Writers usually include an exciting event at the beginning of their work, something to get the reader's attention. This is certainly true in the Gospel according to Mark.
Matthew starts his account with a genealogy. What could be more boring than that? Luke starts his with a run-on sentence. You KNOW that he is trying to prove something. John starts his account with the very beginning of the universe. When is he going to start talking about Jesus?
Mark quickly throws you into the story. Jesus is already grown up. Some scholars have said that if Mark would have had an account of Jesus' birth available to him, he certainly would have included it. But I do not agree. What Mark gives is enough to get you started--and involved.
Mark has that unusual phrase, 'The beginning of the gospel....' It is NOT the beginning of Jesus Christ. It is the beginning of some very good news.
It is important at this point to be reminded that the word 'gospel' was certainly not prominent within the Old Testament. The word actually came from the historical books, where a messenger was appointed to go from the battlefield to the king to tell the news of victory--or defeat. It is important to state that this word had the possible meaning of bad news, some extremely bad news. But, either way, this news was important.
It is difficult not to think of some of the people who first heard this gospel account. The tradition is that this was written in Rome and that Christians were being persecuted at this time. And times have not changed.
When there is a chance you could be arrested and killed in the next few days, would you take the time to read a history book? A good novel? I didn't think so.
The traditional ending of the Gospel according to Mark ends in much the same way as it began. The women leave the empty tomb, not talking to anyone, because they were afraid (16:8). The reader looks at that and yells, 'You can't end there!' And that is exactly the point. The text is only the beginning of the good news. And, given the way that the Apostles' Creed is laid out, things will only get better.