On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood
Unlikely Recipients of Good News
Nov. 23, 2014
As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. (Mark 16:5-8, NIV)
We have noted numerous times that Mark is the “condensed” Gospel. Thus, when we come to the Resurrection, we see again that his is a shorter account.
We know at least six women were at the tomb that Easter morning (Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10). Mark focuses on only three. We know from Matthew’s Gospel that there was a violent earthquake and an angel rolled back the stone, leaving the grave guards shaking and becoming as dead men (28:2-4). Luke’s Gospel tells us that two angels were at the tomb (24:4), while Matthew and Mark’s literary camera focuses only on the one who speaks to the women.
John’s Gospel focuses exclusively on Mary Magdalene (John 20). In comparing the first three Gospels’ accounts with John, we can see the sequence. Mary evidently immediately leaves the scene of the tomb when she sees the stone had been rolled away. The other women, who remain, go inside and hear the angel’s word, “He is risen.” But Mary had run back to Simon Peter and John to tell them the body of Jesus was missing from the tomb. The two men race to the tomb. Mary Magdalene trails them. By the time she gets there, they are gone as are the women. Mary Magdalene is then met by the risen Lord.
What do we make of this?
People are fascinated today with the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Well, it exists! Angels are present at the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:8-15) and at the tomb — bringing the greatest good news ever — “The Savior is born” and “The Lord is risen!”
The Lord reveals himself in unlikely ways. At His birth, shepherds get the good news first. Why them? Why not some people with connections, power and political influence? God just likes to surprise ordinary people with extraordinary good news! And He repeats the strategy of giving good news to unlikely people by having the first announcement of His resurrection made to a group of loyal and grieving women. They are told to go share the news with His disciples and Peter.
Peter! Peter is the one who denied Jesus three times and then wept (Mark 14:66-72). Peter’s failure did not keep him from the love of Jesus. In fact, the first man Jesus appeared to after His resurrection was none other than Peter (Luke 24:34). Jesus came to Peter even before He revealed himself to the Twelve as a group (1 Corinthians 15:5).
Except for Judas, Peter failed Jesus more deeply than any other disciple. But Jesus reached out to him first, and I suspect He would have done the same for Judas. The problem with Judas is that he gave up too soon.
What great hope there is for us! After our worst failures, Jesus does not turn His back on us. He still wants us! Don’t give up on Jesus. He’s not given up on you!
A prayer of response
DR. GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.
On Your Mark