Saturday, July 29, 2017

Mark: last one, the rest of the story

Mark 16:9-20

It's the longer ending of Mark's gospel, Charlie Brown.  Many scholars, conservative ones, believe that the part of Mark 16 after verse 8 was added by later people who did not like that the gospel ended without a post-resurrection siting of Jesus.  Ligonier ministries accepts it as God-inspired Scripture because it was accepted among the New Testament canon for so long and that God included it.  And it's good.

First, we have Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene.  If people had simply made up Jesus's resurrection in the first century AD, then they would not have a woman be the first witness to it as women could not testify in court.  But it is true, and God reveals his truth to whoever he wants and uses anyone to spread his message.

Then he appeared to the two guys going to Emmaus.  Then Mary and the two guys tell the duh-sciples who still don't believe.  Even though Jesus told them at least three times that he would be killed and then rise from the dead three days later, they still did not get it.

Finally, Jesus himself appears to them and rebukes them for not believing.  This is testimony to God's irresistible grace.  Although stubborn people resist it for a time, when God calls you to salvation, to believe in the Son whom he sent, he will not give up on you but work on you until you believe and reach God's kingdom as a child of God.  Jesus did that for his eleven.  He did not do that for Judas who had already killed himself before this time.  But if you are hearing the message of Scripture, then he is calling you and his death on the cross and resurrection have your name in it.  You need to answer.

And when you do, if you have not been baptized, then you need to get baptized.  One of my Sunday School girls said that she did not want to get baptized because she did not want to get wet.  God does not leave that option for you.  If you believe, you need to make a public declaration that you have died to your old life and are now raised to new life in Jesus.  Jesus commanded people to baptize people who have come to believe.

Then, here comes a troubling part of the text: the snake-handler text.  Jesus said that you could touch snakes and drink poison and not be harmed, but certain Pentecostals (not all) have used this to prove that you should try to touch snakes and drink poison to show your faith.  No.  You should not actively seek danger.  It will come, yes, and people will survive, though some don't.  But you should not seek it.  Jesus did not say you should seek it, but to just not be afraid when danger comes.

And then finally, he ascended into heaven and sits and God's right hand.  He rules everything and nothing happens outside of his control.  Things may go wrong and death happens in this sin-cursed world, but even that is under his control.  Would you want to believe otherwise?  I don't.  I don't want to believe there is anything that God did not plan from all eternity.  Yes we have responsibility and choices, but God is the ultimate planner of our lives and had orchestrated every day of them.  And who better to do it than the one who made me and loves me more than anyone?  Will you put your trust in him today, join a church body, and get baptized?

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