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The Empty Tomb


Mark’s Gospel account ends on an odd note. In many Bibles, verses 9–20 contain a commentator’s note about the disputed authenticity of the closing section of the book. Many Bible scholars say that the earliest manuscripts of the Gospel do not contain this ending.

Equally odd is the description in verses 1 to 8: the reaction of the three women at the tomb of Jesus. They are there, having overcome obstacles to get to Jesus, including awaiting the Sabbath to finish, the sun to rise, and having the stone rolled away. Yet, they are described as “alarmed” by the appearance of the angel at the tomb (v. 5).

Moreover, after multiple reassurances that the crucified Jesus is alive, this account says that they leave fearful and even more —“bewildered” (v. 8). In the conclusion of Mark’s Gospel, despite the assurances to tell Peter and the disciples about the resurrection and the promise from Jesus that they will see Him alive, they do not announce it to anyone.

Even when there are no obstacles preventing us from remembering Christ’s death on our behalf, we might be hesitant to tell others about Him. Even with the scores of reassurances we have from His Word, history, and the Holy Spirit within us, we still might find ourselves hesitant to proclaim to others that the tomb is indeed empty.

The end of the Gospel of Mark proposes a challenge to servants of Jesus: Will we be silent with the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection? Or, will we use the empty tomb and the proclamation of His resurrection as a starting point to take the message of the Gospel of Mark—the good news of Jesus—to everyone without fear, assured by the promise of His return?

Apply the Word

Now that you we have finished the Gospel of Mark, we suggest you go back and read the full story again. With the end in mind, you will notice the many references to Jesus being the Son of God and King of the Jews who came to offer eternal life. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you boldness and courage to tell others that Jesus’ tomb is empty.

BY Eric C. Redmond

Eric C. Redmond serves as an assistant professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and as associate pastor of adult ministries at Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Ill. He is married to Pam and they have five children. He is the author of Where Are All the Brothers? Straight Answers to Men's’ Questions about the Church (Crossway), a commentary on Jonah in the Christ-Centered Exposition Series (B&H Publishers), and a study guide on Ephesians in the Knowing the Bible series (Crossway).

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