The Resurrection of Jesus / According to the Gospel of Mark
In hearing today’s children’s message, it would be easy to understand why folks get confused as to which Gospel account of the Resurrection to believe. There are four accounts all total…and all four bring to the table their differing points of emphasis. It would be as if four individuals were to witness an accident taking place, only to discover that in the police report…all four witnesses saw things from a slightly different perspective. Some things they could agree on…while others remembered details that perhaps only they “saw”…given their unique perspective. The same can be said of Mark’s Gospel account…in comparison with the other three. Mark had a message to deliver…and having been the first Gospel written...his was the first to be told.
In taking a closer look at the Resurrection story…there are certain key elements that all four Gospels acknowledge to be true. Firstly, the event took place early in the morning…on the first day of the week. Mark’s Gospel even goes on to add that the sun had already risen…allowing the women to actually see where they were going. Which is important, because two of the women, according to Mark’s earlier account, had been at the tomb when Jesus’ body was laid to rest.
To suggest that the women did not know where they were going and ended up at the wrong place, as some have alleged, simply doesn’t ring true. These were the ones who had witnessed the entire crucifixion…and to their credit…stayed to the bitter end. These two women, of all people, knew exactly where to find Jesus’ body.
Secondly, those who were the first to make their way to the tomb…were all women! Mark accounts for three specifically by name, two of which we’ve already noted: Mary Magdalene from whom it is said Jesus cast out seven demons….and Mary the mother of James (and presumably, Joses)…again, according to Mark.. The third woman is named Salome…and although she wasn’t sited as being at the crucifixion…it is believed she was one of the women who helped to care for Jesus and his disciples.
And yes…it’s important to note that there is only one individual who is listed in the telling of all four Resurrection accounts: Mary from the town of Magdala…also referred to here as Mary Magdalene. And it is certainly worth noting that in the Gospel of John, it was this Mary…who was the first individual to not only see the risen Lord…but to speak to him in the flesh. Perhaps because Mary was a woman…the good Lord knew the word would eventually get out. But there again, in Mark’s Gospel…at least initially, even Mary was too frightened to even speak…much less tell anyone.
Thirdly, when the women arrived at the tomb…the rather large stone that had been covering the entrance…had been rolled away. Leaving the tomb wide open…and, most important of all, it was empty. Let’s pause here for just a moment and remind ourselves why this is such a crucial point. Neither Mary nor any of the disciples ever expected to see Jesus alive again. It simply would not have been a part of their thinking. Like every good Jew, they undoubtedly believed in the resurrection of the dead, but this resurrection of the dead was to take place on the Last Day…at the end of time…not in the here and now.
Making it highly significant that Mary did not jump to the conclusion that Jesus had risen from the dead. She, along with the other women, had to hear the “good news” from none other than a messenger from heaven in order to accept what seemed impossible. God apparently knew that and wrote it into the script.
Fourthly, knowing that the tomb is indeed empty…the most obvious question of all has to be asked: where, then, is the body? And now we come to the heart of what Mark’s Gospel is ready to spell out. Straight from the lips of the heavenly messenger comes the only plausible answer: “He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place where they laid him.” But wait, there’s more.
If the women were even beginning to wonder for what purpose has Jesus been raised, they didn’t have to wait long for the answer. Starting at verse 7, we read: “But go, tell his disciples…and Peter…that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”
A couple of thoughts. There can be only one reason that someone would roll the stone away from a grave site…that had been sealed for three whole days…and contained the body of a dead man. If it wasn’t to let someone out, which we believe to be the case, then it must have been to let someone inside.
Those someone’s were initially three women who made their way to a tomb nearly 2000 years ago…in the wee early hours of the first day of the week…in hopes of seeing the one called Jesus of Nazareth. According to Mark’s Gospel…they would not be disappointed…but only after seeing with their own eyes the awesome power of God to bring life into being where before there was only death and decay. When faced with such a reality…no wonder Mark says they were seized with both terror…and amazement.
In singling out Peter…we hear a much needed word of forgiveness. A nice touch recorded only by Mark…most likely because the source of information came from Peter himself.
And then there’s the reference to go to Galilee of the Gentiles. Back to where Jesus had spent most of his time ministering to those on the outs of society. Could it be that that is where they will find him? And if so, what does that say to those of us who wish to be his followers….today?
Strange, isn’t it…how Mark’s Gospel is the only one that ends without having seen the Risen Christ. If we think for a moment that the women were able to hold their tongues for lack of evidence…we need to think again. Even God knew that that would be a no brainer.
If it weren’t for lack of evidence….where then would be our faith? Now go…and tell the Good News about Jesus! He is risen! He is risen indeed! Amen