JUNE 12, 2016

MAIN TEXT: MARK 16: 9-20

[Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9–20.]

[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. She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.]

 


We conclude our Mark series today. For over 14 months we have let Mark’s gospel account of Jesus to convict us, inspire us, remind us, and challenge us. It is our turn to carry this message. It is our hour to be faithful to the redemptive story and to participate in God’s plan for His creation. The gospel calls us to something much bigger than ourselves and the temporariness of our situations. 

The Challenges of the Final Verses 

This last portion of Mark has a challenge that is acknowledged in most printings. It reads, “Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9-20”. At first glance this can rattle your thoughts about Scripture and it’s authenticity. Here are some thoughts and facts about this:

  • Mark was nicknamed “stubby fingers” because of his short and brief accounts of Jesus’ life. He ended it so abruptly that it is thought that scribes later included a “long ending”. 
  • This section was added based on what the Apostles recalled and the other gospel writers had said.
  • You can sense the change in writing style and see a repeat a moment in verse 9. 
  • The Great Commission is the primary part of this text and this is included in Matthew. 
  • The science of textual criticism (the reconstruction of the original documents) is one of the most exact, impressive sciences in the field of biblical studies. By closely examining the thousands of manuscripts that have been copied from the first century onward, textual critics have been able to reconstruct the original documents with a high degree of accuracy. We can have confidence that what we have is very, very close to what the original authors wrote. 
  • The doctrines that are found in this passage are consistent with what is taught throughout the New Testament. 
  • These things considered, we can read and study it with confidence and profit from it. 

Living in the Light of the Resurrection – the Great Commission 

Mark’s gospel account contains the true story of our world. The story tells of perfection and paradise, corrupted by human sin and wickedness, redeemed by a selfless sacrifice, and restored through a triumphant return. 

Jesus’ resurrection is the turning point. There is great significance in this event, both in the broader story of all of creation and in our individual stories. The account of the resurrection tells us that the longing of our world to be fixed will be met. The longing in our souls will be met. The resurrection tells us that this hope for something better than the way the world is now, is not merely wishful thinking. This hope is sure and true. Death has been defeated; it just hasn’t been fully applied and realized.

We who were dead are now raised to new life in Jesus Christ. We experience this restoration power in limited ways personally (1 Corinthians 13:12). The way we live our lives should declare to this broken world what is coming- showing a foretaste of the complete healing that is coming. Jesus spoke the great commission to His followers after His resurrection (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28: 18-20). 

Christ’s work for you - as the Messiah who suffered, and died and rose – gives way to His work through you – as the ones who witness to His name.  When God called you to salvation, He called you to His mission. His work for us leads to His work through us.

So the point of the resurrection is not to sit back and wait for a heavenly afterlife. It’s not to give a spiritual or religious dimension to our lives. It’s not to rest only in the comfort of future hope. The point is proclamation.

The message is about the Messiah, and the message is for sinners everywhere. It’s about repentance. It’s about dying to sin and being made right with God. Forgiveness is available to all because of the wrath-averting sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and the life-giving splendor of Jesus in His resurrection. We are servants of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

There is a wind blowing through this army of messengers. That breeze is a Person – He is the Holy Spirit of God - empowering us to be on mission. This is the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead now working in us (Ephesians 3:20-21; Colossians 1:28-29). The borders aren’t confined to Jerusalem. They’re not confined to our church or our city. The message must go out. The nations must hear.

The Spirit of God uses the gospel of God to motivate the people of God to be on mission with God. To be about His work is a great privilege! 

The Point of Resurrection

The resurrection is not the “happy end” after Jesus’ death. It’s the happy beginning of God’s new creation. We have a job to do.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul devotes an entire chapter to unpacking the resurrection and its significance. And how does this long chapter end? “Therefore, my beloved brothers” – in other words, “in light of the resurrection” - ”be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain”. 

Having experienced this life-giving, peace-filling, hope infusing, joy-exuding love from God through Jesus enables us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to labor for the Lord (John 7:37-39). 

The resurrection has power for today, tomorrow, and forever!

 


APPLY TO LIFE

This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.


BLESS RHYTHMS

This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.

Bless
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.

Listen
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.

Eat
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.

Speak
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.

Sabbath
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.

DISCUSS THE MESSAGE

Read: Mark 16:9-20

How do the conversions of James and Paul testify to the resurrection of Christ?

How does this resurrection account compare to the other gospels and their accounts of the commission? The resurrection?

Having experienced this life-giving, peace-filling, hope infusing, joy-exuding love from God through Jesus enables us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to labor for the Lord. How is that demonstrated in your own life?