MARK’S GOSPEL doesn’t describe the earthquake, but the women feel shaken when they see the effects of it: “The stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.” It’s probably an understatement for Mark to describe them as “alarmed.” If that wasn’t enough to scare the living daylights out of them, they see an angel. When angels appear in scripture, they always begin by telling the people not to be afraid.
Then the angel announces the earthshaking good news, “He has been raised; he is not here.” He commissions these women to become the first witnesses to the Resurrection. And Mark notes, “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” (Mark 16:8).
It’s a shabby way to end the Gospel. The other Gospel writers tell wonderful stories of the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ, but Mark closes with the distrubing picture of shell-shocked women running from the tomb in fear. It’s even more awkward in Greek, where the sentence ends with a conjunction that should connect the previous action with what comes next. But nothing comes next. We’re left with this dangling nonending of the story.
– James A. Harnish
From page 109 of Easter Earthquake: How Resurrection Shakes Our World by James A. Harnish. Copyright © 2017 by James A. Harnish. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.
Why do you think Mark’s Gospel ends abruptly? Share your thoughts.
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:5, NRSV
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This week we remember: Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 4).
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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