Death of Jesus Is Only The Beginning
Have you ever wondered why the death of Jesus brought Mary Magdalene face to face with a young man?
It begins in the book of Mark when the Sabbath was past, early in the morning at sunrise on the first day of the week, on what we call Easter Sunday. Mary Magdalene and another Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, and perhaps even other women who loved Jesus carried spices to the tomb of a dead man that they might anoint the lifeless body of he who had called himself God.
The bible says that they spoke among themselves concerning who would roll away the stone that they may enter into that death chamber. They were present, according to Matthew, at the time of the burial. Yet it seems that they were not aware of the guards or of the seal that had been placed before that great stone that blocked passage into the darkness. Else they would have known that the guards would not permit the stone to be removed. They would have realized that their plan was hopelessness, and that they would end up returning home empty and unfulfilled. [Sometimes it is better not to know what obstacles lay in our chosen path, least they deter us from completing the task that God have planned before us].
So they journeyed, and they talked among themselves; grieved for certain but just as likely excited at the prospect of seeing Jesus, even in death, at least one more time. Little did they know of the angel, and of the earthquake, and of the rolling back of the stone. Little were they prepared for guards that lay in faint, or empty death cloths, or of the risen Christ who was and is forevermore.
Writing through Mark, the Holy Spirit tells us that these ladies came to an open tomb, the stone removed, the wax broken, and the way made clear for entry. They were brave ladies, these followers of Jesus Christ, for it seems that they entered the open sepulcher without delay though they knew nothing of the what, the why, or the how of the happenings that had taken place at this vault that was reserved for the bodies of the dead. But why would they not enter? They came to care for the lifeless, and what can the lifeless say to or do for the living?
Scripture reveals that they saw, sitting on the right side, a young man “clothed in a long white garment,” (Mark 16:5).
Now came the fear. The body of the dead Messiah is gone, only the linen clothes remain, and in the stead of death sits a stranger, a young stranger, a calm man waiting and holding within himself the most awesome message the world has ever known. According to Matthew, the young man’s “countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow”.
“Be not affrighted,” he says, his words perhaps the most distinct and certain that a person could ever hear, “Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him,” (Mark 16:6).
Can you see his gesture, the lightning traced sweep of his arm and the opened hand invitation for all to come and see for them self? The end has become the beginning. Death has lost its sting. Christ is raised to reign forevermore.
The bible further reveals that the young man instructed these ladies to spread the word of the risen Christ to his disciples. This they did, leaving behind the tomb, trembling with amazement and fear, hurrying to share their experience with the apostles.
This is an awesome moment in the history of man and woman. This is the first human revelation of a risen Christ. It was a woman that brought unto Adam the fruit from the tree in the mists of the garden. It is now given unto women to carry first the fruit of the tree that was planted on the place called Golgotha (Calvary) unto the men who had so long followed the earthly ministry of he was once dead but now lives again.
But they had not fully received the young man’s words, not in their heart where it counts. Their ears had heard. Their lips delivered the message. But in the core of their inner being, in that place where salvation becomes real, there remained a heart of unbelief.
Return To The Death of Jesus, Still Missing The Miricle
John tells us of Mary’s return to the tomb. She followed Peter and John, arrived and waited even after the two apostles left and went again to their own home. The tomb drew her. The desire to see yet again the dead Christ, to know where was his body, to whom had it been delivered: these things tormented her.
John writes it as this:
“But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.”
See how that she had not yet accepted the truth of a risen Savior. See how she suffers, how she weeps, how she lives in such great distress. Unbelief is the source of all the pain and anguish that mankind has endured since the days of Adam and Eve. To be saved, one must believe upon the name and the work of Jesus Christ. So too is freedom, and power, and the ability to love; all of these demand faith above all else.
John continues writing:
“And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her. (John 20:11-18).
How often have we tried to face our troubles alone? Jesus promised to never leave us, yet time and time again we forget his words, fail to see his presences, and whimper before adversity and pain as though there is no answer, no relief, and no promise. Think not what you can do for God but rather believe in what He has done for you. In so believing, you will find power beyond understanding.
Back Again To The Young Man In The Tomb
Of all the gospel writings, Mark’s is the only one that identifies this angel as a “young man”. Why?
Matthew introduces him as the angel who rolled back the stone. Luke mentions only that the stone was found removed, and then tells of two men in shinning garments (this before they go to tell it to the eleven). John also writes only of the stone being removed.
Why is this picture of a young man relayed in Mark alone? I believe that this manner of disclosure is so that the young man might stand out in our mind and in our heart, and that we will be forced to notice his presence and his youth. From this, I could write conjecture, but I will not. For those who are saved and heaven bound, the meaning and symbolism is too plain to miss. But if you are lost, and cannot see into this light, return ye again unto the tomb and hear, within your own heart, the young man’s words.
“He is raised”.