Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lent Day 40 - Mark 16

Easter and fear? The women go to the tomb, not in hopes of resurrection, but to complete the burial process properly. Women were not allowed to be witnesses in court. Yet women are there at Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection. Instead of finding the tomb as expected they encounter an angel who proclaims: "Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.   "But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.'"
Scholars continue to debate where the original ending to Mark's Gospel should be. Did Mark really want his Gospel to end on the note of fear (and in the Greek it ends with a preposition)? Was there a longer ending that we're missing? Scholars are agreed that the longer and shorter ending to the book is not original to Mark. Later scribes who knew the resurrection accounts from other Gospels felt compelled to tell us the rest of the story.
However, there are some arguments for this being the original ending to Mark (and it is all we have to go on really). Fear may not be theme most preached on this Easter morning, but fear is a logical response to the events of Easter morning. As we've all heard, there are two certainties to life - death and taxes. The frightful events of Easter morning lead the women to fear because if Jesus has in fact been resurrected, what in the world might that mean? When we feel like we are certain of something, when we feel like it is solid rock beneath our feet and that certainty, that foundation is ripped from under us, isn't fear then the natural response? Perhaps we've become too accustomed to the Good News of Easter. Perhaps fear is one of a number of proper Easter response s- God has raised Jesus from the tomb! Jesus has conquered! With God, all things are possible!
What do you make of Mark's use of women?
What emotions do you feel this morning?
Why does the Easter story give us such hope for today and for the future?
How might fear lead to a deeper understanding of the resurrection?
How does the notion of discipleship change by following a risen Savior?
If you had to explain to a friend why you believed in the resurrection, how would you respond? How would you respond if you had to explain why the resurrection is the source of Christian hope, what would you say?

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