6 April 2013Mark 16:9-15
“Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” (v. 15)
This passage is the longer ending to the Gospel of Mark and is not found in some of the older manuscripts which conclude at verse 8. Scholars believe that it may be by another later hand as the style of these verses is quite different to that of the rest of this Gospel.
Be that as it may, what we have here reads like a summary account of several post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. The story of Mary Magdalene (verses 9-11) is found in John's Gospel (John 20:1-18); from Mark's Gospel, we learn that the disciples did not believe her, though John's Gospel does not mention that. Then we have a brief account of what seems to be the Emmaus story (Luke 24:13-35), and, again, we are told that the disciples did not believe the two travellers, although the Gospel itself does not say this. Lastly, there is an appearance to the whole group of disciples similar to that recorded in John 20:19, closely linked to a version of the giving of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).
Reading on, many of the dramatic signs outlined in verses 18 and 19 are recorded as concrete events in the Acts of the Apostles: one of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4); Paul cast out a demon (Acts 16:16-18); he shook off a snake into a fire (Acts 28:3-5) and he healed a number of people (Acts 28:8-9). No mention in Acts of anyone drinking deadly draughts, but there is a tradition that this happened to Joseph Barsabbas (Acts 1:23).
The message of these verses is clear: lack of faith paralyses, faith empowers. The faith-filled disciples "went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere" (Mark 16:20-21) and the Lord was with them. It might well be said the final verse of this section of Mark's Gospel encapsulates the story of the Church from Acts to the present day!
- Are you going out into your world with the good news? How?
- Mark's Gospel talks about signs confirming the presence of the Lord. What signs of his presence do you see in the world today?
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