J. Paterson Smyth
St. Mark XV. 42-47, and XVI.
"The Lord is risen."
ECAPITULATE last Lesson. Question briefly on xv. 42-47,
pointing out in senior classes what a powerful evidence of our Lord's
being really dead we have in vv. 44, 45.
But the chief part of time and attention is needed for ch. xvi. Try to
make class realize the utter desolation of that
Sabbath, so that they may better feel the revulsion of
the Easter joy. For the main Easter teaching of the
chapter see special Easter Lesson. The Ascension and
the Missionary commission will come best in next Lesson, Acts i.
Picture the little funeral procession on that first
Good Friday evening through the garden of Joseph. Name
any of the mourners in it? What a terrible dismal
thing is returning from a funeral—leaving body of
loved one in grave—going into empty house—thinking of
all the long, dreary days of loneliness stretching out
in front. All that here. But far worse. Not only lost
the dearest, truest friend, but lost all the bright
hopes of the future. They had thought He was the Divine
Messiah—to redeem Israel—to found the Kingdom of God—to
dwell with them always in power and glory. What an
awful disappointment and shaking of their trust to see
Him arrested, and tied like a common prisoner—helpless
in the power of His enemies, mocked and scourged, and
spitted on, nailed upon a cross between two common
robbers; taunted to come down, and not doing so;
bleeding and weakening, and at last dying like any
ordinary man; the pale, blood-stained corpse put into
the tomb. Surely there is an end of all—their love,
their hopes, their future are all buried in the tomb.
He could not be the Christ of God, after all. He must
have been mistaken.
"And when the Sabbath was past."
(ch. xvi. 1). Oh! the
misery and desolation of that Sabbath! Judas hanged.
Peter going wild with remorse; all the rest sunk in
hopeless grief; going to church, perhaps; hearing the
prayers said by the cruel priests who had murdered
their friend; then the men planning sadly to go back to
their fishing and tax-gathering, and the women waiting
through the night with spices and ointments—for what?
Keep body from corruption. How utterly blind to the
great joy before them.
Imagine this scene. Early morning—very early; dim, grey
twilight just stealing on the darkness; through silent
streets of Jerusalem a little group of weeping women
hurrying toward the Calvary Gate. Worrying about some
difficulty? (v. 3).
The gate is reached; away they
hurry along the horrible Calvary path, across the
garden of Joseph, down to the rock-bound tomb, just
visible in the darkness. And then—a cry of frightened
is broken open, the huge stone is
lying yards away amid the grass and flowers! What
could it mean? To Mary Magdalene, who was in front,
came the horrible thought, "Tomb broken open; body
carried off by enemies!" (See St. John xx.) And in
wild terror and excitement she rushes away to tell the
others. The others go on. Perhaps some dim hope rising
in them. What do the
see in the tomb instead of dead body?
(See also Luke xxiv. 4.)
They were the attendants of the Lord in Heaven—were about
His path on earth. When?
(Birth—Temptation—Agony—Resurrection.) Perhaps these
same two in the Christmas chorus at Bethlehem. "Young."
(v. 5). Perpetual youth
in Heaven; perpetual beauty and
comeliness; perpetual hope and energy, and keen relish
of life; perpetual progress towards perfect holiness.
What a glorious life, always doing the good purposes of
God, and never feeling tired, or old or weak.
What was the announcement to women?
(vv. 6, 7). How did
they receive it? Amazed—afraid. Too frightened and
astonished to grasp the glad news at first. But oh!
what delight as soon as they realized it. Not only
their Lord alive, but all their old trust and hope
restored. He was the Christ, the Son of God, after all.
He had not deceived them or been mistaken. All that He
had said about Heaven and immortality was true—grandly,
gloriously true. What a glad, delightful change from
the misery of yesterday!
More and more confirmation of glad news. As the women
hurried away with their joy, Peter and John came
running up. Mary Magdalene had told them about the
stone rolled away. They see what? (John xx).
Then, after they had gone, poor Magdalene came back
(v. 9), and stood outside weeping.
Little she knew what was
in store for her! See John xx. Through the dim light
and the blinding tears she sees a figure, and she
mistakes it for gardener: "Where have you laid Him?
and I will take Him away." And then—Oh! we never can
understand or realize it. A startled gasp, her heart
almost standing still, a voice thrilling and tingling
through the depths of her being. "Jesus saith unto her,
Mary!" And with one quick bound she is prostrate at
His feet. "Rabboni, my Master!" Then away back with
her glad news (v. 13).
Next appearance? Fully told in Luke xxiv. 13, etc.
Walked along the road, and explained to them the Old
Testament prophecies about Himself. So the glad news
spread, and the certainty grew.
Then he appeared to the eleven
(v. 4), and upbraided
them for unbelief.
Many other appearances. See Special Easter Lesson. But
the most touching of all is not anywhere described.
Look back to v. 7. Why "and Peter"? What had Peter
done? So Peter would be afraid to count himself a
disciple now—afraid to come near Him again. Therefore
He mentions him especially. Was it
not wonderful love and thoughtfulness for Peter? But
see Luke xxiv. 34; 1 Corinthians xv. 5. Think what a touching
meeting that would be. How Peter's heart would be
bursting with shame and gratitude and love.
LESSONS—For the Easter lessons of this chapter, see
the Special Easter Lesson.
But do not omit to emphasize the appearance to Peter,
and that boundless pity and love that was thinking
about him, and feeling for him at such a time as that.
No wonder that Peter so loved Him! No wonder that
burst of eager, passionate devotion: "Lord, Thou
knowest all things, thou knowest that I love Thee." So
would it be with us if we could fully know and realize,
like Peter, that boundless love of Christ.