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He Is Risen Indeed

Mark 16:1-8 describes the event that changed human history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. He is risen indeed! “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here” (verse 6). “Among times there is a time that turns a corner, and everything this side of it is new” (C.S. Lewis in Perelandra). 

There are at least two ways in which this history-changing reality can impact us today, no matter how familiar we are with the event that Mark describes.

1. The resurrection of Jesus is designed to shake us to our core, to change every belief that we have through this one amazing reality. Some versions finish Mark’s Gospel at verse 8, assuming verses 9-20 were added later. “Mark seems to have purposely concluded his account with the women’s hasty flight, the most likely explanation for the abrupt, seemingly incomplete ending to the original Gospel. The NIV, and most other modern translations, indicate that the oldest and most reliable manuscripts of Mark end at v8.”  In other words Mark wanted to stop right there so that we do not move too quickly on from this astonishing reality.  

“The Greek says that the women were stunned out of their minds (TNIV ‘alarmed’, v5). Similarly in v8, they were gripped by ekstasis, literally, ‘standing outside of oneself’. In other words, they were out of their senses, amazed, astonished, in a state of distraction, confusion, terror and perhaps even ecstasy. No wonder. He is risen. Nothing like this has happened before or since.”

Ask the Holy Spirit to astonish you again at the wonder of this extraordinary event.

2. At the same time there is such encouragement. “But go, tell His disciples – and Peter – that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you” (verse 7). There was no rejection of Peter for his three times denial of Jesus at the time of His greatest need. He who failed worst was most embraced and encouraged. Don’t just tell His disciples, but make sure you tell Peter specifically. Tell Peter that the promise to meet with you in Galilee is still on schedule, that His grace is sufficient for Peter and all. As E.L. Budry wrote in his hymn:

“Lo, Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb; 

 Lovingly He greets us” 

“All of Heaven had watched Peter fall, and wanted to help him get back up. ‘Be sure and tell Peter he’s not left out… one failure doesn’t make him a flop.’” 

Selwyn Hughes, writing in another context, captured this truth so well “As I studied this passage the realisation dawned on me that whenever I sat down with someone to listen to their personal problems, the risen Christ had gone there ahead of me. He was in that person’s life, doing something, saying something, that with the Spirit’s help I needed to understand. I needed to be alert to the story God was writing in that person’s life. As soon as I became aware that I was coming in on something that was already happening, and that the events in a person’s life should not be looked upon in isolation as problems but as part of a continuing story, counselling changed from being an exacting task into something stimulating and exciting. My task then was to help individuals to go back over a line or even a page they had missed or misread, to recover an essential piece of memory. I discovered that the more people understood that beyond the story of their lives a bigger story was unfolding, the more productive counselling became. This is one of the most powerful and transforming of all concepts. We are what we are because of a divine story.”

Just as Peter’s story at this time was only the beginning, so today we also can rejoice that because of the resurrection there is forgiveness, there is a new start. There is a Galilee meeting for each of us with the resurrected Jesus, a new chapter in our lives of fellowship and service with Him.

“It was the reverberating miracle of the Resurrection, witnessed and vouched for by hundreds of reliable witnesses, which settled the matter, and transformed dispirited disciples into determined heroes prepared to challenge and change the world” (J. B. Phillips).

“Hope dawns for women with spices (v1), for Peter struggling with his failure (v7) and for all of us. Death has been defeated (Rom 6:8-10; 1 Cor 15:54-57). Wonder of wonders, this glorious message of hope and victory is entrusted to a group of fearful, puzzled, silent women (v8). Later it will be entrusted to a group of doubting men (Matt 28:16-20). It is still entrusted to fallible, fearful, tongue-tied people like ourselves. But somehow it will get out, as it always has.”

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