The Venerable Bede: The Gradual Revelation

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin | Resurrection

“When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” (Mark 16:1–8,)

Amongst all the scholars of Anglo-Saxon England, none come close to the influence which was born by the Venerable Bede (673-735). This monk of Jarrow had the great - and rare - benefit of a peaceful life and was able to not only write commentaries on the Bible but also compile a great history of the nation. His mathematical ability was amply demonstrated by his instructional book on how to calculate the date of Easter. This might not seem too exciting to you, but over 250 hand-written manuscript copies of this book survive which prove it was something of a best seller in its day!

Bede remained active in church affairs right up until his death, and in the eleventh century his bones were moved to Durham Cathedral, where his large tomb is still visible. This passage comes from his commentary on Mark.

Our Lord and redeemer revealed the glory of his resurrection to his disciples gradually and over a period of time, undoubtedly because so great was the virtue of the miracle that the weak hearts of mortals could not grasp the significance of this all at once. Thus, he had regard for the frailty of those seeking him. To those who came first to the tomb, both the women who were aflame with love for him and the men, he showed the stone rolled back. Since his body had been carried away, he showed them the linen cloths in which it had been wrapped lying there alone. Then, to the women who were searching eagerly, who were confused in their minds about what they had found out about him, he showed a vision of angels who disclosed evidences of the fact that he had risen again. Thus, with the report of his resurrection already accomplished, going ahead of him, the Lord of hosts and the king of glory himself at length appeared and made clear with what great might he had overcome the death he had temporarily tasted. (Exposition on the Gospel of Mark 2.9)

Martin Luther: The Two Commands

For the angels come with two commands: the first is to the women, that they should not be frightened by their appearance, but they should rejoice that Christ is risen; the other command is that they should not keep the resurrection a secret, but they should quickly go forth and announce it to the disciples. (Martin Luther) - Martin Luther is a name familiar to most, and his writings and preaching were the fuel which powered the great engines of the Reformation. His translation of the Bible into German put the Word of God into the hands of the people, and his hymns put words of praise into their mouths.

Spurgeon: The Apostle’s Ardour

What, then, was the great object of the apostle’s ardour? It was “that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection.” (C.H. Spurgeon) - Ah, Charles Haddon Spurgeon! Man of Essex, “Prince of Preachers” and defender of the faith. Such was his prowess, and the depth of his theology, that aged only 19 he was called to be minister of the then famous New Park Street Chapel. Within years congregations could no longer fit in, so the much larger Metropolitan Tabernacle was built which would be filled with six thousand people on both a Sunday morning and evening.

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