Dispatch One Hundred Twenty-Three

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.

It is difficult for modern readers to believe that the original manuscript of Mark’s Gospel ended with the women’s fleeing the tomb in terror. That’s hardly a mood you would want to leave your audience with – or is it?

It’s possible that the so-called appearance narratives where Jesus is seen by the women (or Mary Magdalene), his disciples (except for Judas), and hundreds of others (according to the tradition) came later, as the experience symbolized in the resurrection was further explored and understood. If they were around at the time Mark was writing his Gospel, and assuming he knew about them, then the question arises as to why he chose to leave these appearances out of his story.

The answer may lie in the effect that Mark had been trying to cultivate throughout his biography of Jesus. A primary theme in Mark’s story centers on the cost of discipleship, on whether the reader is ready to accept the call to follow, all the way to the cross. Great courage is required, for this path of Jesus is guaranteed to be filled with dangers, sacrifices, and opposition from every side.

As Mark is writing, there are no supernatural sightings of Jesus to either embolden the believer or convince the skeptic. The resurrection made discipleship no easier than it had been when Jesus first issued the challenge to follow.

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