Refusing to Believe the Evidence
This last section of Mark's Gospel (Mark 16:9-20) comments on the disciple's astonishing refusal to believe that Jesus was alive. Most scholars agree that it probably was not written by Mark's pen, as its style and vocabulary are so different from the rest of the gospel, and the earliest copies do not have anything after verse 8 *. However, it agrees with the details of the other three gospel writers, it is historically accurate and accepted as part of the Scriptures, God’s Word. Whoever wrote it, underscored a major theme of the book - that even those who were closest to Jesus were blind to who He was, and to the evidence of the resurrection.
Mary of Magdela (a fishing village on the western shore of Lake Galilee) had much reason to be grateful to Jesus. Once plagued by demons, she came to Jesus and was set free to serve her new Lord and Master. She was a woman of faith who loved her Saviour and not only gave her time and energy to supporting 'Team Jesus', but also gave her money to help provide for their needs (Luke 8:2-3).
But Mary also fled in fear from the empty tomb along with the other women. Despite the angel's assurance and the evidence of no body in the cave, they could not believe. Mary thought that Jesus' body had been taken away in the night (John 20:13-14). They were all blind to Jesus' repeated promises that He would rise again on the third day (Mark 8:31; Mark 9:31; Mark 10:34). However, Mary later returned by herself and became the first person to whom the Lord Jesus revealed Himself alive from the dead (John 20:10-18): she had a story to tell. But nothing could convince them that Jesus was alive, even Mary's eye-witness account of meeting the Lord. To them, her clear story seemed a fairy tale, and her bright eyed certainty meant nothing to them. They were right and she was silly, misguided, hallucinating, wishful or just simply wrong. It went deeper still. Despite all their time working for Jesus, they trusted their own assumption that resurrection was impossible, and ignored what Jesus had said. Their hearts were not willing to receive truth.
Working for Jesus does not mean we trust Him. Seeing what Jesus has done for others does not automatically make us believe what He will do for us. We can be dedicated religious activists, but refuse to trust God’s Word. If that is so, it is time to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15). This may help us to understand the blindness of our friends and colleagues who have not yet met the risen Christ. By themselves, even our testimony of faith cannot make people believe, and even the authoritative words of Scripture can be refused. Still, we need to keep on explaining the truth (Isaiah 6:9-10) to prepare the way for the Lord to meet them personally, as He did with Mary.
© Dr Paul Adams