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Jesus' Resurrection and the Empty Tomb (Mark 16:1-8)

Analysis and Commentary


Mary Magdalene Vists Jesus' Empty Tomb

Mary Magdalene Vists Jesus' Empty Tomb

Source: Public Domain
    1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalena, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
    2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
    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. 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.
    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. 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.
    Compare: Matthew 28:1-10; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-10

Women Arrive at Jesus’ Tomb

After the Jewish sabbath, which occurs on Saturdays, women who were present at Jesus’ crucifixion come to his tomb to anoint his corpse with spices. These are things his close disciples should have done, but Mark portrays Jesus’ female followers as consistently showing more faith and courage than the men.

Why did the women need to anoint Jesus with spices? This should have been done when he was buried, suggesting that there wasn’t time to properly prepare him for burial — perhaps because of how close the sabbath was. John says that Jesus was properly prepared while Matthew relates that the women made the trip merely to see the tomb.

Faithful as they may be, none seems to be strong when it comes to thinking ahead. It’s not until they are almost upon Jesus’ tomb that it occurs to one to wonder what they’ll do about that great big stone that Joseph of Arimathaea placed there the earlier evening. They can’t move it themselves and the time to think of it was before they set out that morning — unless, of course, Mark needs this in order to answer charges that Jesus’ disciples stole the body.

By an amazing coincidence, the stone is already moved. How did that happen? By another amazing coincidence, there is someone there who tells them: Jesus has risen and is already gone. The fact that he first needed the stone removed from the tomb’s entrance suggests that Jesus is a reanimated corpse, a zombie Jesus wandering the countryside seeking out his disciples (no wonder they are hiding).

It’s understandable that the other gospels changed all this. Matthew has an angel move the stone as the women are standing there, revealing that Jesus is already gone. He’s not a reanimated corpse because the resurrected Jesus has no physical body — he has a spiritual body which passed through the stone. None of this theology, however, was part of Mark’s thinking and we are left with a slightly odd and embarrassing situation.

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