The Empty Tomb, Part I, Mark 15:47 thru Mark 16:8
Mark 15:43-46, Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.
Mark 15:47, And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.
Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus, somewhat secret disciples until the time of Christís burial, have taken the body of Jesus Christ to a new tomb ready to prepare his body with linen and spices.
Two women, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses (a form of Joseph), are knowledgeable of this taking.
Perhaps they can be called the CIA of the disciples for they beheld where he was laid and were able to inform Peter, and John and the others.
Now Jesus was crucified on the day before the Sabbath and died several hours before its beginning.
We are told that it was the day of preparation, the day in which Jews prepared for the coming Sabbath.
The life of an observant Jew revolved around this day, the seventh day of the week, which was set apart by God himself as a day of rest.
Money was set aside during the week to purchase that which was needed for the Sabbath on the day of preparation.
No journey was begun unless arrangements were first made for Sabbath lodging during the trip.
In many homes, preparations for Sabbath began on Thursday night and continued well into Friday.
Bathing on Friday afternoon in honor of the coming holy day was a must, and weekday clothes were set apart from clothes that were only used on the Sabbath.
Food to be eaten on the Sabbath was prepared before the day began.
Candles were placed to illuminate the house and the house was thoroughly cleaned.
The table was set with the finest cloths, dishes, and cutlery in honor of this special day of rest.
All of these things were accomplished before the Sabbath so that no work would be done on the actual day.
For God had said in six days shalt thou labor but on the seventh day thou shalt rest for the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.
The Sabbath began at dusk and ended the following day at dusk for it was from sunset to sunset.
So the women who observed the placing of the body of Christ in the tomb had little time to do anything but gain intelligence as to where and how the body was placed in the tomb.
In Luke 23:55,56, he reports the women, before the Sabbath began beheld the sepulcher and how his body was laid and how the women returned and prepared spices and ointments to apply after the Sabbath, then rested the Sabbath day.
But they performed the important task of being the link between Joseph and Nicodemus, the two men called to lay the body in the tomb, and the disciples who did not come to the place of burial but were able to come later only because of the womenís knowledge.
We read in Mark 16:1, And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
Mark in the previous verse speaks of Mary the mother of Joses and here in this verse he speaks of Mary the mother of James.
It is assumed based upon Mark 15:40 that these Marys are the same woman who had two sons, Joses and James.
The two women who had observed where Jesus was laid are now joined by a third woman, Salome.
Since the women had seen Jesus laid in the tomb they had observed Joseph and Nicodemus winding the body of Jesus in linen clothes mixed with spices.
This certainly would have been the normal thing to do for after their work the tomb was sealed with the rolling stone.
But the women brought additional spices to anoint the body of Jesus perhaps thinking the two men were rushed because of the on-coming Sabbath and the women wanted to do a more meticulous job after the Sabbath had passed.
I suppose as is usually the case a womanís touch was necessary.
But the bottom line here is that both parties, that of the men and that of the women, stepped up and showed the proper respect for the body of one who had died.
As in anything, burial of a loved one can get out of hand and be overly extravagant and wasteful, but the reality of life is that we do show our love for another by the care we evidence in caring for their body after death.
Joseph, Nicodemus, and the three women showed their love for Christ by their care for His body when He died.
Christís burial is one which provides us an example of how careful we ought to be about these serious matters.
There was not only care shown for Christís body but there was courage shown by these men and women who were defying the pressures of the religious authorities.
They stepped out and identified themselves with this man who had been crucified with common criminals and was feared by the religious authorities.
And this is an example for us, for faith in Christ requires an identification with Christ, which includes an identification with Him in His death.
Joseph, Nicodemus, and these women identified themselves with Jesus in His death.
They parted company and separated themselves from those who determined that Jesus was worthy of death.
They, by their actions, chose to stand with our Lord Jesus, and in so doing they chose to stand apart from the Jewish religious leaders and this was no easy thing.
This is what salvation brings, for men and women who would be saved from their sins are called to stand separate from a world that has rejected Jesus, and stand with Him.
These men and these women are a picture of what faith requires by those who would be saved.
They did indeed have faith but their faith was not complete as we find out on this first resurrection morning.
There are angels to meet who will wonder what they are doing there.
Seemingly these women are there to do good works but the angels disagree.
Good works are only good if they are done in accordance with Godís word which tells us that even the plowing of the wicked is sin.
They are bringing spices to anoint the dead when it is apparent there are no dead there to anoint.
So in Mark 16:2,3 we are told, And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
The stone made to roll indicates that burial places were made to enter after the fact for a burial place like this would never be full and additional bodies would be placed there as needed.
So the stone was made to move but with great effort.
This of course was a concern to the women but they went anyway.
I think that God likes that spirit in his children.
It is a spirit of putting your foot in, knowing that God can part the water.
Mark 16:4-6, And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
Mark is very brief in his account but Luke the physician gives a more detailed writing of this witness.
Luke 24:1-7, Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
So their concern about the great stone was vain for when they came they found the tomb open and upon entering, they found that the body was gone!
God had not only provided for their entry but had also provided for interior lighting, for inside the tomb two angels appeared in very bright clothing, shining garments, Luke tells us.
It was evident that the body was gone, and that the grave clothes were arranged in an orderly manner.
The women were awe struck and could not look at the angelic men and bowed their faces to the ground.
It seems that whenever men or women meet angels they never do the right thing.
There is always a rebuke or a caution.
Remember the disciples who were questioned by angels as they watched Jesus who was taken up in a cloud after he was finished instructing them.
Acts 1:11, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
In other words disciples get busy about Godís work instead of gazing up into the sky.
In our passage for today we find a similar rebuke for what the women planned to do.
Why are you coming here to perform a duty which you would perform on the dead.
In todayís culture we would bend over backwards to compliment the ladies for such good works but not so with angels who always speak truth.
There are no dead here!
This is a new tomb and there is no body here.
The angels explain that Jesusí absence is because He had risen from the dead.
They also reminded the women that this was exactly as Jesus Himself had told them, while He was alive and with them, back in Galilee of our Luke 24:6-7 reference.
The women then remembered that Jesus had told them these words.
If you ever receive rebuke from God it will be for not believing His word for these women were rebuked for not believing Jesusí words.
They had heard him clearly on many occasions where he told them of his rising again on the third day.
If they would have believed his words in Galilee they simply would have come to the tomb without the carrying of spices, knowing that it would be empty.
As far as the angels were concerned the women had no business there for the purpose of anointing a corpse for there was no corpse.
They meant well and we would have probably done the same but they still were in error for they all heard him plainly tell of these events.
Refer back to Dr. Hobbs study of Mark 8:31-33, And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.
We hear it also when we read Luke 9:22, Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.