you know, if you know Diane, not knew, know, then you know she had great faith.
And Lane said some important words. He said it was a good day for someone to die in Christ, on the day of His death.
But here's the thing, we're all familiar with death. It comes and visits us. You'll note that hardly anybody here has not had an experience with death.
We have people who are not here today at Kongsvinger, because death has visited us.
I think of Reuben, who passed recently, right? And others who used to fill these pews, and whose voices we can hear singing these great hymns that we sing, who are no longer with us.
And I would note, in the ancient world, they were even more familiar with death than we are.
Think of it this way. We live in a world where there's birth control. Families are not as big as they used to be, and the infant mortality rate is not nearly what it used to be.
Back in Jesus' day, families were large, necessarily so.
But you'll note that many children died in their childhood. Infant mortality was high, and death for children who would die of childhood diseases was also high.
In fact, it was so bad of a situation when it came to death visiting human beings, that 40 was about the average age that you would expect somebody to get to.
In fact, somebody like me, who's almost 56, I mean, I would practically be considered like an octogenarian at this point.
Could you imagine going through a midlife crisis at 16? I mean, that's what we're talking about here.
And as a result of this, you're going to note, the ancient world did not have morticians.
You'll note we live in a world where, when somebody dies, we call people, and those people send people, and those people do things with our dead loved ones, preparing them for burial.
We don't do that. But in the ancient world, there was nobody to do that.
And so you'll note that when a child died, it was often the father and the mother who had to prepare that child's body for burial.
When a cousin, or a loved one, or a wife, or a husband, or a brother died, they had to prepare the body for burial.
Everybody was well acquainted with death. And we can see that well acquaintance with death in our gospel text today.
It says this, when the Sabbath was passed, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices so they might go and anoint him.
They knew exactly what to do. And there was no YouTube at this time. Could you imagine a
YouTube channel dedicated to how to prepare your loved ones for burial? No, this was all skills that they learned on the job.
And so being familiar with death, they lived with it constantly. And very early on the first day of the week,
Sunday, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. Standard operating procedure.
They knew exactly what to do. They had bought the right spices to do it. And they were off to do the task and to finish the job of giving
Jesus a proper Jewish burial. Which tells us this, they fully expected to find a corpse when they got there.
Because you'll note, when it comes to death, death seems to be the undefeated reigning champion of the world.
And I don't mean that glibly. Think of it this way. Think of the great empires of humanity's past.
Maybe take the Roman Empire. You can talk about the Babylonians or maybe the Egyptian Empire.
And where are they now? They're all in the grave.
All of the Romans, all of the Caesars, they're all in the grave. Every Roman soldier of Christ's time, they're in the grave.
The Babylonian Empire not only doesn't exist anymore, everyone who was a citizen of it, everyone who was a magistrate in it, everybody who was a king or an emperor in it, they're all dead too.
Death is the undefeated reigning champion of humanity and it has destroyed every single ancient country, empire, kingdom, king, queen, citizen.
Who of us can say that we have a chance to stand against death when death comes knocking?
None of us can. In fact, the country that I grew up in, the reason why the country
I grew up in is gone is because so many of the people that I grew up with are gone as well.
Right? There's only remnants of the world that I grew up in and the current world that you're living in, it's just a matter of time before it's in tatters and doesn't exist either because the next generation will come up and I don't know if I have any confidence in the generations coming up.
It seems like every generation coming up is just getting worse and worse by the minute. And so what's keeping us together right now won't be able to keep us together in the future because death will have its way.
It always does. We're very familiar with death. But our story then continues.
When they arrived, well, the stone was rolled away. They expected there to be a stone there and the stone was already rolled away.
And looking up, they saw that it was gone and the entering of the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side dressed in a white robe and they were alarmed, which by the way, this is standard operating procedure if you're ever in the presence of an angel, alarm, fright, this is normal.
Anyone who has a conversation with you and says, yeah, I had coffee with an angel yesterday and they weren't terrified, they're lying through their teeth.
Or if they're a redneck, they're lying through their tooth. So you get the point. So the angel anticipating their alarm said, do not be alarmed.
You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. I love the fact that from now on,
Christ is always the crucified. He is the one who is crucified, who's laid down his life so that you and I can be forgiven and pardoned of all of our sins.
Oh, this is a great way to remember Christ's great work. He forever is the crucified.
But the angel then announced, he's risen. He's not here. And this is where a new form of fright comes in.
We all know how to process death. We may not like the process of processing death, but we know how to process it.
I don't think any of us know how to process resurrection. In fact, the thought of resurrection is absolutely terrifying when you start to think it out.
This is why throughout all of the Gospels, not just some of them, every one of them, everybody's terrified, experiencing all kinds of fright and anxiety in relation to what?
The resurrection. So, this angel says, he's risen, he's not here.
See the place where they laid him? You can take a look for yourselves, ladies, if you want, but you go and tell his disciples and Peter, Peter needs to have some assurance at this point because he has blundered and bungled it badly, says, you go and let
Peter know also that he's going for you to Galilee. There you will see him just as he told you. And they went out, and listen to how this
Gospel text ends. They fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
But here's the thing, they weren't afraid of death. We all know that fear.
This is something completely different. Fearful of life, why?
Because life isn't a concept, it's not an abstract philosophical thesis.
Jesus is the resurrection and the life. And you're going to note then, having a proper fear of Jesus is a good thing.
If you are an impenitent sinner, oh for sure you're going to have fear of Jesus, but the wrong kind. The wrong kind of fear is the kind of fear that cringes and goes, ah, please don't punish me, ah, right?
That's not the fear of faith. The fear of faith is shock and awe. And so these women left trembling for fear and astonishment had seized them, why?
Because the unexpected has happened, something we've never even heard of. Death has been defeated, it's been punched in the face and knocked out, and Christ himself has escaped it alive, and he's come back, and it's like, oh, whoa, what are we to make of this?
But that's the thing. You're going to have to get used to living, by the way. I'm just saying, you Christians, we're used to this dying thing.
We live in the valley of the shadow of death. We've got to get used to this life thing. I think to the other gospel accounts, man, they are fantastic in kind of teasing out this theme about fear of the living
Jesus, fear of life. In the gospel of Matthew, in his account, I would note that when we see what happens when the report gets back to the chief priest, you know, the guys, the henchmen who kind of concoct the whole scheme to have
Jesus crucified, everything that they do is screaming fear.
So consider the report. Matthew reports for us in his gospel, chapter 28, that while the women were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priest all that had taken place.
Boy, there's a lot that you can pack into that sentence or unpack from it. I mean, think about this for a second here.
You have a guard set at a tomb. Did the chief priests and scribes think for a second that Christ was going to rise from the dead?
No way. They didn't think he was going to rise from the dead. In fact, they were counting on the fact that he wouldn't rise from the dead and that he was a complete liar and a lunatic when he said that he was going to rise from the dead.
And the weird bit is, is that although the disciples didn't understand what Jesus meant that he was going to rise from the dead, his enemies knew full well what that meant.
And so what did they do? They posted a guard of soldiers at the tomb to do what?
To keep Jesus from rising from the dead? Nope. They don't think he was coming back. They did that because they thought the disciples were going to be valiant and come and steal his body and tell everyone he had risen from the dead, which makes no sense.
But then the unexpected happened. You know, Christ rose from the dead and an angel appeared and rolled the stone away.
And what does the text tell us about what happened to the soldiers who were on guard that morning when the angel showed up?
They fell on the ground like dead men. They're all like a bunch of dog turds all over the ground over there, you know.
And this angel just completely, just obliterated them with his presence and they were just dead, like corpses on the ground.
They were so afraid of what was going on. So now, be one of these Roman soldiers and you have to go and report back what has happened.
Here's the thing, in this particular situation, their necks are on the line, so they've got to report everything that took place as it occurred.
And so there's not one guy showing up, there's going to be an entire little regiment and they're all going to be showing up with their hats in their hands going, um, there's a problem.
What's the problem? Uh, well, you know, um, Jesus rose from the dead.
What? Uh, yeah, there was an angel and he rolled away the stone and oh man, and it just totally like, whew, we became like dead people and we're still shaken from the experience.
Okay, that's how this report's going down, right? Okay? So, no, where's all the fear?
The fear's over the one who's alive, hmm, and in their case, it's not a good fear.
So, emergency council meeting on Sunday morning, okay, this is an emergency and the text says that the chief priests assembled the elders and they took council together.
How did that church council meeting go? I mean, work this out.
Okay, so we thought we got rid of Jesus. Turns out we didn't.
Okay, we thought, you know, there we were Friday night thinking we've done a good job, good riddance,
Jesus, no problem, well, we've got a problem, he came back. And you can see somebody going, uh, we've got to figure out how to get ahead of this, spin control, we have a false narrative, you know, yeah, yeah, okay, so what are we going to do?
Well, why don't we tell the soldiers to tell them, tell everybody that the disciples came and stole the body while they were sleeping?
They're not allowed to sleep on duty. We'll pay them money. Okay, okay, these are the actions of people in a panic, right?
Because even their story doesn't make any sense. Imagine you're a soldier number one.
You've been paid a large sum of money and told, here's what you need to do. If anyone asks you what happened, everyone knows you were there.
You say, I was asleep and the disciples stole the body. So soldier number one tries this thing out.
Somebody says, weren't you one of the soldiers on duty there? Yep, I was there. Well, what happened? Well, we fell asleep.
You what? And you're still alive? Yeah, well, you know, it was a mistake.
Well, what happened while you were asleep? Well, while we were asleep, the disciples came and stole the body. Well, how do you know they stole the body?
Because you were asleep. Did you see it? No. Well, then how do you know?
Because reasons, right? The whole thing is just filled with panic, fear over the risen
Christ. We don't have a category to deal with dead people who've come back from the grave.
That would be a little awkward at dinner, don't you think, if somebody showed up? Could you imagine? You know, it's like one of the graves pops open over here and somebody shows up for dinner tonight at your house.
Everyone would be like, oh, right? Now you're starting to see it.
And the disciples, they're no better. They are no better. Gospel of Luke, Jesus actually shows up in their midst.
It says this, that while the disciples were talking after the women had given them the report, Jesus himself stood among them and said, peace to you.
But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a ghost. They don't have a category for it, do they?
No, not yet. And so Jesus said to them, why are you troubled? Why do doubts arise in your hearts?
Oh, I can think of a thousand of them right now. It's like, nobody's ever come back from the grave.
We don't have a policy and a procedure to work this out. Okay, we need to talk with HR.
Could you like sit over there, Jesus, while we need to make sure this is okay on the level. Okay, you'll note that everybody gets a death certificate.
There's no resurrection certificate. And does the government need to sign off on any resurrections?
There's all kinds of rules and regulations when it comes to how you handle a dead body and how you properly bury them and what you can't do after they're buried and stuff like this.
But what happens if they come back from the grave? All the rules are out the window because nobody has written rules like this because no one's come back except for Christ.
And that's the thing that stands out, right? So Jesus says, why are you troubled? Why are doubts arising in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet. It is I, it's myself. Touch me, see. A spirit, a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.
And when they had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, have you anything here to eat?
Now, contrary to the lore created by Ghostbusters, ghosts don't eat.
And that's part of the point that Jesus is making. Do you have something to eat? They gave him a piece of a broiled fish.
He took it and ate it in front of them. You sure he's not a ghost? Right? Fear, fearful of life itself.
And I got to tell you, I think that's what people are really afraid of.
The reason why they fear death is because deep down inside, every one of us knows that we're all going to be raised from the dead.
I want you to think about this. We confess Jesus is going to return in glory to judge the living and the dead.
And at his return, it is the general resurrection. Everybody raised from the dead.
But here's the thing. Not everybody is raised from the dead to eternal life. Some are raised from the dead and they live a life in hell for eternity.
That's the thing that we all fear. I know it seems weird when you think about it, but you got to kind of push past the facade of death because death has been blown out by Christ.
And get to the real heart of the matter. What do people fear? They fear Jesus and they fear living forever in hell.
But because of what Christ has done for us, none of us have to experience that. And we are here to celebrate the victory of Christ.
You'll note that his resurrection from the grave sent everybody into a panic, including his disciples.
Because we don't have a way of processing this. But his victory over the grave proves a few things.
One, that his sacrifice on the cross for our sins was accepted by God. We can now say with confidence we are forgiven.
How do we know that? Because Christ rose from the dead. If we just said, well, he was sacrificed and he died and we believe his sacrifice was for the forgiveness of our sins, but his death, he stayed dead just like anybody else.
Could we even have any confidence at all that we are forgiven? Of course not. Because he has risen from the dead, we have absolute confidence that we are forgiven.
And now we are reconciled to the father. And more importantly, we are also confident that because Christ has risen from the dead, as the scripture says, when we were baptized into Christ, we were baptized into his death and into his resurrection.
And as a result of it, when he returns, we also will be raised to life and we will live forever.
We can say we have this with confidence. But the other thing that we can say also is that everyone who has gone before us in the faith, that we will be reunited with them.
I think back now to Diane Leslie. Their family gathered at the family home, waiting for the authorities to show up in order to process her body.
And so her children were there and her grandchildren, and they all got to see her corpse.
And one of her grandsons said, that's okay, she'll be back in a couple of days.
You know what though? He's not wrong. He's just not wrong.
Because that's the truth. Christ will bring her back with him when he returns.
And we can have that confidence because Christ himself has conquered death. See, there's so much here, that the resurrection of Christ is everything.
And Easter then is truly the high, holy day of Christianity. A good
Friday being our day of atonement, but Easter Sunday being the proof that that atonement was accepted by God.
And so our confidence now is in Christ, and it's a good confidence. And I would like to point out, our
Old Testament texts, there's something amazing about it. In the Old Testament text, we heard the words,
I know that my Redeemer lives. We know those words.
In fact, those words are put to music, okay? We all know the tune. I know that my
Redeemer lives, right? You know the song. But I want you to consider something here for a second.
Who wrote those words? Was it the
Apostle John? Matthew? Mark? The Apostle Paul?
No, it was a fellow by the name of Job. Do you know anything about Job, except for that he suffered? Do you know how old this book is?
And this is where it gets weird. Read the scholars on this. The scholars are almost unified in their belief that the book of Job predates anything written by Moses.
And that the time period that is covered in the book of Job is sometime after the flood and before Abraham is born.
Work that out. If that's the case, and I think there's a good reason to believe it's the case, especially if you read
Hebrew, because when you read that Hebrew, it bends your brain in half because of how archaic it is. You ever read
Beowulf, okay, in the Old English? Yeah, it's a little bit of work.
Job is kind of like that. When you read it in Hebrew. So note then, there's something going on here.
Who did he learn this theology from? Where did he get this idea?
Listen to the words. I know that my Redeemer lives. Job, by saying that, is confessing he needs a
Redeemer. And what is one of them? A Redeemer is somebody who pays that super exorbitant price that it costs to take a slave and not merely purchase them.
But purchase their freedom. And to say that I know that my Redeemer lives is a direct allusion to the fact that Christ was crucified, died, and was buried.
The resurrection is right there implied in this text. And I think back to Queen Elizabeth's funeral.
Fascinating funeral, fascinating funeral. So if you remember, there's, you got those military guys, that honor guard, they're pallbearers.
They're bringing her coffin into Westminster Abbey. They've just taken it off the carriage and they marched it up the stairs.
And as soon as her coffin crossed the threshold into Westminster Abbey, the choir begins to sing.
And these are the words they sing. I know that my Redeemer lives and at the last he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has thus been destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God. They sing it beautifully with those male sopranos and their high flying voices that just sound like they're bouncing off the ceilings.
And I'm sitting there going, whoa, that's quite the confession.
And then when you heard the sermon delivered at her funeral by the Archbishop of Canterbury, he spoke explicitly about Queen Elizabeth's hope in the resurrection and her belief in Christ and told everybody there that she was going to rise from the dead when
Christ returns. And when I sit there and go, that's just standard Christian stuff.
Well, it turns out when I was watching it, I was watching it on a news channel from the UK. It wasn't the
BBC, I forget the name of it. And they were broadcasting live on YouTube. And so when the funeral was done and they took her coffin and put it back on the carriage and they were marching her off to a hearse to drive her to her final resting place, then they had these news people discussing their thoughts on the funeral and stuff like this.
And some blonde chick kind of chimes in and she goes, I have a question. Well, what is it?
Did Queen Elizabeth really believe that? Believe what?
That she was going to rise from the dead. And one of the other guys said, well, yes, of course, that's what
Christians believe. And she was a Christian. And she said, I had no idea.
She was blown away by the thought that Christians would dare to have a hope that we would be raised from the grave.
But yet it was there confessed and sung as her coffin comes into Westminster Abbey.
I know that my Redeemer lives. Job, the oldest of the
Old Testament old guys, says, I know that my Redeemer lives. And at the last, he will stand upon the earth.
He's confessing here the second coming of Christ. In the oldest of the
Old Testament books. But listen to this defiant confession of his.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh
I shall see God. I would note Job's been dead for a while. If he's really one of the oldest of the
Old Testament old guys, he's been dead for a long, long, long time.
I mean, he perished what? In the generation of the second generation after the flood? I mean, that's kind of long ago.
And yet he says that after his skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh
I will see God. He's confessing his own resurrection here. How did he learn that? Who told him this?
How can this possibly be in the Old Testament and the oldest of the Old Testament books?
Because that's always been the Christian faith. This is the faith of Noah.
This is the faith of Adam. This is the faith of Enoch. This is the faith of the patriarchs pre -flood.
This has always been what we've believed, taught, and confessed. This has always been what
God has revealed to us. Why should we be shocked that we see it here?
And then listen. So after my skin has thus been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God, whom
I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold and not another. And then listen to his reaction to this.
My heart faints within me. There's that fear again, fearful of life.
So brothers and sisters, let us embrace a good, godly fear of life.
We are in good company when we do so. But let us not cower like the soldiers and the chief priests and come up with stupid ideas and false narratives and fake news regarding the resurrection of Christ.
Let us instead hold on to that fear, shock, and awe, and astonishment. And know this then, because he is risen from the dead, we can confess exactly what
Job says, in great defiance of death. Oh death, do your worst on me, by the way. You're not gonna succeed because Jesus has promised us that everyone who believes in him will never taste death.
So go ahead and set the table, death. I'm not eating any of it. And neither are you, because I fear life.
I fear the one who is life. And the thought of it even causes my heart to faint within me.
In the name of Jesus, amen. If you would like to support the teaching ministry of Kungsvinger Lutheran Church, you can do so by sending a tax -free donation to Kungsvinger Lutheran Church, 15950 470th
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