When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
The credibility of the account here is stronger in our eyes than it may have been to some ancients. The reason is that women were often seen as poor witnesses of events. In Islamic cultures today, often two female witnesses are needed to verify an event as opposed to one man. The reasoning is that a woman has children and forgets the pain of child birth. If she forgets something so excruciating to the point that she will desire to have a second child, her memory is deficient. However, in the west we accept the accounts given by women as being equal with the accounts given by men. The fact that the ancient writers of the gospels attest to female witnesses, actually supports their historicity. The reason is that no-one would have made up a story where women witness the resurrection, they would have invented male characters.
The young man in white is obviously an angel who is declaring what has happened. Then the women are commissioned with telling the disciples, but especially Peter. This is probably not because of his leadership status, it is more likely because of his denial. The impetuous Peter is probably considering himself unworthy of discipleship, but Jesus is restoring him through his request.
This is probably the end of Mark, though others have written endings like the one included in the NIV. However, the manuscript evidence would say that there are a number of endings that were added because either the story finished abruptly at verse 8 or the ending was lost or damaged. An abrupt ending falls in line with the opening of Mark which states that this gospel is just a beginning. I believe the point of this passage is to raise the question of what we will do with an empty tomb.
Let us be the bearers of good news. Let us proclaim that although our saviour was dead and buried, he was raised again. Jesus, through your Holy Spirit raise us to new life. Let us live a life free from sin and death as a sign that we have accepted the truth of the resurrection.
- Who found the empty tomb?
- Who was there?
- Why does the book probably end at verse 8?
- What do you do with Jesus’ resurrection?
- How does your life proclaim good news?