The Victory! – Mark 16:1-14
By Pastor Lee Hemen
April 5, 2015
Victory can come in many forms in our lives. It could be getting good grades, making a promotion at work, or retiring in comfort and contentment. Parents see victories in their children all the time. Perhaps one of the greatest victories that were totally unexpected happened during the 1980 Winter Olympics when the USA hockey team beat Russia at Lake Placid, New York. It was called “The Miracle on Ice” for a reason because no one expected it to happen since Team USA had been badly beaten by the Russians earlier in the year.
Today’s verses in Mark show us a different kind of victory. It is one that does not give out gold medals, good grades, or future monetary compensation. It is the victory that gives anyone who believes in it the power over death and the newness of a whole new relationship with Almighty God. It was a victory that few expected that morning after experiencing and seeing what they already had. They expected something quite different. Let’s discover this morning the victory!
When a dove hit the living room window my mother did not expect it to suddenly come alive and start flying around the house. It seemed dead to us and my mother, in a moment of compassion, brought the bird into the house. She laid it on some newspapers and went to get a garden trowel in order to bury it. It surprised us all by suddenly getting up and flying around the room! A mad and confused chase occurred, resulting in a lot of shouting, furniture being knocked over, and finally the bird flying out the open patio doors. Curiously, the unexpected came true for the women who went to the tomb of Jesus that Sunday morning so long ago…
I. They expected death and a closed tomb! (Vv. 1-3)
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?”
1. Jesus was not only merely dead, he was quire sincerely dead! When you die, you are dead — right? At least this was what was on the minds of the women who went to the tomb that morning. The Sabbath, Saturday, concluded at sunset and the new Jewish day, Sunday, began. That evening after sunset the women who had witnessed Jesus’ death and burial bought spices, aromatic oils, to anoint Jesus’ body the next morning. This indicates they did not expect Jesus to rise from the dead. Spices were poured over a dead body not to embalm it but rather to counteract the odor of decay and as a symbolic expression of loving devotion. Embalming was not a Jewish custom. “Very early on the first day of the week just after sunrise the women went to the tomb.” They left home, with their preparations, while it was still dark (John 20:1) thinking they were going to anoint further Jesus’ corpse and they got to the tomb shortly after sunrise. They knew Jesus was dead and buried. They had watched him die on the cross. In fact they were pondering how they would remove the entrance stone. Only Mark recorded their concern over the practical problem of getting it rolled back. Evidently they were not aware of the official sealing of the tomb or the posting of a guard. (Matthew 27:62-66) As these women walk to the tomb, they expected death and a closed tomb.
I never expected my future brother-in-law to walk through the door of our home. He was in the Navy and far away at sea. Yet, there he stood in his dress whites dragging his duffel bag behind him. He surprised us by coming home early! We know certain things in life are not expected. That is just the way life works. No one expects a tomb with a dead body in it to be empty — it is impossible! Yet, after following Jesus for three and a half years they should have had the motto “expect the unexpected!” they were looking for a tomb with a body, but…
II. What they got was an empty tomb and a resurrection! (Vv. 4-7)
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.'”
1. When the women arrived on the scene, they looked up toward the tomb and immediately noticed that the stone… had been removed, for it was very large and thus easily seen. As the women entered the tomb’s outer room that led to the inner burial chamber, they were startled to see a young man sitting to their right probably in front of the burial chamber. The unique circumstances, the accompanying description, and the revelatory message indicate that Mark viewed him as a messenger sent from God. The white robe pictured his heavenly origin and splendor. Luke (Luke 24:3-4) and John (John 20:12) both mention the presence of two angels, the number necessary for a valid witness (Deut.17:6); but Matthew (Matthew 28:5) and Mark referred to only one, presumably the spokesman. The women were alarmed, shocked, taken aback, when they encounter the divine messenger. This compound verb is one of strong emotion (used only by Mark in the NT), expresses overwhelming distress. God’s messenger immediately tries to put the women at ease. He tells them, “Don’t be alarmed” and then begins to tell them, “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.” and then has them look for themselves, “See the place where they laid him.” They are given a task to “go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'” These women were the first to witness Jesus’ resurrection, but would not be taken as credible witness under Jewish law. We know that they eventually go and tell the other disciples, and Peter and John rush to the tomb to see for themselves. They expected death and a closed tomb, but what they got was an empty tomb and a resurrection!
After I married Denise there began a process that I never expected in my life– I changed. I became more mature in my thinking, more attentive in my listening, and developed a growing love I never expected. True love will do that. In fact, any relationship that is deep and abiding will. Christians are expected to grow in maturity, devotion, and their relationship with Jesus as well. After the women went to that tomb on Sunday morning, every one of their lives would change. In fact we discover…
III. The awe of victory resulted in changed lives! (Vv. 8-14)
Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. [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.
1. Verse 8 is the actual ending for the Gospel of Mark. We know this to be true because of the testimony of early church fathers, two of the earliest and best reliable manuscripts end Mark here, many of those who add the extra verse place marking to show they were additions or have notations stating such. Verse 8 ends for us in our Western thinking in a stilted position. Why would Mark end his Gospel with the women being afraid? Yet the word here is not necessarily one of fear, as it is one of awe. The Greek phobeo can mean fear, as in being afraid, but it is often used as meaning being in awe. Not understanding, yet knowing that something has occurred that one simply cannot explain. this is the context, I believe. But their fear, their awe, of what just occurred turns to joy afterwards. They are told to go and remind Peter and the others to meet Jesus back in Galilee. Verses 9-14 explain what occurs afterwards. These verses explain for the reader how a person’s life is changed forever after coming to the knowledge of the empty tomb and Jesus’ resurrection! The disciples and all of Jesus’ followers would be changed after the resurrection! They had a new task themselves to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” Mary Magdalene, out of whom Jesus had driven seven demons, her life was changed as was the weeping and mourning of the disciples! At first they did not believe Jesus had risen, but after seeing the empty tomb for themselves, they believed! We discover, because a copyist inserts his own commentary, that “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” and in so doing we discover the awe of victory resulted in changed lives!
They expected death and a closed tomb, what they got was an empty tomb and a resurrection! The awe of victory resulted in changed lives!
This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.