RESPONSE - Why The Ending To Mark's Gospel Is More Beautiful Than You Think

A person reading through the Bible sat at a table.

The ending to Mark’s Gospel is one of the most curious parts of the New Testament. 

It is like missing the last chapter of a good novel you are reading, or not being able to complete that puzzle you’ve been working on for the last month. 

It leaves something to be desired.

The women arrive at the tomb only to find it empty. An angel tells them Jesus has risen, and tasks them with going and telling what has happened, instead they run away and the story ends.

It looks like early readers of the gospel felt the same way about it’s ending.

If you look in your bibles you will see two additional endings attached after the original ending of Mark’s Gospel: the shorter ending, and the longer ending.

Unhappy with the ending the early churches added in these two additional endings.

The official ending of Mark’s Gospel ends on verse 8 of chapter 16.

New Testament Scholars have come up with various solutions as to why the gospel ends this way, with one of the main explanations being that whoever was handling the original manuscript lost the last few pages – perhaps in a hurried flight from the house.

However I am particularly drawn to the explanation of New Testament scholar Paula Gooder

Response to Jesus

Within Mark’s Gospel we see three main groups who respond to Jesus in different ways, these are:
Disciples – constantly miss the point and don’t understand.
Crowd – constantly amazed by Jesus but don't really do anything about it.
Religious Leaders – respond negatively to Jesus.

Each of these reactions falls short of what Jesus wanted.

Back to the ending

The most fascinating thing about the ending to Mark’s Gospel is that it ends with a word that no document we have in existence ended with - the word γαρ (gar) meaning 'for'. 

Ending a sentence with this word is the equivalent in English of ending a sentence with the word “and”, i.e. “Susan walked into the shop and.”

We are also left wondering what happens next with the women. 

How do they respond? 

The angel says “go and tell” but the women run away afraid. We are left wondering “did they eventually tell?”.

What are we to make of all this?

Throughout the Gospel we are challenged with the shortfalls of peoples response to Jesus versus the response that He desires.

We are left at the end of the gospel with the women tasked with a response.

The ending of Mark’s Gospel tumbles into our reality. 

Mark is saying “you have seen the various responses to the call of Jesus. How are you going to respond?

How are you going to respond?
Are you going to misunderstand.
Are you going to just be amazed.
Are you going to respond negatively.
Or are you going to respond to the call to follow Him.

May we be constantly amazed by the beauty of the Gospel, may we be amazed by the beauty of Jesus, and may we move beyond amazement into following Him.

Photo by Kiwihug on Unsplash

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