Monday, November 19, 2018

Devotional: A Lot Can Change in 3 Days, Mark 15.42-16:8

Mark 16.1-8 outline

Mark has arranged his conclusion to his Gospel, as he often does, in a very tight chiastic (sandwich) structure in which each element in 16:1-8 balances each element in 15:42-47. He does this to contrast the situation between the Friday death scene with that of resurrection Sunday morning. Here is the outline:

Time: Evening before the Sabbath

  • Joseph dares to ask for the body of Jesus
    • Pilate Marvels that Jesus is already dead, confirms his death and gives the body to Joseph
      • Joseph wraps the body, puts it in a tomb and rolls a rock in front of the door
        • The two Mary’s observe where Jesus is laid

Time: Morning on the first day of the week

        • The two Mary's go to the tomb
      • They bring spices to anoint the body and wonder how they will roll away the stone
    • The women marvel that the stone is rolled away and a young man informs them that Jesus is risen
  • The women do not dare to relay the angel’s instructions to the disciples  (Adapted from the NIV Application Commentary: Mark by David E. Garland, 611)

The point is that from Friday to Sunday a lot can change. No one, in their right mind expects a dead body to be gone from the grave three days after burial. But Mark, in a very concise and succinct way, testifies that Jesus’ body was gone and that an angel confirmed that the reason the body was not there was that he had risen from the dead..Mark assumes that the reader will know that, even though the angel’s instruction to the women was disobeyed, Jesus did meet with them and confirm that he was alive. This was the truth that changed these female disciples from fearful doubters into bold witnesses. It was the truth that would change the world.

On Friday Jesus was dead The centurion, who was quite experienced at knowing when people were dead, confirmed it. On Sunday, they were confronted with the truth that Jesus was alive. This was confirmed by the angel’s testimony and then from the well-known resurrection appearances of Jesus. It is the only explanation that explains the change in Jesus’ fearful followers and their boldness in founding the church at the cost of persecution and martyrdom.

It was unexpected. Even though Jesus told them he would rise from the dead they neither understood nor believed it. The women went to the tomb expecting to find a dead body. They left “trembling and astonished” at an outcome that went far beyond their ability to comprehend it. Only Jesus’ appearances to them and his assurances would allow them to make sense out of what had happened.

The final piece in Mark’s revelation of Jesus’ identity has been put into place. Jesus is the Messiah, the king of the Jews who fulfills the promises of God’s covenants in the Old Testament. Jesus is the Son of Man who will set the world right and judge and rule at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is the Son of God, come in human flesh to defeat death and sin and provide the way for every person to have access to intimate relationship with God. The resurrection is the unique event that confirms this. A lot can change when we see the risen Jesus, overcome our fear and doubt and follow him.

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