The resurrection is one of those subjects which needs gathering of information from all the four Gospels in order to get a full picture of the events. So, while we will draw some data from the other three writers, we will stay within Mark’s message who has a special touch in the way he brings out this monumental event. We will see that his focus is on the importance of faith, of believing and trusting in the Lord, something we so need today as many are falling from it.
The account given points to some exceptional individuals who were armed with such faith and boldly showed it throughout the ordeal of the crucifixion and the resurrection. And these people were so greatly blessed for their courage. The text speaks of them as being amazed, astonished and uses even that Greek word only found here, the word ecstasy, describing their state when they found out about the resurrection.
Yet and quite sadly, in this same chapter, from those we expected to have this kind of dependable faith, we discover that they did not believe, and we find them hiding in fear even weeping and mourning. There is such a contrast presented to us in this chapter.
It is in this small chapter where the word belief occurs 7 times in different forms and divides the actors into two groups; those believers whose faith puts them into action and those whose fith was dormant. And perhaps if such a contrast is presented, it is to attract our attention to this great gift of faith given to every believer, that they use it and fill their lives with it.
Let us begin to see the text by reading the first 2 verses of Mark 16:1-2, When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.
So, we learn that when the Sabbath was over, these three faithful women bought spices to anoint the body of the Messiah. As it is today, it was probably like that then, that stores and shopping do open up for a few hours after the Sabbath is over. Once they bought the spices, they prepared the anointing mixture and then decided to wait for the sun to rise to then go to the tomb. And they must have fought their way through the streets for it was a very, very busy day in Israel, because it was the third day after Passover, that is the 16th of Nisan. According to the biblical calendar it was the Feast of Habikkurim, the Feast of Firstfruits and everyone was busy rushing to the Temple to offer the firstfruits of their harvest to God.
And it is significant that the Feast of Habikkourim is the last of a Trilogy of the Feasts of Redemption. We see the first feast, Passover, when Yeshua was crucified on the 14th of Nisan. He fulfilled the feast wit His sacrifice on the Tav. Then the Feast of Unleavened Bread began on the 15th of Nisan and lasted 7 days. This feast symbolizes the purity and sinlessness of the Messiah. Three days after Passover, still within the seven days of Unleavened Bread, we have the Feast of Firstfruits, that is the Feast of Habikkurim. This was the day Yeshua resurrected, fulfilling the feast.
These three Feasts also describe the path of our own redemption.
At Passover we see our salvation. With Unleavened Bread we see our sanctification, since it speaks of Holiness and this is an ongoing process. Then with HaBikkurim, we see our resurrection, soon to occur for all believers.
And it was such a feast day at the Temple and in Jerusalem. At the time of the first century, this feast was major and it was done with such joy and singing.
The Mishnah, the Jewish Oral Law, tells us how the people brought their gifts, their firstfruits of the land to the Lord. As opposed to other offerings during the year, on this day the quantity of grain was doubled and now, for the first time from all the feasts of Israel, the offering of wine is introduced. These two facts bring out the happiness and jubilation which mark this feast.
Unfortunately, today in rabbinical Judaism, and within many Jewish circles, Yom HaBikkurim is an almost unrecognized and almost non-existent feast. But it is part of the Feasts of Israel and it is on this day that the Messiah resurrected.
And it is during this feast, the people brought their best to God and God gave His best, the Messiah, for the people’s salvation. And why is it called the Firstfruits? Practically it was the first of the firstfruits of the harvest of the year, and theologically, when Yeshua rose on this day, it was considered the first resurrection leading to eternal life. In the Bible, there were at least eight resurrections, like that of Lazarus. However, all these people died again. But, Yeshua resurrected unto eternal life, never to die again. In this sense He is first and we the believers are the next to follow.
And so, at the Feast of Yom Habikkurim, Yeshua paved the way for us to follow Him. This is what Paul teaches us in the chapter on the resurrection and from 1Cor.15: 20 we read, But now the Messiah is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits- the HaBikkurim of those who have fallen asleep. This is the good news of the resurrection, and we will follow soon, either at the Rapture or at the resurrection of those sleeping in Messiah. This is then the message of this great Feast of Habikkurim; whoever makes Yeshua his or her sin bearer, his or her atonement, will be spending eternity with Him.