Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Year 8, Day 163: Mark 16

Theological Commentary: Click Here

I love the history of this chapter.  The oldest manuscripts stop after verse 8.  Later manuscripts add one, two, or three of the alternate endings found in verse 9 and following.  However, all of the endings still fit the tone of Mark’s Gospel and the points that he is trying to get across.

Take the Gospel of Mark as originally written.  That stops after verse 8.  What is it that we hear?  Jesus is raised; He’s not in the tomb.  The women flee, afraid and uncertain of what is happening.  This fits brilliantly with what Mark has been saying all along about the human influence in God’s work.  The women don’t get it and run because they don’t know what to do!  Human beings are flawed.  Yet, God still invites us into the story.  He knows the women aren’t going to understand at first.  He knows that fear s going to be their primary response.  He still chooses them to be the first people to proclaim the resurrection.

Take the next two alternate endings.  Jesus appears to Mary to encourage her.  Jesus also appears to a pair of disciples to encourage them.  However, when these disciples return to the rest of the disciples they aren’t believed.  Again, this matches the tone of Mark.  A small group of people do pick up on what God is doing, but they are quickly rejected by others.  They aren’t rejected permanently, mind you, just temporarily.  This is what Jesus has had to do all ministry long!  Jesus is always fighting against the rejection of human beings who are quick to reject what they don’t understand and slow to gain momentum out of our safe little lives.  The first people to try and proclaim the resurrection struggle with the same issues that Jesus did.

Then, we take the last ending.  The greater population of Jesus’ disciples do get it.  Jesus appears to more and more people and the story spreads.  The Gospel takes root.  God wins in the end.  God’s will is accomplished through human beings.  God takes a group of flawed human beings and works through them to bring the message of our salvation and relationship with Him throughout the known world.

Jesus died.  He is raised.  God triumphs over sin.  He wants each of us, flaws and all, to be a part of that story.