July 12, 2002
[Leia este artigo em português]
We began with discussion concerning the last part of the chapter, where the note "the earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20" or a similar notice is given. It was shared that some did not include the last part because they felt this passage was not Mark's original text. Other scholars felt that Mark could have written this part years later, thus explaining an apparent conflicting writing style.
Was the original ending lost? We don't know -- but the account obviously shouldn't end at verse 8! As to the authenticity of verses 9 to 20, we could see that nothing in this passage contradicts the ending in the other gospels. Therefore these should be trustworthy words to us also.
The angel said in verse 7, "But go, tell His disciples and Peter". Why was Peter mentioned separately? We recall that Peter went back to fishing after Jesus' death, ashamed at himself for denying the Lord. Here, it was as if the angel was saying, 'make sure you include Peter!'. It is comforting to know of God's infinite mercy and His willingness to forgive.
After His resurrection, our Lord Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene (v.9). Of all the people He could have appeared first -- His disciples, His mother and father -- He chose Mary the sinner, the one possessed by seven demons until the Lord casted them out of her. Why Mary?
Maybe because Mary Magdalene loved the Lord more than any other at the time. She was the woman who poured the expensive perfume over the Lord's head (14:3-9), she looked on helplessly as Jesus was hung on the cross (15:40), and she was the first one to be at the tomb (John 20:1). In fact, she was there while it was still dark, looking to do something for the Lord, even if there was only His body.
How sad she was when she found the tomb empty! "But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping;" (John 20:11). This truly showed her love for Jesus. And the Lord knew; He appeared first to her, called her name and instructed her to spread the news of His resurrection.
In this we see some lessons. In her deliverance, Mary felt more love and more forgiveness from the Lord, and she responded as best she could. What about ourselves? Often time we feel we are "not that bad" -- does it make us less appreciative of His love? We need to remember that a sinner is a sinner -- no one's a 'bigger' sinner than the other. The other point is that those who pursues the Lord will find Him -- just as Mary did. This means keeping watch, and keep pursuing even if the time spent on the Bible seem to be dry or empty.
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." -- Matthew 7:7
"And they went out and preached everywhere," (v.20). In effect, the end of Mark is the beginning of the book of Acts, a book still ongoing with us today. But we hardly go out to preach today, and we don't see signs like those in verses 17 and 18. Why is that?
A brother shared that when he was in Hong Kong years ago, his entire fellowship would go out on the streets on Chinese New Year to pass around evangelical tracts and share with passerbys who would listen. The geography settings and attitudes in Asia did make such 'street preaching' more viable, compared to North America.
'People will think you're crazy if you go out to the street corner and start preaching', someone else shared. The fact is, this North American society has little tolerance for God in the public place, while appearing to be tolerant to everything. This is a society pushed by science and technology, where everything can be calculated and explained scientifically. We are caught up in this attitude of unbelief, when we really need child-like faith.
In DeVern Fromke's book, "Stories that open God's Larger Window", there is an account of a believer being made to drink poison by his communist interrogators, because he refused to discount God's Word, specifically of Mark 16:18. The dog who drank the poison died almost immediately. But this believer got permission to pray for God's will to be done, then drank the entire glass. The officer and the doctor waited for the inevitable. And waited. But nothing happened after several minutes. Stunned, the doctor took his pulse, examined him, but couldn't find any symptoms. The doctor tore up his Party card and proclaimed his faith in the Bible on the spot.
So why don't we see these miracles today? Perhaps it is our purpose for demanding a miracle -- we want something done for ourselves, not for God's glory. We are not to test the Lord, but we are promised of His protection when we do go out to preach. God is always looking for those who are willing -- but do we know what He wants us to do? If we don't, shouldn't we find out?
Unfold the Evangel before your eyes!
Are you worn out?
Are you overwhelmed?
Are you rational?
Only rational, non-dogmatic persons can understand and accept this message. Give yourself a try. Nothing will be like before, I promise!
quarta-feira, novembro 23, 2005
July 12, 2002