The end is the beginning.
That’s one way to speak of the Gospel according to Mark. As he nears the end of his Gospel, Mark tells of women, who upon entering the tomb of Jesus “saw a young man dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” (Mark 16:4-8)
And that’s it. That’s all Mark wrote. (In most Bibles, you will find some additional verses. But these were added later by writers who felt uncomfortable with Mark’s abrupt ending.)
Mark knew, of course, that the women eventually told what they had seen and heard. If they hadn’t, there would have been no reason to write his gospel. So why leave the story open-ended?
While we can’t be certain of Mark’s motives, I think he is saying something like this: “The end of the story is really the beginning. To be part of Jesus’ life, you need to immerse yourself in it again and again. So return to the opening of my gospel—where Jesus appears in Galilee—and hear it again.”
Throughout the days of Lent, we’ll follow Mark’s advice, and take a close look at the opening verses of his Gospel.
Gracious God, thank you for your servant Mark, whose puzzling ending invites us to encounter you anew. As we look at his words, and think about his message, give us ever-growing desire to be drawn deeply into you. Surprise us with your Spirit, enlighten us with your Word, and keep us always in your Love. Amen.