Mark 16:8 “And the women went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”
Some of the oldest biblical manuscripts — 4th century — have nothing beyond this verse.
It seems totally unacceptable. We all want the happily-ever-after ending. We all prefer the hero to succeed and the people to celebrate. A nice finish to a great story matters. We certainly don’t want the story to finish with a few scared women too afraid to say anything to anyone. What sort of ending is that?
Various copiests throughout the centuries apparently shared our concern, so they added material. Some added a very short ending where the women found their tongues and told Peter and the disciples what they had seen. Some added a much longer ending that included appearances of Christ to the disciples and His commissioning of them to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.”
But I like the original ending.
An entertaining story wraps up all of the loose ends and leaves us feeling good. A great story invites us into the drama. The original ending of Mark’s Gospel, the ending that stops the Gospel abruptly in its tracks, makes this a great story!
It shocks us. How could these women possibly be silent after the resurrection? How could they possibly be afraid, after all they had seen Jesus do? It seems ludicrous to think that they wouldn’t shout this news from the mountain-tops. This is not how it should end! This is plain wrong!
Our indignation rises. Our hearts begin to judge and accuse these faithless women. Scared? Silent? Unacceptable!
And just as I get worked up about this crazy ending, and these embarrassing women, I realize that the story has caught me unawares. It has slipped an unexpected knife between my ribs. And an unwritten question starts to take shape. What are you doing with the news of the risen Savior?
The Gospel story does not need wrapping paper and a big bow on the box; a long ending. Rather, it cries out for people who will cry it out. So many of us have grown timid about the truth.
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. As we celebrate the risen Christ among us, let’s consider these women. The real ending to the Gospel story is being written in the 21st century and has your name in it.
Blessings this Easter to each of you!