Mark 16: the empty tomb

Happy Easter to everyone, especially Daniel, ACermak and Rick Harris who have been faithful commentators on our march through Mark. Before beginning, I also want to put in another plug for the wonderful online Easter meditation that diocesan internet technologies specialist Peter Turner has created for us. Have a look.

I think it was about 20 years ago that I learned that the last chapter of Mark’s gospel as I had been reading it for moat of my life was actually about twice as long as the gospel received by Mark’s community. The original ending may have been lost. Or, it may simply have ended after verse eight, with frightened women fleeing the empty tomb. To me this seems in keeping with the abrupt, make-of-this-what-you-will quality of this gospel. Whatever the case, the verses that describe Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearances almost certainly weren’t in the original.

I don’t take that to mean there were no post-Resurrection appearances. But I do think that in some measure, one needs to take each gospel on its own terms, and this ending is especially intriguing because it asks quite simply: Given what you’ve just read, what do you make of an empty tomb?

If you had no evidence beyond what was presented in the previous 15 chapters, would that be enough to move you to faith, and if so, what kind of faith? What did Jesus just do? What did he mean?

For me the answer lies in the statement by the young man in the white robe (was he pre-figured by the young man in the loin cloth who appears and disappears in a single verse when the guards seize Jesus on Maundy Thursday?). He tells the women to tell the disciples to return to Galilee where they will meet the Risen Christ.

And so we return to the place that Jesus first found us wondering whether he will be there and in what form; wondering, too, what he will want from us, and how our lives will change, because, clearly, if he is there, something not merely life-changing, but world-changing has happened, and we must respond.

Mustn’t we?

So, did you find him? In what form? And how are you responding?

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