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Do You Know the Way to Galilee?

So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

—Mark 16:8

These are the concluding words to the Gospel of Mark, at least in the version that’s most likely to be the original. In the Greek, the final word is gar (“for”), which makes it even more puzzling. We can imagine the Gospel writer’s eighth grade English teacher being utterly dismayed that Mark ended his Gospel with a preposition! (Note: Ending a sentence with a preposition is not necessarily a sin in Koine Greek, but it still poses a riddle for the translator.)

In your Bible you might see a brief appendix or footnotes that label verse 8b as the “intermediate” ending to Mark and verses 9-20 as the “longer” ending to Mark, but most New Testament scholars believe that these were additions by later scribes. The earliest New Testament manuscripts do not include them. Perhaps these endings were added by scribes who were disturbed by the abrupt ending to the Gospel in its original form. Or maybe there really was an original, longer ending that somehow got lost.

Let’s assume for a moment that the scholarly consensus is correct—that Mark’s Gospel ends abruptly, with the women running away from the tomb in fear.

What are we to make of such an ending?

I’ve explored some of the possibilities in my Easter sermon this year, but here in the newsletter I’d like to leave you with a thought that a preacher once shared with me and that I’ve never forgotten.

Right before the abrupt ending in verse 8, the mysterious man in the white robe says to the women at the tomb:

Do not be afraid; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.

Mark 16:6-7

If we want to find Jesus, we need to travel back to Galilee. And where is Galilee? In one sense, it was the region north of Samaria, near the Sea of Galilee.

More importantly, it was also the place where the disciples were from. It was the place where Jesus’ ministry began and the place where he healed and taught and told people their sins had been forgiven. Galilee was the place of everyday ministry.

If we want to find Galilee today, we should go to the everyday places we frequent—our homes, our place of work, our neighborhoods, our place of worship. That is where we need to look for the risen Christ. Where have we seen human resilience that cannot be explained in terms of human resilience alone? When have we seen people intentionally choose a more difficult path because that path would ultimately be more just and life-giving? When did we last hear someone say, “I know Jesus lives, because he lives in me.”

Dear friends, this Easter season, let us travel to Galilee together. Let us look for the signs that the risen Christ is alive and at work in our world, and let us tell those stories!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Jack


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