They Told No One

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1 Kings 16:23-34Phil. 1:12-30Mark 16:1-8(9-20)

He is risen!

Today is the remarkable ending of the Gospel of Mark.  It is my favorite ending of any book in the Bible.  I love Mark, and here it is today in all its splendor.

All along in Mark we have had Jesus’ identity enshrouded in mystery.  No one seems to get it.  Those who do are urged to secrecy: “Shhh, don’t tell anyone who I am.”  The demons are silenced.  The crowd is kept in the dark.  Even the disciples, who have some inkling of Jesus’ identity, either don’t get it, or at the cross, scatter and tell no one.  Where are his 12 male disciples?  Gone.

It is the women who are entrusted with the secret.

Three women show up at the tomb.  They find the empty tomb, and are alarmed to encounter a young man dressed in a white robe who says, “He has been raised; he is not here.”   They run from the tomb, “for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

And that’s it!  The gospel ends there.  Naturally, over the centuries, monks copying the text had decided that was a disaster of an ending.  Not wanting to leave everyone hanging; being uncomfortable with tears, they decided to make up new endings.

Many of you may have Shorter Endings or Longer Endings to Mark’s Gospel in your Bible.  I wish the editors of the text would put them in footnotes on different pages, or not put them at all.  It is clear from textual criticism and study of the manuscripts themselves that they do not belong.  Do yourself a favor and don’t even read them and ruin the ending of a good book!

It ends with “and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”  What a great ending!   What irony!  I mean, certainly they told someone eventually!  Right?  For here is the story before us.

It is a cliff hanger.

It is supposed to be.

Mark wants us to enter the story.  He wants us to claim it for ourselves and write our own ending.  It is like one of those “Choose Your Own Adventure Books” with the last line reading, “Turn to the page in your Journal!”

I also find it interesting that the Gospel of Mark has been filled with men.  Men, men, men.  Now the essential knowledge of Jesus’ power has been encountered in its fullness.  In this new world order, this post-resurrection world, it is women who are entrusted with the good news of the gospel.  It is no mistake.  Mark wants to let everyone know how fully Jesus was breaking down the walls of culture.

And much of what we know of early Christianity, a religion that was underground and met in peoples’ homes, is that it was dominated by women leaders.

Today, the good news is revealed – in all its splendor – to those in the story we might least expect – and who have remarkable success.

The Gospel has power.  And it is upon us.

-Matt

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