Many of the earliest manuscripts of Mark’s gospel end at verse eight. It is an abrupt ending, one that leaves people hanging as they read it. It seems incomplete, unfinished. It seems in our reading of Mark, moving from Good Friday to Easter Sunday is like trying to move from one universe into another new, unimagined one. There are no compass bearings. There is no road map telling us how to get there.
The rule is, when your heart stops beating and you quit breathing, you die. We can understand this, but God’s raising of Jesus from the dead changes all of the rules. It changes the rules of the world, of life and death. Everything is changed. Suddenly we are redeemed from sin and death. All at once there is forgiveness and new life in God’s kingdom. We are no longer the same. Resurrection is a radicle abrupt change from death to life.
Because of Christ’s resurrection we cannot possibly remain the same. We cannot live in the same way, or keep the old priorities. Resurrection confronts us with our past history of hurt and failure, of our damage and the damage we have inflicted on others. Resurrection throws it all away, but how can we deal with it? It’s not natural. How can we find the courage and the will to leave the shadows of our former life behind, and move into the light of Christ? The ending of Mark’s gospel doesn’t give us a clear cut answer as the other three gospel accounts do. Mark’s ending is abrupt; it leaves us wanting more of the story, but the rest of the story is there. The clue lies not in the ending, but the beginning of the gospel.
In the first chapter, Marks initial words to the church are “The beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”. Reading the story through the lens of this opening verse, we are brought to the threshold of the empty tomb. Jesus is the one who was crucified, yet he lives. The resurrection is our opportunity to throw off the old worn out garments of worldly life that rob us of hope for life in the face of death. The gospel telling of Jesus’ resurrection means God’s people have a new beginning. We can leave the damage done by sin in the empty tomb of our old lives, leave them behind like the rolled up grave clothes that they are, and to step forward with the assurance of God’s mercy and grace. This is good news indeed.
Risen Lord, you are the way, the truth and the life. Amen.