First Presbyterian Church


austin's update 3/29

Posted by Austin Hill on

During my preparations for Easter Sunday, I compared the various stories of Jesus’ resurrection in each of the four Gospels. When considering the life of Jesus, my typical approach is looking first and Matthew and Luke. They usually have the most detailed accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry, and they are often similar.

            Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the synoptic Gospels. They tell stories of Jesus’ life and ministry in similar ways. The Gospel of John stands out from the other three in that it has no parables, and describes many events that are unique to it’s perspective.

            This means that I rarely use the Gospel of Mark. If I want a synoptic perspective, I’ll either use Matthew or Luke, or I’ll preach from John. Mark is the shortest of the four Gospels and Matthew or Luke usually tell the same story as Luke, but better.

            For example, in Mark 6, we read the story of Jesus walking on water while the disciples are crossing the Sea of Galilee. In Matthew’s account, we read about Peter jumping in the water and walking with Jesus. So why would I ever want to preach about that story from Mark instead of Matthew?

            My thought has been the same when it comes to the Easter story. In true Markan form, his account has the least detail. Matthew describes the Great Commission, Luke has the Emmaus Road encounter, John has the exchange with Thomas, and the conversations Jesus has with Peter and the disciples on the Sea of Galilee. Who needs Mark?

            Interestingly, I’m not the only person who’s felt that way. Throughout centuries people have struggled with Mark’s ending to his Gospel. In most Bibles, you see note that says there are at least three versions of Mark chapter 16, with the earliest manuscripts ending after verse 8.

            So Mark’s account of Jesus’ resurrection ends with three women leaving the empty tomb “trembling and bewildered,” saying nothing to anybody.

            Where’s the Good News? Where’s the power of the resurrection? Where’s the life-change?

            Maybe you’ve felt like this before. Maybe, despite your belief, you haven’t felt like celebrating on Easter. Everybody around you shouts “He is risen, indeed!” with joy and puts on their Sunday’s best, while you wonder if you belong. You think about the sins you’ve struggled with for years, or the doubts that continue to linger. This leads you to question, “Does everybody else have something I don’t?”

            I’ve come to love the abrupt ending in Mark’s Gospel. Easter is still real, even when life isn’t perfect. The resurrection doesn’t instantly change Jesus’ closest followers. This Easter, you might be tempted to think otherwise, but Jesus is still risen.



Austin D. Hill