“The Son of Man will be taken, and killed; and after he is killed, he will resurrect on the third day.” Mark 8:31, Mark 9:31, and Mark 10:33-34, the message was always the same. Jesus had constantly referred to Himself as the “Son of Man,” and as such, He had consistently told His disciples that His death was coming. But He never left them without the opportunity for hope. Rather, with every telling of His death, He would couch it with this specific promise of His resurrection. It was not, “I will resurrect some day.” Instead, Jesus consistently said, “On the third day, I will resurrect.”
Any disciple who could count should have had this hope in them on that first day of the week. Jesus was brutalized on Friday and buried that afternoon right before the Sabbath Saturday. Now, Sunday morning, the third day, had arrived. Mobs of faithful, hope-filled, believing, committed disciples should have been gathered around the tomb expectantly watching for the resurrection of their Messiah.
But that’s not the story that Mark tells. Mark finishes out His gospel account with the coming of three ladies to anoint the dead body of Jesus. They are at the tomb, but they are not there looking for a resurrection, they are there looking for a dead body. In fact, none of His disciples are there at the tomb. No one was watching in anticipation for Jesus to be resurrected. Had he not made Himself clear that He was coming back? Were His words hard to understand when He had said, “On the third day, I will resurrect.”? Why just these three women, and even these with the wrong motive? Did His people not believe the promise of His return?
A few days after this resurrection, we find ourselves in Acts 1. Jesus instructed His disciples to go and testify of Him in the entire world. Following His instruction to His disciples, Jesus was taken up into heaven. The disciples were certainly amazed to have heard the resurrected Jesus speaking to them and teaching them one last time, but now He was gone again. This time, they had the confidence that He was alive and not dead. But none the less, He was no longer with them.
The sadness of separation was quickly met with yet another promise from two angels. “This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” God was telling His people that this wasn’t the last time they were going to see Jesus. Just as He had gone away with the promise of His resurrection, now, He has gone away again, and we hold close to our hearts the promise of His return. He has already shown true to the promise of return once, and now with anticipation we look forward to His second return longingly. The day will come where Jesus returns. Wickedness will be undone, evil will be banished, brokenness will be gone, and we will rejoice with the righteous One. We know that He will fulfill the promise of His return.
Food For Thought: Read 1 John 3:2-3. What does John say a follower of Jesus will do in light of the return of Jesus?