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Lesson 13: Buried - But Risen! *

Introduction: From the very beginning of this series of lessons Mark lays out the evidence for Jesus being the Messiah. This week we arrive at the last lesson in our study of Mark and the glorious conclusion to Mark's proof. This week we witness the resurrection of our Lord! Or, do we? Does Mark leave us with faith or proof? Let's jump right into our study!

  1. Joseph of Arimathea

    1. Read Mark 15:42-43. Why does Mark tell us that "evening approached?" Is he just giving us a little background color for his story? (He is doing two things. First, he is identifying for history the day of Jesus' death - Friday. Second, he wants us to know the time pressure Joseph faced. The burial should be done before the Sabbath arrived (Friday at sundown), and so Joseph had to immediately screw up his courage and ask Pilate for the body of Jesus.)

      1. Are you glad to have Joseph of Arimathea enter the picture? (Absolutely! It is great to hear that not all of the Jewish leaders hated Jesus. Here was a man who believed. In addition, none of Jesus' 11 disciples would have been bold enough to ask for His body. Here was a man who had the political credentials to be entitled to ask for the body.)

      2. Further detail is added by John. Read John 19:38-39. We see that Joseph has been a secret disciple of Jesus. Nicodemus, another member of the Sanhedrin ( John 3:1), also emerges from secrecy and helps Joseph bury Jesus. Since Joseph had been quieted by his fear, why should he come out now as a disciple?

        1. Notice that Nicodemus brought with him "seventy-five pounds" of spices. How do you think these two men were able to get things together so quickly to bury Jesus before sundown? (They knew what was going to happen and they had apparently made preparations. In the past, I have researched Nicodemus and my research showed that he was likely from one of the most wealthy families. Although shops were closed during Passover, his family may have owned spice shops - or maybe he purchased the spices in advance.)

    2. Read Mark 15:44-45. Why do we find this detail in Mark's account? (It shows us that Jesus was "officially" dead. The centurion reported to Pilate that Jesus had died.)

      1. Why is this detail important? (To eliminate the possibility that Jesus only seemed to die and His disciples revived Him. Mark wants us to know Jesus was really dead.)

    3. Read Mark 15:46-47. Mark tells us that Mary Magdalene and Mary, Jesus' mother, saw where Joseph and Nicodemus buried Jesus.

      1. What do you think the women were doing? (They wanted to stay with Jesus until the bitter end.)

      2. What does this tell us about the 11 disciples? (They were not around.)

      3. If the disciples had stayed with Jesus, would they have been blessed? (They could have helped with the burial. Just knowing that two powerful members of the Sanhedrin had now "declared" for Jesus would have given them a measure of comfort.)

    4. Read Isaiah 53:9. How important was it for Joseph to follow the impulse of his conscience, put aside the secrecy of his convictions, and go to Pilate? (If they had not intervened, Jesus probably would not have been buried. They were an important part to the fulfillment of prophecy.)

      1. Was it good or bad that they waited to declare allegiance to Jesus?

        1. Is it logical that they would wait to declare until the lowest moment - the time when the 11 disciples are questioning whether they were right to follow Jesus? (Joseph and Nicodemus must have "gotten it." Their study must have revealed to them that the Messiah would die like the sacrificial lamb of Passover and the sanctuary service. If they did not "get it," they would not come out now.)

  2. The "Marys"

    1. Read Mark 16:1. When did the two "Marys" and Salome buy the spices? (Unlike Joseph and Nicodemus, they were not prepared in advance. This also suggests that although they watched where Jesus was buried, they did not approach very closely or they would have known that Jesus' body had already treated with spices. They may also not have understand that Joseph and Nicodemus were now declared believers.)

    2. Read Mark 16:2-3. What does this suggest about the stone? (It was not an easy thing to remove.)

      1. What does it suggest about the women? (That their love for Jesus overrode their common sense. If the tomb is sealed, Jesus' body should have already been prepared with spices. If the tomb was sealed, no one was allowed to enter until a year later (for the secondary burial of bones). They were too late and ill-equipped.)

    3. Read Mark 16:4-5. Put yourself in the place of the two "Marys." They feel relief at the fact that the stone has been rolled away. But immediately after that, they are alarmed. What would alarm them? Did they not believe that Jesus would be raised from the dead? (They apparently did not anticipate Jesus would rise from the dead. Most likely they were concerned that the Jewish leaders had performed one more outrage - they had now stolen Jesus' body.)

    4. Read Mark 16:6-7. Wasn't Peter one of the disciples? Why would the angel say "tell his disciples and Peter?"

      1. What lesson about God do we find in this? (Peter was feeling the bitter regret of letting Jesus' down. Heaven is worried about him - as opposed to being angry with him. Jesus wants Peter to know that he is still loved.)

    5. Read Mark 16:8. Of what were they afraid? What kind of emotions are going through their minds?

      1. Would any women you know who had such great information be quiet about it? Know any men who would be quiet? (Seems unlikely - although they might have thought that as women, they would not be believed. In addition, they were probably fearful based on the whole series of events.)

      2. Read John 20:1-2. When Mark says that Mary said nothing, what does he mean? How does John clear this up? (Mary did not report what the angel told her to say. She said nothing about the most important part!)

        1. Why not? (It was just too overwhelming. Again, they probably thought they would not be believed.)

    6. Read John 20:15-17. After Mary Magdalene reported to the disciples that Jesus was gone, she returned to the tomb where she became the first person to see her risen Lord. Why did Jesus chose to appear first to her? She was buying spices at the "last minute" because she had not understood He would die. The fact that she was buying spices also shows that she did not understand He would rise from the dead. Her "spice adventure" was completely illogical because a stone blocked the entrance to the tomb. Finally, she failed to report what the angel said by simply saying Jesus was gone. Given all of this misunderstanding and illogic, why did Jesus choose Mary? (Throughout all of this, she tried to stay as close to Jesus as possible. She hung in there. Jesus is looking first for us to be faithful. He can later clear up our theological and logical failures.)

  3. Appendix

    1. Mark 16:9-20 was added at some later time. Some of the commentaries that I read indicate that the earliest and most reliable manuscripts do not contain these verses. If you want to read more about this, a thorough overview is found in The Bible Knowledge Commentary. The addition of these verses is not particularly critical because most of what appears in these verses can be found elsewhere in the Gospels or in Acts.

    2. Assuming (as I do) that Mark's account ended with verse 8, look again at Mark 16:8. Why would Mark end his book on this note? (We are left with an empty tomb, an angelic message that Jesus has risen, and a promise of a future meeting.)

    3. Friend, are you looking for a future meeting with Jesus? We learned in this lesson that you can come late to faith (Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus), you can come as a failure (Peter) and you can come confused and illogical (the "Marys"). What matters is that you come. Will you repent and come today?

  4. Next Week: We start a new series of lessons (The Spiritual Life) about making Jesus the Lord of all aspects of our life.
* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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