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Bible Commentaries
Mark 16

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Verses 1-8

The Resurrection

Though the Lord has said that He will rise on the third day, the women come with spices to anoint Him. They buy them as soon as the Sabbath is over. Although they want to do something that didn’t have to happen, the women show a mind that suits people who love the Lord. He is everything to them. But Mary of Bethany is not there. She anointed Him and did so before His burial (Mark 14:8). She drank all His words (Luke 10:39) and believed that He would arise. He had also spoken about this (Mark 8:31; Mark 9:31Mark 10:34).

It is very early on the first day of the week. That indicates the new beginning. The day of the resurrection is Sunday. As the women reach the place where death reigns, the sun rises. Death is conquered, the sun appears. Fear can disappear, a new period begins. The women do not yet see anything of the new that has come with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. They face a great difficulty. They cannot roll away the stone that closes the tomb. How are they to anoint His body now? They can’t think about the resurrection for a moment.

When they get to the tomb, they see that the great stone has been rolled away. Their problem isn’t there. The stone has not been rolled away to let the Lord out, but to let them in. They go into the grave and see a young man sitting there. The young man is an angel. He possesses eternal youth because he does not belong to the earth, but to heaven. His appearance impresses.

Mark notices that he is sitting at the right side and that he is clothed in a white robe. The whole apparition fits the great event of Christ’s resurrection. Death has been conquered, something new has arisen. The resurrection laid the foundation of a new creation. “Young man” speaks of the eternal freshness and power of the new. That he is “on the right” speaks of the eternal righteousness of the new. It is Christ’s place with God (Mark 16:19). That he is clothed in a white robe speaks of the eternal result of the new: everyone who participates in it is clean and pure before God (Revelation 7:9). The young man from Mark 14 (Mark 14:51) contrasts with this young man. That young man wanted to follow in his own power, the power of the flesh. Then there can only be failure.

The angel reassures the women. He knows that they are looking for Him Who they know as the despised Jesus from the despised Nazareth. With these words he expresses his appreciation for them. It is the appreciation of heaven because they have committed themselves to that Person. He also reassures them about their beloved Lord. The angel can tell them that He is risen. He is no longer in the grave. They can convince themselves. They just have to look at the place where they laid Him. That place is empty.

The angel sends them away from the grave with a message from the Lord for His disciples. He tells them to tell the disciples where to find Him. He also tells them to tell Peter specifically. This will give him the assurance that the Lord loves him and wants him to be there as well.

The angel does nothing but remind them of something the Lord said earlier about His resurrection and the place where they can see Him (Mark 14:28). The Lord always comes first. If we follow Him, we will see Him. What He said then was the reason for Peter’s statement that he would never deny Him (Mark 14:28-Joel :). The message of the women will be a great encouragement to Peter.

In all their love for the Lord, they cannot cope with the encounter with heaven. They are not ready to hear heavenly things. It frightens and horrifies them and they flee. They dare not talk to anyone about it. Later on they will learn the richness of it. The Lord knows their sincerity and will answer their love.

Verses 9-11

Appearance to Mary Magdalene

After the angel’s testimony of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, He Himself now appears as the Risen One. Mary Magdalene is the first to whom He appears. She first fled with the others, but returned to the tomb. She has a special love for the Lord because He delivered her from the power of satan who had taken full possession of her. Now she is completely seized by Him. He reveals Himself to her and thus takes away all her doubt (John 20:11-Esther :).

She goes to the disciples “who had been with Him,” but sometimes had listened so badly, to tell them that she had seen the Lord. She finds the disciples in great sadness. That says something of their love for Him and it also says something of their hopelessness.

The disciples are not only desperate, they are also unbelieving. When they hear Mary’s testimony that the Lord lives and that she has seen Him herself, they don’t believe her. Mary is an eyewitness, she does not pass on anything she has heard, but she has seen Him herself. The disciples have lost the words He spoke about His resurrection because they did not understand those words. If we forget His Word, we cannot be comforted.

Verses 12-14

Various Appearances

The Lord continues to reveal Himself and thereby multiply the proofs of His resurrection. This time He shows Himself in a different form to two of His disciples. They are also saddened by what has happened (Luke 24:17). They hoped that the kingdom would be established. Now that He has died, it will not happen. They have no choice but to pick up the thread of daily life again.

When they have recognized Him, they are going to tell the other disciples about that great encounter. Like Mary Magdalene’s report, their elated report has no resonance. Neither of these two can convince the grieving disciples of the fact that the Lord has risen. The disciples persist in their unbelief.

Then comes the moment when He reveals Himself to the eleven. At this first meeting after His resurrection, He must begin to reproach them for not believing the witnesses of His resurrection. He cannot let that pass unnoticed. They should be ashamed of their unbelief and confess it. This opens the way for them to be sent out. Right after this reproach, He sends them out. That’s a wonderful way to make these men fit to preach to others. Yet it had to happen like this.

God’s way of making us fit to preach to others is that He first makes us nothing in our own eyes and lets us discover who we are. The awareness of our own unbelief in the past is used by God when He sends us out to call others to believe. We can understand their unbelief and we feel sorry for them because we ourselves have been unbelievers. This makes us put our trust in God.

Verses 15-18

The Missionary Command

The command given by the Lord is very general, without any limitation. It is no longer the gospel of the kingdom only for Israel. The command to go means making a purposeful journey for which we must rise from our personal comforts. The task is to proclaim the gospel as a herald, to speak it, and not just to show it as a “silent witness” through the way of life.

They must preach the gospel so that people may come to faith. Those who come to faith must be baptized. Those who believe and are baptized no longer have a share in the judgment that comes over the world. That does not mean that someone who believes but has not been baptized is not saved. Faith and baptism belong together in the way of faith that a converted person goes through the world. It has to do with his stay on earth. This is also evident from the end of the verse. It does not say: He who has not believed and has not been baptized will be condemned. The judgment only comes on someone who has not believed. Baptism is an outward matter, an outward confession, which shows what has happened to someone inwardly. Faith and baptism belong together (Romans 10:9-2 Samuel :).

The Lord attaches certain signs to the preaching. If these signs are there, they are not done by the preachers, but by those who believe! Nor are there any conditions attached to them, for example a special baptism of the spirit. Nor does it say that it is to be prayed for, nor does it say that it will happen everywhere, by everyone, and at all times. If it did, it would mean that there are not many believers today, because by far the majority of believers do not perform these signs. Even in Corinth, where there were several of these gifts, not all gifts were exercised by all believers. There it is also stated, for example, what the languages are given and how they are to be used.

The first sign done by those who believe is to be seen in their power over evil spirits. The second sign, the languages, means that the offer of grace crosses the borders of Israel and addresses the whole world. The proof that these signs have happened can be found in the book of Acts (Acts 2:4; Acts 8:7Acts 9:32-Nahum :; Acts 28:1-Joshua :). Only of drinking something deadly we find no example in Acts.

However, it is remarkable that these signs in Acts are only done by the apostles (Acts 5:12). Nowhere in Acts do we read that the believers in Jerusalem, Samaria, Philippi, Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica and so on were marked by the signs Mark mentions here. Why do not those signs follow them? Because these signs are not given to all believers to do.

That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t or can’t do these miracles anymore. But that is something other than declaring them to be of general validity, as something which, even now, would be the part of all believers.

Verses 19-20

The Ascension

After the Lord had given His command to preach, He fulfilled His service in full. He handed His task over to His disciples. As proof of the approval and appreciation of His work by God, He is received up into heaven. He is received up into heaven, which means that this happens to Him. God does that. At the same time He is also aware of His own dignity. This is evidenced by the fact that it is not God who places Him in the place of honor at His right hand, but that He Himself sits down there.

In Mark 16:19, the second last verse of this Gospel, the Lord Jesus is called “Lord” for the first time and in Mark 16:20, the last verse, for the second time. The disciples follow the Lord’s command.

At the same time He also remains in heaven, in the place of honor, the perfect Servant. He co-operates with His servants on earth, that is, He does the actual work by blessing the preaching and confirming it by giving visible evidence that it is indeed His Word that is being preached (Acts 14:3; Hebrews 2:3-Numbers :).

Nowhere in Scripture are signs a goal in themselves, but always have the purpose of supporting the preached Word (Hebrews 2:3-Numbers :). This additional evidence was necessary because the Word of God was not yet complete. We now have the complete Word of God. Proofs beyond that are no longer necessary, although God can give them in His grace where it pleases Him.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Mark 16". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/mark-16.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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