Becoming Spiritual Decathletes: Part 11

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Pastor Mark Mikels – September 7, 2008


(“Connecting With Christ” Series – Part 50)

(Mark 16:1-8)

Intro … Today, in this Communion Meditation, we conclude our journey
through the Gospel of Mark with a look at Mark’s account of the

It’s the briefest account in any of the Gospels – the strongest textual
evidence supports the idea that verses 9-20 (included in most English
translations) were not written by Mark but were added later by someone
else to “fill out the story”.

There are two possibilities … the First is that Mark ended his Gospel
with verse eight with the overwhelmed women leaving the tomb bearing
the incredible news of the resurrection that would soon become known to

The Second possibility is that Mark actually wrote a more detailed
ended but that it became separated from the rest of the manuscript
almost immediately upon writing.

I myself hold to the first possibility – that Mark ended his Gospel
account – his no funny business, action focused Gospel) – with the
cryptic announcement made by the angel to the women at the tomb.

We know that much more happened (of course) but for purposes known only
to him Mark chose not to tell us about it.

Here then is the final chapter – the final challenge – in Jesus’
earthly life as Mark recorded it … Mark 16:1-8

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.
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?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large,
had been rolled away.

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.’ ”

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb.
They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

Mark’s account zeroes in on the main thing – the thing that all who
would follow after Jesus would need to know. He doesn’t tell us
anything about the 40 days of Jesus’ post-resurrection ministry.

He simply concludes his Gospel with the announcement of the incredible
news. And that “news” becomes …

Today’s Key Scripture … Mark 16:6

“You are looking for JESUS the Nazarene, who was crucified.

He has RISEN – He is NOT HERE!”

And in this “Key Scripture” is discovered …

Christ’s Tenth Great Challenge (the final challenge of

the Spiritual Decathlon that occupied the final

eight days of Jesus’ earthly life)

I’m calling it … “NEW LIFE GENERATING” that is,

Generating LIFE where once there was DEATH.

“New Life Generating” … what an incredible spiritual challenge – “to
generate life where once there was death” … what an incredible
spiritual achievement!

Remember these words of Jesus we discussed last week (John 10:17-18)

“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take
it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own
accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up
again. This command I received from my Father.”

In the wee hours of that first Easter Morning, Jesus Christ performed
the unthinkable …

By his own authority, drawing upon the awesome power that was His as
the Son of God, he re-energized and re-organized his own broken body.

Thus Mark says (identical to Matthew and Luke) “He has risen …

Not “he has been raised” (as though he had been acted upon by some
outside force) but “He Has Risen” … He himself has wrought this
miraculous thing!

He confidently faced and then demonstrated total mastery of the tenth
and final Spiritual Challenge that made up his own personal Spiritual
Decathlon –


Thus I would have us come to Today’s Key Concept with a sense of
absolute awe and wonder …

Today’s Key Concept …

There’s life-generating POWER and PASSION

In the PERSON of Jesus Christ!

He had demonstrated that fact every day of his earthly ministry –

new life sprang up everywhere that he went.

New life for his specially chosen disciples, new life for the sick and
the weary, new life for those who were tormented by the demonic, new

for those locked in closed religious systems, new life for all who

connected themselves to him!

The culmination of years of such life-generating ministry came that
morning in that Garden tomb.

Jesus mastered the task called “New Life Generating” and in this final
task (like in the nine that preceded it) he left a pattern for us to

Consider with me (even as we prepare for our communion meal this
morning) …

Today’s Key Reality …

Those who are CONNECTED with Jesus Christ are continually EMBRACING and

First and most importantly of all,

* They Continually Embrace And Generate New (More Complete)

Life In THEMSELVES. (John 14:19-20/ Romans 6:4)

Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.

Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that

I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order
that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the
Father, we too may live a new life.

Newness is a way of life for those who are connected to Jesus. No two
days are alike … no scripture passage can be read the same way twice.

There is an understanding every day that this day has never been lived
before and that its unfolding will present opportunities that have
never come before.

It’s not a dissatisfaction with what is but an anticipation of what is
yet to be that opens us to all that Christ would have for us.

Those who are truly connected to Christ are becoming more and more
alive until the very moment they draw their last breath.

They are continually embracing and generating new (that is, more
complete) Life in themselves.

But more than that (and actually as a direct result of the new life
they continually embrace and generate in themselves) we see secondly

* They Continually Embrace And Generate New (More Complete)

Life In Their FELLOWSHIP. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good
deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of
doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see
the Day approaching.

It’s an incredible thing when people who are individually connected to
Jesus get together …

There’s a tremendous recognition that we are all “in this together” and
that we are all “in Him together”.

There’s a desire to see each one of our number master the art of “new
life generation” … to see each of them demonstrating the fullness of
the life that Jesus came to provide.

We become connected to one another just as we are connected to him and
we discover that our connection to each other actually helps keep us
connected to him!

And so we eagerly meet together … our “new life” links us inseparably

one another.

And now there’s another most amazing thing …

As those who are connected to Jesus Christ continually embrace and
generate new life in themselves and as they continually embrace and
generate new life in their local Christian fellowship …

* They Continually Embrace And Generate New (More Complete) Life

In The WORLD Around Them. (Romans 12:21/1Peter 2:12)

Here’s how the Apostles Paul and Peter directed us to express our “new
life” in the word around us …

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”


“Live such good lives among the pagans that … they may see your

good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

Now there’s no guarantee that those around us will become Christians

I can guarantee that they will be powerfully influenced.

Our “new life” brings hope and help wherever we go … things should

“get better” and “go better” whenever Christians are added to the mix!

Indeed it’s true that …

Those who are CONNECTED with Jesus Christ are continually EMBRACING and

For the past 41 years, it has been my privilege to watch someone do

that … that “someone” is my wife, Linda.

Today on our 40^th Wedding Anniversary, it seems fitting to acknowledge

that fact …

Linda has been in a constant state of personal spiritual renewal ever

I first met her on the campus of Wheaton College.

In a place where students could easily put aside personal spiritual
pursuits in light of many required and provided spiritual activities,
Linda faithfully maintained an early morning devotional time throughout
her college years. She impressed me with her faithfulness to and her
personal walk with the Lord.

During Seminary days she absorbed every class that I enrolled in; we
discussed together just about every book I read and debated every
theological concept to which I was exposed.

Her passion for the things of the Lord has continued to fuel her over
all the years since. Just this past month, she has been deeply moved
and blessed by her reading of the inspirational book “The Shack”. She
has continually embraced and generated new life in herself!

Linda has invested herself in helping to bring genuine life to every
fellowship that we have been involved in.

In our first church in Durango Colorado, three days after a fairly
serious surgery, she was found teaching Daily Vacation Bible School …
sitting down, not chasing the kids around, but sharing her heart and
her life with those boys and girls.

In our second church, here in Apple Valley, she took on the task of
teaching Bible to Middle Schoolers at Apple Valley Christian School –
opening up the Word of God to them in such a way that they came to see
God’s Word as far more than simply another academic text.

Her desire to see more than the “norm” and her encouraging of me to
seek it has led in no small part to the wonderful fellowship we call
Sonlife Community Church.

Over the past seven years Linda has given herself to generating life
where few would have believed it could be done … in the public school
system (of all places) and particularly in a local school that consists
of some of the poorest of the poor and the lowest of the low.

Over these past years, Linda has brought Christ’s type of life to that
place … first to her teaching staff and then to the parents and the

This past year her school scored third highest of all High Desert
Schools, more than achieved the State’s desired level of achievement
and became known in the Department of Education in Washington itself.

And her teachers are excited about teaching and her students are
excited about learning.

How did I put it a moment ago?

Our “new life” brings hope and help wherever we go … things should

“get better” and “go better” whenever Christians are added to the mix!

And when things start “going better”, we discover that a platform has
been built from which the fuller “truth of Christ” can be shared.

And Linda has had numerous opportunities to do just that.

NEW LIFE GENERATING … It’s an incredibly rewarding challenge!

Final Thot …

TRUE Christianity is evidenced by the LIFE it GENERATES!