Title: The Unfinished Gospel

Focus: The original ending of Mark at verse 8 does not give a sense of closure to the story. Therefore it forces us to consider that we who have not personally seen his resurrection body must deal with and live with fear and failure in the unfinished business of proclaiming his resurrection.

Function: To motivate the hearers to deal with a lack of motivation in living out the resurrected life and realize that they have been given the job of being witnesses to a crucified and resurrected Christ

Text: Mk 15:40 - 16:8

1.  Do you like stories that end with an unanswered question?
	a.  Drives you crazy if last chapter is missing
	b.  Some stories leave you hanging this way on purpose
2.  Mark was written that way originally
	a.  Papias (2nd century) apologized for Marks lack of narrative order
	b.  Felt it was clumsy
3.  Perlexing problem of the ending of Mark
	a.  Best manuscripts & ancient translations end at verse 8
	b.  Those that contain v. 9-20 not always have same arrangement
	c.  Grammatically, it is obviously done by a different hand
	d.  Eusebius and Jerome say that v.9-20 absent in almost all Grk copies 
	     of Mark
	e.  Manuscripts that contain it mark v.9-20 with an asterisk or other Mark, 
	     indicating a later addition
4.  Explanations
	a.  Last page of Mark lost
	b.  Mark died before finishing Mark
	c.  It ended this way intentionally (incredibly subtle)
5.  (Mk 15:40 - 16:8)  Initial Reflections
	a.  Women seemed to be more faithful than the men
	b.  How would you expect the women to react at the tomb?
		- We usually think of immediate joy
		- Instead, they followed suit with other disciples
		- It seems everyone a fearful failure to the very end
	c.  Mark written for those not eyewitnesses (no resurrection appearances)
		- He not materialize in front of us
		- He not eat breakfast with us
		- We not have chance to put fingers in holes in his hand
		- We not watch him ascend
	d.  So we can relate to the disciples and the women’s reaction
7.  What message does the ending convey to us?   3 things

I.  Even in the glory of the resurrection, cannot diminish the cross
	A.  Last words of Jesus in original Mark was his cry of anguish
	B.  To often we rush to glory of resurrection
		1.  This forces us to pause and spend more time at the cross
		2.  There can be no crown without a cross
		3.  Price of glory is this cup of suffering, carrying a cross
		4.  Only those who drink his cup will get the reward
	C.  Like little Billy
		1.  Spent days dreaming of being astronaut - wanted to soar
		2.  Never put any effort to study, or go to college, too much work
		3.  Just dreamed of the glory of being an astronaut
		4.  Do you think he ever saw his dream come true?  No.
	D.  Not meant to have a life of no difficulty
		1.  Jesus glorified AFTER he drank his cup of suffering
		2.  The reward is not given to dreamers
		3.  Since his kingdom not of this world, we are out of step
		4.  Trying to faithfully carry cross will cause fear, and even failure

II.  Ending of Mark shows us we must deal with fear and personal failure
	A.  The ending highlights fear and failure - Women run away
	B.  Fear of the disciples dominates Mark
		1.  Examples:
			a.  4:41 - Stilling the sea, afraid, “who is this?”
			b.  5:15 - Casting out legion - Fear
			c.  5:33 - Woman with hemmorage
			d.  6:50 - Walking on water, cried out in fear
			e.  9:6 - Terrified and transfiguration
			f.  10:32 - To Jerusalem, following behind fearful
			g.  14:50 - In fear, they all fled
		2.  Now, after the resurrection, the women flee in fear
			a.  Usually think of them rejoicing and going to tell
			b.  They didn’t tell anyone anything initially
		3.  In Mark’s version, they look like failures!
	C.  ILL:  You ever felt failure?
		1.  I did, in a BIG way - I don’t believe in divorce
			a.  Yet it happened to me
			b.  I felt like a total failure
		2.  Didn’t matter that I was not “the guilty party”
			a.  Not matter that divorce was her idea
			b.  Not matter that I did everything I could to hold it together
		3.  I felt betrayed, ruined, angry, confused, hopeless, disullusioned
		4.  I felt my life was over
	D.  Looking back, I now know that my life was not over
		1. Parent, child, spouse, employee, If mess up, your life is not over
		2. This story not about the failure of men, but power of God
			a.  We know what happens next
			b.  We know that gospel spread in spite of their fear
			c.  We know they became faithful and bold witnesses
		3.  We know power of God overcomes human failure
		4.  Rom 8:28 - God works all things together for good for those who

Since it is not the end, there is still another chapter, still unfinished business

III.  God has something more in store for you
	A.  There is no “closure” at verse 8, ends with a preposition
		1.  Fits with 1:1 - The “beginning” of the gospel
		2.  So, verse 8 is not the end, but the beginning
		3.  Like end of a good movie - “And the adventure continues”
	B.  This is very encouraging
		1.  Disciples training filled with failures
			a.  Could not cast out demons, lack prayer and faith
			b.  They were nearly as blind as unbelievers
			c.  Sometimes we have struggle casting out a sinful habit
		2.  But he does reject the strugglers
			a.  Notice, the women instructed to tell “Peter” and the rest
			b.  Jesus would go ahead of them and meet them again
		3.  v.9-20 - Serve as a later epilogue
			a.  Summary material
			b.  Shows the carrying out of the commission with power
	C.  Song:  He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be
	D.  That means God is not through with you yet
		1.  No matter what kind of failure, struggle, you can get back up
		2.  This story is open ended, it is just the beginning
		3.  You are now part of the story, the next chapter not yet written

1.  How will you write the next chapter?
	a.  Paul said he forget’s what lies behind
	b.  Press on to what is ahead
2.  We are looking at a new year ahead, the old is gone
	a.  Future is full of possiblities in the Lord
	b.  Not matter how you fail family, spouse, children, God
	c.  Story is not over yet
3.  Many are making New Year’s resolutions
	a.  What is your resolve this year?
	b.  Renewed committment to wife and family?
	c.  Renewed focus to God in prayer life, or study?
	d.  Commitment to connect with a few brothers or sisters
	e.  Bring someone to Christ this year?
4.  Invitation:  Resolve to come to him, and you will know how the story ends