Mark 16: 1-12
BRIEF INTRO: We have made it! After all these weeks of meditating on the words of Mark, we finally arrive at the last chapter of his gospel. We began this gospel account focused on the beginning of Christ’s ministry in Galilee and surrounding regions. We read about how it broadened and entered various Gentile regions, the ending of His ministry as He headed toward Jerusalem, and how His ministry was consummated at the crucifixion and His rising again.
We learned of how Jesus gained disciples, taught them, commissioned them, and then how they fled from Him when He was betrayed. And we were shocked to witness their unbelief after He arose from the grave!
We read about many miracles that Jesus accomplished. His teachings, instructions, and challenges challenged us to look into our hearts and be honest with ourselves about our relationship with Him.
We found ourselves confused and agitated at the constant attacks of the “religious” class against Jesus and their scheme to get rid of Him. Ultimately, they seem to have succeeded: But then Christ arose from the grave, fulfilling all that was said of Him by the prophets, and the church was born!
16 “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of [a]James, and Salome bought spices so that they might come and anoint Him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, they *came to the tomb when the sun had risen.3 They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance of the tomb for us?” 4 And looking up, they *noticed that the stone had been rolled away; [b]for it was extremely large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.”
FOCUS ONE: The sun had risen (1-5)
Saturday, Nisan 16, concluded at sunset. The Sabbath had ended, and the new Jewish day had begun. That evening ended with Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, looking on to see “Where He (Jesus) was laid” (15:47). These women then left that place and “prepared the spices and perfumes” (Luke 23:56) necessary to bury Jesus properly. The new day begins with these women waking up (if they even slept) before the “1crack of dawn” to walk to the place where they saw Jesus laid to “counteract the odor of decay and as a symbolic expression of loving devotion.” The Jews did not embalm their dead!
John informs us from his writing that Jesus was placed near a tomb where He was crucified. “Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid” (John 19:41).
Mark mentions another woman with these other ladies when they go to the tomb in the early morning. Her name is Salome. We know little about her, but the snippet below is helpful and encouraging.
“*Even though we don’t know much about the second Salome and her particular motivations, what we do know gives a strong sense of her devotion. She was willing to give up her regular life to follow Jesus, a carpenter who had become an itinerant (and, since he wasn’t part of the recognized religious orders, uncertified) teacher. Dropping everything to follow someone like that, especially since he was a Messiah who avoided any worldly connotations (no way to make money from his revolution) would have been hard to explain. Doing that as a woman in a patriarchal society would have been even harder. Salome not only took big social risks to follow Jesus, but she also supported him with her resources.
Even after his cause appeared to have completely collapsed and he was dying, Salome was there for Jesus. Rather than just quietly leave and get back to her normal life, she was there at the cross. After his death, she was there to honor him at the tomb by anointing his body.”
These women head for the tomb before the sun rises. As they arrive, the sun has risen, and they face an unexpected problem. There is a huge stone rolled over the tomb! Two of these ladies knew that a stone was rolled against the entrance (vv. 46-47), but apparently, I’d think much about it during their preparation of the spices.
But the stone itself was a much more minor issue than the “official seal” placed on it and the guard that watched it. How confused and yet amazed they must have been when they looked to the place where Jesus was laid and saw that the stone had already been rolled away! “And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it” (Matthew 28:2). The guards that were assigned to keep watch over the tomb “shook for fear of him and became like dead men” (v. 4)! Problems solved! Mark does not tell us these facts.
So now what? They entered it! They see “a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed” (v. 5). This “young man” is the angel that Matthew told us about.
6 “But he *said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; see, here is the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.'” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”
FOCUS TWO: HE is not here! (6-8)
These women experience a broad range of emotions. They go from experiencing sorrow at His crucifixion to amazement at the stone being rolled away in verse five, and now we read that they are experiencing great fear at what they are witnessing. “Mark uses a compound verb of strong emotion (ekthambeo)” that expresses overwhelming distress at what is highly unusual.
“During the stress response, your heart rate increases, breathing quickens, muscles tighten, and blood pressure rises.” Your mind battles the reality you face trying to make sense of it, and your body becomes overloaded. You and I may not be able to relate to their overwhelming distress, but on a smaller scale, I think we can understand it. People that have experienced a severe traumatic event, such as 911 0r fighting in a war, can relate, to some degree, to the mental and physical aspects of “overwhelming stress.”
The angel speaks to them and tells them the unbelievable yet amazing news that Jesus, who they are looking for, who they came to prepare for burial, is not there! “HE HAS RISEN; He is not here, behold, here is the place where they laid Him” (v. 6).
This straightforward fact conveyed by the angel is central to historic Christianity! “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). Many people since the time of Christ have posited explanations for this grand event, seeking to explain it away. But, there is only one explanation as to why the tomb of Christ was empty: the unassailable reality that he rose from the dead as it is written of Him (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)!
The angel commands (“go” is in the present imperative) them to tell the disciples that He is alive and is going before them to Galilee. It will be there where they will see Him alive! What I find interesting is the particular reference to Peter, “But go and tell His disciples and Peter” (v. 7). “2 Peter was not signaled out as the leader of the disciples, but to be reassured that, despite his denials of Christ, he was s2 Peterne of them.”
At this, the women fled (flee, escaped), and their minds were overwhelmed by the shock and awe of the moment. Their bodies were trembling in fear, and when told they could go, they went as fast as they could! So consumed by shock and fear, they didn’t immediately speak about it to anyone.
9 “[[[a]Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.
12 Now after that, He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country.”
FOCUS THREE: Refused to believe it! (9-20)
These last verses in our study and the rest of this chapter are among the most disputed textual problems in our New Testament. MacArthur states, “The external evidence strongly suggests these verses were not originally part of Mark’s gospel. While the majority of Greek manuscripts contain these verses, the earliest and most reliable do not.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary says evidence against it being included in Mark’s gospel is strong. But rather than end our study here, I will comment on these verses because they are before us to contemplate.
Click here for an in-depth article on this issue.
We read that He arose early on the first day of the week. That would be Sunday morning; Saturday was the last day of the week for the Jews. Scripture describes several separate appearances of Jesus between His resurrection and ascension; Mary Magdalene at the tomb was the first. She quickly went and reported this to Peter and John. Refusing to believe it, they both run to the tomb; Peter arrives first and stoops down, looking in (John 20:3-4).
Put chart here
After all of His appearances to the 11 disciples and their resultant unbelief, Jesus appears to all of them and reproaches (rebuked) them for their “unbelief and hardness of heart” (v. 14). We might scoff at such unbelief, but we would have acted no differently.
Similar to Matthew’s account of the Great Commission, we see an added detail in this account: baptism. “Even if v.16 is a genuine part of Mark’s gospel, it does not teach that baptism saves, since the lost are condemned for unbelief, not for 2 EveneEveningized.”
Verses 16-18 appear on the surface to be problematic. Some people apply these scriptures to all believers of all time, as some do at the Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette, Tennessee. But signs like these were only promised to the apostolic community (Matthew 10:1; 2 Corinthians 12:12). Regarding the drinking of poison and handling of snakes; the New Testament records no instances of either of these experiences mentioned. “Paul’s encounter with a snake at Malta was unintentional (Acts 28:3-5).
Verse nineteen gives insight into what happened after Christ’s forty-day post-resurrection “ministry.” This event is recorded in Acts 1:9-11. The disciples, now energized with faith at being with Jesus after He rose from the grave, begin fulfilling the commission (Matthew 28:19-20).
We did it; we just finished our study of the Gospel of Mark! He is alive! I hope that you have been educated, encouraged, and equipped to go into the world around you and share Jesus with the lost.
HE IS RISEN-HE IS RISEN INDEED!
1 The Bible Knowledge Commentary
2 John MacArthur