Friday, April 29, 2011

Mark 16:9-20 Jesus Christ's Resurrection

Mark 16:9-20
9 Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. 12 After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either. 14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

This is the last installment of a devotional series that has been following Mark's Gospel. It began over a year ago and has been personally rewarding as well as challenging. I hope that through it someone has come to know God personally, or has grown deeper in their knowledge and understanding of God our Father, through our Loving Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So then beginning in verse nine it states that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. This monumental event is supported by the other gospels (Matt. 28:1-10; Luke 24:10; John 20:1-8) and of course eye witnesses (1 Cor. 15:3-11). But most importantly by each and every believer since who has come to experience the Living Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in their persons (Col. 1:27). And thus we are by the very fact of our being here evidence proof of Christ's resurrection from the dead with His Spirit magnifying the Lord Jesus through us to all. And having risen, Mark recalls that Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene and she went and told the disciples (vs. 9-11). This event’s details are recorded in John 20:11-18. Now Mark also recalls their initial unbelief when Mary Magdalene first told them, (these details are found in Luke 24:1-12). Mark then tells us of Jesus’ appearance to two disciples on the road (vs. 12-13) these details are laid out for us in (Luke 24:13-35). Mark then tells us of Jesus’appearance to the eleven while they sat at the table; there Jesus appearing to them in Bodily form rebukes their unbelief (vs. 14) before commissioning them to go and preach the gospel everywhere, not just in church amongst themselves, but everywhere, to every creature. The root of this command coming from the Lord Jesus Christ's own Authority which God the Father has bestowed exclusively on Him, meaning neither person nor place is to be off limits to the glorious Gospel of God that brings salvation to all who repent and believe. These details along with Jesus' ascension before them are given to us variously in Matt. 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-20; Luke 24:36-53; John 20:19-25; Acts 1:3-12; 1 Cor. 15:6-7. Now in the space of a couple of verses Mark actually covers over forty days of actual time (Acts 1:3). I thought I'd mention that fact in case some might be supposing these events unfolded in rapid succession, as is the nature of Mark in his presenting the gospel to us.

Now Matthews’s gospel uniquely records Jesus’ appearance to the other women who were with Mary at the tomb (Matt. 28:9-10), as well as the tombs guards appeasement from the chief priests (Matt. 28:11-15). While John’s gospel records Jesus’ appearing eight days after His resurrection to the disciples to convince Thomas (John 20:24-31) who was not present the first time Jesus appeared to them (John 20:19-23). As well as His meeting with them by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-25). Each gospel writer then as the Holy Spirit moved them recorded what was assigned to them to record. Sometimes there is overlap, sometimes there is events uniquely recalled by certain Apostle’s. Or as in the case of Mark, as he recalled what the Apostle Peter preached and taught him. The point is they each recalled and recorded the events as the Holy Spirit moved them. To provide a written account to the Lord Jesus Christ’s birth, life, crucifixion death, resurrection from the dead, then ascension back to God the Father. Therefore no single gospel has or ever will have “priority” over another. All four were given by the Holy Spirit for the church’s instruction, edification and evangelistic ministry. And thus all are necessary. For they were all given by God the Father through His Holy Spirit to present an eye witness account of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

And so Mark’s gospel (like Matthew, Luke and John) stands as a unique work given by the Spirit of God. Reflecting his own literary style and personality. Emphasizing certain things; like the Passion Week narrative as a whole; and omitting other aspects (like Jesus' birth details). Something that we scarcely even take note of since the Holy Spirit’s Ministry of the Word assures us that all the details that the Lord Jesus Christ wanted preserved for us are preserved by one or all of the four gospel writers. For the gospel is one record of the life, teachings and ministry of Jesus Christ from four different "viewpoints". Therefore each is a unique contribution to the whole. And with that I simply want to move back into Mark’s glorious gospel and pick up at verse fourteen where I left off. Where Jesus appearing to the eleven as they sat at a table will rebuke their unbelief and hardness of heart because they did not believe those who had seen Him, after He had risen from the dead (Mark 16:14). Now that sort of hardness of heart can also overtake us; who likewise believe; yet for whatever reasons become hardened to workings of God through us and or around us; even hardened towards our basic purposes in Christ like evangelism/disciple making, reading and memorizing the Scriptures, prayer, or maintaining good works as a way of life so that we remain spiritually vibrant and fruitful. Therefore we must be careful and diligent to maintain our faith in an unbelieving and cynical world that looks to itself to "save" or change itself, or science to explain everything. For there are things within the Word of God, by God's design, that science cannot explain. Just as they cannot fathom the origin of sin and evil in the world; nor of a Living God who loves, redeems and transforms sinners who believe in Him through His Son by His Holy Spirit. Or a personal devil who both deceives and holds the unbelieving world under his sway. For though true knowledge comes from God, it’s not intellectual reasoning that God ultimately wants to grow up in our person’s. It is faith in His Person. Specifically faith in His Son, who in the fullness of time came to earth and took on flesh as a Man, not as a full grown Man, but as we all come into life from God as a fetus, and specifically for the Lord Jesus Christ, a fetus in the virgin Mary’s womb. A woman who was chosen by God and told by the angel Gabriel that she would be the women through whom the Christ would come into the world (Luke 1:26-38). Later an angel confirmed this to Joseph her betrothed husband (Matt. 1:18-24). And so when Jesus was born, on the same day He was born, His birth was heralded first by an angel who appeared to some shepherds in the field telling them of Christ's arrival, then by an angelic host in the heavens praising God. Now the shepherds believing what was spoken to them went to Bethlehem with haste and saw the new born baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph. And having seen the Christ Child they spread the news everywhere, of what they had heard and seen (Luke 2:1-20). Now with the Lord Jesus Christ being born under the Law of Moses He was circumcised according to the Law on the eighth day. It was at that time He was Named Jesus according to what the angel Gabriel had told Mary and Joseph to name Him (Luke 2:21-24), His Name meaning Savior, and thus through it declaring His purpose in coming forth from God, to save us from our sins (Matt. 1:21) when we believe in His Person and call upon His Name (Rom. 10:9-10; 13).  

Now when Mary’s purification according to the Law of Moses was completed (see Lev. 12:1-8 to understand) Joseph and Mary brought the infant Christ to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord and to offer a sacrifice according to the Law for Him (Luke 2:22-24). It was during this time that two people; a Godly widow of great age named Anna, and a Godly man named Simeon whose sole desire of God was to see the Christ before he died, were witnesses to Him. And when they saw Him they prophesied and glorified the Lord God in the Temple for having seen the new born Christ (Luke 2:25-38). And having done so Anna spoke of the Lord’s Christ or Messiah (as the Jews refer to Him) to everyone who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. It was after this that the magi from the east came seeking the Christ Child in Jerusalem, being guided by a star which appeared in the east to them. Now when they came to Jerusalem both Herod and all those there were greatly troubled by their news. For such was the perceived threat to their reign that the Jews had a King born to them.
Though Jesus is far more than just a King of the Jews, He is Lord and King of all; to Whom we all owe our greatest honor, respect and obedience (John 5:23). And so Herod's opposition to Jesus is really just an outworking of Satan's, and so Herod, then the governor of Judea, under Roman auspices, sought to kill the Chosen One of God whom had been born amongst them.   

In this Herod pretends to desire to worship the Christ Child and sends the magi whom came from the east seeking the Holy Child, to Bethlehem to seek Him out, his true purposes unknown to them. Now when they departed from Herod the star which they had seen in east again appears to them and they rejoice exceedingly, for it was by it that they were being guided by God to the Child. Now when they found Him and saw the Christ Child in Mary’s arms they fell down and worshipped Him and presented their gifts to Him. And being Divinely warned in a dream not to return to Herod they depart and return to their own country. Now when they had departed an angel appears to Joseph in a dream warning him to take the young Child and His mother and flee to Egypt until he would bring them word. For he told him that Herod would seek to destroy the Child (Matt. 2:13). So Joesph took the young Child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt, and they were there until the death of Herod, thus fulfilling the Scripture which says: "Out of Egypt I called My Son." (Matt. 2:13-15). Now when Herod saw that he was deceived by the magi (or wise men) he became exceedingly angry and began to put to death all the male children in Bethlehem, and in all it's districts, from two years old and under, according to the time he had determined from the wise men in an attempt to destroy whom he perceived would be his greatest single revile. Thus fulfilling the Word of God spoken by the prophet Jeremiah which says:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.” (See Matt. 2:16-18;  Note: Ramah is the region, while Rachel is Jacobs beloved wife, whose son Benjamin was the father of the tribe of Israel where Bethlehem was located. There are twelve tribes in Israel each being named after Jacob/Israel's sons)

Now when Herod was dead an angel of the Lord appeared to Joesph in Egypt telling him to take the Child and His mother and return to Israel, since all those who sought the Child's life were now dead (Matt. 2:19-20). And so Joesph coming up from Egypt at God's command spoken through His angel might have gone into the region of Israel called Judea. But when he heard that Archeluas was reining over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee and came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene" (Matt. 2:21-23). That is the early history of Jesus' Life minus the details of John the Baptist's birth which one can learn and study by reading the first chapter of Luke's gospel. Now having given a bit of history I want to jump back into Mark’s gospel picking up at verse fifteen and concluding at verse twenty where Jesus commissions the disciples. For there He says to them (and us all) …“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

Now notice again first that Jesus in giving us the command to go out and preach the gospel to every creature, places absolutely no restrictions on us as to whom or where the gospel is to be preached. Therefore the gospel is not just to be preached in church, or at evangelistic rallies, or Bible camps or Bible study and various kinds of support groups. But everywhere, to everyone by whatever legitimate and tactful means possible. For imagine if everyone who believes simply shared the Good News of God’s love and salvation without religious formulations and pretenses. But rather by just being themselves, through their own personality, life and God experiences beginning in their own language and culture to first their family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, or anyone else God has prepared and brings their way, or sends them too. The impact would be world changing. For I know the gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, to both the Jews (to whom it was first preached) and now all Gentiles everywhere, from every circumstance of life. “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Rom. 1:17 Now that truth is what makes the gospel preach-able and reachable in Prisons and Palaces and everywhere else that falls between those extremes. That it is the Lord Jesus Christ’s Righteousness imputed to us, and His Life brought within us, the moment we believe in His Person, by which we are now reconciled back to God. All because of Jesus' death on the cross by which God has atoned (or payed for) all our sins (See 2 Cor. 5:20-21; Eph. 1:13-14). And thus having been reconciled back to God by faith in Jesus Christ's Person we can now live out the new and everlasting life, given us by God through His Spirit (John 6:63). For we who believe have now been freely justified by God through the Lord Jesus Christ's Person (Rom. 5:1). Which leads us into verse sixteen which states: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”

Though there seems to be a formulation for salvation in Jesus’ Words it is the believing in Him that is the essential component of salvation (John 3:16; 6:29), for without faith one cannot please God and hence there would be no salvation (Hebrews 11:6). For salvation is not by our own works (Eph. 2:8-9), it’s by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ’s Person, crucified for our sins remission and raised from the dead for our justification. Therefore all those who believe in Jesus will be saved by the grace of God and those who don’t will be condemned (John 3:18). The gospel truly is that simple (2 Cor. 11:3-4). Really then there is no controversy with Mark 16:16 and Jesus’ Words there until someone tries to link water baptism with salvation. For when they try to do that they move from God’s grace into human works (or adding human works to God's finished work on the cross) and thus serious error by supplanting God's Righteousness with their own (consider Rom. 3:19-28; 4:4-5; 10:3-4). Now Mark’s gospel’s statement on believing and baptism though unique to His gospel presentation is clearly in accord with the entire gospel account. For the Apostle Peter’s preaching emphasized faith and repentance, with water baptism being an outworking of this, but not as a means to it (Acts 2:14-39). For water baptism in of itself saves no one, as the Apostle Peter himself has said. Rather it is simply an indication of a clear conscience towards God which we receive by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ's resurrected Person (1 Peter 3:21). Now Jesus’ Words in verses seventeen and eighteen are likewise unique to Mark’s gospel but they are not unique in of themselves. Since they clearly foretell just what the Apostle’s did in their early evangelistic ministry, as the Holy Spirit sign gifts were very prevalent in their early ministering the Gospel. Marks gospel then concludes by saying that after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, that He was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.

And though in Mark’s gospel this seems like an immediate action, again there was some forty days that Jesus spent with the disciples in His resurrected Glory teaching them things pertaining to the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). And thus Mark’s gospel ending contains a few select sayings of Jesus within that time frame. Not all of Jesus’ sayings presented to us in a chronological fashion. Verse twenty then says that the Apostles went out preaching everywhere, the Lord working with them and conforming the Word through the accompanying signs. Which again the Book of Acts variously records for us, however a word of caution, these things Jesus said would follow those who believe in Him were given to His Apostle’s to authenticate their Message about Jesus Christ’s resurrection, ascension and the gospel as a whole. And having been authenticated to first the Jews, then the Samaritans, and then the Gentiles, the message having been confirmed to the ancient world it must now be preached and received solely by faith. For we have the Scriptures, Jesus Christ’s Living Words preserved for us, as well we have since, centuries of God’s working through and transforming men and women and children’s lives who have come to faith in Jesus's Person. And thus we have the Presence of the resurrected Christ working through and abiding in every believer as evidential proof of these things. So what are you waiting for, receive the Love of God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ's Person. By a simple prayer of faith you can pass from death into life and begin your new life and God given purposes in Christ. Simply pray something like this: Dear Lord Jesus I believe Your were crucified for my sins and that You rose from the dead and that You are now seated at the right hand of the Father. And that You poured out Your Spirit so that whoever calls on Your Name in faith
shall be saved. Therefore in humble faith knowing I cannot save myself from my sins I now invite You into my heart and life to be my Lord and Savior, in Your Precious Name Lord Jesus, amen.

Scripture Quotations
The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

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