Passage: Mark 16:1-8

Speaker: Mitch Kim

The Unfinished Story

            The gospel of Mark ends on a cliff hanger but fails to provide the next episode. While commissioning witnesses for the resurrection, those witnesses say “nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:8). The early church was so uncomfortable with the ending, they wrote another one (Mark 16:9–20). However the Easter story is meant to be an unfinished story because it beckons us into its story. Mark 16:1–8 invite us into a new day, a new commission, and an unfinished story.

            First we see here a new day (Mark 16:1–4). While darkness marks the cross (15:33), the resurrection is early, at sunrise (16:2). A new day is dawning. A new beginning is here. The women at the tomb were with Jesus at the cross and tomb, ministering to Jesus even in his death and not ashamed about or awkward with suffering. Even as they face impossible situations, wondering who would roll the stone away from the tomb, hope rises. They come to the tomb and find the the stone has been rolled back.  Similarly with the resurrection, hope rises. The sun rises on darkness and the stone before the tomb is rolled away.

            We also see a new commission (Mark 16:5–7). When they come to the tomb they find a young man in a white robe. Yet they are told that Jesus of Nazareth is risen (16:5–6). They explore and find that he is not in the tomb. These women are commissioned to go and tell his disciples and Peter about Jesus, risen from the dead. The disciples had failed Jesus at the cross, but Jesus does not reject them. He invites and commissions them. And he goes before them (16:7). This commission grows out of relationship.  Similarly the only power to fulfill God’s purpose for us is through relationship and intimacy with him. No matter our failures, Jesus not only offers a new beginning but a new commission for our lives.

            As a result of our new beginning and new commission, the story is an unfinished story (Mark 16:8). While these women were commissioned to tell the disciples, they fled and “said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (16:8). This un-climactic ending is surprising…until we notice how the entire book focuses on grace in the face of failure. This makes sense, since its writer is the famous John Mark who deserted Paul at Pamphylia, and it was written from the testimony of Peter, who failed Jesus three times. Yet this is appropriate because the gospel begins, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Mark 1:1). This gospel is not finished; its work in these women, in the disciples, to the ends of the earth, and in us is not yet done. We are instead invited into this unfinished story.

            So what? This Easter, may we know the power of the resurrection at work in us. May the power of Jesus Christ grant us a new beginning, no matter our past. May we know a new commission, no matter our weakness. And may we enter into this unfinished story, no matter our story line. Christ is risen!!

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