Sunday, November 2, 2008

Saint Mark's Resurrection Account

Mark’s resurrection account is especially powerful given its command of the extraordinary things that take place. There is no opening of the heavens or any ascension into glory. But the resurrection and the glory of Christ are very much pouring over in the closing of this Gospel. The news that Jesus had risen and appeared to women would not be likely to catch the attention of Jewish minds and the culture at the time. The announcement that he had risen and would be appearing to his disciples in Galilee would be more consistent. The women at the tomb were "trembling" and in "ecstasy" (ekstasis). This may denote state of being in which consciousness is suspended. The word is often used for those in a divine sort of trance. There may be joy in this state, for the women are beside themselves with emotion. That Jesus is called "the Nazarene" (16:6) and that he comes from Nazareth in Galilee to the Jordan (1:9) highlights an important point. Jesus was indeed born of a virgin and whose home was Nazareth. It is factual information that Jesus was a Nazarene and lived at this time, having his earthly ministry in Galilee, Judea, and beyond. There are often trends to mythologize Jesus as a distant moral being who transcends the mere title of a Nazarene.

That the women do not tell of their experience for their trembling and bewilderment is consistent with Mark’s theological thrust through his gospel. The disciples do not get Jesus! They do not understand his mission, they doubt his miracles, and they deny his divinity. The women likewise, though possibly overjoyed, are not seeing with the eyes of faith. The latter addition to Mark also reveals Jesus speaking to the Eleven, "he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen" (9:14). Christ is not believed. This remains true in the church today. It is not only the ungodly and those outside of the church who are hard-hearted and unbelieving. It is often those in the church, centered around Jesus, who often doubt and are plagued by disbelief. It is the most natural impulse of man to doubt the Lord’s work that he so graciously gives. Yet, the Lord works with his people regardless for he loves to forgive sin. As the father of the boy with the unclean spirit cries out "help me overcome my unbelief!" (9:24). In the church, Mark’s narrative works to let people know that they are not alone in their stumbling and unbelieving moments. For it is ultimately the Lord himself who creates faith in the hearts of believers.

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