Why didn’t Mark finish his gospel? As readers of most any modern Bible translation discover, the second gospel, like a movie out on a bonus DVD, has a couple of alternative endings. But neither of those endings has much manuscript support for authenticity. It’s likely that Mark did not actually write either one of them.
Just check it out and you will find that Mark 16 ends abruptly at verse 8, with alternative endings set off in brackets or whatever. So our Easter text for this Sunday is just Mark 16:1-8.
One solution to this problem says that the true ending of Mark’s gospel is lost to us. That seems likely. But I prefer the more tenuous but intriguing suggestion that Mark actually left the story unfinished. And whether it was Mark’s intention or not, God’s providential care for His Word has allowed the real ending, if there was one, to remain lost.
What I find intriguing is the suggestion that the unfinished ending of Mark invites us to put ourselves into the end of the story. The women who discover the empty tomb react with fear and uncertainty. How will you and I respond to the good news that Christ is risen? That’s the question I believe Mark puts to everyone who hears that news.
So, in a sense, you and I are the ones who end Mark’s story of Jesus. It’s in our lives and the lives of all believers that the significance of the risen Savior is played out and completed. The question is not how did the story end, but how will we end the story?