This morning I went to Opawa Baptist
church to hear Reverand Dr Steve Taylor
(what a mouthful) speak. I've heard him speak previously so was exicted about hearing him again, this time in his home church (Opawa Baptist
He spoke about the ending of the Gospel of Mark. There is lots to blog about here BUT I won't go into it all (maybe another time). What was amazing and I had never considered before was how the oldest and most accurate copies of Mark don't have the ending we're most accustomed to. These most original copies finish at what we refer to as Mark 16:8
. This isn't exactly a triumphant finish ... The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, saying nothing to anyone because they were too frightened to talk!
This isn't exactly where we, 21st
century Christians know the story ends! After all, have of the service this morning consisted of people calling out He is risen!
to which everyone is supposed to respond He is risen indeed!
As Rev Dr Steve Taylor worked his way through the message he talked a little about the context and history, how tombs were in those days, why there were large rocks over the entrances etc.
However the piece which stuck out to me was verse 1
... the women went out and purchased burial spicesto put on Jesus' body.
Now this makes we ask two questions (neither of which were asked), both which are related to the resurrection of Jesus.
Question 1 - Why are they worrying about burial spices after Jesus is dead and buried? I don't know anything about the traditions of the time but I would have thought that you would sort out all the burial spices prior
to sealing the tomb up. I could be wrong but it would seem to me that the whole way through the trial and the crucifixion that the women and the disciples expected Jesus to avoid being killed. If they had expected him to live, then they wouldn't have had burial spices ready (which they didn't). Is this why in verse 1
they went and purchased the spices after Jesus had died? They hadn't expected Jesus to die!
Question 2 - Why did the women react so fearfully? Had they not been with Jesus when he raised Lazarus from the dead? Had they not been with Jesus when he demonstrated the power of God to miraculously intervene in situations? Had they not been with him less than a week earlier when he rode a donkey into Jerusalem which was essentially Jesus announcing to the world that He was the messiah (all Jews knew that one of the many prohesies about the messiah was that He would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey)? How can they miss the point and be so scared after hearing about the resurrection they run away?
Ok, it wasn't quite 2 questions, but I suspect they reacted exactly as I would have ... I wouldn't have been prepared for Jesus to die! I would have been waiting for an 11th
hour victory. The sensational kind that Hollywood tells me happens all the time! I wouldn't have been prepared with burial spices and would have had to go out the next day for them! And I would have been petrified to find that the body had gone and I was supposed to tell people Jesus was alive ... I would have been more inclined to respond with a 'yeah right!'