Thank You, Lord, for leaving us with witnesses to Your resurrection.
Read MARK 16:9–20
[The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have verses 9–20.]
9 When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.
12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.
14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
Spend time reflecting on why you believe that Jesus is alive.
The verses we read today may not have been written by Mark, but they have been treated as part of Scripture since the early second century. They seem to bring together information that is also in the other Gospels and add one or two unique features. The women do not publicize the message they have received, but we do have a series of subsequent appearances of Jesus. The vital fact that Jesus is alive does not depend merely on an empty tomb and an angel’s message, but on people meeting with the risen Lord themselves. Part of the authenticity of the story is the slowness of people to accept its truth. Until they see Him, they refuse to believe.
This presents a problem for forthcoming generations which will only hear the message. If Jesus does not appear to them, will they believe? Central to the passage is His rebuke to the eleven disciples who would not believe the testimony of others (John deals with the same issue in 20:29). There will be signs of the continuing power of Jesus, but the call is to respond to the preached gospel. The testimony of the eyewitnesses is crucial.
The Gospel ends with Jesus sending out His disciples into all the world. A stark choice is presented: belief signified by baptism brings salvation, but a lack of belief results in condemnation. Unlike with Luke’s Gospel, there is no second volume to chronicle the fulfillment of the commission. Mark’s final verses tell us that Jesus has returned to His Father’s side, but also that He will work with the disciples by giving signs to confirm His Word. On this Easter Day we have the same message to proclaim: Jesus has died, was raised, and has ascended to heaven. This is our Savior and our God.
Pray for all those proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection today: that their word may be believed.
Lord, we pray that today as we go forth You would confirm our message with signs following, as You did back then.