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Full Manger, Empty Tomb



Why were the angels so excited at the birth of Jesus? Because they understood what the savior had come to do. Join us as Ben Stuart finishes our series through the book of Mark with a hopeful message on Christmas Eve.

Key Takeaway

We celebrate Jesus's arrival because of His subsequent glory that gives us life. When He entered in the form of a baby, He would forever put death to death and give us eternal life.

Angels don't make a ton of appearances in the Bible. They are supporting characters in a larger story. In the Christmas story, we see the angels excited, but only one passage tells us why. 1 Peter 1:10-12 tells us that the prophets only knew bits and pieces of the Messiah coming, and Peter lets us know that the angels didn't know the whole story either. They longed to look at His arrival. They longed to see Christ's suffering and subsequent glories. His suffering with glory on the other side is what got them so excited.

They knew the first birth of Jesus guaranteed our second. The glory on the other side was eternal life with Him. See Romans 6:23, John 3:16, Hebrews 2:14-15. The birth of Jesus was the death of death.

This is what gives us hope! The reason we celebrate His arrival is because it gives us hope beyond the grave. Life doesn't end in brokenness; it ends in life with Jesus for eternity.

What do we take from this passage?

1) It confronts the mind. Mark writes this as though it's history.

Ancient writing didn't have realistic fiction. The resurrection of Jesus confronts the mind. This is a real story about a real man.

Some people say it's a made-up story, but if one were to make up a story, they wouldn't do it in this way because of the characters in it. (Mark 16:1-6)

  • During this time, the testimony of a woman was not valued. Putting women as your eyewitnesses would have undermined your story if you were making it up.
  • Typically, when you are writing founding stories, you don't want the founders to look bad, but the disciples struggle constantly throughout the crucifixion of Jesus and aren't even there at his resurrection even though He told them at least five times that he was going to die and rise three days later. Mark writes this because a disbelieving, skeptical group of people suddenly worshiped Jesus as their resurrected King and were willing to die for Him.

Mark is going through great pains to report to you a historical event. A real man named Jesus really lived, really died, really rose, and really changed history.

2) It confronts the heart.

The words "and Peter" touch our hearts. Peter completely rejects the Christ he has an allegiance to, and his sense of personal identity gets crushed. Yes, we know that all have fallen short of the glory of God. See Romans 3:23. However, some of us have a personal standard, and when you fall short of that, it crushes your sense of self, and the shame felt is too much to bear.

The good news of Christmas is not just hope beyond the grave; it's hope for right now: forgiveness and life. This is why the words "and Peter" in Mark 16:7 mean so much.

The angel said to go tell the disciples and Peter. That's God saying, "I know who you are, I know what you've done, and I want you. I came to die for your sin, so you don't need to carry the weight and shame of it anymore. I carried it, and I buried it."

The hope of His arrival is knowing that we have the gift of forgiveness and life; He knows you inside and out and still chooses you. You can't out-sin the grace of Jesus. don't disrespect His sacrifice, thinking you can overpower it.

3) It challenges the life.

Mark 16:7-8 feels like such a weird twist. They were told to tell everyone, and they told no one. Endings were added over time to close the loop for the ending that stressed people out. They did, in fact, tell everyone because you have a gospel in your hand.

This is what Mark has been doing the whole time. He ends miracles with a question. He breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience. By ending this way, Mark is hoping that you'll say, "What?! This is the best news ever! Death and shame are not the end. I have forgiveness and life. How could they not tell people this news?! Someone has to tell people!"

Are you telling it? Are you a part of this story?


"Born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth, Hark, the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King."

Charles Wesley, George Whitefield

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Scripture References

  • Mark 16:1-8
  • 1 Peter 1:10-12
  • John 3:16
  • Romans 6:23
  • Romans 3:23
  • Hebrews 2:14-15
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.