Devotional thoughts on Mark 16:1-8
By Jonathan Underwood
Many people long for a second chance—an opportunity to put their flawed past behind them. That’s what the gospel of grace is all about: putting our past behind us and achieving a new future. From the morning of the resurrection, we can see that God was putting behind us our doubts and our failures.
Evidence of Doubt
All the Gospels tell of the women coming to the empty tomb on the first day of the week after Jesus’ death. Mark specifically mentions they went “to anoint Jesus’ body.” Nothing is made of this in the text, but doesn’t that prove their doubt? If they had believed Jesus’ prediction that he would be crucified and would then rise again, they would not have brought spices to anoint a dead body. They would have come to find the risen Lord. But instead, they came with spices; they came looking for a dead hero; they came in doubt.
When you think about it, the angel would have been justified in sending the women away with a lecture. “How could you be looking in a grave for the living? He is not here, of course!” But he did not. He overlooked their doubt and sent them on a quest of faith.
When we come looking for Jesus, he can take our own doubts and plant faith in our hearts.
Overcoming Past Failure
Peter is singled out in the angel’s instructions. It seems obvious that this was because Peter had dramatically failed. All the disciples had fled, of course, but Peter did more. He denied that he even knew Jesus. Perhaps as he wept bitterly over his failure, he questioned whether he could ever be welcome in the band of disciples ever again. None of them believed Jesus to be alive; but “even if he is alive,” Peter may have thought, “what good would that be for me? I failed him!” But past failure is laid aside in the victory of God’s grace.
Not one of us can claim to be failure free, but we can be free from failure! God’s grace erases our past—our doubts and our failures—so that we can live victoriously for him.
Jonathan Underwood is a chaplain at a Christian continuing care retirement community in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a former editor of the Standard Lesson Commentary. He and his wife, Kathy, also serve missionaries through their Spanish publishing ministry, La Palabra de Cristo.