Mark 16:1-8

(A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds)

April 4, 2013

 

Mark 16 presents a very difficult textual problem for those who take the text of the Bible seriously.  Verses 9-20 do not appear in the oldest manuscripts of Mark.  Almost all modern translations of the New Testament acknowledge this difficulty by place verses 9-20 in parentheses or italics or quotation marks.  My personal view is that these verses were added later by some scribe who was uncomfortable with the abrupt way Mark’s Gospel seems to end with verse 8.  I base that conclusion both on the textual evidence and the content of the verses in question.  Therefore, in our study of Mark 16 we will focus on only verses 1-8.

 

The four Gospel accounts of the Resurrection contain various differences in recorded details (e.g., the number and names of the women who came to the tomb, the number of angelic messengers who appeared, and the women’s reactions to the Resurrection announcement). None of the writers reported all the data; they 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, thereby confirming the Resurrection as a historical event.[1]

 

The following comments on Mark 16:1-8 are taken from The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and 1 & 2 Peter by Bob Utley:

 

Verse 1

“When the Sabbath was over” - The ancient Israelites started their days at twilight (i.e. evenings), following Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31. However, the Romans (and Greeks) had adopted a Babylonian method of dividing the day and night into twelve divisions. These divisions were not of equal length because of seasonal changes in the length of light/dark periods. Mark 15 uses several of these time markers (i.e. third hour, v. 25; sixth hour, v. 33; ninth hour, v. 34). This phrase appears to refer to the ancient Israelite method and would, therefore, be 6 p.m. Friday until 6 p.m. Saturday for the Sabbath.

 

“bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him” - Although these women had seen Joseph and Nicodemus prepare and place the body of Jesus in a tomb, apparently because of the time limitations (i.e. between 3–6 p.m.) something of the normal Jewish burial procedures may have been left out (possibly the aromatic candles or some particular type of spices), and these women were going to properly finish the traditional procedures.

 

Verse 2

“…very early … when the sun had risen…” - All the Gospels record a slightly different time. Matthew 28:1 has “at dawn”; Luke 24:1 has “at early dawn”; John 20:1 “while it was still dark.” Apparently these women left their home while it was still dark, but by the time they arrived at the tomb it was already light.

 

Verse 3

“…were saying…” - This is an IMPERFECT TENSE. They kept worrying about and asking each other over and over again as they walked to the tomb.

 

“Who will roll away the stone?” - This stone was round and shaped to fit into a sloping groove dug just in front of the rock vault’s opening. It was relatively easy to roll into the trench, but very difficult to remove.

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Verse 4

“And looking up…” - Apparently they were very downcast, looking at the ground in mourning.

 

Verse 6

“Do not be amazed…” – The grammar indicates stopping an act already in progress.  Humans are always awed and frightened at the physical manifestations of the spiritual realm.

 

Verse 7

“…and Peter…” - How thoughtful and tender our Lord, that He would single out the backslidden and hurting Peter!

 

“He is going before you into Galilee...” - Jesus had prearranged a meeting with His disciples in Galilee after His resurrection. (He obviously appeared them later that same day in the Upper Room prior to this meeting in Galilee.  The Galilee appearance may be the time He gave them the Great Commission.

 

Verse 8

“…they said nothing to anyone…”This was obviously a temporary condition, for John 20 makes it clear that Mary of Magdala reported to the disciples that the grave was empty.

 

“...for they were afraid…” - This Gospel ends so abruptly and on such a negative note that apparently ancient scribes tried to add some type of summary ending to it.

 

That, in summary form, is the story of the resurrection.  As the fact of the resurrection began to sink in to the disciples, they began to understand something of its implications.  Want to point out what the resurrection came to mean to those early disciples and what it means to us as well.

 

I.    The resurrection means it makes sense to be a follower of Jesus

1.   Impossible for us to comprehend how devastating the death of Jesus was for the disciples...their whole world had come apart ...their hopes/dreams had been completely shattered...had left everything to follow Him... for three years they had place their lives on hold...no doubt families/friends questioned wisdom of leaving everything to follow around countryside an itinerant preacher who challenged the status quo and who was always getting in trouble with religious authorities...I suspect in the darkness between the crucifixion/resurrection having doubts themselves...probably feeling pretty foolish..."Have we thrown away some of the best years of our lives?  Have we been duped?  Are we the victims of a slick con?"

2.   Events of recent days had left them reeling...thought they had come to Jerusalem for Jesus to proclaim publicly that He was the Messiah for Him to become king...on way to the city they argued over who could get the choicest positions in the kingdom He was about to establish...week began on Sunday as Jesus entered Jerusalem to hero's welcome...but during week conflict between Jesus and the religious establishment intensified...by Friday He was dead...the dream of a new earthly kingdom had been shattered and hope gone...they were probably thinking they made terrible mistake in following that  carpenter from Nazareth...

3.   But when they realized that Jesus had actually arisen from dead, there entire perspective was changed...the resurrection was the confirmation that they had made right decision in committing their lives to Him...

 

1.      On the top shelf in my study are some pictures of my ancestors, most of whom I never knew or even met.  They were dead before I was born.  I have no emotional attachment to those people but I keep their pictures where I can see them each day for a specific reason.  Those pictures remind me of the constant march of time.  Before too long, my life in this world will be reduced to a distant memory and perhaps a faded picture on someone’s shelf.  Time is constantly moving forward and we don’t have time to waste. 

2.      Life is much too short/fragile/valuable to throw away any part of it...before commit our lives to anything, need be as certain as possible that the object of our commitment is worth it...Jesus calls us to a radical kind of life...a life--

·         Of self‑sacrifice...

·         That responds to evil with goodness...

·         That views greatness in terms of servant-hood...

·         Of loving one’s enemies...

·         Of forgiving those who harm you...

In other words, Jesus calls us to a life which cuts across grain of our natural instincts...nothing short of resurrection convince me that kind life makes sense...but standing before the empty tomb reminds me that it does indeed make sense to be a follower of Jesus...

 

II.  The resurrection means that we will never be alone

  1. After death of Jesus disciples felt pretty much alone in hostile world...

·         The Jewish religious leaders were out to get them...

·         The Romans were pretty much indifferent toward them...

·         The masses of people had lost interest in them...

·         Their families and friends were miles away in Galilee...

No doubt they felt desperately alone and afraid...

2.      But resurrection gave them assurance of Christ's continuing presence in their lives...it was His abiding presence that changed them from band of cowards to a group of powerful people who literally turned world upside down...

1.      In Matthew's gospel the very last words Jesus spoke to His followers are, “...I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”...and no doubt they clung to that precious promise through all their experiences in this world...and what was true for those first disciples is true for us as well...the resurrection says no matter what experiences awaits us in days ahead, and shall be in constant companionship of Jesus Christ...the Psalmist gave us a preview of this wonderful promise of the continuing presence of Christ in our lives when he prayed in Psalm 139, “Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence?  If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there.  If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there.  If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Thy hand will lead me, and Thy right hand will lay hold of me.”

2.   And the abiding presence of the resurrected Lord in our lives makes all the difference in the world...it is His presence which enables us to--

·         Face and resist temptation...

·         Overcome discouragement and depression...

·         Walk navigates the dark valleys through which all must walk...

·         Make right choices about future...

3.   The resurrection means we have the continuing, abiding presence of the Living Lord in our lives...we are never alone...

 

III. The resurrection means that we can make sense out of death

1.   On Monday of this past week I conducted a funeral service for a person I had never met.  The burial was at Roselawn cemetery, and after the graveside service I spent some time walking through that cemetery visiting the graves of some of the people who funerals I have conducted over the years.  I am so grateful to be able to go to such a place with the assurance that while the earthly body of those people may be buried in the ground, the essence of who are they are is not there.  As the Scripture says, “…to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord…”

2.   It has been said that the great test of any philosophy is what it makes of death...no matter what a person's basic philosophy of life may be, if it ignores the subject of death it is an incomplete philosophy...that's because we are all destined for death...we're all mortal...we're all terminal...from moment born are moving toward moment of death...

3.   And the primary message of the resurrecton is that death is not the end of life...death is merely a transition to another life...in I Cor.15, great chapter on resurrection, Paul describes Christ's resurrection as "the firstfruits of those who are asleep"...that is, His resurrection which we celebrate today, is the promise and guarantee of more to come...

4.   How appropriate that we celebrate the resurrection at first of spring...just as first flower of spring is promise of more flowers to come, so Christ's resurrection is God's promise of more resurrections to come...

5.   Resurrection tells us we are destined for eternity...doesn't mean we should desire to die...doesn't mean that we will not grieve over loved ones who die before us...but does mean our view of death should be radically changed...because of the resurrection it is possible to make sense out of death...

 

[Singing of “Because He Lives”]



[1] Grassmick, J. D. (1985). Mark. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck, Ed.) (Mk 16:1–8). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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