Mark 16 – the Easter Event


The resurrection in Mark is an open-ended question — “will you participate in the re-ordering of power through compassion, peace, and justice?
[Image: by geralt under  CC0 Public Domain]

The Time:
  The Easter event begins “when the sabbath passed.” On the one hand, this locates that which is to come in the Yeshua saga beyond the provenance of the temple system. That which has been persecuting the people (economically and religiously) is destroyed as part of the reordering of power. On the other hand, Mark is setting the event in kairos (theological time – God’s opportune time) rather than in chronos (clock time).

The Women:  The women who come to the tomb move from chronos to kairos when they “look up.” That same term is used when the author speaks of blind Bartimaeus’s regaining sight. “Looking up” means “gaining the perception necessary for insight and understanding” (Waetjen, page 242)— that is, intuitive comprehension. The women’s intuitive perception allows them to perceive that the rolling away of the stone of great size is indicative of a reordering of power. That insight is confirmed by what happens next.

The Youth:  Inside the tomb they encounter a youth (same term as used for the youth clothed in a shroud who appeared at the time of Yeshua’s arrest) who is “seated at the right hand and wearing a white robe.” In verse 14:62, Mark had previously put these words (“seated at the right hand”) into the discourse of Yeshua. The youth is a literary device, added to the narrative, as a mirror of “the realities of Jesus’ death and resurrection” Waetjen (page 243). As a literary device, the youth represents (a) the ‘ideal reader’ who has intuitive comprehension and (b) the narrator / author of Mark’s gospel. It is the aim of the author / narrator that the (ideal) reader share the intentions of the text — that is, be seated at the right hand of God in glory. The intention of the text is to actualize in the readers “the flesh and blood reality of the new humanity” (page 243) so that they will continue Yeshua’s work of constructing the Way toward the Commonwealth of God’s Peace and Justice. Hence, the ideal readers “are undergoing the same metamorphosis that was disclosed in [Yeshua’s] transfiguration.” (page 244)

The Location:  We expect the women to be told to go and tell the good news of the resurrection. Instead, they are told to go and tell the disciples to return to the Galilee where they will meet Yeshua. In the narrative world of Mark’s Gospel, Jerusalem is a necropolis (a dead city) — the old institutions and systems of power are dead. Where the disciples (and the ideal reader) will encounter the New Human Being (as they become the New Humanity) is back home — that is, in the ordinariness of their lives. The disciples must go back to the Galilee; the original addressees of Mark’s gospel must be open to encounter the new reality in southern Syria; the ideal reader, at the intersection of Old Main Street and the Casino, in the schools and the supermarkets, at home and at work, even at St. Charles Presbyterian Church. The resurrection occurs whenever we “look up” with new, intuitive comprehension and see the way ahead —  that is, engage in the construction of the Way toward the Commonwealth of God’s Peace and Justice.

The Conclusion:  Mark’s account opens (1:1) with the words “the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ.” It “ends in failure” (Waetjen, page 248) — that is, the women leave the tomb, “for they continued to be afraid” and fail to deliver the message to the disciples. If “the good news of Jesus Christ” is to continue, will the addressees (the 1st century Syrian peasant Christians) and/or the ideal reader (the members of the Inquiry Class of SCPC) “look up,” move from chronos to kairos, and take up the task that Yeshua began? The Gospel of Mark is an open-ended question that each follower of Yeshua must answer for herself, for himself.

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