Mark’s Resurrection: Awe and Wonder

A friend of mine had a video on Facebook yesterday of a comedian named Louis CK on the Conan O’Brien show. This comedian started talking about how we take so much for granted in our age of technology. I’ll warn you that he is a bit crude at times, but the profanity is all bleeped out. I loved listening to this guy speak as I think he’s entirely accurate. The video can be found here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoGYx35ypus

I have found wonder to be an important theme in my life and I find a non-theistic universe tends to kill wonder. When we go to the beach, I can tell you the spot that it always happens at, I will begin to talk about wonder at one point on the way. I am sure I have done it so much by now that my friends are sick of it. The ocean is always a place of wonder for me.

This is also something that I see in Mark’s gospel, but that wonder is also including a sense of fear. What is going on? Let us look at the account.

1When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

 4But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

 6“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ”

 8Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

I’ll also say that I do not believe verses 9-20 to be authentic. For those who want to know why, I recommend going to your local library, Bible College, or Seminary and reading some books on textual criticism or some commentaries on the gospel of Mark. You can also go to a website like Tektonics to see what my friend J.P. Holding has to say on the topic.

Thus, the last time I read Mark, I stopped at verse 8 to try to figure out what it would be like to end with those verses and I did see a marked difference. (No pun intended.) I think this was the way Mark’s gospel was meant to end as it leaves you with that fear.

The word amazed is ekstasis. This could bear resemblence to our word “ecstatic” and the meanings seem to be similar. It refers to a fear and amazement that is not in the normal state of mind. The idea of their fear is the word phobeo which is where we get our word phobia. This was terror they were feeling.

This is typical of Mark. Mark likes to leave you in fear and awe. He wants you to catch the awesomeness of what is happening in the resurrection of Christ. Now imagine going through the gospel and having it end at verse 8. Better yet, go through the gospel sometime yourself and stop at the end of Mark 16:8.

You can picture the reader asking “Okay. And then what?”

But you don’t know.

Now Mark has said a number of times in the gospel that Jesus will rise from the dead. Is Mark wanting you to realize that for yourself? Are you to get to the end and think “Wow. He really did it.” You could be left wondering, “But if he rose from the dead, what happened after that? What difference has that made?”

And isn’t that the question?

What difference has it made?

Has the empty tomb left you in fear and trembling? Are you amazed and filled with wonder or is it just the same story you’ve heard all your life and it just doesn’t faze you anymore.

Of course, if that story doesn’t faze you, what will?

And what of Mark’s question?

What are you doing with the empty tomb? Are you going out and giving the rest of the story or sitting back doing nothing?

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