Dispatch One Hundred Twenty-Four

Posted: April 5, 2015 in Thirty-First Bundle
Tags: , , , ,

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.

There’s another thing about Mark’s version of the story. What later writers (Matthew, Luke, and John) would expand and elaborate into dramatic and even first-hand accounts is a simple discovery on the part of the women who came to finish the job of burial that early Sunday morning. No earthquake and descending angel, as in Matthew. No glorified body capable of eating a piece of broiled fish, as in Luke. No resurrected flesh still with the wounds of crucifixion that could be fingered and touched, as in John. In Mark’s Gospel, all we are left with is … absence. “He is not here.”

Once more we must ask, Why the brevity? Why such thin support from the supernatural beyond?  Why leave us with nothing to hold onto but a vacant tomb and the hysterical report of a few terrified women? If Mark is writing for the purpose of promoting the early Christian movement, then his choice of an ending amounted to bad advertising. Who wants to get behind that?

We get the sense that Mark is trying to draw our focus away from such surface sensations as angels, appearances, and palpable proofs of what can only be grasped, felt, and understood by way of an inner realization. Faith has never been about evidence, or the lack of it. The true disciple walks by faith, not by sight.

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