They Were Afraid

Today's devotion from Mark 16. Something you should know is that there is a scholarly debate over the ending of Mark's Gospel. It had been previously accepted that Mark 16 went to verse 20. However, recently found manuscripts that are older, and therefore date closer to the original writing, seem to end around the 8th verse. It really is of no consequence, since the major issues are addressed elsewhere in Scripture, like the Great Commission and apostolic signs.

When we study these verses, it would be easy to interpret them from our own perspective. We are so comfortable with the concept of the risen Christ that we might struggle to understand why they were seized by fear when they fled the empty tomb. That tomb has been empty for as long as we have heard about it. Yet, I think it is an important detail that helps us gain a better handle of the text.

You see, we need constant reminding that these early believers were not super-Christians. In fact, while they experienced tremendous wonders and signs, they did not have the benefit of thousands of years of theological study to help them understand it all. All these believers knew was that their loved one died, they went to the tomb that was empty, and were told by some stranger that He had risen and would meet them as planned. That's a lot to take in.

For many of us, we would have been tempted to play the fool or pass it off as a mistake of some sort, but these early believers did not accept that option. They persevered in their faith, and were confirmed when Jesus stood among them. In a way, even His rebuke to His unbelieving disciples was a confirmation and encouragement.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that we're only human, and it should encourage us in our faith to see these men and women who walked with Jesus struggling like us. It should make us feel more secure to realize that they didn't have everything figured out either. At the end of the day, whether  you were in the empty tomb or studying it two thousand years later, our belief is still very much personal and growing. And that's ok.