“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils. 10 And she went and told them that had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And they, when they had heard that He was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. 12 After that He appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.
14 Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen.” Mark 16:9-14 (KJV)
By the testimony of verse 9 the resurrected Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene. Who is this Mary? She is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke,
“And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils” (Luke 8:2).
This Mary had been terribly bound, and was probably involved in great evil. The Lord Jesus had freed her and cast the demons from her. By His great glory He appeared to her first and gave her the privilege of telling the sceptical disciples of the resurrection. When she came to the disciples and told them they did not believe her report.
According to verse 10 the disciples were in mourning and were weeping. They were quite sorrowful over the death of Jesus. Why, O why, would they not believe Mary? Would not her countenance be aglow with joy? Would not her words have been filled with excitement? Saying, “Our Lord’s grave is empty, He is alive. I have seen Him. He has spoken to me.” I think I would have at least been curious. This would have, of course, been after Mary has been to the tomb, found it empty, went to Peter and John, they run to see it empty, and then return, as John writes,
” Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.” (John 20:10).
They were not even curious enough to begin a search, they “…went away again to themselves”.
After appearing to Mary Magdalene Jesus appears to two who are walking together. Luke tells us is was to Emmaeus. Luke gives us more details of this appearance by Jesus. These two did not recognize Him. He shared with them the words of the Prophets concerning Himself, and only when He had broken bread at their table did they recognize Him. When He first appeared to Mary, she did not recognize Him. She thought Him to be the gardner. Maybe due to the sadness, mourning, and tears His identity was covered to them, and maybe due to spiritual influence from Him. They had been blind to the words Jesus had spoken concerning His rising from the dead, and now they were blind to its reality. Only by the power of God did they know Him. Only by the “Drawing” of the Father, and His will can anyone know Him. These two told the disciples that Jesus was risen, and still they do not believe. By this time Peter and John had probably already seen Jesus alive due to the words of Luke in chapter 24 verse 34,
“Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.”
When they came to those who had not yet seen Jesus alive the remainder would not believe. We sometimes jump all over Thomas because he would not believe unless he witnessed the resurrected Jesus personally, but all of the disciples had the same attitude. Blessed are those who have believed though they have not seen.
Why did Jesus rebuke them for their unbelief? He had spoken to them many times of His death and resurrection, but they had not heard. They had had a wrong attitude toward Him. He was their source of deliverance from captivity of Rome. He was their hope for amounting to something in “His kingdom”. Judas was not the only one following Him for the wrong reason(s). They found it hard to believe that their “Messiah” would even die. If He was not going to die there was no need for a resurrection. So in their mind all the problems of the Hebrews were over; then He died.
Jesus rebuked them, because they had not believed His Word. “Destroy this temple, and in three day I will raise it again”. You can imagine that now that He has appeared to all of the disciples, they now believe. Would I have been any different? Knowing what I know of myself, and having grown up in Missouri [the Show-Me State], I doubt it. Knowing what I now know, by the testimony of so many witnesses and the testimony of God’s Word, Yes I believe He is risen.
-Tim A. Blankenship