CLAIM: Critics argue that our earliest gospel (Mark) doesn’t contain eyewitnesses of the resurrection. Some even go so far as to say that Mark doesn’t affirm Jesus’ resurrection at all. Is this the case?
RESPONSE: It is disingenuous to say that Mark doesn’t mention affirm the resurrection of Jesus. On our count, the resurrection is predicted by Jesus five times, and the angel at the tomb also teaches that Jesus rose. This makes a total of six predictions or affirmations of Jesus’ resurrection:
(1) “He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mk. 8:31).
(2) “He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man rose from the dead” (Mk. 9:9).
(3) “He was teaching His disciples and telling them, ‘The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later’” (Mk. 9:31). This passes the criterion of embarrassment, because the subsequent verse states, “But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him” (Mk. 9:32). The disciples couldn’t grasp what he was talking about. This bolsters the historical credibility of the account, because it contains the criterion of embarrassment.
(4) “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. 34 They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again” (Mk. 10:33-34)
(5) Immediately before Peter expressed his absolute loyalty to Jesus, we read that Jesus predicted, “But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee” (Mk. 14:28).
(6) At the end of the gospel, an angel tells the women, “‘Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you’” (Mk. 16:6-7). Notice that the same person who died (“Jesus the Nazarene… has been crucified”) was also the same person who was raised (“Jesus the Nazarene… He has risen”).
Throughout Mark, Jesus’ predictions always come to fruition. So, the reader would expect these predictions to come about as well.