Greetings! This reading is Mark 16 – the last chapter of Mark.
Mark 16 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. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“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. 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.’” Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
Three of the most magnificent words the world ever heard are, “He is risen!” Jesus had a bodily resurrection, just as He had predicted. The death and resurrection of Christ is the central even in human history. The tomb is still empty. I am not aware of any historians who claim that the body was found.
There are some fanciful speculations about the Disciples stealing the body, but these make no sense given that teams of Roman guards staked their lives on the ability to protect the body. Also, these were the same Disciples who fled during the crucifixion. What would motivate them to risk their lives to steal the body? And why would the Disciples endure suffering, poverty and painful captivity and deaths for something they knew to be a lie? His physical resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1) completely transformed the lives of his followers from being confused and scared to being clear thinking and bold.
The truth is that He is indeed risen! That is a fact you can stake your life on.
Mark only mentions one angel at the tomb, but Luke mentions two. This is an example of a Bible difficulty that seems like a big problem at first, but is easily and logically explainable. When two people describe a situation there will always be differences in the accounts. But the accounts, if truthful, are complimentary, not contradictory. This is the case here. Mark doesn’t say there was just one angel. He just mentions the angel that spoke. If Mark had claimed there was only one angel, then that would have been a contradiction.
The other Gospels – Matthew, Luke and John – plus the book of Acts contain more information about the post-resurrection appearances of Christ and what the Apostles did next.
Note: The earliest manuscripts of Mark do NOT contain this last section, verses 9-20. These verses and the passage in John about the woman caught in adultery might have been inspired by God, but the latest consensus in scholarship indicates that they may have been added after the original writings. It is important to note that neither passage makes major doctrinal statements or contradicts other teachings. In fact, these are examples that the system works and that we can rely on the Bible as an accurate reflection of the writings originally inspired by God. There are thousands of manuscripts dating back to the early centuries after Christ that were recovered from around the world. By comparing them closely scholars can determine what the originals said.
When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it. Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either. Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
One of the best of Bible reading tips I have heard is “Never read a Bible verse” by Greg Koukl at Stand to Reason. The main point is to always read a verse in light of the whole passage. Otherwise, you may read something into the passage something that was never intended. Sometimes people make points that are true, but they use the wrong verse to back it up. This can be confusing and unnecessarily impact someone’s credibility. In addition, it is useful to let the clearer verses help you to understand less clear verses.
I saw another blogger who had some really good messages on his site but also took part of this passage and made a broad claim about it. He insisted that all believers should “speak in new tongues” as noted in verse 17 above. This has a couple problems. First, it ignores other more specific and reliable teachings about tongues in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 14. Second, using this logic, we should all be picking up snakes and drinking deadly poison without dying, as the following verse notes. I have picked up a few snakes in my time, but this was always done (A) with a hoe and (B) after they were really, really dead.
I hope you got a lot out of our study of Mark! Please join me as we begin a study of Jonah. There is a lot more to it than just a big fish.
Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.
The next reading is an overview of Jonah.