Thoughts on the "Young Man" in Mark 16

My brother-in-law thinks that the young man in Mark 16 is not an angel, as is often assumed, but the same “rich young man” that went away sad, and whom Jesus looked at and loved, and the same “young man” who was stripped of everything in the Garden. Perhaps it is even Mark himself. Here is the paragraph from his sermon. He’s got me convinced.

That in the end he can’t just report the word of the angel, but he finds himself saying along with the angel, “he is risen”. In the end he finds that he cannot just be a reporter of the facts but he finds himself very much involved in the story of the resurrection. And we can understand that. For we too find ourselves very much involved in the story of the resurrection.

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About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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12 Responses to Thoughts on the "Young Man" in Mark 16

  1. christopher Gillespie says:

    Dr.Peter Scaer and much of our reading within our CTS course on Luke/Mark (now called Gospels II) made this same suggestion. Never in a dogmatic way but in a similar useful way.

    Perhaps it is a simple type of signature, placing himself within the narrative in those locations. Or perhaps it carries the weight of Mark’s transformation from shame to one of proclamation.

  2. Carl Vehse says:

    It is unwise for a Lutheran pastor in their sermons to present novel interpretations of Scripture that are significantly different from historical Lutheran teachings. The other Gospels indicate the presence of angels; there is no indication in Scripture that the reference is to the “rich young man”, the other “young man” in the garden, or Mark.

    Certainly pastors and other theologians may speculate in academic and informal discussions, articles, and other venues, where appropriate flexibility between exegesis and eisegesis may be tolerated. But a pastor’s responsibility to his congregation and his call is to administer Word and sacraments (see also Ephesians 4:11-14). Scriptural speculations do not belong in the pulpit.

  3. Father Hollywood says:

    Rick:

    Of course, Luther speculated from the pulpit quite a bit – not that I recommend it, or tend to preach that way myself – but I don’t know how dogmatic we have to be about it.

    I have heard many a Lutheran sermon include such non-biblical traditions as the martyrdom of St. Paul, and speculations as to the identity of Melchizedek, St Michael, and the Angel of the Lord. I’m just not going to get bent out of shape over such things – so long as there isn’t a dogmatic assertion that the Scriptures say something that they don’t.

    Anyway, I don’t think Pr. Beisel’s post is a sermon, so your point is kind of out of order. Furthermore, I find your acerbic tone to be a bit overdone. Pr. Beisel is a faithful confessional Lutheran preacher of the Gospel, and one heck of a theologian. I really don’t understand your almost hostile, condescending admonition.

    Beisel has spent many years preparing for the ministry – and if an M.Div. weren’t enough, he has an S.T.M. I know the man, have discussed theology with him face to face, and have heard him preach. He serves two conservative parishes. He doesn’t need to be scolded as to what his pastoral responsibilities are.

  4. Pastor Beisel says:

    In all fairness, the paragraph in the post was from a sermon. And as I told my brother-in-law, who is also a good theologian, I don’t think it is a “novel interpretation” at all. It is what the text says: “A young man.” It is just good, historico-grammatical exegesis, the kind that Luther liked. Certainly, such an interpretation does not negate the other accounts. There were angels, and they did announce the resurrection, according to Matthew. But this is Mark’s account (or perhaps, Peter’s). This is the way he told it. I have the same beef with the supposedly non-sacramental John 6 crowd. We are adamament about reading the Verba literally. “This is…” means “is” and not represents. But suddenly we get to John 6 and become allegorists. “By eating his flesh and drinking his blood, he does not really mean eating and drinking it sacramentally.”

  5. Bro-in-law says:

    Let’s say Mark wrote his gospel first, which is not a novel idea. Then there are no other gospel’s to which we can compare Mark and to say that the the young man was an angel. If Mark is the only gospel around it has to be a young man. After all why is the young man who lost his garment not an angel and the one at the tomb for sure an angel(if we are not comparing?)

    I am not saying that it was a young man but a possible double entendre. Mark finds himself as part of the resurrection story, not a dispassionate historian. He did not write so that we have these interesting facts, but wrote the facts so that we may believe. He wrote as whose life had been forgiven in the cross and whose body would come again from the grave. So he, being rather involved found himself saying with the angel, “He is risen”.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Yea, after all…since we can change the meaning of “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Why can’t we change the meaning of other parts of the Scripture, especially when WE LIKE IT. Personally, I like the novel interpretation that Luther is one of the angels prophesied of in Revelation, because I like Luther. I also don’t think John 6 is sacramental, because…well…I don’t really like the sacraments- too mystical for me.

    Todd

  7. Father Hollywood says:

    Welcome to the Missouri Synod: lots of chiefs and not enough Indians. Paul, you keep preaching the Gospel to your flock – since *you* have the divine call to do it. Jesus too caught a lot of you-know-what from armchair preachers who were too big for their vocation-britches.

    If Pr. Beisel is preaching false doctrine, pray for him and confront him with his sin. If he won’t repent, accuse him – whatever the heck our synodically approved procedure is these days. Repudiate him as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Is that what Pr. Beisel is? Anyone care to call him a wolf?

    If Beisel is *not* preaching false doctrine, pray for him and thank God we have faithful evangelical pastors serving our congregations.

    I’m going to do the latter, if that’s all right with y’all.

  8. Carl Vehse says:

    To associate the young man, sitting in a white robe, who was inside the tomb before daybreak Easter morning (when the women arrived), with the rich man who went away sad, rather than give up his fortune (Mark 10:17:27) and with the linen-clothed man who fled naked from the garden in the midnight hours the night Jesus was betrayed (Mark 14:51), and who might have been Mark himself, is speculative, no matter how much historico-grammatical exegesis is used.

    Now such speculation might make a nice discussion on a blogsite, but preaching in a sermon, “That in the end he [Mark, the rich man, the naked man] can’t just report the word of the angel, but he finds himself saying along with the angel, ‘he is risen’. In the end he finds that he cannot just be a reporter of the facts but he finds himself very much involved in the story of the resurrection [as the young man sitting at daybreak in the tomb].”, really goes beyond what the Scripture verse says. And it can easily leave some listeners confused as to what part of the resurrection account is true and what is speculative.

    Could Mark have been the rich man AND the man in the garden AND the man sitting inside the tomb before the women came? Possibly, and one can extract tidbits here and there in Scripture that would mesh with (but not prove) one or another of those possibilities. However the Easter revelation is not one of speculation, but of the Truth of our risen Lord, and the glorious confirmation of atonement which Christ obtained for us.

    This is the point I am making on the specific quote from Rev. Beisel’s brother-in-law’s sermon. It is not about the rest of his brother-in-law’s sermon or his ministry or about Rev. Beisel, or doctrine, or about John 6, or chiefs and Indians.

  9. Pastor Beisel says:

    Carl,

    That is a much more balanced statement I think. You are entitled to your opinion and that is part of the fun of these blogs is that we are able to voice our opinions freely. For a layman you definitely know a lot, and I respect that. You have obviously taken the time to study and become familiar with the Scriptures, the Confessions, and the rest of Lutheran lore. I have, from time to time, thrown into the sermon things that go beyond what the text says. But part of that is just the art of homiletics I think. There is a distinction, though to be made. It is one thing to speculate about this or that person and who it was (i.e. the young man in the tomb), and it is quite another to use speculation when establishing doctrine. I maintain that to say the young man was not an angel is not speculation, in fact, but just literal reading of the text.

  10. Lawrence says:

    It’s an interesting theory. But I think we’re trying to read just a little too much between the lines.

    Here’s what I read into this:

    A. The rich man who went away sad?

    If not a specific person, then an allegory for mankind. Including Mark, me, all of you. However, Mark’s context indicates it was a real person that he witnessed, rather than a parrable told by Jesus.

    B. The linen-clothed man who fled naked from the garden in the midnight hours the night Jesus was betrayed?

    Jesus had many followers from time to time. It is quite likely that Jesus and the 12 Disciples traveled with a small entourage of curious lookie-loos from time to time. (One instance included over 5000 people, whom Jesus preaches to and then feeds.)

    As he tried to escape, a guard/soldier would grasp at whatever was handy, such as clothes. If the clothes pulled off, the man would probably continue to run away rather than let the guards catch up.

    I have no idea why Mark includes this tidbit of information about a naked man.

    C. The young man inside the tomb before daybreak Easter morning?

    Mark’s account of this appears to be second hand.

    He could have appeared as a young man to the women, while actually being an Angel. I tend to believe this instance is an Angel. The context of the discussion between the women and the man is VERY similar to other Biblical accounts of Angels providing critical pieces of information at critical moments.

    thx,
    – L.

  11. Pastor Beisel says:

    Lawrence,

    One reason Mark might include these stories, all of which use this phrase “young man,” is that it could be his “signature,” if you will. In other words, it is his way of including his own transformation from unbelief to faith.

  12. Lawrence says:

    Pr. Beisel,

    I can indeed see how you arrive at this description.

    I do believe these instances are correctly related by Mark, and do not represent the same young man.

    If this is how Mark articulates his personal transformation, by personally relating to these situations, then these same situations could easily apply to you and I also.

    Having said that, I’ve basically reiterated what Christopher Gillespie said above. And what you just said…

    Hmmm…

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