This post is based on a message from Pastor Todd Cosenza, given at Hope Church on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2024. Click the link at the bottom of the page to watch the entire message.

The Lord wants us to believe Him this morning. The challenge is the same for all of us, no matter how long you’ve known Jesus or if you’re just starting a relationship with Him. Believe

During His earthly ministry, Jesus often spoke in parables. But near the end of His life He plainly told His disciples, friends, and family what was going to happen to Him. He told them He would be arrested, taken from those who loved Him, tortured, and crucified. He wanted to let them know what He was going to walk through and how it would affect them. It was going to be a solemn time, even a sad time. But He didn’t leave it there — He also told them He was going to rise again from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He told them the hard part first, but didn’t leave them there. He wanted them to believe. He told them the hard part was coming but gave them something good to hold onto, to bring them through the hard part and help get them to the good part, where He and His disciples would all be together again. This is something that Jesus Himself did as He obeyed His Heavenly Father through the most difficult time of His life. This is recorded in Hebrews 12:

For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  (Hebrews 12:2b-3 NIV)

The Bible says that because of the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross. He looked past the pain of the hard part because of the joy He saw on the other side of the cross. If you’re going through something hard, the Lord is speaking to you to encourage you and to give you something to hold on to through “the hard part.” If you believe His words, they will pull you through the hard part and carry you into the good part that is to come.

Let’s turn our attention to Mark 16. In this resurrection passage, we learn some truths about what happens when we don’t believe Jesus’ words . . .

Not believing will lead to unnecessary WORKS. 

“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.”  (Mark 16:1 NIV)

Out of their love for the Lord, these ladies were going to anoint Jesus’ body in the tomb. They bought the spices and the anointing oil to prepare the body for an extended stay in the tomb, an attempt to prevent decay for a period of time. Anointing a body for burial was not only expensive and time-consuming, but also heart-wrenching. As mourners handled the body of a loved one to anoint it for burial, the tears would flow and there would be a mix of the perfumed oil and tears. Yet Jesus had already told them He wouldn’t be in the tomb very long (see Matthew 16:21). He had already been anointed by a sinful woman at a Pharisee’s house where she anointed the feet of Jesus and mixed the perfume with her own tears (Luke 7:36-38). 

In Mark 16, these ladies were doing a nice thing out of love for Jesus, but it wasn’t necessary. He never wanted them to buy costly perfumes to anoint His body for burial — He wanted them to simply believe Him. Believe that He would rise from the dead as He said.

Jesus is not asking us to do anything except believe Him. We don’t have to take multiple trips or pilgrimages to earn His favor. We don’t have to take on a lot of extra responsibility for Him to be more pleased with us. We don’t have to do anything other than what He asks us to do. The thing He wants most is for us to believe Him. Then from a position of belief we can faithfully serve Him. 

Not believing will lead to unnecessary WORRY. 

“Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’”  (Mark 16:2-3 NIV)

The three ladies had a concern they were carrying because they didn’t believe. As they walked to the tomb they were saying to each other, “The stone is very large and there are no men to help us. We’re just three ladies; how will we roll away the stone?” This was an unnecessary worry that they didn’t have to carry. If they would have believed the words of Jesus about His resurrection, then their concerns about the tombstone wouldn’t be there.

We are not built for worry. We are built for faith and belief. The only way to offload worry is to believe what Jesus is saying to us through His written Word and His words to us. If He said something, it will be done. Believe Him.

At the tomb, the angel reminded the ladies of some important details that Jesus had already told them — “just as He told you.”

“As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.”’” (Mark 16:5-7 NIV)

In light of what Jesus had already said, they needed to respond — “you need to go, tell His disciples, and get your feet moving, get yourselves to Galilee to meet Him again!” What thing has the Lord said to you that you’ve not yet believed? Take it to heart and plant your feet on it. Don’t have a wait-and-see mentality. Belief is being in agreement with what He said and taking action in line with that. “Lord, I believe what You’ve spoken to me and I believe You are the Lord of the impossible. If you can defeat death, you can defeat my problem. I choose to believe You.” 

Not believing will lead to being unnecessarily WITHDRAWN. 

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”  (Mark 16:8 NIV)

The women said nothing to anyone because they were so paralyzed with fear and unbelief. Fear will make you quiet, but faith will make you bold. We all have a testimony of what Jesus has done for us. A little bit of belief will set us free to open our mouth and share what Jesus has done for us.

In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul the Apostle quoted King David from the Psalms:

“It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak…”  (2 Corinthians 4:13 NIV)

David was able to speak because he believed. Paul then says that we have the same spirit of faith that David had! We have the faith to bring down giants in our lives! He said we believe, and therefore we speak. When you believe, something opens up in your heart and you can’t help but speak up! If we don’t believe, we will be unnecessarily withdrawn and unable to speak like these three women were. The world needs a church that is opening up and speaking of what Jesus is doing. 

Let’s finish with something Jesus said to Martha, whose brother Lazarus had just died:

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26 NIV)

Jesus challenged Martha with the fact that He was more than someone who could raise a dead person to life. He was the resurrection and the life! Jesus didn’t just do resurrections; He is the resurrection! Then He asked her a very important question; Do you believe this?

It is easy for Christians to believe in the historical fact of the death and resurrection of Jesus. That was something that happened in the past. We cannot be saved without believing it! But do we believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life today? Do we believe that if He lives in us, then His resurrection life and power also lives in us?

If we are willing to believe Jesus, then we will avoid unnecessary works, unnecessary worry, and being unnecessarily withdrawn. Our hearts will open to a fresh life filled with faith and the manifestations of miracles. This Easter, will we believe Him?

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