Epilogue: The Story Continues. 16.1-8
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When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices to go and anoint Jesus. Very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had just come up, they were going to the tomb. They kept saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” Then they looked up and saw that the stone had been rolled away. (For it was a very large stone.)
As they went into the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were utterly astonished.
But he said to them, “Stop being astonished! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised. He is not here. Look at the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples, especially Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”
So they left the tomb and ran away, for shock and astonishment had overwhelmed them. They didn’t say a thing to anyone, because they were afraid.
When I was a kid, endings were always a sad time. I have a vivid remembrance of my oldest brother, Kendall, leaving home to move to the West coast. He was leaving at night. He came to my room to say good-bye. My eyes were already wet from tears as he hugged me and told me that he loved me. I thought my heart was going to break. Things just weren’t going to be the same not seeing him on a daily basis. And the reality was that things did change.
This is the ending of Mark’s Story of Jesus and you can feel the tension of oldness giving way to something new. He doesn’t spend a lot of time sharing about the Resurrection of Jesus. He has just one quick story to tell. The end of his story was the beginning of the story of the disciples of Jesus.
The Resurrection of Jesus (16.1-8)
Just after sunrise on Sunday, the women came to anoint the body of Jesus wondering who might roll back the stone that sealed the tomb. As they came to the tomb, they discovered that the stone had been rolled away and there were angels inside the tomb where the body of Jesus had been laid. The angels told the women that he was not there but that he had risen. They were given instruction of where to go to see the risen Lord, but because of their fear, they said nothing. Unknowingly, they had witnessed the next to final event in the Christ-Event. Only the ascension remained and the mission of Jesus to bring the rule into this present evil age would be complete. However, Mark does not tell us that part of the story. His gospel ends at Mark 16.8 as quickly as it had begun at Mark 1.1. The story arch was complete.
Text: The Longer Ending of Mark (16.9-20).
[[After Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had driven out seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who now were grieving and crying. When they heard that he was alive and that he had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.
After this, he appeared in a different form to two disciples as they were walking into the country.They went back and told the others, who didn’t believe them either.
Finally, he appeared to the eleven disciples while they were eating. He rebuked them for their unbelief and stubbornness because they had not believed those who had seen him after he had risen. Then he said to them, “As you go into all the world, proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who doesn’t believe will be condemned.
“These are the signs that will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands; even if they drink any deadly poison it will not hurt them; and they will place their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
So the Lord Jesus, after talking with them, was taken up to heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.The disciples went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord kept working with them and confirming the message by the signs that accompanied it.]]
For those of you who love to read civil debates, you might consider Peter Gurry’s blog article: “Is The Longer Ending of Mark Inspired?” especially the conversation that appears in the Comment section at the end of the article. Really, folks can have a difference of opinion and have a civil conversation about their differences.
Let me conclude this last section of Mark’s Story of Jesus with a personal story. While attending Southern California College (now Vanguard University) in Costa Mesa, CA, one of my professors made a reasonable suggestion, especially about the phrase “they will speak in new tongues.” He suggested that most likely this ending was written by a second-century writer and if so, we have indisputable evidence that the church continued to experience the kingdom ministry of Jesus by casting out demons and speaking in tongues even if the other two parts of the list have no support from the finalized canon of Scripture.
Living into the Storyline
- What has been your overall response to the Gospel of Mark?
- What one main lesson did you learn that you can apply to the life of your community of faith and to your own life?
Easy to Understand
Tom Wright. Mark for Everyone (New Testament for Everyone [Paperback]
Winn Griffin. Gracelets: Being Conduits of the Extravagant Acts of God’s Grace [Paperback]
Ben Witherington III. The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary.
William L. Lane. The Gospel according to Mark: The English Text With Introduction, Exposition, and Notes (The New International Commentary on the New Testament)