"They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:8).
The (C) part of the fifth section of Mark ends the Gospel with the obedient vassal King going to the cross. In the biblical theological context, this act must be understood in its covenant context. In contrast to the first Adam, who broke the Covenant of Works and failed to build the temple Kingdom of God on earth and enter into the King of heaven’s everlasting Sabbath enthronement, God the Son has become the incarnate Second Adam to fulfill the Pactum Salutis with God the Father. Jesus Christ the Lord obeyed the Father all the way to taking God’s eternal wrath in place of believers who were condemned in Adam. Jesus’ obedience to the Pactum Salutis merited the Sabbath glory the first Adam forfeited. As exalted Lord, He now gives believers in the New Covenant the blessing He merited as the believer’s federal representative. The cross is the junction of these three covenants. He paid the punishment due under the Covenant of Works. As covenant servant, He obeyed the Pactum Salutis and merited the Sabbath glory. As covenant Lord, He now gives the Kingdom blessings and Sabbath glory to believers.
Through His death on the cross, Jesus is the cornerstone of the eschatological temple. Believers are the stones of that temple. He is the faithful vassal who builds the temple. The coming kingdom glory belongs to the believer because Jesus went to the cross.
To review, Mark’s final section is arranged:
A Following the King (Mark 8:31-10:52)
B The Royal Temple (Mark 11:1-13:36)
C Obedient King (Mark 14:1-16:8)
This final (C) element is chiastically written to focus on the result of Jesus’ obedience:
1 His Death (Mark 14:1-9)
2 Betrayed (Mark 14:10-21)
3 New Covenant (Mark 14:22-26)
2’ Betrayed (Mark 14:27-72)
1’ His Death (Mark 15:1-47)
The (1) and (1’) both show his obedience to death. In (1), a woman poured a vial of very costly perfume on Jesus’ head. Jesus noted the significance of her offering,
“…she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial” (Mark 14:8).
Jesus is not unprepared for the crucifixion; He prepares Himself to be the sacrifice!
The (1’) part then concludes with Jesus’ death and burial. The Jewish leaders deliver Jesus to the Roman governor, Pilate. He acknowledges that He is king. He, the righteous vassal king, is condemned while the murderous Barabbas is set free (Mark 15:1-15). The righteous is crucified, the guilty set free. Pilate mocks the mob and asks, “Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” They respond, “Crucify Him!” The soldiers dress Jesus as royalty in purple and put a twisted crown of thorns on His head. They acclaim, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They brought him to the “Place of the Skull” (Mark 15:22). They tried to give him something to dull the pain; He refuses. They gambled over his clothes. They put an inscription over Him, “The King of the Jews.” They thought they mocked; they unwittingly proclaimed the truth!
He was crucified between two thieves to fulfill Isaiah 53:12,
“Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.”
The Servant of the Lord, the vassal of the Pactum Salutis, bore the sin of many. While the soldiers cast lots for His garments, He is exalted Lord who divides the spoils. He is the victor. Those passing by asked,
“Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” (Mark 15:29)
But here is the Servant of the Lord who builds the temple through His death. No, He could not come down; for this He came! Faithful to the end, He cries to the King of heaven,
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34)
Jesus “uttered a loud cry, and Jesus breathed His last” (Mark 15:37; trans). He did not die unconscious and exhausted. He lay down His life (cf. John 10:11). When the Roman Centurion, who had seen many die, saw how Jesus died, he confessed,
“Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39)
Joseph of Arimathea, who was “waiting for the kingdom of God” took the body and prepared the body for burial and laid Him in the tomb. The stone was sealed against the entrance. But “Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were looking to see where He was laid” (Mark 15:47)
The King has come and laid down his life. He was exalted to divide the spoils. The (2) and (2’) make it clear that his followers betrayed him. In (2), Jesus prepares the Passover. He sends two disciples to town. They will see a man carrying water! How did He know?! And aren’t there lots of people carrying water? They are to follow that man to the house he enters. They are to tell the owner that the Teacher asks for the guest room to eat Passover with the disciples. But what if he says “no?” So many contingencies; but not for Jesus. He is the King who prepares the meal. When they reclined at the table, Jesus tells the disciples one of them will betray Him (Mark 14:10-21)!
The (2’) continues the betrayal. All the disciples would betray Jesus, Judas in handing Him over to the Jews, the rest of the disciples in deserting Him! But the King told them ahead of time they would scatter like sheep, and He promised to be restored to them in Galilee after His resurrection. Not even Peter would be faithful (Mark 10:27-31). Not even Peter, James, and John would be faithful; they couldn’t even keep watch for an hour. They slept. Jesus told them to wake up; the betrayal by Judas and arrest was upon Him. He said,
“…the hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners” (Mark 14:41).
The righteous vassal King was being betrayed and arrested by sinners! Judas betrayed Jesus, and He was arrested.
The centerpiece (3) in Mark’s literary structure is the Last Supper (Mark 14:22-26). Jesus is the faithful covenant Son, the Servant of the Lord Israel failed to be. Israel was born as the Spirit glory-cloud overshadowed Israel; He was conceived as the Spirit overshadowed Mary. Israel passed through the judgment waters of the Red Sea; He passed through the judgment on the cross. Israel was tested in the wilderness forty years; He was tested in the wilderness forty days. When Israel came into the promised land, Israel built the kingdom and temple. When Jesus rose from the grave and was enthroned, He built the Kingdom and Temple of God. When Israel celebrated the Passover, they sacrificed the spotless Passover lamb. Jesus was the Lamb of God.
Jesus took the Passover bread and said, “This is my body.” He took the cup and said, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many” (Mark 14:22-24). Only the vassal King had such authority to take the elements of the Passover meal and make them elements of the New Covenant Supper! Then he promised,
"Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God" (Mark 14:27).
He had taken the third cup of the Passover which spoke of redemption (cf. Ex 6:6-7), but he would not take the fourth cup which referred to the consummation until that day in the kingdom of God.
Jesus lay down His life. He was betrayed by all. He alone was faithful to the end. This is emphasized not only in the closing portion of Mark, but is starkly and deliberately underlined in the conclusion. Mark writes,
“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, they *came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 Looking up, they *saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. 5 Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. 6 And he *said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’” 8 They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:1-8).
Mary and Mary saw the tomb where He was buried. They came back. But when they got there, they saw the extremely large stone rolled away. They went into the tomb and saw an angel. They were amazed. The angel told them Jesus had risen from the grave, and they were to go tell the disciples, and Peter! The angel said, “He’ll meet you in Galilee, just as He said!” They ran away, filled with fear and gripped by astonishment! And they didn’t tell anyone. They were afraid!
Even after the resurrection, the disciples and the women are confused and fearful, even though they knew something happened! The disciples didn’t do ANYTHING to add to the finished work of Jesus! Jesus, alone, paid for sin. Jesus, alone, merited the blessing of the Kingdom of God. Jesus, alone, is the faithful vassal King. But there is more. This vassal King is the Second Adam from heaven. God has done for man what man could not do!
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Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from NASB. Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org
trans. indicates my translation
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