April 22, 2021, Thursday in the Third Week of Easter
Scripture: Mark 16:9-20
And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterwards Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation
Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.’
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
“Afterwards Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.”
As any commentary worth its salt will tell you, Mark’s Gospel really stops at verse 8, the verse before the captioned scripture above. We have only to read this passage to see how different it is from the rest of the gospel. It is a later summary which replaces the ending which either Mark did not live to write or which at some time went astray. Its great interest is the picture of the duty of the church that it gives to us. The person who wrote this concluding section obviously believe that the church had certain tasks committed to it by Jesus.
First, the church has a preaching task. It is the duty of the church, and that means it is the duty of every Christian, to tell the story of the good news of Jesus to those who have never heard it, and to those who have. You and I are to be, each of us in our different ways, heralds of Christ.
Second, the church has a healing task. Here is a fact we have seen again and again. Christianity is concerned with people’s bodies as well as their minds. Jesus wished to bring health to the body and health to the soul. We need not take everything literally. We need not think that the Christian is literally to have the power to lift venomous snakes and drink poisonous liquids and take no harm. But at the back of this picturesque language is the conviction that the Christians is filled with a power to cope with life that others do not possess. Always Christ works with us and in us and through us. The Lord of the church is still in the church, in you and me and all of us together, and is still the Lord of power.
And so the gospel finishes with the message that the Christian life is lived in the presence and the power of him who was crucified and rose again.
O Lord, you have given us a duty to proclaim you through our words and through our actions. You give us power to do this, although we often forget this. Help us remember that we are here to be agents of your healing, and light, and grace —– to be your faithful heralds. Amen.
“And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere.”