How Does Mark End For You
HOW DOES MARK END FOR YOU?
Mark 15: 42-16:8
We have been studying Mark for a long time and now we come to the end…and that is “Good News.”
- Now, I don’t mean that it is “Good News” that we are finally about to finish our study of Mark….Hopefully our study has been a beneficial one.
- The end of Mark is “Good News” because here in these verses Mark speaks of an “Empty Tomb.”
- An empty tomb that gives us hope that just as God raised Him from the dead He will raise us too!
- An empty tomb that reassures us that Jesus was who He claimed to be…that Jesus truly was the Son of God.
- And empty tomb that confirms to us that our faith is not in vain.
- And empty tomb that reassures us that one day our Lord will come again and judge this world….and when He does those of us who have been and are faithful to Him will be raised to put on a glorious body suitable for heaven itself.
- So, as we come to the end of Mark we find some “Good News”.
I say that…but the truth is, whether the end of Mark here is “Good News” for you or not all depends on you.
- It is up to you whether this book ends like it began…as “Good News.”
- OR whether it ends in sorrow and hopelessness.
- It all depends on how you end this book.
Now you are probably thinking, “What is he talking about? This book has its own ending and it has nothing to do with how I end it.”
- I am not so sure that is true.
- In fact, I think you will see that Mark may leave it up to each of you to literally write the ending to this book…and it all depends on you as to whether or not this book is “Good News” for you.
- Let me explain.
We have read down through verse 8 of chapter 16. But now I want you to notice verse 9.
- Some of you will notice that verses 9-20 are in brackets…or for some these verses may be italics.
- Now, if you will look at your marginal notes in your Bible you will find that some of the oldest manuscripts don’t contain verses 9-20.
- The newer Greek manuscripts contain these verses but not the older ones.
- What that means is there is some question as to whether or not these verses were written by Mark.
Now scholars have been divided over this, not just for years, but for hundreds of years.
- If you go back to the middle of the second century verses 9-20 is there.
- But if you go back before that…it isn’t.
And to explain it the scholars say that there are basically three possibilities.
- They say that the gospel of Mark…the part that Mark wrote… ends at verse 8….but because it is such an abrupt ending some one else added verses 9-20 to give it a more sensible close.
- The second possibility is: whatever the ending originally was, whatever Mark wrote originally, that was lost and someone else added this ending to finish the book.
- And then of course, the third possibility is that verses 9-20 are authentic and a part of the gospel of Mark.
The argument that is made in favor of verses 9-20 being written by someone else is that “it only stands to reason that since verse 8 ends so abruptly that someone would add an ending.
- But it doesn’t make sense that if verses 9-20 were Mark’s original words that he would leave them out? “
So there is some question about whether verses 9-20 were actually written by Mark or if they were added later by someone else.
Now, listen carefully so you won’t misunderstand.
- “The question is not whether the long ending, or verses 9-20 is true. The question is simply whether Mark wrote it or not.”
- No one is saying that what verses 9-20 says is not true.
- It clearly reflects the teachings of the earliest Christians.
- No basic N. T. doctrine is threatened.
- So the question is not whether the long ending is true. The question is “Did Mark write it?”
Well, maybe Mark did write verses 9-20.
But it may be that Mark deliberately ended with verse 8…and left the rest of the story up to you to write….just as someone did here.
- Let me show you what I mean. Go back to chapter 15: 39.
Now, as we go through this section it seems that Mark wants to make the point that when Jesus died on that cross…that He was really dead.
- And there is a reason for that.
- If Jesus did not actually die then He is a liar and we are fools and all that we believe is false.
- And our faith has no foundation to stand on.
So Mark seems to make every effort to point out that Jesus was really dead.
- He doesn’t want any of those rumors started about Jesus swooning…or passing out on the cross….and them taking Him down….and then Him reviving in the coolness of the tomb.
- Mark doesn’t want any of that. Mark wants every one to know that Jesus was dead.
- So look at what he says.
In verses 39 Mark tells us that when Jesus breathed His last…when He died on the cross a centurion standing near by said, “Truly, this was the Son of God.”
- And what you need to know is that back then, the death of a condemned man on the cross did not mark the end of his humiliation.
- You see, Rome wanted to make the point that “you had better not cross them or the consequences will be humiliating, not just at death but afterwards as well.”
- So what Rome would do is they would deny a crucified man the dignity of a proper burial.
- Instead, they would throw his body on the trash heap to rot where everyone could see it.
- And the public would get the message that you had better not mess with Rome.
The only way you could give a crucified man a proper burial is if you had permission from the Roman magistrate in charge of the area.
- And not very many people were willing to go and ask.
But in Jesus’ situation some one did.
- A man named Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Jesus.
- And I want you to notice what it says about him.
- It says that he was a “prominent member” of the very council that condemned Jesus.
- Now, if Jesus were not really dead…would this “prominent member of the council” not say so?
- Mark is telling us that Jesus was really dead.
And so Joseph makes his request for the body of Jesus and Pilate is surprised that the body is already dead.
- And so in verse 44 he asks a centurion if that was possible.
Now, this is the same centurion that Mark spoke of back up in verse 39.
- This man was trained in the art of execution…it is his job.
- He knows how to kill men…and he knows when men are dead.
- And notice his words back up in verse 39.
- “Surely this man was the Son of God”.
- He “was” but not any more! Why?
- Because he is dead!
- The cross had succeeded!
- Mark is telling us that Jesus was really dead!
Well, in verse 45 when Pilate asks this centurion if Jesus is dead the centurion ascertains that He is.
But Mark is not through. To make sure we know that Jesus was really dead he tells us about the actions of Joseph in verse 46.
- They take Jesus’ body down from the cross and they wrap it in linens…
- Now, to do that is going to take some rolling, some moving.
- And in the process, any movement….any twitch….the slightest flinch….the faintest breath…any thing that might indicate that Jesus was still alive and Joseph would not have left Him in that tomb and all wrapped up in those linens.
- Joseph’s actions show that Jesus was dead and that they had no expectations of any kind of any resurrection.
- Mark is stressing to us that Jesus was dead!
Did you hear me? He was dead!
- Now don’t let that slip by you so fast that you miss the magnitude of that.
- The next time you deal with death.
- The next time you lay a loved one to rest.
- The next time you are at the funeral home going through the pain of death.
- You keep in mind that God Himself knows what you are going through because he has been there, not just as a mourner, but as a corpse.
- There is no dimension of our humanity that God has not tasted,
- None! The body was dead and the body was God’s.
But Mark is not through. Look at chapter 16:1.
On the morning after the Sabbath the women take spices to the tomb.
- They take spices to help over ride the stench of a decomposing body.
- Again, Mark is stressing to us that Jesus was dead!
And as they are walking they are asking one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us?”
- These ladies are expecting to find a sealed tomb with a dead body inside.
But they get there…and the stone is rolled away.
- It is just exactly what they had just asked for.
- They go inside and sitting there is “a young man wearing a white robe” and they are
- And look what he says in verse 6.
“He says, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified….”
- These ladies were looking for and expected to find a dead body in that tomb!
- And when it is not there, they are “Amazed!”
What happened to the body?
- Did they make a mistake and go to the wrong tomb?
- No, because back up in verse 47 of chapter 15 they watched where His body was laid.
- They knew exactly what tomb He was in.
Did the disciples steal the body?
- If they did why would they go around afterward subjecting themselves to harsh treatment and death all for a lie?
Did the enemies of Jesus steal the body?
- If they did, then when the disciples started preaching that their Lord had been raised from the dead….why didn’t they present the body and prove them to be liars?
What happened to the body?
God did not roll that stone out of the way to let Jesus out.
- He rolled it out of the way to let us in!
- He let us in so that we each have to answer that same question….where is the body?
Well there is no need to wonder. The only thing to wonder about is, “Will you hear the word of God on the matter?” Look at verse 6 again.
- The young man in the tomb says, “He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.”
- What is symbolized by the stone is verbalized by the angel!
- Mark wants us to know that Jesus was dead…and now He is alive!
But Mark isn’t through! Look at verse 8 at the reaction of the ladies.
“And they went out, and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”
- Can you blame them?
- This would scare you to death!
- Knowing that someone was dead…and then being told that He is now alive…you would walk away wondering what in the world is going on!
Now we come back to the question again, “Does the story stop here?”
- And you might say, “To stop here doesn’t make much sense.”
But I am not sure that it doesn’t make perfect sense to stop right here.
- Because in doing so it is as though Mark is throwing the end of this story about Jesus right in your lap and saying, “Now, what are you going to do?”
- What are you going to do with this story?
- What are you going to do about the fact that Jesus was dead…completely and totally dead…but now He is alive!
- What are you going to do with that?
What are you going to do with this angel’s words? (He was crucified but now He is risen!”
- What are you going to do with the empty tomb?
- What are you going to do with what God has done here?
- Everything from beginning to end of the gospel of Mark has been trying to tell you that Jesus is the Son of God…that you need to trust Him, obey Him, be faithful to Him…and now He has been raised from the dead to prove it…what are you going to do with all of this?
Someone else, after reading what Mark wrote about Jesus’ death and resurrection may well have written the ending found here in this chapter…and it is one of faith…and commitment…and promise.
- What kind of ending are you going to write for this story?
- And you will write one….and what you write will be seen in your life…how you live…what you say….what you do?
- Will you write an ending of faith, love, and devotion…one that says “I believe”…or will you write one of denial and rejection?
And let me tell you….what you write will determine if it is “Good News” for you…or if it is a sad and hopeless ending.
Is it all a lie? Or is it the truth? IF it is the truth…and Mark says it is…God says it is….and the empty tomb says it is….then I hope that you are courageous enough to do that which the truth demands.
All through the gospel of Mark, Mark has been calling us to discipleship…not just people who have been baptized…He has called us to die to ourselves….and take up the cross and follow after Him.
- Why? Why should I die for Him?
- How do I know that if I lose my life that I will save it?
- Well, the answer is, HE did. He gave His life to God…and now He lives.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023