[The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have verses 9–20.]
9 When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.
12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.
14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
(Mark 16:9-20 NIV)
As we wrap up the Gospel of Mark, we would not be complete without at least a discussion of this last section of the book.
Scholars believe Mark’s writings ended with verse 8. All the earliest manuscripts ended at verse 8; only later manuscripts contained verses 9 through 20.
Scholars also point out that the writing style changes dramatically from Mark’s signature style throughout the rest of the book. Also, the subjects covered seem to be snippets of the other gospels and of the disciples’ and Paul’s life events pulled together.
So why would the early church fathers add on to Mark’s work? The primary conjecture among scholars is that the early church fathers felt that Mark’s gospel abrupt ending at verse 8 was incomplete – it said nothing of Jesus’ post-resurrection days, nor of his ascension back into heaven. The question in the early church fathers’ minds seemed to be “why”, so they set out to give Mark’s gospel a proper ending.
In fact, the ending Mark provides in verse 8 is not surprising – it is as fast to finish as it was to start in 1:1-3. Mark leaves us with the three women, running from the empty tomb back into the city, waiting to breathlessly exclaim “He has risen!” to the disciples.
As we look back to the Book of Acts and the other letters and epistles of the New Testament, we see this news of Jesus’ resurrection as a total game-changer. The defeated and scattered disciples were now gathered, empowered through the Holy Spirit Jesus promised and were going out and turning the world upside down with His story, even giving their lives to share Jesus’ redemption with any and all who would listen.
May we snap out of our slumber to the reality of Mark’s gospel, like the women leaving the empty tomb, believing before seeing, in faith ready to exclaim “He has risen!”.
This is the.best.news.ever.