Lesson 26: “He Is Risen.” Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20-21 #BCCSundaySchool2019

This is my first crack at one of these Gospel Doctrine lessons, and at first I didn’t have a good sense as to how to approach it. I began by reading the scriptural selections. Then I read the Come Follow Me manual, and I’m sorry, but there’s just not much there. My next thought was to focus on the differences  among the accounts, which would require the creation of a Taylor-siblings-style really big chart, which could be fun. But that seemed like it was going to develop way more material than would fit in a blog post (and it also seemed like way too much work). So finally I decided to focus on Mark 16:1-8. Part of the reason is to try to model  how there is a virtue to focusing on a single Gospel at a time in lieu of always pursuing the harmonization project. Also, this is the earliest resurrection account that we have. And finally, it seemed an opportunity to intrract with Julie’s Mark commentary. [1] So that is the plan.

First, below is Julie’s translation of the text (her New Rendition):

1. And the Sabbath having passed, Mary of Magdala, and Mary [the mother] of Jacob and Salome brought spices so that they might go and anoint him.

2. And very early on the first day of the week, the sun having risen, they come to the tomb.

3. And they were saying to each other, “Who will roll away fot us the stone from the entrance to the tomb?”

4. And having looked up, they see that the stone had been rolled away–it was extremely large indeed!”

5. And having entered into the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right, wearing a white robe, and they were really stunned.

6. But he says to them, “Don’t be stunned. Your seek Jesus the Nazarene–the one who was crucified. He has been raised. He is not here. Look! [This is] the place where they laid him.

7. But go. Say to his disciples and to Peter that he goes before you into Galilee. There you will see him as he said to you.”

8. And having gone out, they fled from the tomb, trembling and amazement having taken hold of them, and they said nothing to anyone because they were awestruck.

Julie gives 14 pages of commentary on the above text. Below I’ll capture just a few small nuggets to give you a taste for her take on the passage:

The spices the women bring are probably for a burial anointing (part of the purpose of the spices was to mask the smell of the decomposing flesh). So the women were expecting a dead body and did not expect Jesus to have been raised from the dead.

The young man they find sitting in the tomb on the right is acting in the role of an angel, but Mark does not intend his audience to understand him as an angel himself.

The “he is risen” is a divine passive, meaning it was God who raised him from the dead.

Women could normally not act as witnesses under Jewish law, so having women be the witnesses of the resurrection would require those listening to their account to overcome that cultural/religious disability.

The separate mention of Peter apart from the other disciples seems intended to welcome him back to the fold after his denial of Jesus.

Julie undertakes a detailed comparison of this passage with 14:3-9, where a woman anoints Jesus for his burial.

Note that the Gospel of Mark ends (rather abruptly) here. In a four-page Appendix D she gives numerous cogent reasons why this is so.These include the following:

  1. The two oldest Greek manuscripts omit the longer ending. Other ancient manuscripts that include itappend a note indicating that the text is uncertain.
  2. It is difficult to imagine why a copyist would omit it; it is much easier to imagine a copyist adding it.
  3. Several early Christian writers appear to know copies of the Gospel of Mark that do not include Mark 16:7-20.
  4. The style differs substantially from the rest of the Gospel (which she illustrates with a couple of pages of examples).

[1] Julie M. Smith, The Gospel According to Mark in the BYU New Testament Commentary series.


  1. Ryan Mullen says:

    At first, Julie Smith’s inclusion of so many interpretative options was disorienting. I wasn’t prepared to sort through so much material. As I’ve continued to read through her commentary, I’ve come to appreciate her approach. I can scan through her lists and find the one or two options that speak the most to me without having to make a definitive argument that this is the only (or best) way to approach a particular passage.

    Also, I did teach the Easter lesson earlier this year. I took the opportunity to read through the endings of each Gospel, with an eye towards how each ending contributes to that gospel’s portrait of Jesus. It was a lot of work, but also tremendously helpful. The LDS tendency to harmonize the gospels is needlessly confusing IMO.

  2. Marianne CAMERON says:

    Although Mark is the earliest gospel, it is not the earliest mention of the Resurrection Those would be found in Paul’s letters, which predate Mark’s gospel by decades. On Easter, I started with Paul’s comments and then worked my way through the Gospels. The differences were astounding. BTW, I am a former professor of Religious Studies at Pace University. The New Testament expert there told me to look at (Father) Raymond Brown’s “Introduction to the New Testament”–very balanced and scholarly, written by a Catholic priest. A few Trinitarian parts, and a little Papal authority here and there, but believing LDS would be comfortable with 98% of it. Unfortunately, Father Brown has passed so there will be no updates. You can get a used copy on Amazon or Abebooks. There is an abridged version so beware if you buy.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for the correction, in my mind I was thinking of it being the earliest of the four Gospel accounts in the reading assignment, but you’re right about Paul. And I love Raymond Brown’s stuff.

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