Thursday, August 23rd. Mark 16:1-8

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and 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. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.  Mark 16:1-8


Mark is widely considered the first of the four gospels to be written.  When you read these final verses you can see why later writers felt the need to “complete” Mark’s account.


And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”


After all they had lived, and all we have read, how could this story end with three women gripped by terror and amazement, who say nothing to anyone about discovering a tomb which, instead of the body that is supposed to be there, holds only a strange young man dressed in white who tells them that Jesus has been raised from the dead and will be waiting for the gang back in Galilee?


Mark says he is a “young man dressed in a white robe.”  We read that and inside we scream, “He is an ANGEL.  Mark, call him an angel!”  We want to complete the story for Mark.  We want to make it better.


We want to see Jesus here.  We want others to see Jesus.  We couldn’t possibly carry on the message of Jesus if the only eye-witnesses are three women.  Why not?  Jesus himself has told us, three separate times, that death would not be able to hold him.  Jesus has told us, several times, that the disciples would carry on with his work.  But that doesn’t seem good enough for us.  And three women?  Base our faith on the witness of three women?  Are you kidding me?  The story can’t end here.  We want to make it better.


So, as we’ll see tomorrow, other writers try to improve Mark’s ending.  Matthew improves on Mark.  Luke improves on Mark.  And John writes as if he has never seen a copy of the others.


But I’m thinking that Mark has ended his story exactly as he intended to end it. “And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”  He knows that ending will be unsettling.


What he hopes is that we might end the story differently.  That, afraid or not, we DO tell someone.  That, whether we were there or not, we trust that Jesus was in fact waiting for the gang back in Galilee.  And that Jesus will ever be traveling ahead of us, that there be no place we might go where Jesus isn’t already there.


For the temple curtain has been torn in two, God is on the loose, and, like a bloody Roman soldier, we have come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.


Let us pray:  Dear Lord, you swallowed up death to give us life.  You have taken upon yourself the weight of human sin, rebelliousness, and brokenness, that we might know forgiveness, acceptance, and new found purpose.  You call us to follow and we answer that call.  You invite us to trust and we surrender to your love. By the power of your Spirit, use us in writing your story, one not ended until time is brought to its fullness in you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


One Response to “Thursday, August 23rd. Mark 16:1-8”

  1. Gayle Haskell Says:

    Perhaps the women thought no one would believe them. Mark does tell us they were amazed. Women did not have much credibility in those days, so perhaps they just talked among themselves. They knew the truth and others would find out soon enough. They were not going to be the ones to tell and then be disbelieved. Many women in the Middle East today stay physically covered up. Would they burst into a meeting of males and shout the news? We need to keep it in context. These women knew the others would find out. Had not “the man in white” said Jesus was going ahead to Galilee and they would see him there? Although they believed, perhaps they felt it was not their place to “go tell”. It is our place. Are we doing enough?

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