Print This Page Print This Page

COME … BEHOLD … MARVEL! – Mark 16:1-8

Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on October 15, 2017 under 2017 |

Preached Sunday, October 15, 2017 from Mark 16:1-8

Theme: The women at the tomb exemplify for us what makes someone into a faithful witness of the resurrected Christ.

(Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version; copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.)

We come this morning to the closing chapter of the Gospel of Mark; and to a story that, I hope, we—as followers of Jesus—never tire of hearing.

It’s the story of the women who came to the tomb of our Lord. Mark 16:1-8 tells us;

Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 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.” So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid (Mark 16:1-8).

What a story this is! It’s the story of the world’s first evangelists. This small group of women who loved the Lord Jesus had become the first to tell the world that our crucified Savior had risen from the tomb and was alive.

But it’s interesting how we’re told that they did so. We’re told that they went on their way to the apostles—in accordance with the instruction they were given—to tell them that Jesus was alive; but that they talked to no one else along the way. Perhaps other people saw them coming quickly into town from the place where the tomb was; and perhaps those people tried to ask them what they were in such a hurry about. But these women didn’t speak to them about it. They didn’t say anything, in fact, to anyone else. And we’re told that it was because they were afraid. It doesn’t seem like the way we would think the ‘first evangelists in history’ would do things.

But I suggest that it fits in very well with who these tender women were. And in the end, they got their appointed job done very faithfully—just as God had uniquely prepared them to do.

* * * * * * * * * *

As I was considering this passage, I thought back on an encounter I had late last week. I was having coffee somewhere—and was, in fact, studying this passage—when a young man saw my Bible and struck up a conversation.

As it turned out, he is involved in leadership and ministry in another church in town. And as we chatted, it became clear to me that his gift was evangelism. He was energetic and enthusiastic and very motivated to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others; and from the stories he was telling me of the ministries he was involved in, it seemed that he had great success in that work. His particular gift was in reaching other young professionals like himself, and discipling them in their walk with Christ—helping them to go on to share the faith with others in their field. He himself had been mentored by someone who had great success in evangelism.

I have often found that whenever you’re talking with someone who has the gift of evangelism, they encourage you greatly. After spending time with them, you find yourself more excited about the faith and more eager to share it with others. I believe that that’s a clear indication that someone has that particular gift from the Holy Spirit. But it got me to thinking later about myself and my own ministry in the area of evangelism.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t believe that I have the gift of evangelism. Now please understand—I do share my faith with others. And I have had the privilege of leading others to pray to receive Jesus as their Savior. And what’s more, the Bible teaches that as a pastor, I am to ‘do the work of an evangelist’. I truly hope before God that I faithfully do that work. But I don’t believe that I can say that it’s my gift. I don’t really think that others who see my life would say that I possess a particular giftedness in that area. As someone has well put it to me the other day: some of us are called primarily to do the harvesting; and some of us are called primarily to do the watering. I tend to think I’m in the latter category.

But I also believe that all of us who are followers of Jesus—whether we are particularly gifted in it or not—are to do the good work of sharing our faith with others, and of pointing others to a trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. We aren’t all called upon to do that in the same way or with the same personality style or in the same measure as someone else. We’re to do it in a way that’s consistent with the way God the Father uniquely made us, and is shaping us in the Lord Jesus, and has called and prepared and equipped us through the Holy Spirit. It’s the same gospel message, of course; but in His wisdom, it ends up being delivered through different personalities, and in different styles, and in different circumstances. These women couldn’t have evangelized like the great apostle Paul; and Paul couldn’t have evangelized like these women. And I can’t evangelize like someone else can; and someone else can’t evangelize like me.

What seems important, however, is that if we have been truly impacted by the Lord Jesus in a saving way, then we will be motivated to share Him with others—whether we’re particularly gifted at it or not. The worst reason to share Jesus Christ with others is because you feel you have to. That really doesn’t make anyone interested in hearing the good news from you. But the best, and indeed, the most natural and God-honoring reason to share the good news is because you have encountered Jesus in a life-transforming way. Then, you don’t have to be talked or persuaded into telling others about Him. You very much want to do it!

In the story that is before us in Mark 16, I feel that—among other things—we see the ways that these women were impacted by Jesus Christ; and in such a way as to make them faithful witnesses to Him. And this passage seems to show us that we ourselves cannot be faithful witnesses for Jesus—and in the unique way God has called us personally to be His witnesses—unless we have also been impacted by Him in the same kinds of ways as they did.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Consider the case of these women. Notice first how they were found …


Mark tells us, “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him” (v. 1). The Lord Jesus had been crucified; and these three women—who were utterly devoted to Jesus, and who had followed Him all the way to the cross, and who had watched with agony as He was crucified, and who—as we’re told in the last verse of chapter 15–-observed carefully and saw where His body was placed, came to perform this final act of anointing.

You might remember that they weren’t the first ones to anoint Him. He had already been anointed by Mary of Bethany just a few days prior. She was the one who, on the night of His betrayal, came to Him at supper and broke open an expensive alabaster flask of fragrant oil and poured it over Him. She was highly criticized for this by all who saw it; but the Lord Jesus told them all to let her alone. “She has done a good work for Me,” He told them. “She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial” (Mark 14:6-8). Mary of Bethany honored our Savior’s death—even if it may be that she didn’t completely understand all that was going to be accomplished by it. And now, these women also came—after He had died and had been buried. They too where honoring His death and burial.

And we’re told that it took some effort for them to do so. They had to wait until after the Sabbath was past; because such a work was not something that it would have been in accord with the law of God to perform on the Sabbath. They had to buy the spices in advance. And then, in verse 2, we’re told that they came “early in the morning, on the first day of the week”; just as the sun was beginning to rise. It seems that they did not come before it was permitted for them to do so; but as soon as it was, they came. They demonstrated real devotion to the Savior in that they were the last ones at the cross and the first ones at the tomb.

And I notice something else very interesting; and I wonder if you have ever thought about it. Verse three says that they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” Mark puts this in what’s called the imperfect tense of the verb; which means they were discussing this ongoingly along the way. Have you ever read that, and wondered why they didn’t think of that before they went? After all, they would have been aware that a stone had been rolled in front of the door of our Lord’s tomb. They would have seen that it was a very large, very heavy circular stone—weighing perhaps as much as one-and-a-half to two tons. They would probably have known that the Roman governor Pilate had allowed guards to be stationed around it so no one would steal our Lord’s body. They would have probably known that the stone had been sealed with the Roman seal; and that no one would dare to break into it. Did they forget all this? Did they hope that, perhaps, the guards would have sympathy toward them, and all put their shoulders to the task, and roll it away for a moment to let them in?

I’m not sure what the answer to all that would be. But one thing that impresses me is that this problem didn’t stop them. They didn’t stop along the way and say to one another, “This won’t work. We’re wasting our time. We can’t get in. That heavy stone is in the way; and we couldn’t possibly move it.” Instead—in spite of the obstacle—they went nevertheless to where Jesus was; and had set it to heart to honor Him in a devoted way—in whatever way they could.

And I suggest to you that this is the first kind of impact that the Lord Jesus must have upon us if we are to be His faithful witnesses—in whatever way He has uniquely called us to be His witnesses. We must come with a submitted and devoted heart to Jesus—loving and honoring and being devoted to His death on the cross for us. Indeed, not just His death, but His whole life—His life of righteousness, His obedience to every command of the Father, His love, His compassion, His courage, His words and teaching—everything about Him, including His death on the cross.

Many people presume to ‘honor’ Jesus—perhaps as a great Teacher, or a great Philosopher, or as a great moral Example. But if they haven’t come in humble submission to Him as the Son of God who became our Savior on the cross, and to honor the fact that He died for sinners, then they aren’t being a witness for Jesus as He truly is. But by contrast, when we have been captivated by His life, His words, His actions, His obedience, and even His cross, and submit whole-heartedly as an act of the will to that life and embrace that cross, and to honor it as being even for us—and even to the point of it costing us to do cling so devotedly to Jesus, and of not allowing anything to stand the way of our coming to Him—then we can truly be His witness to this world.

I think here of what Paul wrote in Philippians 3:7-11;

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:7-11).

Have you, as an act of the will, made a personal investment in the cross of Jesus? Have you, as an act of your will, devoted yourself to it—and to Him? As Paul said, have you conformed to His death? Have you, as it were—figuratively speaking—bought the spices, and come to anoint His body with your own devotion?—no matter how hard it might be, or no matter what may stand in your way?

* * * * * * * * * * *

Now; those women did so. And it demonstrated an act of the will. But more is needed. We still cannot be a faithful witness to a Savior we have willed to be identified with, if we do not also know and are convinced in our minds of the truth about Him.

And so, next, Mark tells us about these women …


They had been discussing the stone along the way—apparently not allowing the stone to be a problem that would have kept them from coming—when they made a startling discovery. Mark tells us in verse 4, “But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large.”

To appreciate the significance of what they saw, you need to consider what the apostle John wrote about it in his Gospel. He said something that was truly astonishing about this ‘very large’ stone. He said that the women saw that “the stone had been taken away from the tomb” (John 20:1). The word that John used meant that it wasn’t just ‘rolled’ aside. It had been raised out of the groove cut into the front of the tomb, and had been lifted out and set aside—as if it had been carried out of the way!

Matthew, in his Gospel also tells us this—and I take it that it happened before the women got there;

And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men (Matthew 28:2-4).

Apparently, the guards were gone by the time the women got there; because we’re told that they freely went into the tomb that the soldiers had been guarding. And then, they saw another startling thing. Mark tells us that they saw a young man clothed in a long white rob sitting on the right hand side of the inside of the tomb. Mark calls him a ‘young man’; but we are made to know from the other Gospels that he was an angel—one of two who were present at the tomb. And the word that Mark uses suggests that his robe was a dazzling, resplendent white—showing forth a heavenly glory.

Mark tells us that the women were alarmed. They were awestruck. And this angelic being told them—as it would best be translated from the original language—“Stop being alarmed.” He recognized what they were there for; and said to them, “You seek Jesus of Nazareth” (which was as if to say, “Jesus, the Nazarene; who was despised of men—being as He was from despised Nazareth), “who was crucified.” Then the angel said, “He is risen! He is not here” (v. 6).

And do you notice what the angel said to them after that? I would say that an angel’s word is sufficiently reliable. But this angel didn’t leave them to simply trust his word. He said, “See the place where they laid Him.” And as they looked, they would have seen the very same things that Peter and John—who came shortly thereafter—also saw. They would have seen the linen cloths in which His body had been wrapped—but with no body inside. It would have looked like a mummy with nothing in it—a flattened out set of linen strips; because it was empty. And they would have seen the napkin which had covered His head—folded and placed off in a place by itself; so that they could see that there was no ‘head’—because there was no body.

These astute women would have been the first to see the evidences of Jesus’ resurrection; even before the apostles saw it. And I have even wondered if this angelic being remained in place to guard these items in the tomb until these women were able to go and report what they saw—protecting them until the apostles, who were the appointed and authorized witnesses of our Lord, could have a chance to see them later for themselves.

I think here of what Luke wrote at the beginning of his Gospel. He wrote to a friend named Theolphilus—referring to his former Gospel account—and said;

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God ( Acts 1:1-3).

“Many infallible proofs …” The good news that Jesus Christ is alive is not mere fable. It’s a report of an actual event, substantiated at the time of its occurrence by empirical evidence before eyewitnesses. And if we would be the witnesses of our Lord that He wants us to be in this world, we need to not only have a commitment of the will to be devoted to His whole Person and His whole life and His death on the cross, but also a full satisfaction of the mind regarding the truth of His resurrection.

* * * * * * * * * *

And there’s one more thing. Not only must our will be devoted and our minds convinced, but our emotions must be involved. I believe it’s a mistake to try to become a devoted witness for Jesus in this world on the basis of our emotions—getting all excited and enthusiastic to share Jesus with others—and then hope the mind and the will would come along later. As followers of Jesus in the keeping of His Great Commission, we must first submit by the will, and then become informed in the mind. And when that happens as it should, the emotional motivation becomes very powerful.

Notice finally how we see this in the women …


After the angel had allowed them to look at the place where Jesus’ body had been placed, and permitted them to take in the evidence that their Redeemer was indeed raised from the dead, he then told these astonished women, “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” (v. 7).

“… As He said to you …” Do you remember when that was? It was on the night of His betrayal—just a few days earlier—when He told His disciples that they would all be made to stumble because of Him; and that as the Scriptures said, God would strike the Shepherd, and the sheep would be scattered; but that after He was raised, He would go before them to Galilee (Mark 14:27-28). And do you also remember what happened immediately afterward? Peter insisted that he would never stumble from the Lord Jesus—that he would even die for Him. But sadly—as the Lord had told him he would—he denied the Lord he said he loved.

I think that’s why the angel made a special point of telling the women to be sure to tell Peter that Jesus was going ahead to Galilee, and that they would meet Him there—just as He had told them. I think that the Lord Jesus was wanting to make very sure that Peter knew that He still loved him and that He forgave him. Talk about emotions; do you suppose Peter would have had some emotions about that? When you seek to be committed to the Lord Jesus, and fail Him, and remember that He is raised, and are convinced of it, and know that He still loves you and plans to use you for His kingdom purposes, there is no greater emotional motivation than that!

The women were emotionally motivated too. We’re told, “So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (v. 8). We’re told in Luke’s Gospel that when they finally came to the disciples and told them what they had seen, “their words seemed to them like idle tales (that is to say, like ‘nonsense’). The disciples didn’t believe them until they themselves went and saw. Perhaps the women were so overcome that they couldn’t communicate clearly. But there’s no question that they were excited and motivated witnesses. They had great emotion about it!

When our will is committed and our minds are convinced, our emotions ought to be greatly involved in our declaration of Jesus Christ. I think of Peter—one of the disciples who went to look into the tomb and saw what the women saw; and of what he wrote in his first letter. He spoke of our salvation by faith in Jesus and our prospect of eternal glory in Him; and wrote,

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:-9).

None of us have seen Jesus. But we love Him on the basis of what these witnesses have told us of Him. And if we are committed to His sacrifice for us in devotion, and if we have allowed the Holy Spirit to bring full conviction to our minds through the evidences declared in the Scriptures, then we can rejoice “with joy inexpressible and full of glory”. What a powerful motivation that joy is to our witness for Jesus!

* * * * * * * * * *

Dear brothers and sisters; I want to be a faithful witness for Jesus. I want to do the work of an evangelist—not necessarily in the same exact way that others do, but in the way that God has called me and prepared me to do—with my unique personality and place in life.

And I believe we all can do that, if we are impacted by an encounter with the Lord Jesus in the same way that these women were. May we, as they did, come to the great event at the tomb in humble devotion to Jesus, behold the evidence that is set before us there, and marvel at the reality that He no longer in the tomb—that He is a risen Savior; alive and able to transform the life of anyone who trusts Him.

  • Share/Bookmark
Site based on the Ministry Theme by eGrace Creative.