Mark 16 (New Living Translation)
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!
There are several examples in the Bible of people being resuscitated before this, such as the widow’s son in the days of Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-24) and Lazarus (John 11:38-44). Each of these was resuscitated from death, but none of them were resurrected. Each of them was raised in the same body they died in, and raised from the dead to eventually die again. Resurrection isn’t just living again; it is living again in a new body, based on our old body, perfectly suited for life in eternity. Jesus was not the first one brought back from the dead, but He was the first one resurrected.
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.”
This is the good news which we received,
in which we stand, and by which we are saved;
that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures,
that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day;
and that He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve,
and to so many faithful witnesses.
We believe He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
He is our Lord and our God. Amen.
8 The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened.
The most reliable early manuscripts conclude the Gospel of Mark at verse 8.
–footnote from my New Living Bible
To end the gospel on such a resounding note of failure is very upsetting from a modern perspective. After observing Jesus’ continual struggles to make his disciples understand his teachings and seeing their ultimate failure, readers want so much for someone in the story to prove faithful to Jesus. It is devastating to watch those who have already demonstrated more faithfulness than the Twelve fail as well!
But from an ancient perspective the very point of the Gospel of Mark may rest with this painful ending. Ancient writing was intended to do things, to make people act or believe or change their behavior, not just to entertain them with a suitably concluded literary experience. Certainly the Gospel of Mark was not written simply to entertain its audience, for a Gospel that argues so ardently about the imminent coming of the end of the world has no time for mere aesthetic pleasure. The expectations raised and then crushed by the end of the Gospel are intended to move the hearers of the Gospel to action. If the women do not carry the message, is there anyone else who can? Is there anyone else who has heard Jesus’ preaching, seen his healings, watched his crucifixion and burial, and listened to the wondrous announcement of the resurrection?
Well, yes! The audience of the Gospel has heard all of this. At the end and indeed by means of the end itself, the audience of the Gospel of Mark, both women and men, are challenged to become themselves faithful disciples, carrying the message to the world, doing what some of characters in the Gospel have not . . .
The ending of Mark intends to arouse the emotions of its hearers and readers into faithful disciples and followers, for very little time remains until this present evil world is wiped away and God’s fruitful kingdom is established.
–from “Mark” by Mary Ann Tolbert, in The Women’s Bible Commentary
(During Mark, portions of this book will be presented to help us understand our faith more deeply than perhaps we have before. I hope you enjoy learning more about Jesus as a Jewish man — and through these passages, see and appreciate more clearly the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.)
REMEMBERING OUR REDEMPTION
What would you say if someone were to ask you to identify the single most important event in the New Testament? Like most of us you would probably respond that it was the death and resurrection of Christ. But what would you say if someone were to ask the same question about the Old Testament? How could you pick from all the possibilities? The creation? The flood? The covenant with Abraham? Entering the Promised Land? Building the temple? Though we might find the question perplexing, the answer would seem obvious to most Jewish people. Their miraculous delivery from Egypt is the event mentioned over and over in the Old Testament–almost every book refers to it. It is the one event they mention in nearly every worship service.
Whenever God wanted to emphasize why his people should obey him, he reminded them of how he had rescued them and forged them into his own people. “I am the God who brought you up out of Egypt,” he kept repeating . . .
Similarly, as followers of Christ, we can continually remind ourselves of how Jesus, the Passover Lamb has redeemed us from death. We can forgive because we have been forgiven. We can serve, because Christ humbled himself for us. We can love, because we have experienced the extravagant love of God in our own lives. We have a new life and a new hope, because Jesus fulfilled the ancient feast of Passover.
[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.
“Upon a life I did not live,
upon a death I did not die;
another’s life, another’s death,
I stake my whole eternity.”
– Horatius Bonar
[Longer Ending of Mark]
9 After Jesus rose from the dead early on Sunday morning, the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went to the disciples, who were grieving and weeping, and told them what had happened. 11 But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen him, they didn’t believe her. 12 Afterward he appeared in a different form to two of his followers who were walking from Jerusalem into the country. 13 They rushed back to tell the others, but no one believed them.
14 Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead.
Take with you the joy of Easter to the home, and make that home bright with more unselfish love, more hearty service; take it into your work, and do all in the name of the Lord Jesus; take it to your heart, and let that heart rise anew on Easter wings to a higher, a gladder, a fuller life; take it to the dear grave-side and say there the two words “Jesus lives!” and find in them the secret of calm expectation, the hope of eternal reunion.
15 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. 17 These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. 18 They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”
19 When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 20 And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.
HERE is Keith Green and that joyfully wonderful “Easter Song.”
The end of Mark. I have so enjoyed going through his gospel and seeing again Jesus serving the people around him without reservation, even to dying for them! Have you heard something new from Mark? Has the Holy Spirit been whispering into your ear as you have been going through these gospel chapters? Please share your thoughts!
DWELLING with you,
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.