Mark 16:1 ¶ And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
Mark 16:2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
Mark 16:3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
Mark 16:4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
I think it is significant to note that Matthew tells us that Pilate sent a group of soldiers to secure the tomb to appease the Pharisees who were concerned that the disciples of Jesus would come and take His body away. They just didn’t take into account that He would not need the stone removed to be able to get out of tomb.
Matthew 27:62–66 “Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.”
Very early on the first day of the week following the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James and Salome bought spices to anoint the body of Jesus. They arrived at the tomb at sunrise. It seems that they were talking about whom they might get to move the huge stone that secured the tomb. Much to their surprise, the stone was already rolled away when they arrived at the tomb.
Mark 16:5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
Mark 16:6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
Mark 16:7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.
Mark 16:8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.
The women went into the tomb expecting to find the body of Jesus. Instead, they saw a young man (Matthew tells us that he was an angel) clothed in a long white garment sitting on the right side. Naturally, this frightened them. The young man told the women not to be afraid. He knew that they were looking for the body of Jesus. He told the women that Jesus had arisen from the dead; He was no longer there. Then he pointed to the empty place where His body had lain. The angel told the women to go and tell His disciples “and Peter” that Jesus would meet them in Galilee as He had told them He would. (Already the Father is reaching out to restore Peter, the one that failed so grievously by denying His LORD.)
The women left quickly and ran to get away from the tomb. They were so amazed that they trembled, but they were afraid to say anything to anyone. The other gospels indicate that they did go and tell the disciples and that Peter and John took off to see for themselves. It seems that they were well aware of the location of the tomb as well.
The Jewish New Testament Commentary notes that the rest of this chapter is absent from the two oldest Greek manuscripts. The information presented here is affirmed in the rest of the gospel accounts, except for the reference to drinking poison without harm in verse 18.
Guzik provides the following additional insight.
“Many very early Christian writers refer to this passage in their writings, which shows that the early Christians knew it was there and accepted it.
Š Papias refers to Mark 16:18. He wrote around A.D. 100.
Š Justin Martyr’s first Apology quotes Mark 16:20 (A.D. 151).
Š Irenaus in Against Heresies quotes Mark 16:13 and remarks on it (A.D. 180).
Š Hippolytus in Peri Charismaton quotes Mark 16:18-19. In his homily on the heresy of Noetus he refers to Mark 16:19. He wrote while he was Bishop of Portus (A.D. 190-227).
Š Vicentius, Bishop of Thibari, quotes from 2 of the verses in the 7th Council of Carthage held under Cyprian (A.D. 256). Augustine, a century and a half later, in his reply, recited the words again
Š The apocryphal Acts of Pilate contains Mark 16:15-18 (thought to be in the 200’s A.D.).
Š The Apostolic Constitutions clearly allude to Mark 16:15 in two places and quote Mark 16:16 outright (thought to be in the 200’s or 300’s A.D.).
The overwhelming majority of ancient manuscripts do include this passage.”
Mark 16:9 ¶ Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
Mark 16:10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.
Mark 16:11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.
It seems that Mary Magdalene went back to the tomb because Mark notes that she was the first person to whom Jesus showed Himself. Mark reminds us that Jesus had cast seven devils out of Mary.
John tells us about Mary’s encounter with Jesus.
John 20:11–17 “But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”
Notice that Mary did not recognize Jesus until He called her by name. She immediately recognized her name from His lips and cried out, “Rabboni,” which meant “Master.” He cautioned her not to grab Him since He had not yet returned to the Father. Then He asked her to go and tell His brothers (their position in the family as believers) that He was returning to His Father and their Father, to His God and their God.
The question begs, “Why did Christ not want Mary to touch Him?” I found an explanation from Arthur Pink that was enlightening: “On this very day, the morrow after the Sabbath, the high priest waved the sheaf of the first fruits before the Lord while He, the First fruits from the dead (1Cor 15:23) would be fulfilling the type by presenting Himself before the Father. (Companion Bible)”
1Corinthians 15:22-23 “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”
After seeing Jesus, Mary Magdalene went to tell the disciples that she had seen Jesus, and He was alive. They were mourning and weeping when she found them. Instead of rejoicing at her news and remembering that Jesus had told them He would arise from the grave, they didn’t believe her.
Mark 16:12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.
Mark 16:13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.
Sometime later, Jesus appeared to two of His followers as they walked in the country. They too went to tell the disciples that Jesus was alive; still, they did not believe it.
Luke tells us much more about this encounter.
Luke 24:13–31 “And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.”
As with Mary Magdalene, these men did not recognize the risen Savior. One of the men was identified as Cleopas, probably the father of James and Joses and whose wife was identified as being at the foot of the cross. When Jesus asked them what they were talking about, they were surprised he wasn’t aware of the events surrounding Jesus of Nazareth. They told how the women had talked with the angels and been told that Jesus was alive. They related how the disciples had even gone to the tomb and had not found Him there. Jesus then chided the men for being so slow to believe what the prophets had foretold. He then began with the writings of Moses and taught them of the scriptures that spoke about Him. Once they arrived at their village, they urged Jesus to come and stay with them since it was almost evening. Jesus went with them, and sat down to eat with them. When He broke the bread, their eyes were opened; and they recognized Him. Then He vanished from sight.
It seems our resurrected bodies will not be limited in the same ways we are now.
Luke also tells us that Jesus appeared to Simon before appearing to the whole group of disciples.
Mark 16:14 ¶ Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
Finally, that very evening according to John, Jesus appeared to the disciples as they were eating. He chided them for their unbelief and hard hearts. He said that they should have believed those who had told them that they had seen Him. Both John and Luke tell us that He showed them the wounds in His hands, feet and side.
There is a bit of a discrepancy here since we know from John’s account that Thomas was not with the disciples the first time He appeared to them. I think that Mark is referencing the time when Thomas was with them since he is referencing Jesus appear to “the eleven.” John notes that this was at least eight days later.
John 20:24–28 “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.”
When the other disciples told Thomas that they had seen Jesus, he doubted them. He said that unless he saw for himself the nail marks in His hands and touched them and put his hand in the Lord’s side, he would not believe them.
Isn’t this a typical human reaction? We just don’t want to learn unless we do it firsthand. If we had the common sense to learn from other’s mistakes or experiences, we’d save ourselves a heap of pain and heartache. What’s more—it is always the people we should be able to trust the most that we most often refuse to heed—like our parents. Thomas had spent three years with these men and the Lord. Why would he think they would lie to him?
Even though the doors were locked, Jesus appeared and stood among them. He spoke directly to Thomas and told him to touch His wounds with his hands and put his hands in His side. Jesus basically told him to “quit doubting; believe!”
Thomas immediately recognized Jesus and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” I would assume that his voice had a tinge of shame mixed in with total awe and joy. Little did he know he would go down in history as “doubting Thomas.” He probably did many other very good things; yet we remember him primarily for his doubts. Scripture presents many of the disciples “warts and all” as we would say. This is more encouraging than discouraging. We can relate—and we can have hope that we aren’t hopeless.
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
The risen Savior then commanded His disciples to go throughout the world—not just in Israel—and preach the gospel to everyone. All those that believed in Him and were baptized would be saved. Those that chose not to believe would be damned. Paul describes the gospel succinctly, “in a nutshell” as I’ve always heard.
1 Corinthians 15:1–4 “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures….”
The translation of Mark’s account is worded so as to make it seem that baptism is necessary for salvation. We know that is not the case when taken in context with the rest of scripture. Salvation is the gift of God by faith through grace and baptism is the means by which one makes public declaration of that faith. I think Mark actually makes that distinction by stating that those who do not believe will be damned—not those who are not baptized.
We get a fuller perspective when reading Matthew’s account as well.
Matthew 28:18–20 “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
Jesus reminded the disciples that the Father had given Him ALL power in heaven and earth. Knowing that, they were to go out and teach others to obey the commands of Jesus according to how He had taught them. They were to baptize people in “the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”—one God in three persons.
Then He gave them precious words of promise—“I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” That is a truth way beyond my understanding. Our God is so amazing that He can be with each one of His followers at all times—a phenomena that we call omnipresence; God is everywhere present all the time. Note that He says that He will continue to be with His followers “unto the end of the world.” The Greek for “world” includes “an age…forevermore…and world (without end).” In other words, I believe He is saying that He will be with His followers forever.
I think the Lord told His disciples that to encourage them that the authority, power and provision of Almighty God was ever with them and available to support and sustain them in their ministry—no matter their circumstances.
Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
Mark 16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Jesus told them that those who believed in Him would be given special signs to attest to their faith and the truth of the message they declared. In His name, they would be able to cast out devils, speak with new tongues, hold poisonous snakes, drink poison without harm, and lay hands on the sick for healing.
It should be noted that Jesus was not declaring that all believers would be gifted to do all these signs. I believe He is saying that He would endow believers to use these signs as needed to benefit the spread of the gospel.
Mark 16:19 ¶ So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
After giving His followers their final marching orders, the LORD was received up into heaven to take His place at the right hand of God the Father.
We know from Luke’s account in Acts that Jesus appeared to His disciples on and off for forty days before His ascension.
Acts 1:1–3 & 9 “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God….And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.”
Mark 16:20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
The disciples did as Jesus had commanded and began to preach the gospel everywhere. The LORD worked with them by confirming their message with the signs that He had identified in verse 17-18.