The resurrection of Jesus
Christ is a historical event. It took place on a
given date, at a specified time and place. The facts
are Jesus of Nazareth had been crucified and buried
two days earlier, and on the third day He came forth
from the tomb. The Risen One was the Crucified One.
In Mark 16, the author
writes in a brief, blunt and fast-moving pace as he
has done throughout his gospel. It is a vivid
description of the early morning hours on the first
day of the week following the crucifixion and burial
of Jesus Christ. Mark places his emphasis on the
empty tomb; the other historians place emphasis on
the testimony of individuals who saw Jesus alive
after His resurrection.
"One thing is certain",
writes William Barclay, "if Jesus had not risen from
the dead, we would never have heard of Him. . . The
attitude of the disciples was that everything had
finished in tragedy. By far the best proof of the
Resurrection is the existence of the Christian
church" (Daily Study Bible Series, The Gospel of
Mark, p. 368).
Women Arrive at the
Tomb to Anoint Jesus (Mark 16:1-3)
After sunset on Saturday,
when the new Jewish day had begun three devout women
went to the market to purchase sweet-smelling
perfumed oils. "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. Very early on the first day of the week, they
came to the tomb when the sun had risen. They were
saying to one another, 'Who will roll away the stone
for us from the entrance of the tomb?'" (Mark
16:1-3). All Scripture references are from New
American Standard Bible 1995 Update).
Mark gives credible
evidence by identifying the women by name who were
eye witnesses of the crucifixion, burial of Jesus
Christ, and the empty tomb (Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1).
The women go and
buy spices for the anointing of the dead body
The Jewish people did not
embalm their bodies in the first century. They
poured aromatic spices over the body to offset the
stench of decomposing bodies, and to express their
love. These women, like the disciples, were not
expecting to find Jesus alive, even though He had
repeatedly told the disciples He would after three
days (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34).
The Jewish day began
after sunset. Mary of Magdalene, Mary the mother of
James and James, and Salome on Saturday evening
after sunset around 6 pm bought expensive spices so
they might go to the tomb and anoint the dead body
of Jesus. The shops that had been closed for the
Sabbath reopened briefly at the conclusion of the
Sabbath. However, it would be too late for the women
to go to the tomb. Two of these women had seen the
body buried three days earlier (Mark 15:46-47). The
three had watched the crucifixion from a distance
that terrible day. Archaeologists have discovered in
Palestinian tombs dating to the first century clay
and glass perfume bottles, ointment jars, etc. that
were used to contain the sweet perfume oils for
anointing. Mark says the women purchased these
spices or aromatics to "anoint" Jesus' body. The
women would pour the oils over the burial cloths
Joseph and Nicodemus had wound around His body on
On Sunday morning it was
probably still dark when the women started out in
the direction of the tomb, and the sun had risen
when they arrived at the tomb. The apostle John
tells us Mary Magdalene had arrived at the tomb
earlier that Sunday morning "while it was yet dark"
(John 20:1). The other two women joined her a little
later. She came "while it was yet dark," and they
came "when the sun had risen." When she saw
the stone rolled back, instead of going in, she ran
to tell Peter and John that someone had taken away
the Lord out of the tomb. Then she returned to the
empty tomb following Peter and John (John 20:1-2).
Two of the women are
concerned about the very large stone covering the
doorway to the tomb. They were saying to one another
as they walked along the way, "Who will roll away
the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?"
(Mark 16:3; cf. 15:47). They had not thought about
asking men to join them and remove the stone. They
were also probably not aware of the Jewish officials
sealing the tomb and posting guards (Matt.
The other two women did
not jump to conclusions as Mary Magdalene had. They
came to anoint the dead body of Jesus, and were
astonished when greeted by the "young man" in the
tomb who greeted them with the news that Jesus was
not there, and that Jesus had risen.
The Empty Tomb (Mark
The women arrived on the
scene heavy hearted and downcast, and suddenly
"Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled
away, although it was extremely large. Entering the
tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right,
wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. 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 16:4-6).
Who rolled away the
Mark does not tell us how
the stone was rolled back. He simply states the
fact. When the women arrived at the tomb they found
the "extremely large" stone rolled already away (v.
4). The tomb was that of a rich man, Joseph of
Arimathea, which had never been used (Luke 23:53;
Matt. 27:50; cf. Isa. 53:9). It had been cut out of
bedrock and had a stone bench or shelf cut into the
rock parallel with the chamber. Entrance was through
a rectangle doorway about two feet high. Small low
doorways between the antechamber and the burial
chamber were standard features in Jewish tombs
during the days of Jesus. The inner chamber where
the body of Jesus had been laid was probably six by
seven feet square and about six feet high.
Archaeologists tell us the tombs of the first
century were normally sealed with a flat stone
wedged into place to the keep animals out. However,
since this was a rich man's tomb it probably had a
large, circular flat, disk-shaped stone, three or
four feet in diameter, like a millstone with a wide
slot cut into the rock. The groove would be sloped
toward the doorway so that when in a closed position
it would be easily rolled into place. However, as
the women were preoccupied that it would take
several men to roll the stone back in an open
The exceptionally large
stone was rolled back after the resurrection. It was
not rolled away to let Jesus out; it was rolled back
to let the witnesses in to see that the tomb was
empty. Jesus had already left the tomb when He rose
from the dead before the stone was rolled back.
Jesus was not in there; He had already left. When
God raised Him from the dead He simply passed
through the grave-clothes, and the stone tomb, just
as He would enter and leaved locked rooms during the
next forty days.
R. C. H. Lenski has an
interesting observation: "Matthew tells us that an
angel rolled the stone away and sat on it. It was
not rolled aside in its grove in the regular way so
as to be rolled back again to shut the entrance. No,
it was hurled out of its groove by some tremendous
power, thrown flat upon the ground in front of the
tomb, thus making a seat for the angel who waited
until the women drew near and then went inside the
tomb" (Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel).
What did they see in the
empty tomb? They saw "a young man" dressed in a
white robe who was obviously an angel from Mark's
description (cf. Mark 9:3; Matt. 28:3; John 20:12;
Rev. 6:11; 7:9, 13), and he is sitting to their
right in front of the burial chamber (cf. Matt.
28:2). Luke and John inform us that there were two
angels in the tomb (Luke 24:4; John 20:12). Mark and
Matthew focus on the one angel who was probably the
spokesman. "Entering the tomb, they saw a young man
sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they
were amazed" (v. 5). Matthew and Mark are describing
the same heavenly being in the tomb. In the Bible
angels appear to humans in human form so they can be
called a man and can communicate to humans in our
language (cf. Gen. 18:2, 16; 19:1ff; Judges 6:12ff;
13). The women saw the angel and were "amazed,"
"alarmed" or "dumbfounded." The compound word (exethambēthēsan)
expresses strong emotion of overwhelming distress.
These women were terrified (tromos),
trembling with fear, which becomes the dominant idea
in verse eight. Angels unwittingly tend to do that
to people. The "white" raiment would indicate the
dazzling character of their glory.
The women were looking
for the dead body of Jesus, but it was not there, of
course. But what was left in the tomb? All the
undisturbed grave-clothes were in place. These grave
clothes were lying in the very folds as they had
been wound around the body of the crucified Jesus.
The napkin that had been around the head of Jesus
was laid separately as it would be separated from
the other wrappings as they were around the dead
body. Joseph of Arimatea and Nicodemus had
wrapped the dead body with many wrappings of linen
(John 19:39-40). The linen sheet was not folded
around the body of Jesus. For the purpose of
wrapping the body the linen was cut into long strips
and these wound around the limbs and body. His body
was wrapped in bandages of linen, and a hundred
pounds of gummy aromatic spices were sprinkled
between the wrappings in a careful methodical and
organized manner. All of these wrappings were
undisturbed, yet the body had gone out of them in a
The apostle John tells us
that when Peter and John arrived at the empty tomb
they saw these grave-clothes lying exactly as they
had been wrapped around the body of Jesus with the
exception that the body was not in the wrappings.
This convinced them that Jesus was risen (John
The grave-clothes were
not disturbed. They were not unwrapped and carefully
folded up and laid aside like taking off your
clothes at night. It was not like someone had
unwrapped the body of Jesus of the grave-clothing.
These undisturbed grave-clothe wrappings
demonstrated clearly to the disciples that Jesus was
risen from the dead.
The angel was there
simply guarding the evidence at the tomb.
The declaration of the
angel, "He is risen."
This is the central truth
of historic Christianity. Jesus is alive! God raised
Him from the dead (Acts 3:15; 4:10; Rom. 4:24; 8:11;
10:9; 1 Cor. 6:14; 15:15; 2 Cor. 4:14; 1 Pet 1:21).
The angel commands the
women, "Don't be amazed" (ekthambeo) in the
original means to stop an action already begun.
"Stop being dumfounded." In this context stop being
thrown into terror, stop being terrified. W.
E. Vine notes, it is "probably connected with a root
signifying 'to render immovable'; it is frequently
associated with terror as well as astonishment."
William Hendriksen notes, "these women were
thoroughly scared, profoundly shocked." They were
"astonished, bewilderment, being 'beside themselves'
with terror." They are filled with fear and
astonishment. "They had been rendered speechless."
"It is also true that when they had somewhat
recovered from their mental terror they ran to
deliver to the apostles the message that had been
entrusted to them" (Mark, p. 681).
The angel knows all about
their coming to the tomb. They are seeking the dead
body of Jesus the Nazarene. But there is only one
problem; He is not here, and He is not dead. He is
risen. Mark stresses that the tomb in which Jesus's
body was laid on Friday afternoon was now empty on
The angel said to the
women: "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 16:6).
The angel clearly identified the Risen One as the
Crucified One, Jesus of Nazareth.
Mark identifies the one
who was crucified and risen from the dead as Jesus
of Nazareth. He had recorded the resurrection
prophesies in 8:31; 9:9, 31; 10:34; 14:28. The whole
saving Gospel is centered in a historical person who
lived, died, and rose from the dead. "He has risen;
He is not here; behold, here is the place where they
laid Him" (v. 6). Come, look for yourself.
"He has risen." The Greek
aorist tense, He is risen, states the reality as a
past event. The Greek verb is passive. This
"divine passive" points to the fact that Jesus was
raised by God.
The New Testament
normally refers to the Resurrection as God's act.
"He is not here" is irrefutable proof. His
resurrection explained why they cannot find His dead
body in the tomb. The proof the angel offered them
was the empty tomb. Come, see the empty place where
they laid Him. You can see for yourself that it is
not here. The Translations Helps suggests, "'Look!
(this is) the place where they placed Him', 'here
(is) the place where they laid him.'"
The place where they laid
Him was a shelf or niche carved in soft rock. There
were usually several of these around a larger space
where a visiting family member could stand.
These women were the
first to be told the good news, and observe the
truth of Jesus' resurrection. This is one of the
strongest evidence that the testimony is true. The
Jewish courts did not accept the testimony of women.
Moreover, the Greco-Roman society in the first
century looked down on women. Therefore, the early
church did not fabricate the testimony of these
women as to the resurrection. They simply told the
story as it occurred. It was historical evidence
Go and Tell His
Disciples (Mark 16:7-8)
"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.' 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 first impulse of the
women was to flee, run away, and escape the scene.
These women responded the same way Peter did at the
Transfiguration (Mark 9:6), and "fled from the tomb,
trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and
they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid."
They were panic-stricken, terrified. The continuing
excitement caused their bodies to tremble. These
women were profoundly scared and shocked. They were
beside themselves with terror. These women did
not stop along the way until they reached the
disciples to tell them what had happened and the
message the angel declared to them. Their silence
was only for a little while.
"As they gained control
of themselves and they began to realize the profound
reality that had been declared to them, they felt
'great joy' (Matt. 28:8) and astonishment or
'ecstasy.' They felt an utter amazement which swept
them quite outside their normal selves" (Edmond
Hiebert, Mark: A Portrait of the Servant).
James Brooks said, "The
fear may not be natural fright but religious awe"
that we see often in the Old Testament "(Exo. 3:3;
Isa. 6:1-5; Jer. 1:6-8; Ezek. 1:22; Luke 1:29-30)" (The
New American Commentary, Mark, p. 273). The NET
Bible translation note reads, "they began to have
trembling and bewilderment." It was a reverential
fear in the presence of the LORD God who had raised
the dead. William Lane says, "The cause of the
women's fear is the presence and action of God at
the tomb of Jesus" (NICNT, Mark).
The angel wants them to
especially tell Peter, the very disciple who had
denied Jesus (Mark 14:66-72). Jesus appeared to
Peter; he has been forgiven (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor.
15:5-6). The resurrection appearances of Jesus
around Jerusalem were necessary to convince the
disciples of the reality of His resurrection. Jesus
had told the disciples before His death that He
would meet them in Galilee (Mark 14:28; Matt. 28:7).
Mark's commission of the
disciples is probably a part of the Great Commission
given by Jesus on the mountain in Galilee (Matt.
28:16-20; cf. Luke 24:47-49; John 20:21; 21:15-17;
post-resurrection appearances (Mark 16:9-14)
Mark 16:9-20 is known as
"the longer ending of Mark" and presents one of the
most difficult and most disputed textual problems in
the New Testament. It is not my purpose to enter
into that discussion here. All scholarly
commentaries on Mark discuss it at length. The issue
is not whether you believe in the inspired, inerrant
and infallible Word of God. Were these verses
included or omitted in Mark's original text? Most
conservative commentaries on Mark state that this
section was not written by Mark, but is included by
all translations. Most modern English translations
make note of the textual variations indicate by
brackets, section headings or footnotes that Mark
did not write it, but was added by scribes
attempting to give a smooth ending to the gospel. It
may not have been in the original manuscript.
The Greek scholar A. T.
Robertson observed, "It is difficult to believe that
Mark ended his Gospel with verse 8 unless he was
interrupted. A leaf or column may have been torn off
at the end of the papyrus roll. The loss of the
ending was treated in various ways. Some documents
left it alone. Some added one ending, some another,
some added both" (Work Pictures in the New
Testament, vol. 1, Mark).
Mark gives us a summary
report on three post-resurrection appearances of the
risen Christ. Observe how Mark stresses the fact
that the disciples reacted to the reports of Jesus
resurrection with unbelief.
Mark 16:9-11 gives Mary
Magdalene's abrupt return visit to the tomb while it
was still early on the same morning. Jesus
appeared and made Himself visible to Mary (John
20:14-17). She was the first person to see Jesus
alive after His resurrection. "Now after He had
risen early on the first day of the week, He first
appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast
out seven demons. She went and reported to those who
had been with Him, while they were mourning and
weeping. When they heard that He was alive and had
been seen by her, they refused to believe it" (Mark
16:9-11; cf. Luke 8:11; 24:11; John 20:1-18).
Evidently Jesus appeared also to the other two women
urging them to go and tell the disciples (Matt.
28:1, 9-10). It is quite possible that Jesus
appeared to the other women as they were hurrying
back from the tomb.
Only Mark tells us that
all the disciples in general were "mourning and
weeping." They were doing what any normal person
does when they have lost a dear friend and loved
one. "All their hopes were crushed by the death of
Jesus," notes Lenski.
All of the disciples
refused to believe Mary until they saw Jesus
personally with their own eyes. They would not
believe the report that He was living and had been
seen by her. Apisteo means "disbelieve,
refuse to believe."
Mark 16:12-13 is a
summary of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus
who encountered the risen Christ (Luke 24:13-36).
They had heard the rumors of the day about women who
said they had seen Jesus alive, but they didn't
believe them. From various post-resurrection
passages Jesus appeared to them in a form different
from that in which they previously recognized Him.
The disciples did not even believe these two men!
Now men and women are reporting to the disciples
that they have seen Jesus. Jewish people accepted
only the testimony of two witnesses. Now three women
and two men declare they have seen Jesus alive. As
the day progresses more and more people are seeing
Jesus alive (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-31).
Mark records Jesus'
rebuke of His disciples' unbelief because they
refused to accept the testimony of the eyewitnesses
to His resurrection earlier during the day.
"Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as
they were reclining at the table; and He reproached
them for their unbelief and hardness of heart,
because they had not believed those who had seen Him
after He had risen" (v. 14).
Jesus commission to
His disciples (Mark 16:15-18)
He said to them, "Go into
all the world and preach the gospel to all creation"
(Mark 16:15). The main verb is in the imperative,
and the participle also has imperative force, "You
go!" The primary duty is simply stated to go forth
into the entire world and preach the good news of
the resurrection of Jesus Christ. No part of the
world is to be omitted. We are "to preach the
After His resurrection
and before His ascension Jesus gave several
commissions to His disciples to go and preach the
gospel to all nations (Matt. 28:18-20; Luke
24:47-49; John 20:21; 21:15-17; Acts 1:4-8).
The misinterpretation of
Mark 16:15-16 comes from a superficial reading of
the passage. John 3:16-18, 36 teaches that a person
who does not believe is condemned already, even if
he is baptized in water. The first century church
taught that under normal circumstances believers
would be baptized because they had believed on Jesus
Christ (Acts 2:41; 8:36-37; 10:44-46). They were not
baptized in order to be saved, but they were
baptized because they were already saved by putting
their faith in Christ. Baptism is the outward,
public expression of that faith in Christ. Baptism
is not a necessary requirement for personal
salvation. The only Biblical basis for appropriating
God's provision of salvation is personal faith in
Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:21-28; 10:9-10, 13; Eph.
2:8-10; Gal. 2:16; John 3:16).
A. T. Robertson notes,
"The omission of baptized with 'disbelieved' would
seem to show that Jesus does not make baptism
essential to salvation. Condemnation rests on
disbelief, not on baptism. So salvation rests on
belief. Baptism is mere the picture of the new life,
not the means of securing it."
Bratcher and Nida in
Translation Helps note "the single definite
article governing both participles joins the two
verbs together in describing the man who will be
saved; the clause could be translated, 'the baptized
believer.'" It is an individual response to the
gospel. The one article connects "the inward
reception of the gospel by faith and the outward
testimony to that faith in baptism," says Edmund
Hiebert. Unbelief condemns a person whether baptized
or unbaptized in the Day of Judgment. The issue is
not whether a person is baptized or not, but faith
in Jesus Christ. We are saved by God's free grace
alone, through faith alone in the saving gospel of
Jesus Christ alone to the glory of the Lord God
Mark 16:17-18 gives
authenticating signs that took place in the first
century by the Apostles (cf. Heb. 2:3-4). These are
recorded in the book of Acts (Acts 2:3f; 10:46;
19:6; 1 Cor. 12:28; ch. 14). Hiebert states, "The
promise is not that each individual believer will
experience such signs in his own life. The promise
is to the church collectively.... These signs were
the authenticating credentials of the apostolic
message, exhibiting the presence of the living
Christ working with and through His messengers. They
served not to accredit the faith of the individual
but the validity of the faith he represented" (Mark:
A Portrait of the Servant).
We have no Biblical
evidence of anyone drinking poison and handling
snakes in worship services. Paul was bitten by a
poisonous viper on the island of Malta and survived
(Acts 28:3-6). In the historical context of the
first century Christianity we understand these
authenticating signs were normative only for the
apostolic area (2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:3-4). With the
establishment of the churches and the formation of
the New Testament canon these signs were no longer
necessary and ceased with the first century.
The Ascension of Jesus
Christ (Mark 16:19-20)
"So then, when the Lord
Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into
heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And
they went out and preached everywhere, while the
Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the
signs that followed" (Mark 16:19-20).
Mark says, Jesus "was
received up into heaven" or as RSV reads, "taken up
into heaven." The Father drew His Son to Himself.
Jesus' work on the earth is completed, now He sits
at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven
interceding for us as our Great high Priest (Luke
9:51; 24:51; John 6:62; 10:17; Acts 7:55-56; Rom.
8:34; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:1-4;
8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22; 1 John 2:1-2; Rev.
3:21). "Jesus "sat down at the right hand of God" is
highly metaphorical language to direct our attention
to the transcendent glory of our risen and ascended
Lord and Savior. This session at God's right hand
signifies permanence, rest, and dominion, in glory,
majesty, and blessedness. Albert Barnes says: "We
are not to suppose that God has hands, or that Jesus
sits in any particular direction from God. This
phrase is taken from the manner of speaking among
men, and means that He was exalted to honor and
power in the heavens. It was esteemed the place of
the highest honor to be seated at the right hand of
a prince. So, to be seated at the right hand of God,
means that Jesus is exalted to the highest honor of
the universe" (Matthew and Mark, Notes on the New
Robertson helps us
understand the chronology of the ascension. "Luke
gives the fact of the Ascension twice in Gospel
(Luke 24:50f) and Acts 1:9-11. The Ascension in Mark
took place after Jesus spoke to the disciples, not
in Galilee (16:15-18), nor on the first or second
Sunday evening in Jerusalem. We should not know when
it took place nor where but for Luke who locates it
on Olivet (Luke 24:50) at the close of the forty
days (Acts 1:3) and so after the return from Galilee
(Matt. 28:16)" (Word Pictures of the New
Testament, vol. 1, Mark).
Principles and Practical Applications
1. God rolled away the
very large stone to let the witnesses in to see the
Yes, he used the angels
(Matt. 28:2). There was also the powerful
earthquake. The removal of the stone was a
supernatural event to prove to the women and the
disciples that Jesus had risen from the grave and
2. Jesus Christ was
"delivered for our offenses, and was raised again
for our justification" (Rom. 4:25).
Jesus died for our sins
and rose from the dead so that God could be just and
the justifier of the sinner who puts his trust in
Christ for salvation.
3. The resurrection of
Jesus Christ proves that He is the very Son of God
Here is the evidence that
Jesus is who He claimed to be. Here is the reason
why we can put our confidence in Him to save us for
all eternity. Because He rose from the dead all our
sins are forgiven, and we stand right in our
relationship before God.
4. The resurrection of
Jesus Christ proves that death has been emptied of
its power by the death and resurrection of Christ.
Because He lives, we too
shall live with Him for all eternity. Christ's
resurrection is the crowning proof that Jesus Christ
paid the price in full for the sinners redemption,
and that it has been accepted by a holy and
righteous God. Jesus paid it all; the sting of death
has been removed forever.
5. "Thousands are washed
in sacramental water, who are never washed in the
blood of Christ. . . . The baptismal water itself
conveys no grace," wrote J. C. Ryle. This passage of
Scriptrue teaches us that absolute necessity of
faith in Christ for salvation. It is not baptism,
church membership, good works, sacraments, etc., but
a personal faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.
"Blessed be the God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to
His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a
living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ
from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3).
6. How do we respond when
we contemplate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus
Christ and the mighty power of God?
"If you confess with your
mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that
God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for
with the heart a person believes, resulting in
righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses,
resulting in salvation. for 'Whoever will call on
the name of the Lord will be saved'" (Romans
Title: Mark 16:1-20
Jesus is not here; He has Risen!
Series: Life of