Home     Mark     Series     Audio     Notes      

MARK 16:1-8
Series:  The Good News of Jesus Christ - Part Forty Eight

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
April 21, 2019

Would you please stand with me and read aloud together our text for this morning.  As we come together before God’s word.


When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Him.  And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.


And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”


And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.


And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed.


And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed.  You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He is risen; He is not here.  See the place where they laid Him.  But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee.  There you will see Him, just as He told you.”


And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.


C.J. Mahaney in his book “Living the Cross Centered Life” references “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.”  Some of you might remember this:


Near the end of C.S. Lewis’s book, the children Lucy and Susan are on the Hill of the Stone Table on a moonlit night.  From a distance they watch tearfully as Aslan the lion submits to torment from the White Witch and her rabble of monsters—who are there because of the treachery of the girl’s brother Edmund.  He [Aslan] is bound, shorn of his golden mane, muzzled...then tied to the table and killed.


After these vile creatures have gone, the two sisters creep out of their hiding place to approach the table.  They spend the rest of the night weeping over Aslan’s body.


When dawn comes and the girls are shivering in the early morning coolness, they turn from the table to try and warm themselves by walking.  As they watch the sky turn red and gold from the sunrise, they hear behind them “a great cracking, deafening noise.”


They hurry back, and are overcome with yet more grief at what they see:  “The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan.”


Suddenly their cries and questions are interrupted by “a great voice behind their backs.”


They look round.  There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it has apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.


Susan tries to ask him if he’s a ghost.


Aslan stooped his golden head and licked her forehead.  The warmth of his breath and a rich sort of smell that seemed to hang about his hair came all over her.


“Do I look it?” he said.


Finally, after both girls have “flung themselves upon him and covered him with kisses,” Susan asks a pressing question:  “But what does it all mean?” (1)


That is the question we want to consider this morning.  What does it all mean?  The death and resurrection of the Christ.  What does it all mean?


Last Sunday we ended at the tomb.


We had moved through Mark’s record of Jesus being scourged and beaten - shamed and humiliated - mocked and ridiculed.  Jesus who’s flesh is now shredded and Who has been beaten beyond recognition.  Jesus is led out of the city to a place called Golgotha - The Place of the Skull.


There we saw Jesus being nailed to a cross and remaining on that cross - willingly - for you and for me.

Which is beyond our understanding.  Isn’t it? 


Jesus willingly takes on Himself the full justified vehemence and wrath of God against sin - our sin.


Jesus - willingly - in our place - Jesus experiencing what you and I deserve.  What every human being in history deserves.  What Jesus alone does not deserve. 


Jesus our Savior - Who for all of His existence - in that perfect divine unity of the Trinity - Jesus has never been alone.  Now - in His incarnate humanity - Jesus experiences separation from His Father.  God - Who is holy must forsake the Son who willingly bears our sin.  Separation that should be ours - forever.


It’s staggering to consider.  Jesus - willingly - in our place - is forsaken so that we might be forgiven.  Jesus is cut off so that we may never be separated from God’s love.


Mark records that as Jesus breathes His last - the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 


The curtain in the Temple that was thick - formidable.  That had kept people from entering the Holy of Holies - the innermost room of the Temple - within which was the revealed presence of the Holy God.


The Holy of Holies - that even for the priest uniquely selected - to go beyond the curtain inappropriately was death.  To enter the presence of God uncleansed of sin was death.

As Jesus breathes His last - the curtain which separated humanity - us - from the holy presence of God is torn dramatically top to bottom - supernaturally by God.  Because of the work of the atoning Lamb - Jesus - willingly sacrificed on the cross for us - the long standing separation between ourselves and God has been shredded.


Mark records that when the centurion saw that in this way He [Jesus] breathed His last, - he [the Centurion ] said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”


The centurion who had the title of Exactor Mortis - the “exactor of death.”  The centurion who was the head of the quaterion - the squad of 4 professional soldiers trained in the skill and art of crucifixion - who’s job it was to make sure that Jesus gets crucified and dead.


The centurion who has supervised perhaps hundreds of crucifixions - the Roman - Gentile - pagan - centurion when he saw “that in this way” Jesus breathed His last - not as some martyr for some lost cause - not as an unwilling victim of circumstances.  But that Jesus chose to willingly yield His life at the time and the place of His choosing - purposefully - intentionally - crying on in victory - the centurion recognizes the truth of Who Jesus is.  “Truly this man was the Son of God!”


Words that echo Peter’s declaration.  Jesus’ question:  “But Who do you say that I am?”  Peter’s answer:  “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  (Matthew 16:13-17; Mark 8:27-30)


Last Sunday we saw that - when Jesus was in fact dead - His body is turned over to Joseph of Arimathea - who with some oil and spices provided by Nicodemus - wraps Jesus’ body in linen that was used for burials - and they laid Jesus’ body in an unused tomb that Joseph had acquired for his family.  Then they rolled the stone against the entrance to the tomb.


Mark 15:47 records that:  Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where He was laid.


The word “saw” translates the Greek verb “theoreo” - meaning to look intently with sustained interest for the purpose of gaining understanding.


These women had seen and heard first hand what we can only read about here in Mark’s record.  After that long - exhausting - traumatic day - the women sat before the tomb - staring - they “saw” and were trying to make sense of it all.  What does it all mean?


Mark 16:1:  When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Him.  And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.


When the Sabbath was past - meaning sometime after 6:00 p.m. on Saturday - after the bazars and shops have reopened after the Sabbath - Mary, Mary, and Salome - went out and bought spices in order to anoint Jesus’ body.


Spices that they bought at the first opportunity.  But too late in the day - too dark - too dangerous - to go out of the city to the tomb Saturday night. 


So that early on the first day of the week - Sunday - probably while it’s still dark - that early morning twilight that’s still dark but getting lighter - with a bottled up eagerness to get to the tomb - they head out of the city in order to arrive just as the sun is rising.


Which is about heart level devotion.  Not necessity.


Jesus was entombed on Friday.  It was a rush job.  According to Old Testament law they couldn’t leave Jesus hanging over night.  And they needed to get Jesus in the tomb before the Sabbath.  It was a rushed burial.  But Joseph and Nicodemus had done everything that was necessary to bury Jesus.


So the women purchasing spices - which would not have been cheap.  To anoint a body that’s already been buried.  Of a man who’s died seemingly for a lost cause.  And rushing out to do all that anointing.


All that reveals that the heart of these women isn’t about culture and cost and effort but about heart level devotion to Jesus and their desire to grieve and honor the man they love.


On the way, they begin to ask each other: “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”


Which is a really good question.  A question that they’d probably have asked earlier if they’d been thinking with their heads and not their hearts.  But now that they’re almost to the tomb the practical issue of the stone begins to “weight” on them...


This isn’t “the” tomb.  But it is “a” tomb that’s similar to what “the” tomb would have looked like.  Stone on the left.  Tomb entrance on the right.


Notice that the stone on the left is higher than the slot in front of the entrance.


When Joseph and Nicodemus had rolled the stone in front of the tomb - that rolling was down hill into that slot.  Something 2 grown men probably could have accomplished.


Stones were rolled in front of tombs to keep out wild animals and grave robbers.  Which means that rolling that stone up hill - out of the slot - would have taken several men using leverage and a whole lot of hutzpah.


How these women carrying their expensive spices and without any of the other big burly fisherman type disciples being with them - how they’re going to roll that stone away is a really good question.


A question that helps us understand something else about these women and the disciples. 


Even though Jesus had repeatedly told His disciples that He would die and rise again 3 days after His death - these ladies are not expecting the resurrection. 


They’re going to the tomb to anoint Jesus’s body as an act of heart level devotion for someone they love whom they’d seen die - horribly - that they’d seen get buried - and they’re not expecting the stone to have been removed - and certainly not an empty tomb.


What does it all mean?  For these women - for the disciples - apparently the answer does not include resurrection.


Verse 4:  And looking up - probably because in the early morning light they’re focused more on not tripping on the trail.  “And looking up” - seeing the tomb for the first time that morning - they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.


“They saw” is again the Greek verb “theoreo” - meaning that they’re wondering what does it mean that the stone is rolled back?  With everything that’s happened so far, resurrection still isn’t on their radar.


Matthew records that there was a massive earthquake.  That an angel of the Lord had come down from heaven and rolled back the stone.    (Matthew 28:1,2)


How large was the stone?  It was very large.  The Greek has the idea of it being excessively large.  And yet - it’s rolled back.  Uphill.  Because God wanted it rolled back.


Let’s be clear.  Rolling the stone away is not about letting Jesus out but about letting the women in. 


Verse 5:  And entering the tomb, they [the women] saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed.




“Alarmed” translates a Greek verb that means they were struck with amazement and terror.  Thrown into an intense emotional state because they were shocked - stunned - frightened - deeply disturbed by what they saw. 


What does it all mean?


Verse 6 - here - at last - is the explanation and instructions:  And he [the angel] said to them, “Do not be alarmed.  You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He is risen; He is not here.  See the place where they laid Him.  But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee.  There you will see Him, just as He told you.”


Do not be alarmed.  Same Greek verb.  There is no need remain disturbed and frightened.


You’re looking for Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus Who was crucified.  You really did see Him die - horribly.  He really did willingly stay on the cross and die - in your place - for your sins.


But He’s not here.  And no one has taken Jesus’ body.


Explanation:  He is risen.


Look at the place where they laid Him.  It’s empty.  Except - John records - except for the linen Jesus has been buried in.


Yes.  But what does it all mean?


Paul writes to the church of Corinth.  A church, within which there were some who struggled with the idea of resurrection and what that might mean for their own faith in Jesus.


Paul writes to them - 1 Corinthians 15 - starting at verse 12:  Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” 


Either there’s resurrection or there isn’t.      


Verse 13:  But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised - if resurrection is impossible then Jesus is dead - and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.


If Jesus is dead then we have no message.  There is no Good News of Jesus Christ.  What you believe is worthless.


Verse 15:  We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that He raised Christ, Whom He did not raise - we’re saying that God did something that God didn’t do - saying that Jesus is someone that He isn’t - if it is true that the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.


Verse 17:  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.


If there is no such thing as resurrection and Jesus is dead then all those doubts you have are pretty right on.  There is no forgiveness of sins.  Christianity is just another a religious system - a spiritual teaching - like all the others.


Easter might as well be about some pagan goddess and the Easter bunny.


Verse 18 - if Christ is not raised - then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.


They’re dead.  Get over it.


If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people to be most pitied.


If there is no resurrection then there’s no eternal life.  This is all there is.  So all this is just wishful thinking - comforting religious happy thoughts - for the feeble minded - to somehow help us cope with life.  Jesus was just another dead rabble rousing rabbinic wannabe Messiah.    


Verse 20:  But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.  (1 Corinthians 15:12-20)


Let’s repeat that together:  But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.  The first of many who will also rise from death.


What does it mean that Jesus is risen?


It means that everything Jesus taught about Himself - What His ministry was about and His message called us to believe and how He taught us to live.  It’s all true.


Paul’s application of that truth to the Corinthians - and us:


Since Jesus Christ is resurrected from the dead everything that we’ve told you about God and life with God and His power to transform and heal our lives is true.  We really are speaking for God - testifying of what God has done.  Our faith isn’t some vain worthless collection of spiritual happy thoughts.


When you put your trust in Jesus as the Savior your sins really are forgiven.  Your relationship with God really is restored.  Those who have died trusting in Jesus are not dead.  People really do come back from the grave.  He lives.  They live.  You’ll live.  We have hope.  There is eternal life.


What does it all mean?  Explanation:  He is risen.


What does it all mean?  Instructions:  The angel tells the women to go tell Jesus’ disciples - and specifically Peter.


We all get Peter.  Right?  We can relate to Peter.


Peter that Jesus called out of obscurity as fisherman up in the backwoods of the Galilee.

Peter that kept trying to say something brilliant and usually ended up coming off as clueless.  A man who seemingly was really good at doing the wrong thing at the worst possible time.


Peter who bragged about his devotion - his undying commitment to Jesus - who publicly denied Jesus 3 times.


We get Peter.  And Peter needs to hear this good news - He is risen.


But what will that good news mean for Peter.  Peter who denied that he knew the Savior.  God.


What did Peter feel - the fear for His own life - the agony of his denial - the despair of seeing Jesus tried, sentenced, and put to death.  Its over and there is no hope - only emptiness and agony.


Go tell His disciples - and Peter - especially Peter - that Jesus is alive and is on His way to Galilee - to Peter’s home.


What would it have been like to be there when Peter first saw Jesus after His resurrection - to see the love and forgiveness in Jesus’ eyes.   To be there when Peter first saw Jesus - His resurrected Lord - and all the doubt and despair and confusion melted away.


Surprisingly it’s Peter who becomes the backbone of the early church.  A writer of Scripture.  An apostle to the Gentiles.  The ring leader and spokesmen for the apostles.  The one tradition says was martyred by Nero - crucified upside down in Rome.


Which is quite a transformation from the cowardice he demonstrated at Jesus’ trial.  Yes?


Peter is the real time - real life - demonstration of what it means that  He - Jesus - is risen.  There is forgiveness and redemption and restoration.  Even for us. 


The angel instructs the women - Go tell His disciples, and especially Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you up to Galilee.  There you will see Him… what?  ...just as He told you.


Jesus - just 3 nights earlier - on the way to the Garden at Gethsemane - the disciples were all bragging about how they would rather die than deny Jesus.  Why?  Because Jesus had told them that they would.


Remember this - Mark 14:27:  “And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’  But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”  (Mark 14:27,28.)

Included in the instructions is the big picture of God at work.


Hold on to this:  Jesus’ ministry and message - God’s will and plan - is not interrupted by Jesus’ death.  Even if all of us are wondering what it all means.  Even if we totally mess up.  Even if none of us is expecting the resurrection. 


When Jesus is crucified - when He’s dead and in the tomb - God’s agenda has not died.  There’s no need for it’s resurrection.  It was never in doubt or in jeopardy.


God’s plan for the redemption of His people - the reign of the Messiah on the throne of David - the Kingdom of God being at hand and the truth of what that means - God’s call to repent and trust in Him - all of that is being accomplished - all of that will be accomplished.


The tomb is empty.  He is risen.  Go tell the disciples - especially Peter - that Jesus will meet you in Galilee - just as He told you.  Because He does redeem and restore and - big picture, what does all this mean - God has a plan and purpose for you life - for His glory.


Verse 8:  And they went out and fled - they ran away - from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.


Trembling and astonishment meaning that they’d lost control of their emotions and actions.


And they said nothing.  Literally they told no one nothing.

“For they were afraid.” 
Greek verb “pobeo” - think… phobia. 


Sometimes our fears - rational or not - sometimes our fears get the better of us.  They keep us from seeing the big picture of God at work and keep us focused on what we’re afraid of.  Sometimes our fears keep us from obedience.


They’re running scared.  Not thinking.  Just running away.


Which begs for a sequel.  It just leaves us hanging.  Which may have been Mark’s intent.  What comes next is unfinished - even today.  A question of how we will respond.


We know - because we’re reading this - and because there are others who would have read this - we know that eventually they did tell others.


Matthew records that eventually great joy overcame their fear.  Fear overcome by faith in God and focusing on God’s big picture.


Realization sets in as they’re running.  “Wait.  Mary, stop a minute.  Let’s think about this.  What all this means.  We can’t keep this good news to ourselves.”


With great joy they went on to share the good news with others.   Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  


Processing all that...


What does it all mean?

At the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus laid out His ministry and message.  Mark 1:15: 
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”


Since January of last year we’ve been studying through Mark’s record of Jesus’ ministry and message.  All of which comes down to this.   


All of Jesus’ ministry and message needs to be viewed from the perspective of this final week.  All of this final week needs to be viewed from the perspective of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

What it all means comes down to the significance of these final events. 


The Kingdom of God is hand - Jesus - God has come to us.  He really is the Christ - the Son of God - Who willingly has gone to the cross to shred what separates us from God.  The way into the very presence of God - redeemed life and restored relationship with God - God Himself has opened up to us.  That is the good news of Jesus Christ.


We are to respond to that good news by repenting and believing in the gospel.


5 brief takeaways - hang on to something.  What does all that mean? (2)


First: God does not come to us because He is willing to accept us as we are.


We are totally messed up by our sin and living in our sin - depraved and hopeless.  What God must judge and condemn and will separate Himself from.

Evidence?  Jesus - willingly bearing our sin on the cross: 
“My God. My God.  Why have you forsaken Me?”


Second:  God comes to us because He desires to accept us despite the way we are.


Evidence:  Jesus willingly remains on the cross because He loves us.  Because God’s desire is for relationship even with those Who are crucifying His Son.  Even us.


Relationship that is forever.


Evidence.  He is not here.  He is risen.


Third:  God does not leave us where we are but wills to transform us into the likeness of Christ.


Evidence:  Peter.  We get Peter in all of his brokenness and sinful messed-up-edness.  And yet, look at what God did in and through Peter.


We can look at Peter and have hope of what God can and do in and through us - you and me.  To His glory alone.


Fourth:  To repent and believe is how we are to respond.


To repent - to turn from our sin.  And believe - turning to God trusting Him with our lives.  By faith accepting what God has done for us through Christ’s work on the cross.  What God wills to do in our lives despite the way we are.

:  Tell someone.  Because good news like this should not be kept to ourselves.


Grab the big picture of what all this means and share it with someone else who needs to hear what God has done for them.



1. C.J. Mahaney, Living The Cross Centered Life - Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing (New York, Penguin Random House, 2006), pages 48,49 - quoting C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (New York, Macmillan, 1950), Chapter XV, “Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time”

2. Sinclair Ferguson, Maturity - Growing Up and Going On in the Christian Life (Edinburgh, Banner of Truth Trust, 2019) see footnote #3 and discussion on page 101.


Series references:

Sinclair B. Ferguson, Let’s Study Mark (Edinburgh, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2016).

Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary, Volume 2:  Insights on Mark (Carol Stream, IL, Tyndale House Publishers, 2016).


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®  (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.