Pastor Thomas Shepherd Stuart United Methodist Church
Chapter 16 of Mark’s Gospel, is probably the most important chapter of his book because it tells us about the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection is the pinnacle of Jesus’ mission. Some might argue that the highlight of Jesus’ mission was to die on the cross for the salvation of all who would believe, and that is what He came to do. But that wasn’t the end of it. If Jesus had only died on the cross He would have been no different than any other religious leader who has appeared before or after Him. They all died, too! But Jesus not only died and was buried, but on the third day He got up from the grave and walked away ALIVE! This should not have come as a surprise to any of His followers. He had told them over and over again that he would be mistreated, sentenced to death and die, but on the third day rise to life. Three times in Mark’s Gospel He had told His disciples this (see 8:31, 9:31, and 10:33-34), and one time in particular He had told his inner circle of Peter, James, and John that He would rise from the grave (9:9), but for some reason they did not believe.
What you find as you walk through the chapters of Mark’s Gospel is that everyone had failed him in some way. The apostles were no different than us; they were more concerned about themselves and the physical than they were with the spiritual. Jesus told them that they all would abandon Him, but they did not believe Him. He even quoted prophesy concerning it from Zachariah 13:7 saying “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (Mk. 14:27). But you know what? They did not believe it! They didn’t even believe that He would be resurrected as we see in Mark 16:1-13. They all failed him and abandoned Him, but it was as it needed to be so that they could live to share the gospel message another day.
In Mark 16 we find three women who get up early on the first day of the week and set out with spices to anoint the body of Jesus. You see, these women are as guilty of not believing as were the apostles. Earlier in chapter 14, Jesus was anointed in the home of Simon the leper by an unnamed woman. Jesus says of her, “She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial” (8). He had already been anointed for his burial but they did not believe. Some argue that they came to anoint the body of Jesus according to the custom of the Jews, but according to John 19:40, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had already done so. But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. The women think the body of Jesus is lying in the tomb waiting for them. They did not believe in the Resurrection!
There is another problem. The stone covering the tomb was large. There was no way the women could move the stone. When they crested the hill and looked up as they arrived at the tomb, they found that the stone is rolled away and the body was gone! When they encounter the angel their disbelief turns to belief as the angel tells them “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” (Mk 16:6-7). Now they begin to believe HE is ALIVE!!!
Mary tells the disciples what happened and guess what? They did not believe! Two disciples on their way to Emmaus met Jesus and when He is revealed to them, they too ran back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples. Guess what? They did not believe! It wasn’t until they saw with their own eyes did they truly believe (14). We always blame Thomas for not believing, but none of them truly believed until they saw Him. The disciples come to believe and through their belief share the message of salvation. At first they did not believe, but then their eyes were opened and they believed, and nothing could stop them; not even the fear of death.
You might be saying “We can’t meet Jesus in the way these disciples met Jesus” but remember what Jesus said to Thomas in John 20:29, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Jesus is referring to those who would believe through faith. That is how we see Jesus today through the eyes of faith.
Do you believe?