Covid19 has us stuck at home preparing for Easter… but we can mark each day with devotion. Click here if you missed a past day’s reading.
Today is Good Friday. Phoebe asked why this day wasn’t called Black Friday, which makes sense. It is a dark day. But it also demonstrates the goodness of God.
I hope you will take time to pray and remember the cross. I like to light a candle and then read from one of the gospels. When Christ declares it is finished I blow out the candle. The light of the world has gone out. Phoebe is right… it is black Friday.
“Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”
This is Mark’s ending. It is easy to see why someone added an additional ending (I got into the weeds explaining the manuscript evidence yesterday). Others argue that Mark must have been cut short – probably by arrest. There was a great persecution breaking out against church. Most believe Mark was written in the mid 60s, after the fire in Rome (10 of the 14 wards of Rome were effected, three consumed entirely). Nero likely started the fire, but placed the blame on Christians. A great persecution broke out against Christians. Tacitus writes, “Their deaths were made farcical. Dressed in wild animals’ skins, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or crucified, or made into torches to be ignited after dark as substitutes for daylight.” 1
Of course they may be right, but it is my belief that the cliffhanger ending was intentional. The whole of Mark is very clever. Creating Markan Sandwiches (like the Temple and Fig Tree) and the whole book circles around clearly seeing the Messiah. All of it begging the question the ending asks, what will you decide. The reader, like the women in the opening of chapter 16, heard the story of resurrection. So the book ends asking, Will you quake in fear, or will you choose to find the risen Christ?
And this is the question Mark leaves us with today.
1 Tacitus continues, “Despite their guilt as Christians, and the ruthless punishment it deserved, the victims were pitied. For it was felt that they were being sacrificed to one man’s brutality rather than to the national interest.” In some ways this helps explain how the Christian movement could thrive in the midst of persecution. Of course their bravery was key — proving their faith. But it was also important that the people saw the persecution as unjust.