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Mark’s first-century biography – page 50

And the Sabbath being spent, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome purchased perfumes, so that, having come, they may anoint him (Jesus of Nazareth crucified, c. AD 39, Jerusalem)
The Sabbath was over. It had ceased at dusk the previous day These three dear ladies still wanted to attend to and take care of the body of Jesus. They had purchased perfumed spices to anoint him. They had noted the exact tomb where they had watched him being laid.

And extremely early on the first of the Sabbaths, the sun finally out, they come to the tomb and they are stating among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 

“The first of the Sabbaths”? Mark does not specify that this was “the first day of the week”. Instead he uses these cryptic words. Sabbaths were first introduced by the LORD God around 1350 BC, just after the people of God, the Israelites, had found rest from 400 years of harsh slavery in Egypt. At that time the LORD God asked them to remember not only their release by him but also the fact that he rested after six eras of creation.

That weekly remembrance was also to be lived out by another provision of the LORD God – the Sabbath of years. After every 7 x 7 years (49), the fiftieth year was to be a year of Jubilee. In every Jubilee year all debts were to be completely cancelled, all those who had found themselves enslaved to others (maybe through inability to make ends meet) were to be freed without recourse, all land was to be returned to the family to whom it had originally been allocated by the LORD God, and the land rested for the year.

Is Mark hinting here that a new era – “the first of the Sabbaths” – had dawned? Is that why he wrote about that day, “the sun finally out”?

And looking up, they observe that the stone had been rolled away—it was exceedingly large. 

Is this leading us to understand the greatness of that day? “The stone had been rolled away—it was exceedingly large.” What are the largest stones for human beings? Death? Can that ever be rolled away? Guilt? Can that ever be rolled away? Evil, harm, pain and suffering? Can those ever be rolled away?

And having come in into the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right, a white robe placed around him, and they were terrified.

It was only when they came into the tomb that they saw a living witness to life without the “exceedingly large stone”. It was a “young man”. He was at rest, guilt free (“seated on the right”). He was now worthy with “a white robe placed around him”. The righteousness of Jesus was now upon him totally. The sinless one had died instead of him, in his place.

But he states to them, “Do not be terrified! You seek Jesus the Nazarene, the crucified. He has arisen. He is not here. Look and see the place where they placed him!” 

Mark here uses a strange present tense (“states to them”). It’s as though Mark wanted you and me, his readers today, to know that this “young man” is also speaking, now, to you personally. “Don’t be terrified! You seek Jesus the Nazarene, the crucified. He has arisen. He is not here. Look and see the place where they placed him!”

They had placed him into death, the most despised and shameful death on earth. He went there to bless others in every way by taking their place. 

“Instead go down! Say to his disciples and to Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee! There you will discern him, just as he said to you.” 

The risen Jesus planned his post-death meeting with his disciples - and, wonderfully, with Peter who had denied all knowledge of him with oaths. And it is also the place where all human beings may meet him. Page 1 of Mark’s biography starts with Jesus being in Galilee. Meet him there.

‘The Queen of the South will stand up on judgment day with the people now living. And she will prove that they are guilty. She came from very far away to listen to Solomon’s wisdom. And now one who is more important than Solomon is here.’ (Jesus, c. AD 28)
And, having come out, they fled the tomb, for trembling and ecstasy held them, and they did not say anything to anyone, for they were fearful.

The three ladies left death behind. Instead distrust in themselves and total joy in Jesus "held them" fast. They said nothing – until they met Jesus in Galilee.

Sinner Syvret

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