Mark 15-16
(Resurrection of the One Who Came to Heal)
October 20th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.

- Mark 15:39 (KJV)

Summary of Chapters

In his last two chapters, Mark reports the trial before Pilate, the mockery by the soldiers, the crucifixion, the resurrection of Jesus, and his final instructions to the disciples. Jesus did not try to defend himself during the trial, and the people chose to save Barabbas instead. He was mocked by soldiers, priests, and other people before and during the Crucifixion. But after his last breath it became clear to all observers who he was:

    At noon the sky became extremely dark. The darkness lasted three hours. At three o’clock, Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

    Some of the bystanders who heard him said, “Listen, he’s calling for Elijah.” Someone ran off, soaked a sponge in sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down.”

    But Jesus, with a loud cry, gave his last breath. At that moment the Temple curtain ripped right down the middle. When the Roman captain standing guard in front of him saw that he had quit breathing, he said, “This has to be the Son of God!”

    - Mark 15:33-39 (MSG)

Mark records that after Jesus died, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the community, asked for permission to bury the body. He was given permission, provided his own tomb, put Jesus inside, and closed it with a large rock, which remained in place until the third day.

Mark notes that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene, “out of whom he had driven seven demons (Mark 16:9 - NIV)." However, the disciples did not believe her or anyone else regarding the resurrection until they saw Jesus in person.

Eventually Jesus appeared to all of the remaining disciples (the death of the traitor Judas reduced their number to eleven). Mark says that Jesus "rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen (Mark 16:14 -NIV).”

Finally, Jesus told them to preach the Good News and explained what they would experience. Mark concludes by explaining that Jesus subsequently rose to Heaven, but continued to work with them.

    And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

    - Mark 16:20 (KJV)

Reflection and Application

Jesus once said that we each have to carry our own cross, but one man actually carried Jesus' cross: Simon of Cyrene. Mark's Gospel tells us that Simon, father of Alexander and Rufus was volunteered by the Roman soldiers to carry the Cross to Golgotha. We don't know if he believed in Jesus beforehand, but there is a good chance that he became one through the experience. Mark was deliberate in noting Simon's origin and sons, perhaps so that his original audience could see the connection with the Simon and his sons that they knew. Remember that Mark penned this Gospel about 30 years after the Resurrection. The author of Romans included a reference to Rufus in chapter 16:13 and the author of Acts included a reference to Simeon the Niger in 13:1. This may have been the man know as Simon of Cyrene, who walked with Jesus down that lonely road, and made his burden lighter for a brief moment.

When Jesus died, the curtain in the Temple was torn in two. This was the same curtain that we read about way back near the beginning of the Old Testament. It was intended to separate the Holy of Holies from the regular people - but Jesus removed that barrier through his sacrifice as the suffering servant who took our sin upon himself.

Note the role of Joseph of Arimathea. As a prominent member of the community he may have risked losing his standing by taking the action to bury Jesus with dignity, but that fear did not deter him. Mark writes that this man was waiting for the Messiah. Therefore, he must have recognized him and was willing to sacrifice everything to serve him. After a long day of trial and mockery someone had finally arrived to begin showing proper adoration to Jesus again.

Try reading this last chapter without verses 9-20. This was the condition of the earliest saved Gospel of Mark. It's a bit of a mystery regarding this abrupt ending, but it seems clear to the Biblical scholars that this last section was added by someone else. It may look like a smooth and natural transition in our English translations but the original Greek revealed a very different style (1).

If all the disciples were men, why did Jesus choose to appear to a woman first? This woman, as reported by Mark, had been possessed by demons but was healed by Jesus. Maybe this is a reminder of what Jesus said regarding coming to see the sick, not the healthy, and an illustration of his phrase that the last shall be first and the first shall be last.

Those disciples who wanted to be first with Jesus were the same ones who did not believe he had risen, even after all he had said and done. Perhaps they could not believe that he would have appeared first to that woman instead of them.

We must be careful in assuming exactly how God is going to appear and through whom he might work. God will continue to be full of surprises. Our role is to believe and to “preach the good news to all of creation.”

What are the most frequent words that you remember from the Gospel of Mark? Take a moment to think about it and then click the following link for a word cloud from the Jesus360 website. A word cloud illustrates the frequency of a word by applying larger fonts for more frequent occurrences of words, excluding conjunctions and definitive articles such as "and", "but", and "the": Mark Word Cloud

"Your Are My King (Amazing Love)," performed by The Newsboys

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What are the characteristics of people that you know named Mark?
    2. Why do you think Jesus appeared to a woman first?
    3. What was the most surprising part of Mark’s Gospel for you?

    Recommended Prayer
    Father, we know that you loved us so much that you gave us your only son, who suffered for us. Thank you. Please give us strength, wisdom, and encouragement to spread this Good News.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns


    (1) Barclay, William, The Gospel of Mark, revised edition, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975, page 5

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Overview of Luke and Luke 1- 2 (Promises of Birth are Fulfilled)

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