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.
Mark: The End
So what do you do with a passage that is probably a later addition? It tries to tie up all the loose ends. Some people say that the end is missing. Some people say that verse 8 is the end. Most agree that this passage is not the ending. Jesus was raised and he did send the disciples out, but only after he had rebuked them for continued disbelief. The lack of faith seems plausible considering their lack of understanding whilst he was discipling them. There were miraculous signs reported in Acts, so we can say this passage is not untrue, even if it is made up.
In fact, it is an overview of what we might do with Mark’s account. We have a choice. Do we believe that Jesus was raised from the dead? Then we should experience his power and authority in our lives and take that power and authority into the community. Do we disbelieve the gospel? If we do, we are condemned. To be condemned is horrific. Look at your life, is it marked with triumph, courage, and proclamation or is it marked with cowed doubt and fear?
The original recipients were persecuted to the point of death. They received an account that would have encouraged them. Part of the account was the empathy of seeing Jesus struggle with suffering. However, he endured and was raised in such a way that he empowers all of us to endure suffering. I had a difficult day today. I wasn’t covered in tar and used as a firelighter. I wasn’t dragged behind a chariot until dead. I just had a student become defensive and combative with me when I was clumsy with my words. I was triggered when an application to start my doctorate became confusing. When I feel defeated because of a little discomfort, I should see Jesus who endured scorn and beatings before being crucified. The strength that was available to him is available through him. As we assume more responsibility and stand for the truth, we will make mistakes and we will be persecuted. Will we follow in the footsteps of our Master and have the Lord work with us?
Jesus, I was discouraged today because I did not have the resources to respond to difficult circumstances. Now I am reminded that I did not look to you and follow you in power as I should. Your power is shown in weakness and submission. Help me to submit to you and find the path of wisdom and strength when it is not clear to me.
- What do you do with a passage that is not in the oldest manuscripts?
- What can you learn about Jesus from the account that is given here?
- Why were the disciples (or Thomas at least) so slow to respond?
- How is Jesus’ power available to you?
- How does the suffering Messiah of Mark encourage you?
Since the end of Mark was not in the oldest manuscripts, its hard to determine its importance. Although I would suggest that it should not be there, I do not want to “throw away” a portion of Scripture. There could be other reasons: maybe that portion in the oldest manuscripts were destroyed for some reason. Only God knows.
Jesus rose, He appeared to the people, He gave the Great Commission (although different from the one in Matthew), and then He ascended. Thankfully, the essential truths in Christianity appear in this account.
I think that (one of the reasons why) the disciples were slow to respond because they had no yet received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Not only does the Holy Spirit bring understanding, but also power. I believe that Jesus’ power is available to the body of Christ through the Holy Spirit. He lives in and through us.
The suffering of Jesus the Messiah encourages me because I am reminded that He knows about suffering, not just because He is God and all-knowing, but through personal experience. It still amazes me that He, being sinless and God in the flesh, would go through such suffering for a sinner like me. It is my delight in life to know Him and love Him. I can trust Him.
Today in chapel when we were singing “In Christ Alone,” though I’ve sung that song dozens of times before, I feel I sang certain parts with greater appreciation because of deeper understanding.. Certain lines like,
” ev’ry sin on Him was laid; Here in the death of Christ I live.” and “..as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost it’s grip on me..” and “Here in the power of Christ I stand…”
It’s amazing to know that I am united to this Lord (THE Lord).. it’s comforting because then I know that in times when certain sins are especially tempting and in the everyday battle that I have God’s grace and power to obey Him and deny myself. God isn’t asking me to do anything (or asking me not to do certain things) that I cannot do because I have Him! I’m one with Him and so I can obey Him! I don’t have to wonder how I’m going to do it, or how on earth I’m going to make it, I stand in the power of the risen Christ. I CAN and will fight sin.
The disciples were unbelieving, yet the LORD was gracious and after His ascension He worked with them. Whether or not that ending in Mark is the original, it all seems to line up with the rest of Scripture, and it doesn’t seem problematic to include it. Surely the beginning about the disciples’ lack of faith seems typical, but look what the LORD does through such weak men (see book of Acts)! By the power of the Holy Spirit, because God is faithful the gospel will get out to the ends of the earth and God’s people will persevere and fight sin- by the power of the risen Christ in us.
I think it is something we ought to be cautious about and not treat with the same absolute authority as that which we know to be part of the inspired word. We should compare it to what the rest of scripture says to see if it resonates or is found in error. This passage seems to accord with the other gospels and with Acts, as Mr. Worrall points out. Perhaps this ending is completely true. Jesus, in this ending, shows himself to be undyingly patient with His disciples lack of faith. He still chooses to use them as His agents of grace…what a blessed and needed reminder to those who are God’s children–I am so thankful that He has continued patience with me and pursues me when I would have dismissed me long ago.
The death of Jesus was extremely traumatic. The disciples did not understand why Jesus continued to predict His imminent death. When it actually happened, their worlds were shattered–they did not understand. They had given everything up, become fools in the eyes of the religious elite of Israel, and now the reason why they had done so was brutally executed by the Romans as a criminal. I imagine their hearts which they had opened to Jesus felt betrayed, broken, and now closed off from being so fooled again. Thomas probably was guarding himself and did not want to get his hope up only to have it dashed again…I see myself in Thomas and imagine his reaction is similar to what mine would have been.
I have Jesus’ power available to me through His Spirit which has been given to me. I have access to the throne of grace whereupon I can cast my doubts, burdens, anxieties. In myself I am weak, disparaged, and prone to wander. Living in a relationship with the one who became weak, was tempted, crushed, broken, and yet victorious–this is inspiring, beautiful.
Much like the woman caught in adultery, I recognize that this passage has been held and passed on for centuries by the Church and therefore should not be thrown out. It also does not contradict anything in scripture. Thus, it can be understood as a note at the end to help us know what to expect as a result of what Mark recorded.
I can see Christ exhibiting his patience with those who do not respond, but also revealing himself to a few of his disciples–he is still not straightforward.
Thomas, for instance, wanted to see to believe–to see to cast away his doubts, perhaps the same was true of his other disciples.
Jesus power is available to me through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who dwells in me and who gives me strength to live for God.
I know that my Messiah has been tempted and tried, but remained faithful, There was literally nothing that would stop Him from revealing His love and receiving God’s wrath on the cross–and He dwells in me and His spirit that raised him from the dead.