Gateway to the Classics: St. Mark by J. Paterson Smyth
St. Mark by  J. Paterson Smyth


The Resurrection

St. Mark XV. 42-47, and XVI.

"The Lord is risen."

R 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 surprise—the tomb 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.

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