The Gospel of Mark

Mark - Lesson 16A

Chapter 16:1-8

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  • As we discussed last week, the race to properly bury Jesus, according to Jewish custom, was of great concern.

    • The concern for a proper burial was first witnessed at a distance by 3 women, Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the Less), and Salome.

      • This concern was eventually resolved by both Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.

      • Both men were emboldened to step out of the shadows as secret disciples and demonstrate their allegiance to Christ.

    • These women have witnessed Jesus crucified and, now, properly buried in a rich man’s tomb.

      • Tonight, the narrative of these women will pick back up as they are seeking to anoint Jesus’ body themselves with certainty He was still there.

      • However, as we will find in the text, their anticipation of seeing Jesus laid in a tomb will be met with an unexpected messenger.

    • If I were to outline our time tonight in the text, we will see the following things:

      • 1. An Early Morning Surprise (v.1-4)

      • 2. A Message Given (v.5-7)

      • 3. A Message to Be Sent (v.8)

    • And if I were to put a tag on tonight’s text it would simply be: “He Has Risen”

      • With that being said, I invite you to meet me in Mark 16:1-8 for the reading of the word of the Lord.

Mark 16:1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. 
Mark 16:2 Very early on the first day of the week, they *came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 
Mark 16:3 They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 
Mark 16:4 Looking up, they *saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. 
Mark 16:5 Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. 
Mark 16:6 And 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; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. 
Mark 16:7 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.’” 
Mark 16:8 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.
  • The ramifications of the resurrection of Jesus Christ hold tremendous weight in our Christian faith and theology both in our present and future reality as believers in Christ.

    • Not only is the resurrection documented historically, but the fact that this event happened is a testament to the finished work of Christ.

      • These divine works were all accomplished for the sake of the many regarding God’s salvific and redemptive plan.

    • When we consider the importance of the resurrection, there are several things in which the resurrection directly impacts and that is:

      • 1) Confirms Jesus is who He said He was: The Son of God

      • 2) The Gospel Message Regarding Salvation

      • 2) The future resurrection of both believers and unbelievers

      • 3) A Future Judgement

      • 4) The Believer having been justified through the death of Christ therefore demonstrating through the resurrection that Justification was accomplished.

      • 5) The forgiveness of the believers’ sins

      • 6) The resurrection places Jesus as the head of the Church (Established in Acts 2)

    • As I like to say, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the receipt of all that Christ completed.

      • The event of the resurrection is so important that the Apostle Paul mentioned this event as essential in response to the Gospel for salvation.

      • This is what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

1 Corinthians 15:1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 
1 Corinthians 15:2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 
1 Corinthians 15:4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
  • It is through believing that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, was buried and raised from the dead, according to the scriptures by which men are saved.

    • This means that the Jesus of the bible is one who has been both crucified and resurrected!

    • For if we had a crucified Christ yet not raised, then we have a faith which is in vain!

      • At best, there would be temporary life with no hope in the end beyond death.

      • However, if we have a crucified Christ that has been both crucified and raised then we have a true and Living Hope. (1 Peter 1:3-9)

    • The resurrection of Jesus is of such importance that the New Testament writers are constantly pointing to this event both in a historical manner and providing its theological implications.

      • However, before we can see the full reality of this event worked out canonically in the New Testament, we must first come to recognize that the apostles, and even the witnesses, to some extent, began in disbelief.

    • Jesus would have to show these men that what He said while in His earthly ministry, He would accomplish in the end.

      • As we will see in our first 4 verses, the resurrection of Jesus will come as a huge surprise which will later be followed by an unexpected messenger.

Mark 16:1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. 
Mark 16:2 Very early on the first day of the week, they *came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 
Mark 16:3 They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 
Mark 16:4 Looking up, they *saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large.
  • According to verses 1-2, it was very early Sunday that these women at the end of Chapter 15 were making their way to the tomb where they expected to see Jesus’ body.

    • Mark mentions that the two Marys and Salome were headed to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with spices.

    • The fact that these women were going to anoint Jesus’ body with these spices meant that they were expecting Jesus to still be dead.

    • In other words, not only did the disciples not take Jesus at His Word (with regard to Him rising from the dead), but neither were the women who also were familiar with His teachings.

      • There were three times within Jesus’ earthly ministry that He stated He would die yet be raised. (Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:34)

      • And each time He mentioned this He expounded a bit further.

      • Yet, His disciples refused to believe it. (For lack of understanding, Peter rebuked)

    • This didn’t compute for the disciples because a dead Messiah meant that there was no hope for these men.

      • Indeed, the death of Christ seemed like a very hopeless and dark situation.

    • So, at this point, this group of women are the lone rangers seeking to display their love and devotion to Jesus while the 11 disciples are far off in sadness.

      • With these women having waited till the “dark portion” of Sunday since the Sabbath had ended at 6 PM, they prepared spices and perfumes. (Luke 24:56)

    • According to Mark’s account, it seems as if on the way to the tomb, in the early portion of the morning, they are conversing with one another.

      • A thought happens to cross their minds which was: “Who is going to roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”

      • Their response here once again proves that they had no comprehension of Jesus being raised from the dead or believed He would be raised.

      • However, there is a suspicious and unbelieving group who wanted to cover all their grounds regarding Jesus’ statement of rising again.

    • Now what Mark’s account omits and Matthew documents is, after the tomb had been closed by Joseph and Nicodemus, that the religious leaders went before Pilate to have the tomb sealed.

      • Check out what Matthew documents in Matthew 27:62-66.

Matthew 27:62 Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, 
Matthew 27:63  and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ 
Matthew 27:64  Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” 
Matthew 27:65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” 
Matthew 27:66 And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.
    • The sealing of the tomb was an effort to eliminate the opportunity for the disciples to steal the body of Jesus away at night.

      • All of this became a ploy to totally eradicate the impact of Jesus’ earthly ministry and “rising from the dead”, or so they thought.

    • So at best, the women were expecting to see a scene similar to what they last witnessed – the tomb closed with Jesus’ body wrapped inside.

      • However, verse 4 tells us that once they arrived and “looked up” they saw that the stone had been rolled away.

      • Friends, this means that some time prior to their arrival the stone had already been rolled away and Jesus was already raised.

      • This sense of an immediate response to the women’s needs now seems to have been accomplished by God, Himself.

    • What is so intriguing to read throughout all four gospel accounts is that no gospel writer provides a description as to the details of the resurrection per se.

      • The only events documented are the results of the promise that Jesus made and that was He would rise on the third day.

    • We find that Mark emphasizes the efforts in which it would take for Jesus to have risen because the text mentions in verse 4b that the stone was “extremely large.”

      • In other words, the efforts of someone to roll the stone back up the incline would potentially require more physical strength and effort than perhaps rolling a half-ton circular rock down an incline.

      • This simply goes to show that the efforts for one to attempt to get Jesus’ body out of the grave would require a lot of effort, especially given the Roman seal on the tomb.

    • One could only imagine the shock on these women’s faces.

      • And even more so, their entry into the tomb would provide even more startling news.

      • This amazement would be followed by a message from an angelic messenger.

      • Check out verses 5-7.

Mark 16:5 Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. 
Mark 16:6 And 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; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. 
Mark 16:7 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.’” 
  • Imagine, as these women peek into the tomb hoping to see the body of Jesus, that instead they find a “young man” sitting at the right wearing a white robe.

    • And it’s almost as if the “young man” was expecting questions to be asked regarding the whereabouts of Jesus.

      • And without opportunity for the women to frame a question out loud, it is as if this young man knew exactly what they wanted to say.

    • However, before moving too quickly, one question comes to mind and that is: “Who is this “Young man” in the white robe?”

      • When observing all four gospel accounts of the resurrection, we find that the “young man” described in Mark’s gospel is none other than an angel.

      • Angels, as we know biblically, are messengers sent from the Lord in order to carry out His divine will and plans.

    • The white robe is emphasized within Luke’s gospel as “dazzling clothing” and Matthew’s account as an appearance “like lightning”.

      • The term “dazzling clothing” in Greek is astrapto which means flash or gleam of lighting.

      • This glowing and shine could resemble that of a heavenly glow like what Peter, James, and John witnessed on the Mount of Transfiguration.

    • As a quick note, some may examine the varied number of angels at the tomb between the Gospel accounts.

      • Luke and John’s account says there were two angels whereas Matthew and Mark state there was one.

      • However, that is not the focal point!

    • What is to be understood from the gospel records is that this event of the resurrection was one that could only be accomplished by God.

      • God in His kindness authenticated this angelic visitation and has provided three witnesses to affirm this miraculous event. (Deuteronomy 19:15)

    • The first thing that the angel tells these women is “Do not be amazed” which is a typical angelic greeting or statement given after divine demonstration.

      • And within this context, the Greek word “ekthambeo” means to be alarmed or distressed.

      • So the angel is letting them know, “Do not be alarmed by my being here for I simply have come to provide a message to you.” (Paraphrased)

    • The angel provides strong descriptors as to what these women were expecting to see – Jesus laid in the tomb.

      • Instead, he tells them that the crucified Christ is no longer dead but has risen.

      • And he presents to them where Jesus’ body previously rested.

      • Here is where seeing all the accounts together matters because John’s gospel helps explain how 2 angels were present.

      • If one was at the head of where Jesus lay and one at the feet, then the shining glimmer of light could have easily blocked the visibility of the other.

    • After the angel shows them the evidence of where Jesus once laid, he then follows up by sending them out with a message.

      • And the message which the angel gives them is quite incredible.

      • He says this in verse 7, “But go, tell the disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you’”.

    • These women were to take these very words that they heard and what they witnessed and tell the disciples and Peter where to meet the risen Savior.

      • This message had to have been a mouthful for these women to process.

      • They have gone from helpless, to great fear, to utter shock, and back to utter fear – all of this in a matter of minutes.

    • Now the content of this message to be sent was greatly important and along with the importance of this message were the end receivers of the message.

      • But let us begin with the receivers of this message: The Disciples and Peter.

      • A question arises which is: “Why would the angel provide this sense of distinction between the disciples and Peter?”

    • If we recall from the time of the Garden to Jesus being placed in the grave, Jesus made known to them that not only would they be scattered but He mentioned Peter’s denial. (Mark 14:26-31)

Mark 14:26 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Mark 14:27 And Jesus *said to them, “You will all fall away, because it is written, ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.’ 
Mark 14:28 But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” 
Mark 14:29 But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.” 
Mark 14:30 And Jesus *said to him, “Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times.” 
Mark 14:31 But Peter kept saying insistently, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all were saying the same thing also.
    • Both the disciples and Peter at this point demonstrated a sense of allegiance no matter what persecutions would come.

      • Yet they all failed in being able to accomplish what they said they could/would do in their own strength.

      • On top of that, there is this great sense of pride that oozes from the mouth of Peter as if he is exempt from the very words of Christ.

    • So, when the scattering occurs and Peter finds himself surrounded by these guards and denying Jesus, his very heart is crushed!

      • Because Peter’s self-confidence led him toward self-reliance and not Christ-reliance and dependency!

    • Therefore, with the scattering of the 11 came an immense amount of grief and brokenness for them all, especially Peter.

      • Unfortunately, with this amount of grief Peter was experiencing, he did not feel that there was any room for redemption and forgiveness.

      • So, this signaling out Peter by name amongst the other disciples becomes a means of redemption in letting Peter know, although you denied me, I will never forsake you.

      • And how comforting is that for us to know that no matter how badly we drop the ball, it does not remove us from the hand of God?

    • I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in John 6:37-39. Check out the text.

John 6:37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 
John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 
John 6:39 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
  • Secondly, it’s within the content of the message that the angel will remind the disciples of the promise that Jesus made to them regarding His resurrection.

    • The angel tells the three women to tell the disciples that the risen Savior, Jesus Christ, is going to meet them in Galilee as He told them prior in Mark 14:28.

    • This is what Jesus said in Mark 14:28 after He tells them that they will all scatter.

Mark 14:28 But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”
  • So the content of this message to the disciples seems to serve as a reminder to them as to what Jesus had already shared with them as a promise prior.

    • This reality is good news even for us as believers today and that is the promise of Resurrection life!

    • That if God has said it, it is so!

    • He demonstrates that not by means of words alone, but He backs up what He says with the evidence of the Son’s life being raised up.

    • Now before we move on, we need to consider the authenticity of this account for a moment given the witnesses of this message.

      • If this event of the resurrection was to somehow be “invented” or fabricated, you wouldn’t make your eyewitnesses women, in that day.

      • The testimony of women was not accepted within the Jewish courts.

    • So, for the scriptures to utilize the women’s testimony as a means of authentication of the resurrection of Jesus solidifies the reality of what took place.

      • Therefore, these women’s testimony, having observed Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection becomes the authentication factor which Paul later emphasizes as matters of “First importance”. (Content of the Gospel)

    • For one to be saved requires that their trust be placed in the reality of what Christ accomplished (His Person and work) over two thousand years ago (He died, was buried, and was raised)

      • For the reality is if there was no resurrection our hope is in vain!

      • Plainly put, the resurrection is the lynchpin by which our Christian faith is secured!

    • And it is by faith in the word of God that we believe.

      • For it is faith alone in the trustworthy word of God that we stand eternally secure in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

      • Not our merit, not our works, not our intellect. Solely the work of God through His Son.

    • What becomes even more assuring for our faith is the multiple eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus, over a period of 40 days after He was raised.

      • All of this would be done so that these men would believe the content of their faith accomplished through the Object of their faith (Jesus Christ).

    • The question now becomes what the women will do with this message they have been given. Let’s check out verse 8.

Mark 16:8 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
  • According to the earliest manuscripts, this is where Mark’s gospel ends.

    • To the reader it would seem as if what was great news to be sent to provide hope and zeal, ends in fearful failure.

      • The message that the angel has given to these women to share with the men seems to go nowhere.

      • The text says that “they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid”

    • However, to end this gospel in that way would completely defeat the reality of what the other gospel writers provide and what the book of Acts documents regarding the outward growth of the Gospel.

      • It seems as if through Mark’s ending, he wants the reader to decide what to do with what they have read and heard from his account.

    • Mark has provided within his account great moments of the disciples’ success and their immense failures as it relates to what Jesus said and did, time and again.

      • And here at his short ending, we see that Mark is continuing in the same format yet this time he seems to use a bit of irony to paint a picture of a triumphant story.

    • If we consider Jesus’ statement to the disciples from the beginning of His ministry to their arrival at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was very forward with His instructions to them.

      • He lets them know the unfolding plan regarding His death, yet they have not come to a full understanding of what His death means.

      • With His death, Jesus mentioned them being scattered due to the intense persecution. Their faith would, in a way, collapse.

      • However, in all of that, He provides great promise in the end and that is that once He has been raised from the dead, He’ll meet them in Galilee.

      • The instructions of Christ are ever so clear!

    • He even tells Peter that despite his hyper-sense of self-confidence Peter would drop the ball in a big way.

      • Yet even in the very end, Jesus demonstrates great grace and love towards him.

      • So why would the story suddenly change for the worse?

    • The text seems to display at this point a bit of irony not too far removed from the pattern displayed by the disciples prior to this moment.

      • For example, in the majority of Chapter 15, the disciples lacked understanding and toward the end had a collapse of faith due to fear.

      • Their failure to understand certain matters of the Kingdom Program resulted in their silence around Jesus until He explained certain matters further.

    • In the same way, these women, after receiving great revelation as to the resurrection of Christ, the text states that “trembling and astonishment had gripped them.”

      • In other words, these women are overwhelmed to the point that they can’t even put words together because of what they have just witnessed and heard.

      • It’s similar to when individuals today see a celebrity and the celebrity speaks back and engages with them – the individual becomes start-struck.

      • Why? Because they can’t seem to rationalize in their minds the reality that they are speaking to their favorite celebrity.

    • In a similar way, these women are both gripped with this incredible sense of awe that they have received such incredible news, yet overcome with great emotion at what they have witnessed.

      • Therefore, because of their emotional state, Mark says, “and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

    • So, it seems that the combination of the news and reverential awe of the experience of meeting this angel drove them to flee in great silence.

      • Now before we close here, we know that Matthew 28:8 tells us the opposite of Mark 16:8.

    • That where Mark expresses the women leaving in fear and not telling anyone, Matthew says that the women left quickly with fear and great joy and ran to tell the disciples.

      • It’s not a far stretch to say that Mark is expressing the same thing here.

      • The reason is that although the women left in silence, contextually speaking, it could be understood that their initial silence was due to what they just witnessed.

      • Therefore, their silence would only be temporary and the message from the angel would be given to no one outside of the apostolic circle.

    • This is why I believe that Mark, for whatever reason, leaves the reader with a cliffhanger.

      • The reader must conclude for themselves in their own personal silence with the text: “What will you do regarding the information you have been told about Jesus?”

      • You will either respond in faith to His Person and work in belief or you won’t!

    • The disciples were to adhere to the words of Jesus even when it made no sense to them at the moment. (This is MY Son, listen to Him!)

      • Why? Because the words of Jesus were progressively unfolding. They simply needed to take Him at His word!

    • And isn’t that the conundrum for many today? We want everything to make sense right now, yet don’t want to trust God in the process.

      • Faith is simply acting on the fact that God is telling the truth, even when it doesn’t make sense!

    • And as you continue to depend on His word and take Him as a truth-teller, He provides the understanding that you need!

      • Adam, by faith, believed God’s promise of a deliverer because God said it in Genesis 3:15

      • Abraham anticipated this saving seed and was given special revelation about Him. (John 8:56)

      • Moses, by faith, understood the coming suffering of the coming Savior and spoke about Him. (John 5:46; Hebrews 11:26 )

      • David understood the Seed would be His descendant (2 Samuel 7:1-29)

    • Although the disciples initially responded in unbelief to Jesus being raised from the dead, after being told multiple times by several witnesses, Christ Himself would appear to them all.

      • And it would be this expanded sense of revelation which these men would need to know to carry out the mission of the Kingdom Program.

    • What is most beautiful in it all is even with the failure of the disciples and their lack of understanding, Jesus never wavered on what He would accomplish through them.

      • He did not abandon them or forsake them but simply continued to reveal Himself to them until they believed.

      • For in Christ, there is no failure!

    • And in the end, they understood it all after He provided understanding by His Spirit, especially Peter.

      • Check out Peters’ words in 1 Peter 1:3-9.

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 
1 Peter 1:4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 
1 Peter 1:5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 
1 Peter 1:6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 
1 Peter 1:7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 
1 Peter 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 
1 Peter 1:9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
  • Next week, we will explore the extended ending of Mark 16 as we observe historical evidence supporting the shorter ending.

    • Yet, we will come to see the relevance of why scribes, later, would have added this ending for clarity and continuity.

    • I pray you join us in the following weeks.

    • Let’s Pray.