March 9: endings (Deuteronomy 10-12; Mark 16)

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb.  They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. (Mark 16:8)And with these words, Mark’s gospel concludes. It was probably not how it originally ended. Somehow the ending got lost. That any of the Bible survived the centuries is nothing short of miraculous. In time, two different endings were added to this chapter (some translations of the Bible only include one of the endings). Neither ending resembles the style of writing that we have come to know as Mark.

So, I’m reflecting on verse 8, realizing that if I had been there on the day of crucifixion and again on the third day when the tomb was empty I, too, would have been “trembling and bewildered”. What exactly happened on that Easter morning and how it happened is hard to explain. It would take a leap of faith – and it still does. We know the women eventually told others, otherwise how would I know what I know? Mark’s gospel gives us a description of disciples who did not understand and often failed to listen while Jesus was with them. It reminds me of the times when my own children were preschoolers and I thought they were not paying attention until at night as I tucked them into bed, I would get a question about something I had said, reminding me that they were, in fact, paying attention even when I wished they were not!

The disciples would go on to accomplish great things in the name of Christ (and very likely what is written in verses 9-20) – and so will we. If we have been listening at a level deeper than the words themselves – if we will allow the message of scripture to live within us, faith will flow from our hearts in times of need – whether that need is our own or our neighbor’s need.

The women went out and fled from the tomb. And I think that when they stopped running, they were overwhelmed with a deep sense of Christ, not dead but alive and living with them in a way that would never end. I know that, because that’s what I’ve experienced. Christ living in me.

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