These next two excerpts from my book, Miracles in Mark, are from the chapter on the Resurrection.
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?” 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.’ “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
While there can be no doubt that the cross occupies the central place in Mark’s Gospel, it is just as clear that the resurrection is the supernatural event that gives the cross its truest meaning. The resurrection reversed or overturned the results of the crucifixion, bringing life where there had been death. More importantly, however, the resurrection served to demonstrate the fact that God had vindicated Jesus as the, “pioneer of salvation for anyone believing in him.” The religious authorities clearly thought that they were doing God’s will by eliminating Jesus. By raising Jesus from the dead, God declared once and for all that He was the fulfillment of God’s eternal plans and purposes.
Mark’s actual account of the resurrection is very brief. In fact, there are no accounts of post-resurrection appearances of Christ to His disciples. When placed alongside the other miracles and supernatural events in this Gospel, the resurrection event lacks detail and specifics. It is very tame in comparison to the other miraculous accounts. The brevity of the account has puzzled readers since the days of the early Church. As it is, the ending of Mark’s Gospel leaves the reader hanging. This may have been the result that Mark intended. Some have speculated as to whether or not Mark actually intended for the book to end here. Perhaps he intended to come back and finish it later. At any rate, it does end at verse 8 and this is what we have to work with.
The main characters in this chapter include three women: Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James and Joses, and Salome, and “a young man.” These are the three same women whom Mark identified as “watching from a distance” at the crucifixion. Two of them, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joses were also present at Jesus’s internment. As they approach the tomb, early on the morning after the Sabbath, they realize that they are not going to be able to gain access due to the large stone covering the entrance. When they arrive at the tomb, however, they observe that the large stone has been rolled away. It will become clear that the stone was not removed to let Jesus out. Other Gospel accounts, in His encounters with His followers, have the resurrected Jesus appearing and disappearing, often seeming to pass through doors and walls.
Inside, they are confronted by the other character in this account, “a young man wearing a white robe.” There is little doubt that Mark understood this figure to be an angel. His white robe is one indicator, but the primary indicator is the fact that he communicates revelation to the frightened women. He knows their thoughts and intentions. He knows they are looking for Jesus but announces, “He has risen!” By way of emphasis, the angel then encourages the women to, “See the place where they laid him.” There is no one there.
To be continued…