The women who came to the tomb were both practical and devotional in their commitment to the Lord Jesus. The repeated witness of scripture to their actions is a sterling testimony to the value and appreciation God has of their actions. We too need to place such value on it and sense that the contribution of sisters to assembly meetings is as much appreciated as that of the brothers. Please note that they came well prepared for their service and took the very first opportunity they had to perform it! One must ask where were the apostles? Are we missing when devotedly we ought to be there for the Lord? They really loved Him!
They were wise to consider the problems their surprising mission would pose for them, but evidently it did not stop their hearts’ desire for the Lord. In fact, they were too late to fulfil it as they purposed but, nonetheless, they received ample reward for their willingness to go. Surely this must be the challenge for us in that we too, individually, and collectively, have tasks to perform for the Lord but often fail to face up to them. For example, do we regularly discuss purpose, methods, and intent in presenting the gospel to all around us? We can be disappointed at the little response, but we need to keep pressing on, looking for new doors to open, and opportunities that will arise. What greater reward could they have wanted, for they received the wonderful message that He was alive. They were also given a service to fulfil. Surely, we are never without our rewards for willing and devoted service to the Lord. Note the hymn,
‘Go, labour on; spend, and be spent;
Thy joy to do the Father’s will;
It is the way the Master went;
Should not the servant tread it still?’
[Horatius Bonar 1808-1889]
A sad but very understandable note as to the immediate response of the women at that moment. Surely there can be no criticism of their immediate response to what they saw. It truly was a miracle that had no rational explanation. Happily, we know it to be the greatest news humanity has ever heard! Christ is the victor over the grave!
Verses 9 to 20 are often printed after a gap from the main text. This is because some translators feel that they have been added to what Mark wrote by a later writer. However, to leave the gospel record here would seem to be a sad end and so we are grateful they have been most often included as a fitting end to this swift-moving Gospel.
We raise an interesting point as to why the Lord should choose Mary Magdalene as the bearer of this astounding experience. Yet what is now recorded of her is surely the reason why. The remarkable testimony to the grace of God in her life, rescued from satanic powers, meant that the disciples would surely believe her story. We should never underestimate the value of personal testimony. It is one of the most precious possessions any believer has! Yet sadly the record is, ‘they … believed not’, v. 11.
Unbelief is what lies at the bottom of many of our failures to see God at work. We have our prayer meetings, but do we ever examine what results we have for our much praying?
We cannot blame their stubbornness to accept this glorious testimony of the two. Truly we sympathize, for which of us would not have been the same?
There now follows this wonderful record of the way the Lord Himself recovers their wavering faith and unwillingness to accept the word of personal witnesses. We do well to remind ourselves, constantly, that, ‘with God nothing shall be impossible’, Luke 1. 37.
Note it was ‘afterward’, v. 14, and sad that He had to intervene personally, yet it met their immediate needs and forced them to see the continuance of the pathway and the future of their testimony for their Lord. One feels that we often lack vision, not clearly seeing and responding positively to the needs of our generation, and not seeing the issues and ways to open new doors for gospel testimony. Do we have the will to change as the Lord directs us?
The accompanying ‘sign’ miracles were a wonderful introduction to their testimony, a supernatural confirmation that it came from God. These sign gifts were designed and purposed for the commencement of our age and certainly aimed specifically at the Jew. The Corinthian letters aid us to see the fallacy of their necessity today; they belong to the beginning only.
The truth is that it is our godly character and warm embrace of all men, willing to ‘spend and be spent’ for others, hopefully distinct and different from this passing world, that will draw attention and cause men to think.
How beautiful is this final touch of the inspired pen! The same Saviour, who was there for them, is now seen to be in ‘heaven … [at] the right hand of God’ and sat down! Whilst the work of salvation is finished, He is ceaselessly at work with us and for us. Oh, that we might learn how to be consciously casting ourselves more often on that blessed Man rather than our own sufficiency. So, we learn the path to take to make us faithful and fruitful unto all good works, until He comes.
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