If you don’t get it,
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, 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. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed.
And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”
And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. Mark 16:1-8
What the heck just happened!?!? What do you mean that the ladies fled in fear and said nothing to anyone? What was Mark trying to say?
For the last couple of centuries, there have been debates about the true ending of Mark’s Gospel. These debates prompted what you see in “modern” Bible translations today, a space Between Mark 16:1-8 and 16:9-20 that says: “The earliest manuscripts and some ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.” This so-called long-ending appeared sometime in the second century, but nobody can be sure. It is clear is that what was written from verse 9 and beyond isn’t quite a match for the corpus of this Gospel. There is a school (and I am in that camp) that believes Mark 16:1-8 was the original ending. What appears to have happened is some in the church of the late first or early second century struggled with Mark’s original finish, so they added a mishmash of resurrection variants from Matthew, Luke, John, and Acts). NOTE: Yes, there is a snake thing in Acts 28.
Let me make my case for why Mark ends in verse 8. I find Mark’s Gospel beautifully written with incredible inspiration and technique, and it lays throughout the claim that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Mark 1:1). Mark even has a Centurion declare it near the end (15:39). Throughout this devotional writing, I have repeatedly pointed out the harshness toward the disciples for not getting this message, and thus my nickname for them; “Knuckleheads.” I also pointed out that Peter is likely a primary source for Mark’s writing, and nobody can be harder on Peter than the Great Fisherman himself. By the end, all of Jesus’ disciples had betrayed, denied, ran away naked, or disappeared. The only exception is the women at the cross, who were also witnesses to where the corpse was placed. Now it’s the women’s turn to flee to make the desertion complete!
Eventually, somebody told the disciples; otherwise, we would not be here reading this. But we also have to consider that the defining eye and heart-opening experiences are the actual resurrection appearances of Jesus himself and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. On these, I think we can all agree. But the truly inspired brilliance of Mark’s original ending is this; if you read all the way through Mark and still don’t understand who Jesus is and your place as a knucklehead, keep reading! Or as the title says, “If you don’t get it, start over!“