Reading Mark is like being a passenger in a race car, gathering speed, hurtling to the end of the story. Jesus and the disciples are always in motion. In a boat. Across the water. Out of the boat. Up a mountain. They went… When he returned… He left… They came….
The Mark’s gospel is heading for the big finish. He is speeding toward the checkered flag and the victory lap. Jesus revealed as Son of God. Son of Man. Messiah. God’s kingdom on earth.
Then Mark slams on the brakes.. Screeching halt. Airbags go off.
“So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement has seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid”. (Mark 16:8)
What? What’s going on?
Mark pushes his airbag aside, looks over at us and asks, “Yeah, what happened?”
We’re stopped at a dangerous place. Still on the track. Not yet at the finish line.
We want to finish the race and coast into the winner’s circle. Happy, proud, triumphant.
Mark doesn’t let us.
Mark makes us stop and look at the backs of the women- the most faithful followers of Jesus- running away.
We’re left standing at the tomb. Asking what happened?
We don’t like Mark’s ending. Too abrupt. Too many loose ends. No tidy answers. We, of course, read Mark’s gospel with the benefit of two thousand years of Christian reflection on the question, “What happened?”. Even Mark’s first readers, had the benefit several decades after the crucifixion to ponder what had happened.
But Mark, writes his gospel to push us back to the moment. Mark slams on the brakes and when the dust clears we’re at the empty tomb, looking around and asking, “What happened?”
“Where are you going?”
“Why is everyone running away?”
We look into the empty tomb and think, “Something is not right”.
Or maybe something is finally right?