Mark 16. Thinking the Unthinkable. Pt. III. He Lives Again!
Key Notes: He told them four times that He would be raised. Is there life after death?
The conclusion of the Gospel according to Mark is as abrupt as its beginning, and even more controversial. The oldest manuscripts end at verse 8, and the other ending was not accepted for several centuries--after Eusebius, the church historian ( c.300AD), and Jerome, who translated the Greek Bible into Latin ( c.350). Also the vocabulary is different in the last verses, suggesting a different writer. But Augustine (400AD) used verses 9–20 freely, as did many of the Church Fathers before and after him. Since the contents of the last verses are supported by the other Gospels, we will read them as “safe” for study if not certainly canonical, as good teaching material with which we may take one exception. As with the rest of the accounts of Jesus death and resurrection, we will not compare notes with Matthew, Luke and John, but leave that harmonizing for another study. We want to get Mark’s message as he tells it.
16:1–8 Mary Magdalene, Salome and the other Mary went to the tomb early Sunday morning. They intended to complete the preparation of Jesus’ body which could not be done by Joseph at the burial due to lack of time. They brought chemicals to preserve the flesh as long as possible, although not intending to embalm the body as the Egyptians did. There was only one problem: they had not thought about the stone.
When they arrived, the problem was solved. The stone was moved. The tomb was open! But the body was gone! They were shocked. A young man in a white robe sat inside, probably opposite the slab where Jesus’ body had lain. By all accounts this was an angel.
His information was telegraphic:
Don’t be amazed.
You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified.
He is risen.
He is not here.
Go tell His disciples (and Peter!) that He is going ahead of you to Galilee.
You will see Him there, as He promised.
They ran away, terrified, and did not tell anyone—at least, not at first.
16:9–11 Jesus Himself now appeared to Mary Magdalene, who apparently returned to the tomb. She went to the grieving disciples, who were mourning and weeping, to tell them that she had seen Jesus alive, but they did not believe her.
16:12–13 He appeared to two others, probably the two on the road to Emmaus. (Lk.24:13–35). They returned and told the disciples, but they did not believe them either.
16:14 Then Jesus Himself appeared to the disciples and scolded them for their unbelief. (Lk.24:25–27). They had no excuses. He had told them four times before His death that He would be raised and told them twice after His death that He was raised.
•The first time Jesus announced His coming death and resurrection, Peter tried to talk Him out of it. Mk.8:31
•The second time He told them He would die and rise again, they did not understand and were afraid to ask. Mk.9:31
•The third time the only response was James and John asking for the best seats in the Kingdom. Mk.10:34
•As He was heading from the Upper Room toward Gethsemane He said that after He was raised up, He would go ahead of them into Galilee. Peter blocked that out and protested that he would die with Him if necessary but never quit. Mk.14:28
•After the resurrection, Jesus sent an angel to make an official announcement. The angel specified Peter in his announcement of Jesus going to Galilee. Mk.16:6–7
•Jesus sent a woman disciple, and a couple to the disciples with verification that He was alive. The disciples did not believe that either. Mk.16:9–13
The disciples were deaf with grief, unable to grasp the unthinkable. Rather than to be upset and impatient with those dull men, we should be encouraged that we are not the only ones whose faith and trust is shaky. Those who saw it all happen could not believe it. Faith had not yet revolutionized their lives, but after Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit, they were transformed. Blessed are we "who have not seen and yet have believed." (Jn.20:29)
16:15–18 He commissioned them to go into all the world and preach the Gospel and baptize everyone in creation. Believers will be saved; unbelievers will be condemned. He listed four signs that would be given to them to enhance their mission.
•exorcising evil spirits, as Paul and Silas did in Philippi. Acts.16:18
•speaking in tongues. There are two examples, the unique event at Pentecost (Acts 2:5–12), and the more common church experience that Paul himself had. ICor. 14;18
•pick up serpents and not be hurt. Paul shook off a viper in Malta. Acts28:3–5
<>drink poison. This sign is not otherwise documented in Scripture and is disallowed.
•lay hands on the sick and heal them. Peter (Act 5:15, 9:32–43) and Paul accomplished this as well. Acts 28:7–10
16:19–20 Jesus ascended into heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand. The Lord worked with the apostles and confirmed their work with the signs. Luke refers to this when he says in Acts 1 that he had previously written about all that Jesus began to do and teach during His lifetime.
Without embellishment or fanfare, Mark says that Jesus rose from the dead, and was witnessed by angels and humans. The Singular Man had accomplished a Singular event. This is not like Lazarus’ or the servant of the Centurion’s resuscitation; they would go on to end their lives in the usual fashion. Jesus was transformed, with a new kind of body, more powerful than His earthly human body, limited as it was in time and space. The miracle is unique and huge, yet told without exclamation or explanation. With His resurrection body, although still marked by the wounds of the cross (Jn20:20,27), He would appear and disappear at will (Lk.24:15, 31,36; Jn.20:26). With this body, He would ascend directly into heaven.
Is there life after death? How could we know? Has anyone ever come back from the dead and proved it? No—or Yes? What shall we say? We shall say that Jesus came back from the dead with even greater power than before He died, and showed us His body—a real body, not a ghost. He could be touched; He ate food. (Lk.24:36–42). Yet with this body, He ascended directly into heaven. And someday we shall be like that. Because He lives, we shall live also. There is life after death for us. Tell it everywhere.
“So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised in imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body”
“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the Man of heaven,” (I Cor. 15:42–44, 49)
“Beloved we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure." (I Jn.3:2–3)
"Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
Praise Him for His mighty deeds,
Praise Him according to His exceeding greatness."
"Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!"
(Psa.150: 1, 2, ,6)