Study Notes

Mark 15:40-16:20


Remember that the setting is the day of Jesus' crucifixion. He has just died.

15:40-41 Looking From A Distance

How many times we've heard that the disciples had forsaken Jesus and were nowhere to be found. Surely, they had run away the night before at the Garden of Gethsemane. But now, at the cross, we know that John was there with Jesus' mother Mary. But we find that the other disciples as well were there...

Luke 23:49 And all His acquaintances and the women who accompanied Him from Galilee, were standing at a distance, seeing these things.

The disciples were there, but again, at a distance. They may have been afraid to be seen - fearing for their lives. Or they may have been embarrassed that the man they considered their Lord and Messiah was now just another criminal being put to death.

But the reason Mark only mentions the women here is that they are about to be an integral part of the next few scenes. They are at the crucifixion, and will go to anoint Jesus' body with spices and perfume while the disciples are holed up in a house, afraid.

15:42-47 Preparation Day

The first day of Unleavened Bread was a Sabbath - a day when they could do no work. The Jewish day changed at sundown, so at about 6pm, it would become the Sabbath and they would not be able to bury Jesus' body.

Why was it called "the day of Preparation?" Although it was technically Passover, they really celebrated it the night before, when the 14th of Nisan began at twilight. So the Jews would use the daytime of the 14th as a preparation for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which would begin at twilight. Thus, you will find it referred to in every gospel as "the Preparation day" or "the Jewish day of Preparation."

Joseph & Nicodemus Mark tells us that Joseph of Arimathea was a prominent member of the council. John (19:38) tells us that Joseph was a secret disciple of Jesus, for fear of the Jews. And he says that Nicodemus (from John 3) also came and helped.

It was coming up to the Sabbath when nothing could be done. Joseph & Nicodemus realized that there was only a little time left to do something about the body of Christ. The government had control of it, and unless he did something about it, it would be lost forever - buried in a common grave with criminals.

Think about what a picture this draws for us. When the government has the Body of Christ under its control, secret disciples have to become bold and make a stand.

16:1-4 The Stone Had Been Rolled Away

Have you ever wondered why the stone was rolled away? Couldn't Jesus have just passed through it like He did later, entering the locked room that the disciples were in? That stone wasn't rolled away to let Jesus out. It was rolled away to let us in, so we could see what the Lord had done!

Very often God does things not because He is limited, but because we are limited. After sinning in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve tried to hide from God.

Gen. 3:9 Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?"

It wasn't like God didn't know where Adam was! Also, right before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He prayed,

John 11:41-42 ..."Father, I thank Thee that Thou heardest Me. And I knew that Thou hearest Me always; but because of the people standing around I said it, that they may believe that Thou didst send Me."

He didn't need to pray aloud, but did it so that those standing around would hear. That is also why the stone was rolled away.

16:5-7 Just As He Said

The women see an angel inside, who tells them,

Mark 16:6-7 ..."He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He said to you.'"

Back in the Garden of Gethsamane, Jesus had told them,

Matt. 26:32 "But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee."

Notice that the angel did not give them a new revelation. He merely reminded them of what Jesus had already said.

Beware of people who come with new news. It might sound authentic, it might sound right, but if it is contrary to the Word of God then it is deception contrived in the war room of hell. Remember that Paul said,

Gal. 1:8 But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

Because remember, even

2Cor. 11:14 ...Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

Angels confirm the word of God with their message, not contradict it.

And Peter

I like the fact that the angel said,

Mark 16:7 "...go, tell His disciples and Peter..."

Remember that Peter had denied three times that he even knew who Jesus was. What a horrible sin. Even Peter's worst sin is forgiven. Maybe today you feel like you've gone too far. That God can't possibly take you back. You've blown it.

Hebr. 6:4-6 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.

So the question is: are you repentant? Do you hate the sin? Do you hate the feeling of separation from God when you've sinned? Do you desire to stop? That is repentance. Changing your mind about sin and going the other way. And if you are repentant, then you haven't fallen away. The good news is that if you are repentant, Jesus sacrifice has covered your worst sin.

16:8-13 In A Different Form

After the resurrection, Jesus appeared "in a different form." I do not believe that it was a different bodily form, but that he was unrecognizable because of the trauma inflicted upon His body. Remember that Mary had thought He was the gardener, and the disciples on the road to Emmaus simply thought that He was a traveler.

Remember that when He appears to the disciples, John tells us...

John 20:25-28 The other disciples therefore were saying to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, "Peace {be} with you." Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing." Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"

Jesus still retained the wounds - they were even open! And today, as Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven, interceding for you, He still bears the marks of the torture and crucifixion. As the apostle John tells us:

Rev. 5:6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain...

He will still be wounded when He returns. Remember Zechariah prophesied of the Lord,

Zech. 12:10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.

That might sound terrible to us, but remember, it is by those wounds that we have been healed.

16:14-15 The Great Commission

Preach the gospel. This is what Jesus left us here to do. Why is it that we do everything but that? People say that it is because of their lack of knowledge. But it is really because of a lack of faith and a lack of love.

It is a lack of faith in respect to the fact that we believe it is up to us to convince people. But it is in fact the Holy Spirit's job. We just need to tell them, not convince them.

It is a lack of love because we're demonstrating we don't care that people are on their way to eternal torment in hell, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Don't blame it on a lack of knowledge.

16:16 Baptized

The baptism which the disciples knew of was the baptism of repentance. And what is the message of the gospel? Repentance and faith.

Luke 5:32 "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."

There has of course been a controversy raging in the church for hundreds of years. "Does a believer have to be baptized to be saved?" On one side, there are people who say, "Absolutely, yes!" quoting verse 16.

On the other side, there are the people who say that baptism is a work, and we are saved by faith, not by works. They quote the apostle Paul in 1Corinthians 1 when he said:

1Cor. 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel

I personally fall into the second category, that we are saved by our faith, not by our works. But I do believe that refusing to be baptized after becoming a believer is a sin, because Jesus commanded us to.

But after saying that, now I'm going to make a controversial statement: "I believe that for someone to be saved, there absolutely has to be a baptism." That's right, for someone to be saved, there absolutely has to be a baptism."

Fortunately for the thief on the cross, and the thousands of people who have had deathbed conversions, there has been a baptism. Jesus' baptism. He was baptized, not for His own sin, but for the sin of others. He was baptized by John to "fulfill all righteousness."

16:17-20 These Signs Will Accompany

These signs happen AFTER believing. What are signs for? Signs are for unbelievers. Tongues were a sign to unbelievers in Acts 2. Serpents were a sign to the natives on the island of Malta in Acts 28.

Notice that not all of these signs will accompany all believers.

1Cor. 12:29-30 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not {workers of} miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?

Based on this one verse in Mark, people have gone off crazy and wacko. You may have seen news reports of snake handling churches. During their worship services, these wildly Pentecostal churchgoers pick up poisonous snakes and dance with them. Some go so far as to drink cyanide and other poisons. What are they trying to prove? I'm not convinced of their faith - just their stupidity. Jesus never told them to do this - just that if it happened to them, they would be okay. But many snake handling churchgoers have died doing this. Does that make God a liar? No. When the devil tempted Jesus,

Matt. 4:5-7 Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and he had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God throw Yourself down; for it is written, HE WILL GIVE HIS ANGELS CHARGE CONCERNING YOU'; and ON {their} HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, LEST YOU STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.'" Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, 'YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'"

The devil was quoting the Word of God - right out of the book of Deuteronomy. But we need to weigh the whole counsel of God. Many many verses can be taken out of context and crazy doctrines formulated. That's why we continue to look at His Word as He's established it: Line by Line, Precept upon Precept.