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Tuesday, November 28th, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
Mark 16

Barclay's Daily Study BibleDaily Study Bible

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Verses 1-20

Chapter 16

TELL PETER ( Mark 16:1-8 )

16:1-8 When the Sabbath had passed, Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices to go and anoint his body. Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, when the sun was rising, they went to the tomb. They kept saying to each other, "Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?" They looked up and they saw that the stone had been rolled away, for it was very large. And they went into the tomb, and they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long, white robe. They were utterly amazed. He said to them, "Do not be amazed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is risen. He is not here. See! There is the place where they laid him. But go! Tell his disciples and Peter, 'He goes before you into Galilee. There you will see him as he told you'." And they went out and fled from the tomb, for fear and astonishment gripped them. And they told no one anything for they were afraid.

There had not been time to render the last services to the body of Jesus. The Sabbath had intervened and the women who wished to anoint the body had not been able to do so. As early as possible after the Sabbath had passed, they set out to perform this sad task.

They were worried about one thing. Tombs had no doors. When the word door is mentioned it really means opening. In front of the opening was a groove, and in the groove ran a circular stone as big as a cart-wheel; and the women knew that it was quite beyond their strength to move a stone like that. But when they reached the tomb, the stone was rolled away, and inside was a messenger who gave them the unbelievable news that Jesus had risen from the dead.

One thing is certain--if Jesus had not risen from the dead, we would never have heard of him. The attitude of the women was that they had come to pay the last tribute to a dead body. The attitude of the disciples was that everything had finished in tragedy. By far the best proof of the Resurrection is the existence of the Christian church. Nothing else could have changed sad and despairing men and women into people radiant with joy and flaming with courage. The Resurrection is the central fact of the whole Christian faith. Because we believe in the Resurrection certain things follow.

(i) Jesus is not a figure in a book but a living presence. It is not enough to study the story of Jesus like the life of any other great historical figure. We may begin that way but we must end by meeting him.

(ii) Jesus is not a memory but a presence. The dearest memory fades. The Greeks had a word to describe time meaning time which wipes all things out. Long since, time would have wiped out the memory of Jesus unless he had been a living presence forever with us.

"And warm, sweet, tender, even yet

A present help is he;

And faith has still its Olivet,

And love its Galilee."

Jesus is not someone to discuss so much as someone to meet.

(iii) The Christian life is not the life of a man who knows about Jesus, but the life of a man who knows Jesus. There is all the difference in the world between knowing about a person and knowing a person. Most people know about Queen Elizabeth or the President of the United States but not so many know them. The greatest scholar in the world who knows everything about Jesus is less than the humblest Christian who knows him.

(iv) There is an endless quality about the Christian faith. It should never stand still. Because our Lord is a living Lord there are new wonders and new truths waiting to be discovered all the time.

But the most precious thing in this passage is in two words which are in no other gospel. "Go," said the messenger. "Tell his disciples and Peter." How that message must have cheered Peter's heart when he received it! He must have been tortured with the memory of his disloyalty, and suddenly there came a special message for him. It was characteristic of Jesus that he thought, not of the wrong Peter had done him but of the remorse he was undergoing. Jesus was far more eager to comfort the penitent sinner than to punish the sin. Someone has said, "The most precious thing about Jesus is the way in which he trusts us on the field of our defeat."


16:9-20 When he had risen early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary of Magdala, out of whom he had cast seven devils. She went and told the news to those who had been with him, who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.

After that he appeared in another form to two of them as they walked, as they were on their way to the country. And they went away and told the news to the rest, but they did not believe it.

Later he appeared to the eleven as they were sitting at meat and rebuked them for their disbelief and the obtuseness of their minds, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. He said to them, "Go into the whole world and preach the goodness. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. He who does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe. By my name they will cast out devils. They will speak with new tongues. They will lift serpents, and even if they drink any deadly thing it will not hurt them. They will place their hands on the infirm and they will be well."

So the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.

They went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed their message by the signs that accompanied it.

As we saw in the introduction, Mark's gospel really stops at Mark 16:8. We have only to read this passage to see how different it is from the rest of the gospel and it appears in none of the great manuscripts of the gospel. It is a later summary which replaces the ending which either Mark did not live to write or which at some time went astray.

Its great interest is the picture of the duty of the church that it gives to us. The man who wrote this concluding section obviously believed that the church had certain tasks committed to it by Jesus.

(i) The church has a preaching task. It is the duty of the church, and that means that it is the duty of every Christian, to tell the story of the good news of Jesus to those who have never heard it. The Christian duty is to be the herald of Jesus.

(ii) The church has a healing task. Here is a fact we have seen again and again. Christianity is concerned with men's bodies as well as men's minds. Jesus wished to bring health to the body and health to the soul.

(iii) The church has a source of power. We need not take everything literally. We need not think that the Christian is literally to have the power to lift venomous snakes and drink poisonous liquids and take no harm. But at the back of this picturesque language is the conviction that the Christian is filled with a power to cope with life that others do not possess.

(iv) The church is never left alone to do its work. Always Christ works with it and in it and through it. The Lord of the church is still in the church and is still the Lord of power.

And so the gospel finishes with the message that the Christian life is lived in the presence and the power of him who was crucified and rose again.

-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)



P. Carrington, According to Mark (E)

R. A. Cole, The Gospel According to St Mark (TC; E)

C. E. B. Cranfield, The Gospel According to St. Mark (CGT; G)

F. C. Grant, The Earliest Gospel (E)

A. M. Hunter, St Mark (Tch; E)

Sherman E. Johnson, The Gospel According to St Mark (ACB; E)

R. H. Lightfoot, The Gospel Message of St Mark (E)

A. Menzies, The Earliest Gospel (G)

D. E. Nineham, The Gospel of St Mark (PC; E)

A. E. J. Rawlinson, The Gospel According to St Mark (WC; E)

H. B. Swete, The Gospel According to St Mark (MmC; G)

V. Taylor, The Gospel According to St Mark (MmC; G)

C. H. Turner, St Mark (E)


ACB: A. and C. Black New Testament Commentary

CGT: Cambridge Greek Text

MmC: Macmillan Commentary

PC: Pelican New Testament Commentary

TC: Tyndale Commentary

Tch: Torch Commentary

WC: Westminster Commentary

E: English Text

G: Greek Text

-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)

Bibliographical Information
Barclay, William. "Commentary on Mark 16". "William Barclay's Daily Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dsb/mark-16.html. 1956-1959.
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