Devotional # 42. 7/15/13. Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.
This week’s Reading: Mark 16:1-20.
Introduction. Last week we talked about Jesus’ crucifixion. This week we’ll talk about the resurrection and “great commission”.
vv. 1-2. Jesus chose to have his resurrection heralded by women which was not submissible in court. Where were the men? Often Jesus uses the humility and faith of a woman to show men the truth. These were the same women as mentioned in Mk. 15:40. Also John 19:26 adds “Mary the mother of Jesus” was there and Luke 24:10 adds “Joanna” and other women.
Remember “Mary Magdalene” (as mentioned below in v. 9 and in Luke 8:2) had seven demons cast out of her. Remember she had been near Jesus on the cross and according to Mk. 15:47 she saw exactly where Jesus had been buried, she didn’t get the wrong tomb. Also “Mary the mother of James” is mentioned who was the mother of “James the Less*”. And “Salome” was the mother of James and John, the “sons of thunder”, sons of Zebedee. She had asked for her sons to sit at Jesus either side (Mt. 20:20-28).
*James the Less: Why was he called “the Less”? In Mark 15: 40 “the Less” is mikros (G3398) in Greek meaning “small, little” and can be related to size, age or rank (Source 1). According to wikipedia (not much of a credible source) James “the Less” would have been to distinguish between another James (probably James the Great” who was one of Salome’s (mentioned below) sons (Source 2). In Mt. 10:2 he is known as “James the son of Alphaeus.”
vv. 3-4. Every gospel writer mentions that the massive stone was moved. It would have been between ½ and 2 tons in weight. The word “anakulio” is used here, meaning “to roll something up a slope or an incline” (Source 3). Josh McDowell also documents that using Luke and John we see the stone was moved a distance away. Matthew Henry notes that “they who seek Christ diligently, will find the difficulties that lie in their way strangely to vanish, and themselves helped over them beyond their expectation” (Source 4).
v. 5. When it says, “a young man clothed in a long white robe” Matthew only mentions one angel also. But in Luke 24:4 and John 20:12 there were two angels. Just because the eyewitnesses saw one thing and relayed it (i.e. Mary told Peter who ran to see the tomb, Peter is narrating this gospel) doesn’t mean that there weren’t two angels. Saying there was one angel was possibly mentioned because the one speaking was focused on.
vv. 6-7. The angel knew why they were there but also where Jesus was. He says, ‘feel free to double check, He’s not here.’ When the angel joyfully says, “He is risen!” it’s not that someone came before them and stole the body, it’s that He’s not dead. The best possible outcome has happened. Then the angel tells them to go and tell others, a shadow of the “great commission” which Jesus gave later, the good news! This is exciting because they had been promised by Jesus that they would see Him again in Galilee and the angel knows and confirms this prophecy.
vv. 8-11. The ladies leave and initially do the opposite of what the angel commanded, they keep it a secret. Read Matthew 28:8-10 to understand this section a little better. So the ladies decide to tell the disciples but Jesus (in His resurrected body) stops them. Initially they don’t recognize Him (John 20:14) but once He speaks they know Him! What a wonderful picture! Jesus is our shepherd and we know His voice. Again they are commanded to tell the disciples that Jesus is alive. The ladies do this but the men do not believe. Of course not! Would you? Resurrection from death, after three days… impossible.
vv. 12-13. See Luke 24:13-31 for more on this story of two disciples traveling, then Jesus disappears. Notice that it says “another form”, in Greek “another” is heteros (Gk #2087) meaning “to number as opposed to some former person or thing” (Source 5). And “form” is morphe (Gk 3444) meaning “the form by which a person or thing strikes the vision” and “external appearance” (Source 6). The word morphe is used only here and in Phil. 2:6-7.
(At this point I encourage you to read Luke 24:40-43 for when Jesus eats honeycomb and fish)
v. 14. John 20 (specifically v. 28) gives us more information on this. It says, “And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and My God!’” Regarding “‘My Lord and My God!’”, it is interesting that “and” is in this exclamation. The Jehovah Witnesses say that Thomas said “my Lord” to Jesus, and then looked to heaven, praising his heavenly Father and said “My God!” The problem with that interpretation is leaving out the “and.” So what does the Greek say? The sentence (in English format*) is “Mou kyrios kai mou theos”: My (Gk #3450: mou) Lord (Gk #2962: kyrios) and (Gk # 2532: kai) my (Gk #3450: mou) God (Gk #2316: theos) (Source 7). The “and” is very apparent, therefore we see that Thomas believed Jesus was his master and God. Interestingly Jesus doesn’t discourage him from this thought and accepts his praise (which no righteous being [man or angel] has ever done in the Bible).
*English format: Technically the Greek sentence structure is, “kyrios mou kai o theos mou”.
(I encourage you to read John 21:7 at this point. Notice Peter puts on his outer garment [coat] before jumping out of the boat. Jon Coarson says this is a picture of repentance. Peter grabbed his jacket to be ready to follow Jesus anywhere, to do His will (Source 8). He would not make the same mistake twice of denying Christ.
vv. 15-16. This is called the “great commission” because a commission is a “contract” or “order” or “assignment” and it is great in importance because it involves the fate of every human on earth and because the source is Jesus. Now that Jesus was in His resurrected body He had conquered the grave and He wanted everyone to know. Not because it was a cool trick but because it was proof that what He had said was true – He could give people eternal life in heaven. So why did He entrust it to corrupt humans? For several reasons but two are: because it is a joy for God to see us follow His commands and because as His followers we must passionately love this news and there is a certain amount of rejection that we must go through with His “good news” for us to be considered His “family” (i.e. “brethren” in Romans 8:29). We are responsible for telling people about Jesus regardless of what format we use.
Notice it says, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” The mention of baptism here doesn’t mean it is a contingency on salvation. See notes on 1 Peter 3:21 for more on this. Baptism is the way Jesus commanded a Christian to profess their faith, not the faith itself. Also note that the inverse of salvation noted here (“condemned”) is dependent only “not believ[ing]” – nothing about baptism**.
** baptism: In a sermon on Romans 10:13, Spurgeon briefly talks about baptism (from Mark 16:16) concerning salvation. He says the “call” from “calls on the name of the LORD” means “professing” His name. He says, “And the profession, if men would be obedient, if they would follow the Bible, must be done in Christ’s way, by a baptism in water, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. God requireth this; and though men are saved without any baptism, and multitudes fly to heaven who are never washed in the stream, though baptism is not saving, yet if men would be saved, they must not be disobedient. And inasmuch as God gives a command, it is mine to enforce it” (Source 9).
vv. 17-18. This section on the signs that follow the gospel going out has been taken out of context and widely misunderstood. J. Vernon McGee says the signs “…disappeared even in the early church, but they do manifest themselves on some primitive mission frontiers even today. But if someone maintains that they are injunctions for today, then one must accept them all, even the drinking of a deadly poison. Even before the end of the first century, the sign gifts were no longer credentials of the apostles. The test was correct doctrine (see 2 John 10). It is the Word of God that is the great sign in this hour” (Source 10).
vv. 19-20. Jesus went up into heaven (called the “ascension”) but notice that He “sat down.” This is important because to the Israelites when a person sat down it meant they were finished with what they were doing. In fact a priest was never to sit down because their work was never done. So Jesus’ mission on earth was done, He had died for mans sin and conquered the grave. Notice that He sits on the “right hand of God” (the Father). This means He was exalted in honor and power. It also is one place that we see Jesus changed His appearance forever when He came to earth then was resurrected. In verse 20 we see that the disciples obeyed and told people about Jesus (that’s why we’re talking about Him today). But the best part is that He was “working with them”! He didn’t leave them alone, He was with them (through the Holy Spirit, John 14:16, 26; 16:7), guiding them, exhorting and encouraging them.
Conclusion. There is no better way to conclude the book of Mark then how God did. It is an incredible, true story that has been told time and again and will continue to be. The message is simple: believe in Jesus and He will save you from hell. But the follow-through, the joyful job all of us believers have been given can be more difficult. We have been told to love people to Jesus, to tell those that hate us of a Truth much more important than our life.
Source 3: Josh McDowell, The Resurrection Factor, pp. 66-68.
Source 4: Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, NT, p. 204.
Source 8: Jon Coarsen, quoted by Troy VanderWende on February 26, 2012.
Source 10: J. Vernon McGee, Mark, p. 187).