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Summary: Now is the time to proclaim the resurrection, to the ends of the earth.

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AROUND THE CROSS AND AT THE TOMB

Mark 15:40-47; Mark 16:1-8

There was a touching scene in Bethany, at the house of Simon the Leper, when an un-named woman broke open an alabaster box of precious ointment, and poured it over Jesus’ head. The living Lord Jesus recognised this beautiful extravagance as an anointing prior to His burial (Mark 14:8).

It fell to other women to anoint His body after His burial – or so they thought (Mark 16:1).

The extended passage before us embraces a busy weekend.

On the Friday, Jesus had died: murderously crucified after being (1) maliciously and wrongfully pronounced guilty by the Jewish court, and (2) clearly pronounced innocent by the Roman court!

‘Truly,’ pronounced the Roman centurion on duty at the Cross, ‘this man was the Son of God’ (Mark 15:39).

Most of Jesus’ disciples had fled. Mark is thought to have been amongst them - if he was indeed the ‘young man’ who ran away, stripped of his faith and all (Mark 14:51-52).

This particular word for “young man” is used again in this Gospel to describe the messenger from God who was sitting, clothed, on the right side of the empty tomb (Mark 16:5).

It would be wrong to say that there were only women around the Cross, since Joseph was near enough to be aware of the moment of Jesus’ demise (Mark 15:43) – and John was evidently there (John 19:26-27).

Nevertheless, this account is very much about the women. In the first scene, they are “afar off” (Mark 15:40), attentive to all that is happening; in the second scene they take centre stage (Mark 16:1).

Then of course, in our list of characters, there is Pilate (Mark 15:43-45) – although by now he is falling into a shadowy background.

Yet the main character remains – Jesus:

(1) His body, His corpse (Mark 15:45). Jesus was surely dead, and certified so by the authorities.

(2) His risen body, as certified by the empty “place where they laid Him” (Mark 16:6) - “they” being not only Joseph, but also Nicodemus, who had also proclaimed his faith by his actions at this time (John 19:39).

The women remained faithful throughout, despite their fear (Mark 16:5; Mark 16:8).

They were perhaps on auto-pilot when they set out for the tomb early on Sunday morning: only to be suddenly struck by the fact that there had been a great stone rolled over the mouth of the sepulchre (Mark 15:46).

Who was going to move it for them (Mark 16:3)? However, faith persisted - and they did not turn back.

How about our faith? Fear will raise its ugly head, but perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Can we perform our duty to God faithfully, in love for Him, regardless of the obstacles that we may or may not encounter?

The young man spoke as angels do: “fear not” (Mark 16:6).

Then he presented the visible evidence of the resurrection, before giving the women a message to convey to the disciples – and to Peter (Mark 16:7), who had so horribly blotted his copy-book.


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