The Gospel of Mark concludes with the discovery of the empty tomb and a young man who announces that Jesus is preceding his followers into Galilee, as he promised.
The last sequence of time in the passion and resurrection story comes with the story of the empty tomb. The Sabbath has passed, and "very early on the first day of the week" (16:2) Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bring spices to anoint the body of Jesus. The stone from the door of the tomb has been rolled back, and as they enter, a young man announces that Jesus of Nazareth has been raised. They are told to announce to the disciples that he is going before them into Galilee. The women are overcome with terror (trembling) and amazement (ecstasy), "and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid" (16:8).
This enigmatic ending to the Gospel appears to be inconclusive, but it is not. The empty tomb is a theophany; it is a revelation of God's living presence in the world. This presence has been revealed in the Gospel of Mark from beginning (1:1) to conclusion (16:1-8) in the crucified and risen Jesus of Nazareth. The gospel story is concluded, and the good news is proclaimed. This is a new beginning. This is the promise of new life in Jesus Christ who goes before us and calls us to follow. Many ancient manuscripts containing the Gospel of Mark provide other stories of resurrection appearances (16:9-20), which function like an epilogue that brings Mark into greater harmony with the other canonical Gospels.
16When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.
2And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.
3They had been saying to one another, Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?
4When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.
5As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.
6But he said to them, Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.
7But 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.
8So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.*
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
10 February 2011