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.
So let’s assume this is really where Mark wanted to end his account. The obvious question is why? Well, consider: the failure of these women is nothing new in Mark’s story. In fact, this disappointing ending actually fits into a two-part pattern that permeates the whole of Mark’s account.
The first part goes like this: the people who should know what’s going on, like the disciples, don’t. Jesus predicts his passion three different times and yet they still don’t understand, are surprised by what happens, and don’t believe what he said. Again and again, the disciples disappoint, and so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that these women who, let’s remember, had the courage to stay with Jesus to the end and then ventured to his tomb to tend him, nevertheless fail like the other disciples.
The second part of the pattern goes like this: the people who do realize who Jesus is can’t be trusted to tell. Take, for instance, the demon who possesses a young man at Garazene. He recognizes Jesus, asking, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” (Mark 5:7). The demon knows who Jesus is, but can you count on a demon for a testimony?! And then there’s the Roman centurion, who immediately after watching Jesus dies states, “Truly, this man was God’s son” (Mark 15:39). But can you count on a Roman centurion for a testimony?
So there we are. All the people who should know, don’t. And those who do, can’t be counted on. So it appears we’re in a bind. Except…except there’s one other person who has seen and heard everything Jesus has said and done. One other who heard Jesus’ predictions and then watched as they came true. One other who listened to the amazing news at the empty tomb and heard the order to go and tell. Do you know who what other person is? It’s you. And me. And all the readers of Mark’s gospel, including all those to whom we will be preaching this Sunday.
Mark writes this open-ended gospel that threatens to end in failure, you see, precisely to place the burden of responsibility for telling the good news squarely on our shoulders. Mark isn’t terrible at endings, it turns out, he’s brilliant, and by ending his account in this way, he invites us into the story, to pick up where these women left off and, indeed, go and tell that Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, has been raised, and is going ahead to meet us, just as he promised.
Not a bad ending after all!
Prayer: Dear God, make us bold to share the news that Jesus was raised from the dead and that this changes everything. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Post Image: The White House by Jose Clemente Orozco