1 Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus' body. 2 Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. 3 On the way they were asking each other, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" 4 But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.
5 When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, 6 but the angel said, "Don't be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn't here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. 7 Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that 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, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened.
[Shorter Ending of Mark]
Then they briefly reported all this to Peter and his companions. Afterward Jesus himself sent them out from east to west with the sacred and unfailing message of salvation that gives eternal life. Amen.
Following the end of the Sabbath on Saturday evening, the three female followers of Jesus who had witnessed both his crucifixion and his burial purchase "burial spices" to place on his dead body. At first light the next morning they go to Jesus' tomb - only to find that the tomb is now empty. They go in to investigate and are greeted by an angelic messenger who tells them that Jesus is now alive and that he will meet his disciples in Galilee. Completely stunned, the women run from the tomb, not saying anything to anyone as they make their way back to the disciples to report what has happened. The end result is that Jesus himself sends his disciples out to spread "the sacred and unfailing message of salvation that gives eternal life."
Mary ... Mary ... Salome ... burial spices (Mark 16:1)
We should begin by noting the fact that none of the gospel writers record precisely the same thing regarding post-resurrection events. This should come as no surprise, as it is in keeping with each writer's primary audience, overall purpose, etc. As one Bible commentator puts it, the individual writers "were free (within veritable limits) to summarize, particularize, and emphasize different aspects of the same event. The various recorded differences reflect the natural effect of this unique event on different eyewitnesses."1798
The Sabbath ended at 6:00 PM on Saturday. That's when "the three women mentioned at the Crucifixion (15:40), two of whom were also present at Jesus' burial (15:47), bought aromatic oils to anoint the body of Jesus. These were apparently in addition to the spices and perfumes that were prepared before the Sabbath began (cf. Luke 23:56). The anointing was not for the purpose of preserving the body (embalming was not practiced by the Jews) but was a single act of love and devotion probably meant to reduce the stench of the decomposing body."1799 "The spices [Greek aroma: "aromatic oils or salves used especially in embalming the dead"1800] were bought on Saturday after sunset, when the Sabbath was past and the bazars opened for a few hours. It was impossible to go out to the tomb so late, so everything was prepared in order to go as early as possible the next morning. ... To anoint the body for its burial in this way was part of the honor bestowed upon it by loving friends like all the other provisions for the burial. The essences bought for this purpose were quite costly as were the fine linen and the powdered spices."1801
The biggest concern of the women as they made their way to Jesus' tomb was the stone that had been placed in front of the entrance. Who would move it? (The wheel-shaped stones used to seal tombs were "typically four to five feet in diameter and a foot or so thick, weighing hundreds of pounds."1802) "They perhaps blame themselves for not having thought of the stone before and thus having insisted that some of the men come with them."1803 They were not aware of the Roman guard assigned to guard the tomb (which must have been posted after the women had hurried off to prepare for the Sabbath on Friday evening). The women's actions not only demonstrated their love for and devotion to Jesus, but they are also of significant apologetic value. The fact that the women had every intention of preparing Jesus' dead body offers strong proof that even Jesus' closest followers did not expect him to rise from the dead. If they had, the women would not have bothered with the burial spices or been worried about moving the stone.1804 As has often been noted, the stone was rolled away not to let Jesus out, but to let his followers in.1805
A young man (Mark 16:5)
The "young man" who greeted them was an angel. The women would not automatically have known this, however,, as angels consistently took on human form when appearing before people,1806 and white was a color worn by "the priests in the temple and some others,"1807 One source notes how "[t]he white robe pictured [the young man's] heavenly origin and splendor (cf. Mark 9:3)."1808 It is possible to see here a contrast between "the radiant, faithful, and angelic witness" of the young man at the tomb and the failure of the young man "clothed only in a linen nightshirt" (Mark 14:51) who fled in fear when the mob came to arrest Jesus on the eve of his crucifixion.1809 ("Luke [Luke 24:3-4] and John [John 20:12] mentioned the presence of two angels, the number necessary for a valid witness [cf. Deuteronomy 17:6]; but Matthew [Matthew 28:5] and Mark referred to only one, presumably the spokesman."1810)
By definition, an angel is "a member of an order of heavenly beings who are superior to human beings in power and intelligence. By nature angels are spiritual beings (Hebrews 1:14). Their nature is superior to human nature (Hebrews. 2:7), and they have superhuman power and knowledge (2 Samuel 14:17, 20; 2 Peter 2:11). They are not, however, all-powerful and all-knowing (Psalms 103:20; 2 Thessalonians 1:7). ... Angels are never known to appear to wicked people - only to those whom the Bible views as good, such as Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, Jesus, Peter, and Paul."1811 Angels exist for at least three reasons: 1) to worship and glorify God, 2) to minister to human beings, and 3) to serve as mediators of God's revelation.1812
Shocked (Mark 16:5)
Mark recorded that in response to the presence of the "young man" the women were "shocked" (NLT) or "alarmed" (ESV, NKJV), meaning "they were utterly amazed and struck with terror" (AMP). "This compound verb of strong emotion (used only by Mark in the NT), expresses overwhelming distress at what is highly unusual (cf. Mark 6:8)."1813 "Their feeling is easier to imagine than to put into words. Where they had expected to find the dead body, hoping that it had not yet advanced too far in decomposing, they stumble upon angels from heaven. No wonder they were completely overwhelmed."1814
He is risen from the dead (Mark 16:6)
No human being witnessed Jesus' resurrection. "But angels, as witnesses of God's actions, could report what happened."1815 "What happened to Jesus' body?" would be the first and most natural question that occurred to the women and, later, to other disciples, as well. "There had to be a word from God to interpret the meaning of the empty tomb, and the angel was God's gracious provision. The explanation is Resurrection!"1816 (See the Key Terms section for more detail regarding Jesus' resurrection.)
Why did God choose the women to announce Jesus' resurrection? "It is asked why the Eleven were informed in this way, through the women; why angels did not appear to them, or perhaps Jesus himself. ... The women alone went to the tomb on Sunday morning, the women, none of the men, not even John. Thus they were honored by being made the messengers to the men. If the Eleven had also gone out, the story would have been different. The love of these women receives its fitting reward."1817
What makes the resurrection of Jesus so important?
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the central fact of Christian history. On it, the church is built; without it, there would be no Christian church today. Jesus' resurrection is unique. Other religions have strong ethical systems, concepts about paradise and afterlife, and various holy scriptures. Only Christianity has a God who became human, literally died for his people, and was raised again in power and glory to rule his church forever. Why is the Resurrection so important?
Because Christ was raised from the dead, we know that the kingdom of heaven has broken into earth's history. Our world is now headed for redemption, not disaster. God's mighty power is at work destroying sin, creating new lives, and preparing us for Jesus' second coming.
Because of the Resurrection, we know that death has been conquered and that we, too, will be raised from the dead to live forever with Christ.
The Resurrection gives authority to the church's witness in the world. Look at the early evangelistic sermons in the book of Acts: The apostles' most important message was the proclamation that Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead!
The Resurrection gives meaning to the church's regular feast, the Lord's Supper. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we break bread with our risen Lord.
The Resurrection helps us find meaning even in great tragedy. No matter what happens to us as we walk with the Lord, the Resurrection gives us hope for the future.
The Resurrection assures us that Christ is alive and ruling his kingdom. He is not legend; he is alive and real.
God's power that brought Jesus back from the dead is available to us so that we can live for him in an evil world.
The power of God that brought Christ's body back from the dead is available to us to bring our morally and spiritually dead selves back to life so that we can change and grow (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).
Christians can look very different from one another, and they can hold widely varying beliefs about politics, lifestyle, and even theology. But one central belief unites and inspires all true Christians - Jesus Christ rose from the dead!1818
Including Peter (Mark 16:7)
The angel commanded the women ("Now go" and "and tell" are both imperative1819) to go back and give Jesus' message to both the disciples and Peter. "The disciples had deserted Jesus in the hour of trial, but the angel's words held hope of renewal and forgiveness. The disciples had deserted, but they were invited to meet Jesus in Galilee - there was work to do."1820
Why was Peter singled out? Was it due to his preeminence among the apostles? "If that were the intention of Mark's record and of the angel's words, the order should be reversed: 'say to Peter and to the disciples.'"1821 Was it because Peter was no longer considered a part of the group? "We are not to infer, because the angel said, 'Tell his disciples and Peter,' that Peter was not still a disciple. The meaning is, 'Tell his disciples, and especially Peter,' sending to him a particular message. Peter was still a disciple."1822 Jesus knew that Peter, after having so vehemently denied him, would need a special word of assurance that he was still included in Jesus' plans and that Jesus had not "disowned or deserted him."1823 Just the opposite: "Jesus had great responsibilities for Peter to fulfill in the church that was not yet in existence."1824
The women's news of Jesus' resurrection was greeted with extreme skepticism (see Mark 16:11). It was not until Jesus appeared before the group of now eleven disciples, including Thomas in a separate episode, that they believed. "Jesus' additional appearances to them in the Jerusalem vicinity were necessary to convince them of the reality of His resurrection (cf. John 20:19-29)."1825 The disciples' experience reaffirms some timeless truths regarding the nature of faith. As one Bible commentator puts it: "[The disciples] were told that Jesus would appear to them, but going to Galilee would take a lot of faith. Unfortunately, they lacked that faith and remained huddled in Jerusalem. Yet even there, in a locked room, Jesus came to them (see John 20:19). Today we find Jesus not in ironclad certainties of logic, not by astronomical survey, nor by sitting still. Faith is a moment-by-moment commitment to act on what God says - acting, trusting, and expecting to find Christ when we arrive. We take a step of faith, and Jesus comes closer, another step and Jesus becomes clearer, another step and Jesus becomes dearer. Each time we seek in faith, we find. That's God's promise."1826
Trembling and bewildered .. they said nothing (Mark 16:8)
"The women responded to the angelic proclamation with great joy and could not wait to tell the whole world that Jesus was alive!" Although that may be what we would expect to read, the text actually says that they fled the scene, "trembling and bewildered ... too frightened to talk." Or, as the NASB has it, "trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid." Moreover, this appears to be the original way Mark's gospel concluded. Various other endings were added early on, the most common two of which are included in the NLT. "In tracing these texts back, scholars believe the longer ending appeared in the first half of the 2nd century."1827 In the final analysis, "the most satisfactory explanation of all the textual evidence is that the original ended at 16:8."1828
One source provides a bit more detail:
Several MSS have marginal comments noting that earlier Greek MSS lacked the verses [after v. 8], while others mark the text with asterisks or obeli (symbols that scribes used to indicate that the portion of text being copied was spurious). Internal evidence strongly suggests the secondary nature of both the short and the long endings. Their vocabulary and style are decidedly non-Markan (for further details, see TCGNT 102-6). All of this evidence strongly suggests that as time went on scribes added the longer ending, either for the richness of its material or because of the abruptness of the ending at Mark 16:8. (Indeed, the strange variety of dissimilar endings attests to the probability that early copyists had a copy of Mark that ended at Mark 16:8, and they filled out the text with what seemed to be an appropriate conclusion. All of the witnesses for alternative endings to Mark 16:9-20 thus indirectly confirm the Gospel as ending at Mark 16:8.) Because of such problems regarding the authenticity of these alternative endings, Mark 16:88 is usually regarded as the last verse of the Gospel of Mark. There are three possible explanations for Mark ending [at] Mark 16:8: (1) The author intentionally ended the Gospel here in an open-ended fashion; (2) the Gospel was never finished; or (3) the last leaf of the MS was lost prior to copying. This first explanation is the most likely due to several factors ...1829
It should be noted that predicting and foreshadowing "events certain to come after the narrative itself had closed" was a common rhetorical device, employed by authors of books, speeches, and essays. Thus Mark was not obligated to include reports of Jesus' resurrection appearances.1830 This is not to imply, however, that what follows Mark 16:8 is of no value, since the material is historically accurate (as verified by the other gospel accounts and the book of Acts) and reflects "the beliefs of the early church."1831 We should also note that "they [= the women] said nothing to anyone" should not be taken in an absolute sense. What the text means is that "[t]hese women did not rush in and blurt out what they had seen and heard. ... The news was too great, filled with too much awe, to be blurted out generally. They told it to those whom the angel and the Lord had designated as soon as these could be reached."1832
Assuming Mark's gospel ends here, "[t]he reader is left to ponder with awe the meaning of the empty tomb as interpreted by the angel's revelatory message."1833 One common explanation for Mark's choosing to end his gospel so abruptly is that he wanted his readers, who were themselves being persecuted and put to death for their Christian faith, to see the blend of faith and fear that accompanies discipleship. This same theme, in fact, can be found throughout Mark's gospel. Authentic discipleship means a total surrender of self and a total commitment to Christ. But because we are still fallen people living in a fallen world, we will repeatedly find ourselves vacillating between faith-filled obedience (= action) and fear-filled silence (= inaction). The solution to this dilemma is given time and again in Mark's Gospel: Die to self in order to live for Christ.
Not A Coward
A young soldier who was showing signs of panic on the eve of his first battle was chaffed by a veteran. "Why, sonny," he said, "you're shaking with fear. Don't be such a coward."
"I'm not a coward," hotly retorted the youth. "If you felt half as scared as I do, you'd run away!"
He was right. That young man was not a coward because he felt fear, but he would have been a coward if he had allowed that fear to master him and thus prevent him from doing his duty.1834
As we know from the rest of the story, the women at the empty tomb overcame their fear and reported to the disciples what they had seen and heard. As contemporary disciples of Jesus trying to take the Gospel to literally the entire world we face many formidable obstacles, any single one of which appears devastating: "human stubbornness, disease, danger, loneliness, sin, greed, and even church strife and corruption."1835 What can a few Christians possibly hope to accomplish against so many overwhelming problems? And yet, just like the women who visited Jesus' grave that Sunday morning: we proceed from a sense of love, devotion, and gratitude; we face our fears; and we tell others the good news.1836
??? When did you first hear/feel Jesus calling you by name? How did you respond? What was the end result?