I didn’t want our tour through the gospel of Mark to end; I was having too much fun. But alas, there are only 16 chapters. You might have noticed that there are more verses in chapter 16 than I have actually covered, for I haven’t posted on 16:9 ff.
I have decided to leave these alone, for I am really not so sure that they belong; they aren’t included in the older manuscripts, and my best guess (and “guess” is all I have) is that they were added later to complete the story in light of the endings in the other three gospels. In this, they seem to me to accurately reflect the truth of Scripture and the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, but I doubt Mark put them there. With that said, let me reiterate that I could be mistaken on this point.
None of that takes away from the amazing impact of Mark’s gospel. His pithy writing style leaves out a great deal of the detail surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus that is found in the other three, but in doing this, Mark’s is also easier to follow for someone who isn’t well versed in either the Old Testament or in theology generally, and that is a great contribution.
The Kingdom of Heaven is much discussed in Christian circles today. Did Jesus establish that kingdom when He was on the earth, or did something go wrong, and He’ll try again when He returns? This is a question that persists to this day, particularly when we sit down together with our brothers and sisters with fundamentalist or evangelical perspective. Our answer to this question colors the way we perceive Scripture itself, and this has been true for several centuries now.
When I read Mark, I see a vibrant and dynamic Kingdom at work in Jesus’ ministry, and I see it as having been established at His death, burial and resurrection. I see it continuing throughout the centuries that have elapsed since that time, sometimes more and sometimes less actively than others as the Kingdom ebbs and flows on this earth. I believe that God is willing and anxious for it to flow always, just as Jesus Himself was “flowing” all during His ministry, and yet God has given us free will, and we don’t always use it wisely. I see the Adversary challenging Jesus during His ministry in various ways, not wishing to concede an inch of ground, and Jesus pushing him back when it suits Him to do so, and exercising restraint when it does not, and I see that going on for 2,000 years to date.
Yet I remain filled with hope and optimism going forward, for whatever God’s timetable may be, whatever larger issues are going on “behind the scenes” I know how the story will ultimately end, because Mark has set this out so well in his gospel. May each and every one of you retain the same optimistic view of both this life and the next as all of us move forward on our path to forever together as His Body!