Study 3 – He is Risen

Study 3 – He is Risen

This is the third study in the Turramurra Uniting Church Lent Study series.

  • What is the most unbelievable event you’ve ever witness?
  • What are your best memories of Easter?

Watch – Bible Project summary of Mark (edited) –  

Mark’s Easter sermon goes something like this: “Christ is risen! And they said nothing to anybody because they were afraid.”
There is no encounter with the resurrected Jesus at the end of Mark’s Gospel. Instead, there is a mysterious messenger who issues a promise and a command, plus an empty tomb, and a group of women who flee in terror, too frightened to speak.

Read Mark 16:1-18

Reflection Questions
  • Reflect on the role of the women as the first witnesses to the resurrection. What does this reveal about God’s choice of the marginalized and unexpected to bear witness to significant events? [other examples – Mary, a young virgin (Luke 1:26-38) / The Shepherds (Luke 2:8-20) / Ruth, the Moabite (book of Ruth) / Zacchaeus, the tax collector (Luke 19:1-10)]
  • In Mark, the tomb is empty (apart from the messenger), but nobody gets to see Jesus or touch the nail holes in his hands. There is no great commission (Matthew), no recounting of the Hebrew Scriptures or a meal shared with travellers to Emmaus (Luke), and no intimate conversation with Mary in the garden nor sudden arrival of the risen Christ behind locked doors (John). Apparently, Mark’s good news requires no resurrection proofs based on encounters between Jesus and his disciples. Instead, there is a promise: “He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” Will the disciples trust that promise? How can this possibly be good news?
  • Mark’s Gospel concludes abruptly with the women fleeing from the tomb and trembling with fear. Some scholars suggest that the original ending of Mark might have been lost over time, while others argue that the abrupt conclusion serves a theological purpose, inviting readers to contemplate the mystery and implications of the resurrection. What do you think?

Watch – Short Ending of Mark’s gospel (edited) 

Reflection Questions
  1. In verses 9-14, we see various reactions to Jesus’ resurrection. How do these reactions mirror our own responses to the Easter message? How can we cultivate a deeper faith in the reality of Jesus’ resurrection in our lives today?
  2. Mark 16:8 ends with the women fleeing from the empty tomb in fear and amazement, whereas verses 9-20 provide additional post-resurrection appearances and teachings of Jesus. Scholars debate whether the longer ending of Mark was part of the original manuscript or added later. How do these endings shape our understanding of the Easter message, and what insights do they offer for our Lenten reflections?
  3. What will you remember most from the gospel of Mark to sharpen your focus on who Jesus really is?

Time of dayAt dawn on the first day of the weekVery early on the first day of the week (just after sunrise)Very early on the first day of the weekEarly on the first day of the week (still dark)
Who went to the tombMary Magdalene & the other MaryMary Magdalene, Mary (James’ mother), & SalomeThe womenMary Magdalene
Events that occurredViolent earthquake; Angel speaks to them; Women meet JesusWomen bought spices; Angel speaks to them; Women fled tomb, but said nothingWomen take spices to tomb; two angles appear; Angel speaks to them; Told the disciples what they foundMary Magdalene ran to get Simon Peter; Simon Peter and the other disciple went to the tomb; disciples left and Jesus appears to Mary
The angelsOne Angel came down from heaven, whose appearance was like lightning; clothes were white as snowYoung man dressed in white robes sitting on the right sidetwo men appeared in clothes that gleamed like lightning; stood beside themTwo angels in white seated where Jesus’ body had been (one at the head other at the foot)
Jesus’ words“Greetings”; “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me”  “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”; “Mary”; “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. I am returning to my Father, and your Father, to my God and your God.”

Watch – differences in the resurrection accounts & Luke’s Easter

Reflection Questions
  1. How did the intended audience and purpose of each Gospel shape the way the resurrection story was presented? Consider factors such as the theological themes emphasized and the specific needs of the early Christian communities addressed.
  2. What role did eyewitness testimony play in the recording of the resurrection accounts? How might variations in the testimonies of different witnesses contribute to differences in the Gospel narratives?
  3. How do you reconcile the differences between the resurrection accounts while still affirming the reliability and truth of the Gospel testimony? Consider the tension between harmonizing the accounts and appreciating the diversity of perspectives within the Gospels.

As we conclude our time together in reflection on the Gospel according to Mark, we are reminded of the profound truths embedded in its final chapter. We acknowledge the mystery and beauty found in both the shorter and longer endings of this text.

We recognize that the shorter ending of Mark leaves us with a sense of wonder and anticipation, prompting us to consider the significance of the empty tomb and the angel’s proclamation. Help us, Lord, to embrace the mystery of Your resurrection and to live as witnesses of Your victory over sin and death.

Yet, we also appreciate the insights offered by the longer ending of Mark, which elaborates on the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus and His commission to His disciples. May we be inspired by the call to proclaim the Good News to all nations, trusting in Your presence and power as we carry out this mission.

Lord, as we continue our Lenten journey, preparing our hearts for the celebration of Easter, we ask for Your guidance and strength. Help us to embody the love, mercy, and grace demonstrated by Jesus throughout His earthly ministry.

We offer this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Saviour.