Scared of Truth that is Bigger than Us
Today's verse is the strange anti-climax of Mark's Gospel. Many scholars consider that this is the last verse Mark wrote personally as most of the early copies of his Gospel end here. If that is so, why does Mark leave us in suspense, instead of soothing our minds with a 'happy ending'? The scene is still around the tomb. The huge millstone used to seal the burial site, a few hours earlier the object of impenetrable authority, was discarded on the ground as an angel sat on it declaring God's authority over death (Matthew 28:20). The time is still just after dawn. The light shines into the cave to reveal no body is there. The tomb is empty, and the resurrection has just been announced, "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him." (Mark 16:6)
What an amazing ending to the ministry and crucifixion of Jesus! It is the happiest ending possible. But the women were not happy. They were trembling, bewildered and filled with fear. All they had to hang onto was the word of the angel recalling the words of Jesus. Yet fear still gripped them, and the inner surges of adrenaline drove them senseless from the tomb. But it should not have been like that! They should have responded in grateful amazement and been filled with joy. 'Why can't they see that this is the happy ending?', we ask as the pages turn.
Like every good novel (except Mark is definitely non-fiction!), this keeps the tension up to the end and beyond it. It is designed to make the readers ask themselves the key question, 'Who is this Jesus who chooses to die and then defeats death?'. The careful reader will have come to the conclusion which the women could not grasp - that Jesus is God the Son; He is the Saviour Messiah; the supreme authority on earth; He keeps His Word; He is alive and can be fully trusted by all who put their faith in Him as Saviour and Lord.
The same story comes just as fresh to us after 2000 years. The straightforward narrative of this Gospel should make us rethink who Jesus is. Not just a prophetic teacher and healer, but God in the flesh. So why do so many run away scared when they get close to the truth that He is alive today with the same Satan-crushing and death-defeating authority? Their hearts and minds are filled with narratives of human failure, and they leave no room for the Sovereign Lord to act gloriously in mercy and grace. They think that their circumstances are under their control and will be shaped by what they can achieve, rather than believing that the Lord is in command and He can achieve whatever He chooses. Today is another day to ask two questions, 'Who do I think Jesus is'’ and 'Will I trust this Jesus to keep His promises and act in mercy and grace towards me?' If you are still wavering, please ask the living Jesus to help you understand who He is and that He commands you to trust Him, without fear.
© Dr Paul Adams