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?