John Irving, one of my all-time favorite authors, says that he devotes an entire year to planning a novel before he actually begins to write. But even before he starts his detailed planning, he writes the last sentence. The last sentence. Irving starts with the last sentence and builds the entire story towards it.
You wonder if the writer of the Gospel of Mark might not have done the same thing. His last sentence is “So they went out and fled the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” What a line to end on. And did Mark, like Irving, plan the entire story line around it?
I think he did. Fearful, mute followers who are still loved and brought into the Kingdom fit perfectly with the upside-down justice of Jesus. A messiah who enters the city on a lowly donkey, elevates the disenfranchised, saves the world through love and peace, and is executed with criminals couldn’t possibly have heroic followers. Naturally he would have trembling, bewildered, and scared-into-silence followers.
Mark is telling us that you don’t have to be heroic to follow Jesus. You just have to be you. And if you find yourself overwhelmed by the very event you hoped and prayed for then you can count yourselves right up there with those he loved the most.
May you have a Holy Easter.