As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
We have noted numerous times that Mark is the “condensed” gospel. Thus, when we come to the resurrection, we see again that his is a shorter account.
We know at least six women were at the tomb that Easter morning (Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10). Mark focuses on only three. We know from Matthew’s gospel that there was a violent earthquake and an angel rolled back the stone, leaving the grave guards shaking and becoming as dead men (28:2–4). Luke’s gospel tells us that two angels were at the tomb (24:4), while Matthew and Mark’s literary cameras focus only on the one who spoke to the women.
John’s gospel focuses exclusively on Mary Magdalene (John 20). In comparing the first three Gospels’ accounts with John, we can see the sequence. Mary evidently immediately left the scene of the tomb when she saw the stone had been rolled away. The other women, who remained, went inside and heard the angel’s word, “He is risen.” But Mary had run back to Simon Peter and John to tell them the body of Jesus was missing from the tomb. The two men raced to the tomb. Mary Magdalene trailed them. By the time she got there, they were gone as were the women. Mary Magdalene was then met by the risen Lord.
What do we make of this?
People are fascinated today with the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. Well, it exists! Angels were present at the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:8–15) and at the tomb—bringing the greatest good news ever: “The Savior is born” and “The Lord is risen!”
The Lord reveals Himself in unlikely ways. At His birth, shepherds got the good news first. Why them? Why not some people with connections, power, and political influence? God just likes to surprise ordinary people with extraordinary good news! And He repeated the strategy of giving good news to unlikely people by having the first announcement of His resurrection made to a group of loyal and grieving women. They were told to go share the news with His disciples and Peter.
Peter! Peter is the one who denied Jesus three times and then wept (Mark 14:66–72). Peter’s failure didn’t keep Him from the love of Jesus. In fact, the first man Jesus appeared to after His resurrection was none other than Peter (Luke 24:34). Jesus came to Peter even before He revealed Himself to the Twelve as a group (1 Corinthians 15:5). Except for Judas, Peter failed Jesus more deeply than any other disciple. But Jesus reached out to him first, and I suspect He would have done the same for Judas. The problem with Judas was that he gave up too soon.
What great hope there is for us! After our worst failures, Jesus doesn’t turn His back on us. He still wants us! Don’t give up on Jesus; He hasn’t given up on you!
A Prayer: Lord Jesus, Your promise is true. You will never leave me nor forsake me.
Excerpted from Dr. Wood’s book, Fearless: How Jesus Changes Everything, available from Vital Resources.