“But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. – Mark 16:7-8 (ESV)   

Mark 16:8 is a surprising way to end a Gospel, with the women fleeing in fear after seeing the empty tomb and hearing the angel announce that Jesus has risen. Most evidence from ancient manuscripts points to this as the real ending of Mark’s Gospel, not 16:9-20. It’s worth reflecting on why Mark most likely ended not with an appearance of Jesus but with a promise that his disciples will see him, and not with a response of belief but with fleeing and fear.

Jesus had risen. That means that everything had changed for these women who went early Sunday to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. Yet Mark says they met what they saw and heard with trembling, fear, and silence. Mark often speaks of the Twelve not understanding Jesus. The women tend to do better. This time, even their response proves inadequate.

Sometimes we as Jesus followers respond weakly. We fail to take in the good news, as though it doesn’t quite register with our expectations. We don’t absorb it. Sometimes our fears speak louder than the good news of resurrection and a hope-filled promise. Let’s be aware that, even at Easter, some believers may barely hold on to hope.  

Yet the words of promise remain: “He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him…” No matter what we feel, we’re called to step toward Galilee – where Jesus taught discipleship. As we respond, stepping toward discipleship, we will see the resurrected Jesus. It’s a promise.[1]

This was originally an addition to the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary blog post for Easter 2023. See https://abtslebanon.org/nondegree-programs/blog/

[1] Regarding Galilee and discipleship, see M.D. Hooker, The Gospel According to St. Mark, 393-394.

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