The Call to Leave the Vacated Tomb

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the sixteenth and final chapter of the book. A STONE REMOVED! A TOMB ENTERED! A MESSAGE DELIVERED! A RESURRECTED MESSIAH APPEARING! AN INSTRUCTION GIVEN! A DEPARTURE FULFILLED! When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will find the New Testament gospel which John Mark wrote coming to a close. With this chapter and the content which lies therein we find the account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by Mark officially being completed and finished. As the fifteenth chapter of this gospel draws to a close you will find Joseph of Arimathea obtaining the dead body of Jesus Christ from off the cross in order that he might give Jesus a proper burial. Within the final verses of the chapter we find Pilate consenting to his request and handing the body of Jesus over to do with it as Joseph saw fit. Of course each of the New Testament gospel authors writes and records how Joseph not only wrapped the dead body of Jesus in linen garments, but we also find Jospeh burying the body of Jesus the Christ in his own tomb and sealing it with a stone which was rolled over the entrance. When the fifteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel draws to a close it does so with the dead and lifeless body of Jesus the Christ buried in a tomb not His own, bound with grave clothes, and a large stone being rolled upon the entrance of the tomb. What’s more, is that within these final verses we find the two Mary’s other than the mother of Jesus watching and seeing where the body of Jesus was laid and buried. As the fifteenth chapter of the gospel draws to a close you will find all hope seeming to be gone as the lifeless body of Jesus was buried in a tomb with absolutely no access to the outside world being permitted to enter in because of the large stone that was rolled before and in front of it. The fifteenth chapter concludes with two women observing the place where the body of Jesus was laid, and yet with their observance and Mark’s account of such actions we aren’t given any indication as to why they would have observed the place of Jesus’ burial.

When you come to the sixteenth chapter of the gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as recorded by John Mark you will find these same two women who observed the place where the body of Jesus lay Returning to the tomb. Whereas the fifteenth chapter concludes with these two women observing the place where Jesus’ body had been laid, the sixteenth chapter reveals unto us that the two women did in fact leave the tomb and returned unto their own places, and perhaps their own homes. As the sixteenth chapter of this gospel opens it does so with these two women rising early in the morning—perhaps with the rising of the sun—in order that they might journey to the tomb to see the body of Jesus. What’s interesting about this particular passage is that these women undoubtedly rose with or shortly after the rising of the sun, and yet they had absolutely no clue or idea they would participate in the proclamation of the rising of the Son whose body lie buried in the borrowed tomb. Scripture records how these women sought to come unto the tomb in order that they might anoint Jesus’ body with spices and fragrant aromas. Perhaps these women sought to preserve the body of Jesus by anointing it with spices and fragrances, thus honoring the man and Teacher they worshipped and followed for quite some time. The sixteenth chapter opens with the same two women who observed the place where the body of Jesus lay coming unto the tomb once more with spices in order that they might anoint the body of Jesus there in the tomb. What’s incredibly my interesting is what Mark writes and records concerning the visit of these women to the tomb because he writes that when they arrived to the tomb they wondered how they might remove and roll away the stone which had been rolled before and in front of the entrance to the tomb. Undoubtedly as they walked their way toward the tomb they remembered that a large stone has been rolled in front of the entrance and knew that if they wanted access to the lifeless body of Jesus they would need the stone removed. As these two women made their way to the tomb and unto the place where the body of Jesus lie, they sought that the stone might be rolled away and removed in order that they might enter therein to anoint the body with spices and fragrant aromas, thus honoring and preserving the body of Jesus.

I absolutely love when I read the sixteenth and final chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark, for when we come to this final chapter we find two women—the same two women who observed the place where the lifeless body of Jesus was laid—rising early in the morning in order that they might come unto the tomb of Jesus the Christ. Undoubtedly these women sought to come early to the place where the lifeless body of Jesus the Christ had been laid in order that they might further honor the one whom they had walked with and the one whom they had worshipped with their whole heart. Scripture records for us that 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 [Jesus]. It’s interesting and worth noting that when scripture speaks to these two women, it does so in light of them purchasing sweet spices in order that they might bring the spices to Jesus so as to anoint His body there in the tomb. What I find to be absolutely incredible when reading this passage of Scripture is that it was in direct response to the desire of t here women to honor Jesus by anointing His lifeless body buried in the tomb that they were able to witness and partake of the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. These women were drawn to the tomb—not because they anticipated or even expected Jesus to be raised from death to life, but in order that they might simply honor Him by anointing His body. There is absolutely no indication that these women had any expectation that they would come to the tomb and find the stone rolled away, nor even Jesus having been raised from death to life. There is absolutely no indication that these women rose early on this particular morning—this third day of Jesus’ body being buried in a borrowed tomb—expecting Jesus to have been raised from death to life, and for the tomb to be empty. You don’t bring sweet species to the tomb of another if you are expecting that individual to be raised from death to life, and for the tomb itself to be empty. In fact, Mark writes and records that while the women were on their way to the tomb to anoint the physical body of Jesus, they sought and wondered how they might roll away and remove the stone which was in front of the tomb in order that they might gain access. Mark seems to indicate that these women fully expected to come to the tomb and find the stone still in place before the entrance of the tomb, and for the lifeless body of Jesus to remain within the tomb. These women desired to come to the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid in order that they might anoint and honor Him by preserving His physical body which would lie buried in the tomb. Scripture makes it very clear that these women observed the place where the body of Jesus had been laid—perhaps and undoubtedly in order that they might return to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus with sweet spices.

What is so incredibly unique about this particular passage is that John Mark writes and records these women desiring the stone to be rolled away and removed from the entrance of the tomb in order that they might somehow enter therein and anoint the lifeless body of Jesus. These women rose early in the morning—not only not expecting the lifeless body of Jesus to remain in the tomb, but also in order that they might anoint His body. We have already read how there were two distinct events which occurred prior to the death and burial of Jesus’ resurrection which would have prepared His body for the resurrection. One such account is found in the New Testament gospel of Mark and concerns the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus with a fragrant aroma which proceeded forth from the oil that was poured upon His feet. The other account is found in the New Testament gospel of John, and concerns Mary of Bethany—Lazarus’ sister—anointing the physical body of Jesus with a fragrant aroma, as well as with the tears from her eyes. The first of these two accounts is found in the fourteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel written by John Mark, while the second is found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John. Consider if you will the words which are written and recorded in these two passages of Scripture concerning these two women who dared engage in extravagant and lavish worship of Jesus Christ—and not only engaging in extravagant worship, but also in anointing and preparing the body of Jesus for His burial. Beginning with the fourteenth chapter you will find the following words written and recorded concerning the first of these two women:

“After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people. And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her” (Mark 14:1-9).

The second account of the woman who would anoint the physical body of Jesus with ointment and a fragrant aroma would be found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel which was written by the apostle John. Beginning with the first verse of the twelfth chapter you will find the following words which were written by this beloved apostle of the Lord Jesus. Christ. Consider if you will that which was written by this beloved apostle concerning Jesus in the house of Mary, Martha and Lazarus after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead:

“Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. Then saith one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let here alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always” (John 12:1-8).

Each of these accounts found within the New Testament gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ point to two distinct occurrences within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ when women would dare engage themselves in extravagant worship before Jesus the Christ. The question we must ask ourselves when reading each of these passages is whether or not these women knew what they were doing. It is absolutely undeniable that these women knew they were engaging themselves in a form of lavish and extravagant worship of Jesus the Christ, but when Jesus would speak unto those who condemned their actions, He spoke of something completely and entirely different. In both of these cases we find these two women coming unto Jesus with a very precious and costly ointment in order that they might break it upon Jesus the Christ, and in order that they might anoint Jesus with that which was contained within the alabaster box and jar they brought with them. Interestingly enough, the account which is found in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark describes how that particular woman poured the ointment upon the head of Jesus in order that she might honor and worship Him with her extravagant act of worship. The account which is recorded in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John records something different, for it records how Mary the sister of Lazarus anointed the feet of Jesus with the ointment of spikenard, and in addition to this, wiped his feet with her hair. The account which is found in the New Testament gospel of John took place six days before the Passover, whereas the account which is found in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark took place two days before the Passover. Thus, each of these accounts describes how there were in fact two different occurrences which took place within the life of Jesus the Christ when His body was anointed with a very precious and very costly ointment and oil. What’s so incredibly fascinating about this reality, however, is that while these women simply sought to engage themselves in extravagant worship, Jesus the Christ wrote and revealed something much different than simply worship of and worship before Him. In both of these accounts we find Jesus emphatically declaring concerning the women how their act of worship would prepare his body for the burying. In other words, what we find and what we read in this passage of Scripture would in fact speak to the reality of worship of Jesus through extravagant acts, however, Jesus would reveal that their actions were specifically designed to prepare and anoint His body for the burying. On both occasions Jesus declared that these women and their actions prepared His physical body for the burying, which would take place only a few days thereafter.

I find it absolutely and incredibly intriguing how Mary the sister of Lazarus anointed the feet of Jesus with a very precious ointment, thus preparing His body for the burying, while this other women would anoint the head of Jesus, thus preparing His body for the burying. Indeed within the Scripture there were two distinct and two different acts which would take plaice within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ when His head and His feet would be anointed for the burying. There were indeed two different women on two different occasions who sought to engage themselves in extravagant worship of Jesus while He was still alive by anointing both His head and His feet with a fragrant aroma. What we find in the sixteenth and final chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark is two more women desiring to anoint the body of Jesus with sweet spices. How absolutely intriguing it is to think about and consider the fact that there were two women who dared anoint the body of Jesus while He was still alive, thus preparing His body for the burial, while there were two other women who would dare come to the tomb where the lifeless body of Jesus was laid in order that they might anoint it within the tomb. In each of these three instances and cases we find and read how the women involved in these acts sought to anoint the physical body of Jesus—two while Jesus was still alive, and two more after Jesus had been crucified, and His lifeless body buried within a borrowed tomb. Please note that I am in no way suggesting or speaking to the fact that there was something different between these three acts of worship, for these women sought to worship and honor Jesus the Christ with their worship, and with the fragrant aroma of ointment and spices. Undoubtedly Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome would have been aware of the fact that Jesus’ body being buried in the tomb would have been subject to decay and as a result would have been subject to a stench that would have been produced as a result of the decay. The spices which they sought to bring with them were to essentially hide and mask the scent and smell of decay that would begin to lay hold of the physical body of Jesus, thus filling the tomb with the fragrant aroma of the spices. His body already been anointed on two separate occasions by two different women would now be buried within a tomb, and these two women would seek to come unto the tomb in order that they might further anoint the body with sweet spices which they purchased and brought with them. Oh, we dare not miss and lose sight of this tremendous and incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss out on that which took place within this passage of Scripture.

John Mark writes and records how these women made their way to the tomb very early in the morning in order that they might anoint the physical body of Jesus with sweet spices, and how while they walked along the way, they wondered and said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher? These women fully expected to come to the tomb of Jesus and find the stone still in place at the entrance of the tomb. Once there before and in front of the tomb they would have to figure out a way to roll away the stone in order that they might enter therein and anoint the body of Jesus with the spices which they had brought with them. There is not a doubt in my mind that when they came unto the tomb and found the stone already rolled away they were shocked and very much dismayed at the sight which was before them. There is not a doubt in my mind that these women did not expect to come to the tomb and find the stone rolled away. What’s more, is that there is not a doubt in my mind that these women expected to come to the tomb, find the stone rolled away, and find the lifeless body of Jesus no longer in the tomb. These women made their way unto the tomb and place where Jesus’ body had been lied and buried, and neither one of them expected to find the stone rolled away, nor the tomb to be empty. A STONE ROLLED AWAY AND AN EMPTY TOMB! As these women came near and approached the tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid, they looked upon the site and found the stone was rolled away from the entrance. It’s worth noting that they they sought and desired that the stone be rolled away from the entrance of the tomb, and when they came unto the site where Jesus’ body had been laid, they were shocked to find the stone rolled away. In essence, their desire for the stone to be rolled away from the entrance of the tomb was in fact fulfilled and completed, however, it was not after the manner which they desired among themselves. It was true that they desired the stone be rolled away from the entrance of the tomb, however, when they came to the tomb and found the stone rolled away, it was not after and according to the manner in which they expected. In fact, I am convinced that this is why Mark writes and records how they entered into the sepulcher, for they sought to look upon the sight that was found within the tomb itself. When they came to the tomb they did in fact find the stone rolled away, however, there was something about actually entering into the tomb that was and is incredibly captivating and intriguing. There is something about not only seeing the stone rolled away, but also about entering into the tomb in order to look and gaze upon the sight that was found to be present within the tomb. These women weren’t merely content with finding the stone rolled away from the entrance of the tomb, but desired to enter therein to observe the great sight which was present before them.

I absolutely love that which John Mark writes concerning this particular event, for not only did he write and record how these women entered into the tomb, but he also goes on to write how when they entered into the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment. Upon seeing this man seated on the right side of the tomb they were affrighted and fearful, for upon entering into the tomb they neither expected it to be empty, nor did they expect to see this young man sitting within the tomb. John Mark would go on to write and record how this young man declared unto them how they sought for and were looking for Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified, however, He was not there in the tomb, for He had risen from the grave. What I so absolutely love concerning the message which the angel declared unto these women is that not only did he speak to the reality of Jesus being crucified, and not only did he speak to the reality of Jesus being risen, but he also spoke to the reality that Jesus was not there. This is so incredibly interesting, for these women made their way to the tomb fully expecting to find the stone still in place at the entrance of the tomb, as well as the lifeless body of Jesus laying inside therein. What I find so absolutely captivating is that not only did the angel declare that Jesus had been risen from the dead, but he would also go on to declare that Jesus was not there. The words which the angel declared unto these women not only spoke to and suggested the reality of resurrection, but it also spoke to the reality of manifestation after resurrection, for Jesus would not remain in the tomb having been raised from the grave, nor would He remain at the site of the tomb. I absolutely love that when Jesus was raised from the tomb, He didn’t manifest Himself as being raised from death to life at the site of the tomb alone, but actually journeyed away from and left the tomb. If you continue reading the account of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave you will find that after these two women heard and listened to the voice of the angel, they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulcher, for they trembled and were amazed. Mark writes and records how they said nothing to any man because they were sill seized and gripped with fear within their hearts because of the sight which they saw at the tomb. If you continue reading this passage of Scripture you will find the incredible significance of the words and message of the angel, for the angel made two very distinct declarations concerning Jesus the Christ. The first declaration was in fact that Jesus had risen from the grave, and the second declaration was that Jesus was not there at the tomb. It is absolutely necessary that we pay attention to both of these declarations, for combined they bring us face to face with something absolutely tremendous and something absolutely incredible concerning the resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

I am convinced that in order for us to truly and properly understand the message which the angel spoke unto and declared to these two women, we must turn our attention to the words which are found written and recorded in the first chapter of the New Testament book of the Acts of the apostles, as well as the fifteenth chapter of the first New Testament epistle of the apostle Paul written by the apostle Paul unto Corinthian congregation. It is within these two books of the New Testament where we not only read of Jesus being raised from the dead, but also Jesus manifesting Himself and appearing unto men after this resurrection. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand concerning the resurrection of Jesus the Christ, it’s that not only was He raised from the dead, but also that he did not remain within the tomb, nor did He remain at the site of the tomb. After Jesus was raised from the dead, He did not remain in the tomb and ask and expect men to come to the tomb in order to see that He had been raised from death to life. One thing we will never find within the Scripture is Jesus remaining in the tomb, thus inviting men to come to the tomb in order to see and confirm that He was in fact raised from death to life. I find great hope and encouragement in the fact that the angel didn’t merely declare that Jesus had risen, but also that Jesus was not there at the tomb, for the fact that He was not there speaks to the incredible reality that Jesus desired to show Himself alive, and to show Himself as having been raised from death to life. With that being said, consider if you will the words which are written and recorded in the first chapter of the New Testament book of the Acts of the apostles, as well as the fifteenth chapter of the first New Testament epistle of the apostle Paul written junto the Corinthian congregation:

“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen: to whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion by man infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard from me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:1-5).

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed” (1 Corinthians 15:1-11).

What we find in these two passages of Scripture is a powerful witness, a powerful testimony, and a powerful confirmation of the message which the angel spoke unto the women who dared enter into the tomb, for the women not only heard declared unto them that Jesus had risen from the dead, but they also heard that Jesus was not there at the tomb. This is truly wonderful and truly spectacular, for just days before Jesus was crucified upon the cross and buried within the tomb there was another resurrection which took place not far from Jerusalem in the town called Bethany. In the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of John we find the resurrection of Lazarus from the tomb, and in the same chapter we find Lazarus coming forth and coming out of the tomb, and being rid of the grave clothes which bound him within the tomb. When we come to the twelfth chapter of the same New Testament gospel of John we find this same Lazarus no longer in the tomb, and no longer at the tomb, but actually sitting at the table in the house of Mary and Martha fellowshipping and communing with Jesus the Christ. In other words, after being raised from death to life, Lazarus did not remain in the tomb, nor did Lazarus remain at the tomb, but went on to live his life having been resurrected from the grave. This is incredibly significant, for when Jesus Himself was raised from death to life about a week later, we would find Him leaving the tomb, and leaving the site of the tomb and revealing Himself unto men. What I so absolutely love about that which we find and read in the New Testament book of Acts, as well as the first New Testament epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints is that not only did Jesus rise from the dead, but Jesus did not remain at the tomb where He had been buried. We find and read concerning Jesus the Christ that He journeyed away from the tomb in order that He might show Himself alive unto countless men and women who were present during that day. One thing that I love about this sixteenth and final chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark is that Mark not only records once, not only records twice, but records three times how Jesus appeared unto certain individuals. In verses ten and eleven we read of Jesus appearing unto Mary Magdalene, while in verses twelve and thirteen we find Jesus appearing in another form unto two of them as they walked and went into the country. In the fourteenth verse of the same chapter we find Jesus appearing unto the eleven disciples as they sat at meat.

Oh, please don’t miss the tremendous significance and importance of this reality, for it brings us face to face with the fact that it wasn’t enough for Jesus to rise from the grave, but Jesus also sought to manifest Himself and make Himself known unto men, thus demonstrating, proving and showing Himself as being alive and having been raised from the grave. In all reality, as I sit here this morning, I can’t help but think to myself how this reality and concept of Jesus appearing unto men after His resurrection directly applies to us, for Jesus desires that men know that He is alive, and that He is no longer in the tomb. Oh it is true that He was in fact buried in the tomb, but He is no longer in the tomb, and He has in fact risen from the grave. I am convinced that if there is one thing we desperately need in this generation, it’s a fresh encounter with the empty tomb and with a Jesus who is no longer in the tomb, and is no longer even at the tomb, but is very much alive and manifesting Himself unto men. Oh that we as men and women would have an encounter with the risen [and now exalted] Jesus the Christ, in order that we might truly understand and encounter Him as having been raised from death to life. Oh that we would ourselves have an experience where the risen Jesus Christ appears unto and manifests Himself unto us, thus showing Himself alive unto us, and revealing and demonstrating that He is no longer in the tomb where He was laid by Joseph of Arimathea. The stone was rolled away and the tomb is in fact empty, for Jesus not only rose from the dead, but also departed from the tomb. What’s more, is that He left His grave clothes behind Him, and did not move forward with them. A STONE ROLLED AWAY! GRAVECLOTHES LEFT BEHIND! AN EMPTY TOMB! A TOMB VACATED! There is not a doubt in my mind that the declaration of the angel concerning Jesus not being present at or in the tomb, as well as the accounts of Jesus appearing unto certain men and women during that time is absolutely incredible, for it demonstrates the fact that the risen Christ desires not to remain at the tomb and at the grave, but desires to go where men are and manifest and show Himself alive. Oh that Jesus the Christ would make His way to where you and I are in this generation, and that He would show, demonstrate, reveal and manifest Himself as very much alive and not in the grave where He was once buried. Oh that we would have an encounter with the risen Jesus the Christ who was crucified, and was buried, but has in fact risen from the grave, and ascended to the right hand of the Father.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s