Don’t be alarmed,” he told them. “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they put him. (Mark 16:6 CSB17)
One of the things that I try to ask myself as I study the Bible is, “why does the author write what he does in that particular way that he writes it?” Mark’s account of the resurrection of Jesus is a great example. His account is quite spare, especially in contrast to the other gospel authors, but he martials an amazing array of evidence that Jesus was not in the tomb. Indeed, if we had only Mark’s account of the resurrection, we would have to conclude on the evidence that Jesus was, in point of fact, no longer in the tomb.
Here is the evidence that Mark sets forth:
- The very large stone had been rolled away which allowed the women to physically enter Jesus’ tomb.
- They do not see Jesus
- They do see a young man dressed in right sitting on the right side. Notice the eyewitness details, there wasn’t just a man in there, he was sitting on the right side.
- The man tells them: “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified.” There is so much information packed into that little sentence. They women have the correct tomb (no arguing they inadvertently go it wrong); they are looking for the correct person: Jesus of Nazareth; and that person had been dead.
- He has risen! One word in the Greek and arguably the most important word ever spoken in human history. Jesus was crucified. He was dead. He was buried in this very tomb. As you can see he is no longer here; that is because He is risen!
- He is not here. The tomb is empty.
- See the place where they put him. The women see for themselves that Jesus is indeed gone, no question, no doubt.
- There will be more eyewitnesses to the risen Jesus: “Go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see him there just as he told you.’”
Mark wants those who read his account of Jesus’ death and resurrection to have no doubt that the tomb was empty, that there were eyewitnesses to that fact, that a “man in white” testified to it, and that there would be more eyewitnesses to the risen Jesus.