Mark 16 is a short account of the Resurrection of Jesus in which the women who had gone to the tomb to anoint his body on the third day, ( remember that they had been prevented from doing this because of the Sabbath) run away in fear. In fact the gospel ends on the preposition “for” –for they were afraid.
So, was the ending lost or was that how it was meant to end? If Mark’s was the first gospel as scholars tell us and is posited to have been written about AD 70, then for a good number of years this would have been the only major account of the resurrection of Jesus in circulation. You will notice that a section has been added to the end of Mark to harmonise with the other Gospel stories. You will notice that the language is different and that it has an authoritarian ring to it.
On Easter day, I listened to a wonderful sermon on Mark’s account of the resurrection by Michael Rudzena, a pastor of Good Shepherd Church New York, in Manhattan. His exposition really made me look at Mark’s account with new eyes. Perhaps Mark really intended to end his Gospel account as it is, and that what he gives us in his account is enough.
Michael’s sermon inspired me to create the Meditation that follows. Here is the text to remind you of the resurrection story:
Mark 16: 1-8 NIV-UK
16 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”’
8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
Meditation on Mark 16
Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’
The disciples and the women were called to life by Jesus, abundant life. The Journey started in Galilee by the lakeside. He called the poor and lowly people the salt of the earth, the light of the world. What a journey it had been with him beside them, teaching them! What experiences! What skills they had leant and what confidence in their own humanity! Now only to end in despair and death! So final! He is gone from them.
Remember your awareness of your own calling to life. Whether it came sharply or a gradual evolution. Now there is a wall of death – the end, a deep experience of loss and loneliness.
the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.
This is the surprise, the first one, that even through suffering and death, the stone, which froze our hearts- was rolled away, to reveal an opening to a new energy in us and in the world.
On your journey do you remember when you thought that all was lost? Then suddenly one day there was within you a surprising opening up, a window, a door, a new energy, a new path?
they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side,
And did you see a young man or woman in a white robe. He may have been one of your friends who spoke truth to you – a purity of truth that struck the cords of your inner being and made you realize that she was on the right side of life, and the kind of life you were meant to live from that moment on.
‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen!
You were looking to stay in the suffering and the pain of loss, because all seemed over. All hope gone and life sapped of all it meaning – love lost as though it could die for ever.
But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”’
But that is not the end of the cycle of life, the spiral that began with your calling to life, adventure, love, joy, suffering, woundedness, and just when you come to a stone wall, sometimes you have to wait – it seems so long. Then one day you hear the voice of invitation coming through you so clearly I am going ahead of you – I am ahead of you to meet you on the road –
Ah there is always a rising up from my trepidation, a new beginning for the new adventure, a new mission of life, but with new eyes and new energy with the Beloved beside me. Amen
I Love the Casualness of the people in this painting by Giovanni Bellini’s Resurrection of Christ 1475-79, oil on panel transferred to canvas, 58 14 x 50 in, Staatliche Museen, Berlin, Germany