1. Read verse 1-2. Who are the women mentioned here? Where were they going and why? What was the time? What great sorrow was in their hearts? What reveals their love for Jesus?
2. Read verse 3,4. What was on their minds as they walked along? What amazed them when they arrived and saw the tomb? What alarmed them when they entered? (5)
3. Read verse 6. What good news did the angel tell them? In what respect is this news the key point of the Bible and of Jesus' teaching? (Jn 1:29; Ac 2:23-28) How does Jesus' resurrection defeat sin and death and give living hope? (Ac 2:32-33)
4. What mission did the angel give the women? (7) What promise had they (and the disciples) forgotten? (Mk 14:28) How did they react to the angel's message? (8) Why couldn't they believe the good news?
5. Read verse 9. Who was the first person to whom the risen Jesus appeared? How had Jesus changed her life? What did she do?
6. Read verses 10-13. How did the Eleven respond to the news Mary brought? Why? Who else told them the good news of Jesus' resurrection? (Compare Lk 24)
7. What did Jesus do to help his unbelieving disciples? (Read verse 14) According to Jesus, why didn't they believe? What was their fixed idea?
* THE RISEN CHRIST GAVE THEM THE WORLD MISSION COMMAND (15-20)
8. Read verse 15. What command did Jesus give the doubting disciples? What can we learn here about Jesus' faith? About the absoluteness of the world mission command?
9. How did Jesus teach the absoluteness of the gospel? (16) What is the great contrast? What is the only way of salvation? Read verses 17-18. What power did Jesus promise gospel workers? What protection?
10. What did Jesus do after he finished speaking to them? What did the disciples do? How did Jesus continue to help them? How can we account for their change?
"'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.'"
Chapter 16 is the story about the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this story Mark tells that the women who had followed Jesus before the crucifixion did not run away. They followed Jesus to the end, even beneath the cross. They followed Jesus, but they did not believe the resurrection of Jesus. At the time of Jesus' crucifixion, Jesus' disciples were terrified. Now they were in deep despair and were hungry. The disciples saw the Risen Christ. But they did not believe in his resurrection. Still Jesus did not give up on them. The Risen Christ helped them believe in his resurrection by teaching them the Bible and visiting them. The Risen Christ also commanded them to go into all the world and preach the gospel.
I. He has risen (1-14)
First, women's desire to anoint Jesus' body (1-3). The several women mentioned here are Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome. Mary, Jesus' mother, Mary Magdalene, John Mark's mother Mary, Mary the wife of Cleopas. There were many Mary's in the gospels. These women had seen God in Jesus and begun to serve him and his disciples out of their own expenses. To them, serving Jesus and his disciples was not easy. But they wanted to serve them forever. Unexpectedly, Jesus died on the cross. Jesus who was so good, was crucified on the cross between two criminals. They could not understand why such a good person as Jesus was crucified so tragically. So they began to weep.
Suppose there is no love in the world. The world would not be beautiful at all. Everybody knows that a woman's love is a beautiful thing. Jesus died on the cross. But the women who had followed Jesus loved Jesus all the more and longed for him more than before. They said to themselves, weeping, "What can we do for Jesus now?" They treasured some expensive oils and spices. Now they brought them to anoint Jesus' body. In deep sorrow and pain they waited, not sleeping at all, until the Sabbath day passed, until the early dawn of the first day of the week. To them, Friday the thirteenth was too painful and too long. They came to the tomb of Jesus before the sun rose in order to anoint his body. As they walked toward the tomb in the early dawn, they worried about who would roll the stone away from the tomb for them, saying, "The stone is too heavy for us to move." When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. They were alarmed. Jesus was not waiting for them to anoint his body.
Second, he has risen, he is not here (4-6). What did the women do? Look at verse 5. "As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed." He was an angel of God keeping watch over Jesus. What did the angel say to them? Look at verse 6. The young man said to them, "Don't be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him." The angel's message was the key point of the Bible. It was the key point of Jesus' teaching. The angel's tiding was good news of great joy to all men. But they did not believe that Jesus was risen. So they were sorry. When they went and saw, Jesus' tomb was tightly closed up by the stone. The soldiers were keeping watch over it (Mt 27:65,66). The death of Jesus made the earth shake and the rocks split. The tombs broke open. Speechless nature cried. How much more the women's hearts were broken. But his death was not an ordinary man's death. His death was the death of the Son of God. He was crucified and killed at the hands of lawless men. The death of Jesus was not a tragic death. It was to fulfill God's will for world salvation. Jesus died as the Lamb of God (Jn 1:29). Acts 2:23-28 says, "This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him: 'I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.'" Still the women did not know how to stop weeping.
The angel came and told them the good news. "'Don't be alarmed,' he said. 'You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen!'" (6) God did not abandon Jesus who died to obey his will for world salvation. Look at Acts 2:32,33. "God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear." Through Jesus' resurrection God destroyed the last enemy of mankind, death. In the world, there is no hope because death swallows up whatever man can possess, even man's own life. Nothing lasts forever. But through Jesus' death and resurrection God gave us a living hope (1Pe 1:3,4). Through his resurrection, God's paradise is restored. Those who believe in him will receive eternal salvation and the kingdom of God.
Just before his crucifixion, Jesus reminded his disciples of his promise to see them again. Look at verse 7. "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.'" This good news of his resurrection was not instant; it had been promised and fulfilled in accordance with Bible prophecies. Especially this promise was given to the disciples right before his arrest. Mark 14:28 says, "But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee." This promise is the key point of the Bible. This promise was the only living hope for all mankind. But the disciples did not remember, because they did not want to remember. The women were faithful. But they also did not remember his glorious resurrection promise, because they did not listen to Jesus' words. They knew how to serve Jesus, but they never knew how to listen to Jesus' teaching.
Third, the Risen Christ visits his disciples (8-11). The women who had heard the angel's message were stunned. So, trembling and bewildered, they went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid (8). The news they had heard from the angel was the good news of great joy. But they did not believe the resurrection of Christ because they did not have one promise of God in their hearts.
Through Jesus' death and resurrection, the power of sin and death was gone. And eternal salvation and the kingdom of God came upon those who believe in him. But the women did not believe. Still, the Risen Christ did not give up on them. Jesus had appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom Jesus had driven seven demons (9,10). Jesus hoped that she would better understand the spiritual world. But she went to the disciples and told them the fact that Jesus was alive, not by faith, but by surprise. How did the disciples respond? They were weeping and mourning, saying, "O my broken dream, O my marriage problem."
Afterward, Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. According to Luke 24, apparently these two disciples were the ones who were running for their lives to Emmaus after Jesus' crucifixion. The Risen Christ met them and taught them the Bible persistently. In light of Luke, Jesus taught them Genesis to Revelation. After the Bible study, their hearts were moved and their spiritual eyes opened to see the Risen Christ. They were happy. They felt that they could see the kingdom of God. They felt that the world was like the kingdom of God. So they came to the other disciples and told them with great conviction what they had seen and heard, the resurrection of Christ. But the disciples did not believe. These men were the men whom Jesus had called. When they first received his call, they made great sacrifices to follow Jesus. At every opportunity Jesus planted resurrection faith in them. As they lived with Jesus, they came to love him. They came to realize that he was not an ordinary man. They realized that he was the Son of the living God. Once Peter confessed his faith, "You are the Christ." After this event, Jesus taught them the meaning of his death and resurrection. But when Jesus was crucified, they were paralyzed with fear and could not remember even one word of Jesus.
What did Jesus do with his unbelieving disciples? Look at verse 14. "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." Here we learn that Jesus' disciples' unbelief came from lack of faith. One student wants to finish his college course and get married. But he does not study. So he cannot graduate. He cannot marry because no one wants to marry a bum. He has a lack of desire. Likewise, the disciples could not believe Jesus' resurrection because they had no faith in Jesus' teachings, especially about the resurrection of Jesus. They did not believe the resurrection of Jesus because their hearts were stubborn. The disciples followed Jesus to learn of him. They had a fixed idea that Jesus would establish the earthly messianic kingdom, and each of them would be his cabinet members. These days many people think that they can buy happiness with money. One daughter said, "I am not happy with yuppie life. I want to live poorly and purely like Jesus." Her parents, whose idea was fixed that money is God, called deprogrammers to brainwash her. But they failed anyway. Most importantly, the disciples had never heard that a dead man came back to life. With many reasons the disciples' idea was fixed to the things of the world. They loved Jesus so dearly. But in believing his promise of glorious resurrection they were very slow. Jesus didn't wait until they finished eating. He rebuked them while they were eating. Jesus' rebuking really worked. Through the Risen Christ's rebuking they could have resurrection faith in God. We must remember that Jesus taught his disciples the meaning of his death and resurrection during his earthly messianic ministry and during the time after his resurrection before his ascension.
II. The Risen Christ gave them the world mission command (15-20)
First, "Go into all the world..." What did Jesus tell these weak disciples? Look at verse 15. "He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.'" Jesus gave them the world mission command, in spite of their spiritual condition. Jesus said to them, "Go into all the world." And he said, "Preach the good news to all creation." Of course, Jesus knew that they couldn't afford to go to foreign countries as missionaries. But Jesus believed that they would go to the ends of the earth.
Jesus knew that his disciples were weak. But he also believed that God would give them the power of the Holy Spirit. And he believed that God would preach the gospel to the whole world. He believed that through these men God would give his gospel to all the people who are suffering under the influence of evil spirits. At that time, the disciples were hiding from the Jewish authorities. They were in a helpless situation. But Jesus gave them the world mission command. Here we learn that Jesus wants us to obey his world mission command absolutely.
Second, the Risen Christ teaches them that the gospel is absolute (16-18). Jesus also believed that the gospel is absolute. Read verse 16. "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." Verse 16 contrasts the extremes of salvation and condemnation. Those who believe in Jesus will be saved. Their sins are forgiven. They become heirs of God with Christ. Those who don't believe in Jesus will be condemned. This condemnation is eternal punishment. Some people take the gospel lightly and live to satisfy their own desires and ambitions. They will be condemned to eternal punishment in the lake of fire. The only way to be saved from eternal punishment is to believe in the gospel. Only the gospel is good news of great joy for all men.
Look at verses 17,18. The Risen Christ promised to give power to gospel workers. He gives power to cast out demons. He promises to give power to speak in tongues. When we really receive the world mission command in our hearts, our language problem disappears. "They will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." These words promise healing power to gospel workers. And God promises that he will take care of his servants. Even though they pick up snakes or drink poison, they will not be harmed. These promises do not encourage us to play with snakes or to drink poison. It is a promise that God would protect his people. We cannot carry out the world mission command. But the Risen Christ will carry it out with his people.
Third, after the ascension of the Risen Christ the disciples work (19,20). After Jesus finished speaking to his disciples, he ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. What happened to the disciples when Jesus ascended into heaven? Look at verse 20. "Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it." Before the ascension, the disciples did not have faith in the Risen Christ. But after the ascension of Jesus the Spirit of Jesus came upon them. Jesus' teaching about his death and resurrection began to work. In the past, they were powerless to do anything. But when they had faith in the resurrection of Christ, they became powerful servants of God and their gospel work was powerfully carried out.
May the Risen Christ rebuke us of our unbelief and plant in our hearts that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only hope for all mankind. May the Risen Christ command us: "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation."