Mark 16:1-8 – The Empty Tomb

empty tomb with stone rolled away

Read Mark 16:1-8

When is an ending not the end? When death ends in a victorious resurrection! The tomb was empty! Jesus is alive!

You also noticed that Mark’s gospel abruptly ends (in most ancient manuscripts) with verse 8. The sentences that follow here are thought to have been added to help bring a better closure to this climatic ending.

Don’t let these literary questions overshadow the magnificent news. Jesus had risen from the dead! I love that it was the women who were coming to show their respect and offer their service who heard first. The young man, presumably an angel, gave them such great news. “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!”

The women went from scurrying about to get the spices they needed, to worrying about how they were even going to get inside the tomb with the big stone in place. Now they encountered a stranger with a message from God. Were they seeing things? Had they heard this man correctly?

What could it mean, Jesus was risen from the dead? The women had to be reeling from this experience. Can you imagine? Talk about a change of plans! There was no longer a body to anoint! They were given a new mission. “Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”

Mark’s text tells us the women fled. Speechless. Frightened. How do you think you would feel? To leave the gospel there at verse 8 seems like the cliffhangers of all cliffhangers. What did the women end up doing? Did they find the disciples? Did they even know where to look? Would they ever see Jesus again? I can understand why this shorter, alternate ending was offered to wrap things up. Perhaps the actual ending of Mark’s gospel was lost, or he didn’t get a chance to finish it for some reason? Our next reflection will look at a second, longer ending that has been added.

For now, reflect on the resurrection. The tomb was empty. Jesus did exactly as he had said. He told his followers he would be raised back to life in three days. Jesus wasn’t kidding. Jesus’ words are to be trusted.

Whether we can see Jesus or not, rejoice! Jesus is alive. The tomb is empty! How do you respond to that good news?

colorful animation of prayer hands and hearts and flowers

Let’s pray. Lord, the miracle of your resurrection amazes me over and over again. The story never gets old. Your power and majesty cannot compare to anything. Thank you that I can rely on your word to be the truth I can trust. Help me to stand strong in the face of the contrary messages of this world. Help me to boldly deflect the evil one’s schemes. You have won the victory! Hallelujah. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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