“Terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid.”
It’s not exactly the “happily ever after” ending we want it to be, is it? But if you hark back to the first Sundays of this liturgical year, you will recall that the beginning of Mark takes us by surprise as well. He jumps right into the story declaring, “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ the son of God." There is no genealogy, no birth narrative, no laying out of plot.
In fact, there are two things that characterize Mark’s gospel more than any others. He uses the word “immediately” a lot; and Jesus is always telling people to keep quiet about what he has done for them and who he is.
The ending of his gospel, then, seems to be in keeping with the rest of it. Of course, the young man dressed in white does give the women a message for the disciples: “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.”
And it is that last phrase – just as he told you – that is the key to it all.
Jesus had already told them exactly what was going to happen as well as that, when it did, he would wait for them in Galilee. And how do we hear, how do we see what happened when the disciples found him there? Because that’s what we want, isn’t it, to be flies on the wall when the disciples see the risen Christ?
Well, we have to go back and begin reading the Gospel of Mark again. “Jesus came to Galilee,
proclaiming the good news of God.” Now that we have seen the crucifixion, read the ministry and teaching of Jesus again.
“What do we see when we read the Gospel of Mark again, this time with post-resurrection eyes,” asks theologian Tom Long? “We see Jesus healing and teaching and casting out demons,
but always being misunderstood, even by those closest to him. In other words, Mark is telling
us that the saving action of God in the world is always hidden, ambiguous, sealed off from the obvious explanation. We go back to Galilee, and the second time around every story in the Gospel of Mark is a post-resurrection appearance. What we see is a God who surprises us at every turn in the road, a God whose power is expressed finally in weakness.”
The Gospel of Mark begins with a bang and it ends with a whisper. But, oh my, how that whisper changed the world. And if I had to guess, I’d say that those women couldn’t stay quiet for long. Because the good news of Jesus Christ simply has to be told. We can no more keep it quiet than anyone in the Gospel managed to. Whether we shout it or whisper it, the good news demands to be told.
And when we’ve said our alleluias and passed the peace, then the Gospel demands one more thing. We have to go out into the world and proclaim the gospel in everything that we do.
We have to leave the comfort and safety of that upper room and head for Galilee. Because Jesus is there waiting for us and I’ll bet he’s even made lunch.
(thanks to Thomas Long's sermon "Dangling Gospel"