041714Mark 16:1–8—The resurrection of Jesus

1 The next evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene and Salome and Mary the mother of James went out and purchased burial spices to put on Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they came to the tomb. 3 On the way they were discussing who would roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb. 4 But when they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone—a very large one—had already been rolled aside. 5 So they entered the tomb, and there on the right sat a young man clothed in a white robe. The women were startled, 6 but the angel said, “Do not be so surprised. You are looking for Jesus, the Nazarene, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He has been raised from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and give this message to his disciples, including Peter: Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died!” 8 The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, saying nothing to anyone because they were too frightened to talk.

Points of Interest:

  • ‘burial spices to put on Jesus’ body’—Usually, of course, the spices are added to the body at the time of burial. Because of the coming of the Sabbath and the holiday, they didn’t have time to add the spices at the time of Jesus’ death; so they go to finish when the Sabbath is over. Jesus predicted that the perfume poured on him by the woman in ch. 14 (April 11th) would be the only anointing he would get, and it proves to be true.
  • ‘including Peter’—Peter might think he was disqualified from being a disciple by his denial; so Jesus includes him specifically in the message he leaves with the angel.
  • ‘just as he told you before he died’—Jesus’ followers must have thought that something had gone terribly wrong when he died. The angel here points out that everything has happened exactly according to plan. He has both died and risen again, just as he told them.
  • ‘the women fled from the tomb’—Here is where the faith of the women gets stretched. The woman have the same choice that the men did when they were in the boat in the midst of the storm (4:40, March 19th): are they going to have faith in Jesus’ words and power, or are they going to be overcome by fear? Initially, fear takes the upper hand. The angel tells them not to be surprised and to give the message to the disciples, but they respond with bewilderment and saying nothing. In some ways, Jesus puts the fate of the church into the hands of these women. They are the only ones who know of Jesus’ resurrection: are they going to believe it and spread the news to others? Are the apostles ever going to know that Jesus is waiting to re-connect with them in Galilee? Whether or not the story of the good news continues depends on the faith of these women.

Taking it Home:

  • For you: Interestingly, in many of our ancient manuscripts of Mark’s Good News, the story ends here, like a cliff-hanger. What will the women do? Will they overcome their fear and tell the story, so that the good news of the Kingdom can be spread? Now that they know the truth, will they tell it to others or will it get swallowed by their fear. The implication for the reader is clear: now that you have heard the story, what will you do? Will you tell others so that the story of the Kingdom of God coming can continue, or will it get stuck with you? You have now read Mark’s entire story about Jesus. It’s all about the fact that Jesus’ death and resurrection bring the Kingdom of God near to everyone who hears. The big question for you is, Who are you going to tell?
  • For your 6: The women are left trembling and bewildered over the resurrection. The idea that Jesus was actually, physically risen from the dead is—understandably—difficult for them to swallow. Perhaps your 6 are willing to understand the resurrection as a metaphor of new life, but they can’t accept the reality of a literal resurrection. Ask that the Holy Spirit would give them the faith to believe in the resurrection. Without it, they will never really be able to entrust their lives to Jesus.
  • For our church: Pray for our Easter service, and indeed all of our services. Ask that God would make us messengers of joy like this angel, giving us the chance to tell many people that Jesus is risen again and is waiting for them. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring many people to our services to hear this good news.