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Who Do You Say I Am?
The Gospel of Mark
The End

This morning, we come to the end of our study of The Gospel of Mark.  I have enjoyed our 43 sermons in Mark.  We have asked the question, “Who do you say I am?” 

--We have seen Jesus as Christus Victor; the one who invades and defeats evil… I remember Jesus and the Legion…

--We have seen Jesus as the one who restores creation…  I remember Jesus touching lepers...

--We have seen Jesus with the power life over death... I remember a little 12 year old girl whose father thought all was lost… “Little girl get up!”

--We have seen Jesus as the Son of God…  I remember the voice at the baptism and transfiguration… This is my son!  

--We heard Jesus announce for himself who he is at the climax of Mark… 14:62…

I remember his answer to the High Priest…

Mark 14:62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

Last week, we saw the evidence that this statement is true…

Mark 16:6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.”

The Empty Tomb is the proof that Jesus is in fact the I AM; the Son of Man from Daniel 7 who sits at the right hand of God; who is coming again one day in the clouds! 

We have answered our question, “Who do you say I AM?  You are the I AM!

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There are only two verses left in our study of Mark.  The angel is talking to Mary, Mary and Salome in the empty tomb.  After announcing he is risen, the angel gives some instructions to the three women.

Mark 16:7-8 “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that Jesus 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.

--Trembling we get… angels are scary.  They have just experienced something marvelous! 

--Astonishment we get… they went to anoint a dead Jesus only to discover an alive Jesus. 

--But why are they afraid?  Mark says they don’t speak to anyone because they are afraid?  Afraid of what?

--Afraid of the Romans?  Sure, Jesus was just executed as a rebel.  If they start saying he is risen, the Romans are going to be quick to shut them up as well.  These women are nobody to the Romans.

--Afraid of the chief priests?  Well, sure, if they thought an alive Jesus was a problem, what about an alive again Jesus.  They would not hesitate to get rid of a couple of nobody women.

--Afraid of the disciples?  Maybe, nobody believes women anyway.  They are going to be called delusional.  “You silly women, give it up.  He’s dead.”

--Afraid of… everyone.  For sure, they had stood at a distance during the crucifixion.  But they still heard the crowd say the most abusive things imaginable.   What happens to them when they say… he is risen.

The women are correct to be afraid.  Anyone, anyone they tell is going to be derisive at best and most likely abusive.  So, the women are afraid.  Rightly so.  Mark ends with the women being afraid. 

“Wait, wait, that can’t be how it ends. That’s not the end of the story.”

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After verse 8, in most of your Bibles, you will see something like this following comment…

SOME OF THE EARLIEST MANUSCRIPTS DO NOT INCLUDE 16:9-20.

Let me explain what this means...

--We do not have any of the original documents of the New Testament.  We do not have the actual parchment that Mark wrote to the Romans in 64 AD.  The original, actual paper written to the Romans in 64 AD is lost or more likely worn out. 

--We do have copies of the original documents.  Or more accurately, we possess copies of copies of copies of the original letter that we call the Gospel of Mark. 

--It is easy to image how this happened.  Mark wrote the original letter.  I picture mark taking careful notes.  I see Mark listening to Uncle Peter tell all the wonderful stories of Jesus.  I see Mark taking all the stories and carefully crafting his Gospel. As a message of courage to his fellow Christians in Rome.

--Mark wants this letter to go to all the churches in the city of Rome.  There may have been dozens of small house churches all over Rome.  So, after writing the first one, he or some of his buddies make 20 copies and delivered each to a different group. 

--These home churches love the letter.  It is something they could hold on to, re-read over the tough next couple of years.  It is precious to them. It helps them have courage to take up his cross and follow Jesus. 

--Then, someone had a good idea - an inspired by the Spirit idea - to send it to some other churches in the surrounding regions of Italy.  Paul is dead.  Peter is dead.  We need to share this letter with others around us. So, more copies were made.  Then, logically, other areas around the Italy needed to know to be courageous… more copies.

--Over time, all the letters written by the Paul and Peter and John, and their disciples, began to be collected and copied… Collections of letters from Paul began to be circulated together.  Collections of the four Gospels began to be collected and copied.  The early church documents were circulated amongst the church.  Copies of the precious documents of the early church begin to gravitate together.

--Over a couple hundred years the early church preserves and copies the documents that were meaningful to them. By the Spirit, we have the wonderful collection of early church documents we call the New Testament.

--The New Testament is formed of all the letters that were inspirational – literally in Spirited - to the early church.

Along the way, one of two things happened to the Gospel of Mark.

--Either the last page of the letter was torn off at verse 8 of chapter 16.  The last page of a book is always the first page that is damaged.

--Or, that was actually where Mark stopped. 

Then, later, I’m going to say much later, someone who is making a copy, who also knew the whole story, from Matthew, Luke and John, thought Mark needed an appendium, it needed a better ending than verse 8.  It needed the rest of the story.  So, he added the rest of the story. 

That addition got copied… until now we have oldest copies that do not have the appendium and newer copies that do.  But the oldest copies don’t have anything beyond verse 8.

I said all that to tell you that scholars, today, do not agree on what was the original ending of Mark.  Some, believe it ended in verse 8.  Others believe the ending was torn off very early in the copy process… There are some who believe the extra verses beyond 8 are supposed to be there.  Although not many believe that.

To recap, there are three choices about the ending of Mark…

--The long ending through verse 20, which is unlikely.

--Some missing ending.  The last page was torn off.

--Or, Mark dramatically ends with the women being afraid in verse 8.

I prefer the dramatic ending.  There is no way to know for sure, but I like the sudden, scary ending of verse 8…

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It is like... a choice your own adventure book.  When Tony was a kid, he read some choose your own adventure novels... I’m not sure they still write these, but back then it was popular… if you want to go into the dungeon go to page 42, then if you want to fight the dragon go to page 65.  You got to choose the ending of our story.

Perhaps, Mark is like that.  It ends with the instructions of the angel to Mary, Mary and Salome. 

Mark 16:7-8 “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that Jesus 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.

The ending of Mark is what you make it to be…

Remember, the Gospel of Mark was first written to Roman Christians facing persecution of Nero after the great fire.  If we can place ourselves into their hearts, we can see they needed to finish their story…

--When the knock came at the door in 64 AD how are you going to answer it?  Answer the door in courage or run in fear? 

--When the Roman centurion is standing at your door, asking if there are any “Christians” in this house… How are you going to answer him?  In courage, yes or in fear, no?

--When you stand in front of Nero who is asking are you a follower of Jesus of Nazareth… how are you going to answer him?  Yes, Jesus is the I Am or in fear… no he was nothing?

--When you could save your family but the words of Jesus ring in your ears…. “If anyone would be my disciple, he must take up his cross and follow me…

Do you respond with fear or courage?

Fear or Courage…  In 64 AD are you going to be like the women who were afraid and did not say anything to anyone?  Or are you going to take up your cross and follow him?

The Christians in Rome in 64 AD need to have courage to finish their story.

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Fast forward to Los Alamos, NM at the end of 2017, after studying the entire Gospel of Mark for a year.  How do we choose our own adventure?  How do we finish our story?

--Do we join Jesus as Christus Victor who invades and defeats evil in the world?  Do we see wrong around us and confront it?  Do we have the courage to cast out evil?  Do we finish our story in the power of our LORD?

--Do we write our story by restoring creation?  Do we heal?  Do we calm storms?  Do we touch lepers?  Is your story completed with you hugging a leper to heal the world?

--Do we choose the adventure of offering life to the dead?  We can speak life to those who are living dead lives.  We can offer eternal life with the message of Jesus.  Do you choose to finish your story by speaking life!

--Do we write our story as a Child of God in baptism; participating in his death and in transformation participating in his life? Is your story the story of a son of God?

--Is the story of our life to sit at the right hand of the right hand of God?

Mark 14:62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

Is that your story... or...

Mark 16:7 “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.”

The Gospel of Mark is finished...  But you must choose how to finish your story. 


Tim Stidham

November 26, 2017

Los Alamos Church of Christ



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