Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Disciples Did Not Believe

Mark 16:9-11 (ESV)
[[Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. [10] She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. [11] But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

We’re into that section of Mark that is debated, was it original or added later, the earlier manuscripts don’t seem to have them. I don’t know all the details surrounding this debate. I con’t know that I have ever cared too much about it. Luther quotes from this debated section in the Small and Large Catechisms concerning baptism. Our baptismal liturgy does the same. And it is a nice quote to have but if we lost it, if it could be definitively shown to be a later addition by a non apostolic source, it would not change our doctrine of baptism, as we could still support our doctrine from other verses of scripture. Conversely, the statement though not being authentic to the original, would still be true in the substance of what it says. But more on that later.
Jesus appears first to Mary Magdalene. She tells the others and they will not believe it. The Gospels are weird. They just are, they don’t follow the norms of classical writing. The hero shows himself to a woman? That would hardly do for a story wanting to be taken seriously in the first century. And the disciples refuse to believe it. I am told over and over again that these men were intentionally making this stuff up. Why would they do that in this manner? Again it makes little sense. I don’t think the disciples wanted to believe. They certainly didn’t seem to be expecting it. things would have been much easier for them if Jesus had not shown himself to them.
As it is they all did end up believing, because it was true.

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