The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
We noticed earlier that the closing scene of Mark’s Gospel brings us back to the beginning: the young man in white instructs the women to tell the disciples that he is going ahead of them to Galilee, just as he told them. Galilee is where it all began, where Jesus called them in the first place and began his ministry. And now he will meet his followers back there.
It’s as if the gospel has come full circle, as if Mark is inviting us to return to the beginning and read his whole story again, this time from the vantage point of faith, of having heard and believed the young man’s message.
Except that as far as beginnings go, this one doesn’t seem too promising, or at least not very exciting. Lacking a verb, it’s not even a full sentence, more of a phrase. In fact, some have wondered if these first few words are more of a title than an opening sentence.
But having been surprised by Mark’s ending, I’m inclined to be more careful before dismissing Mark’s beginning. And so I wonder if we don’t often misread Mark’s intent in those first few words.
When Mark says, “The beginning of the good news,” you see, I always take it to mean that this verse, 1:1, is the beginning of Mark’s account. But since Mark closes his Gospel in an open-ended way that invites us to take up where the women left off and share the news of Jesus’ resurrection, I’m inclined to wonder if maybe, just maybe, Mark means that his whole story is just the beginning of the good news.
The story of what God is accomplishing through Jesus, you see, is too big to be contained in sixteen chapters, or even in four gospels, or even the entire New Testament or whole Bible. That story continues right up to our own time. Mark begins the story, that is, but we get to continue it.
And I think it’s not just Mark that thinks this way, either. In fact, I suspect the whole Bible is set up to invite us to imagine that its story isn’t over. The Bible, after all, begins at the very beginning with the creation story in Genesis and ends at the very end with the story of the new creation in Revelation. Which means, when you think about it, that we all live somewhere between the Acts of the Apostles and Revelation.
This story isn’t over. And it didn’t just happen a long time ago. This story is our story, and we’re invited to take up our part and play our role in the ongoing efforts of God to save, love, and bless the whole world.
This is just the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Pretty cool!
Prayer: Dear God, help us to see ourselves as caught up in your story, that we might both know your love and share it. In Jesus’ name. Amen.