Since this is Halloween, and scary signs are all around us, I thought it would be good to conclude what we’ve been studying from Mark 16:
“After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into heaven and He sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed His word by the signs that accompanied it” (Mark16:19-20).
Here we see the dual nature of Christianity. The Lord, Jesus Christ, having accomplished His work on earth, returned to the Father where He still sits at the right hand of God, daily interceding for you and I. At the same time, down here on earth, His disciples continue to do what He ordered: they go everywhere preaching the good news.
And the result of the two dual natures working together is that the promised signs and wonders confirm the work of God. God backed them up! And God still backs up real Believers who take risks and act on God’s orders.
With earthly darkness being promoted all around us this week, let’s let our lights shine into the darkness. Because God is good.
Jesus had just rebuked His disciples for their failure to believe in His resurrection. Then He encouraged them:
“And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (Mark 16:17-18).
After challenging them to get out of the upper room and challenge the lost world, He then gave them 5 miraculous signs that will follow those who believe and act. We can expect each of these five signs to follow us in the 21st Century who believe and act.
If you say you are a believer, step out into this great adventure Jesus has invited us into. Get up off the pew and out into this hurting world, and watch how the enemy is defeated before your eyes and how the lost are set free. Believe God enough to act and the signs will follow.
Jesus had just appeared to His disciples in the upper room. His first words to them in His resurrection body were words of rebuke because of their unbelief.
“He said unto them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned’“‘ Mark 16:15-16).
These were the words of rebuke Jesus spoke to them. He gave them instruction before His death, but they either misunderstood or disobeyed. Once Jesus wasn’t there in the flesh to protect them, they cowered in that upper room, with the doors bolted and windows locked. They were filled with fear and hopelessness.
Into that dark room Jesus spoke: “Go!”. Get out there and proclaim the good news to everyone. And then He gets spiritual on them. Whoever believes and takes action will be saved. Whoever does not believe (He is talking about His disciples), will be condemned. Whoever just sits in the pew and does not proclaim the good news he/she has received, negates the good news in their own lives. This is heavy teaching. Jesus was not giving a theological position on salvation; He was speaking directly to the disciples who refused to believe!
Let’s act while we can.
Last week we looked at two occasions when the Lord appeared to His disciples and the original 11 did not believe it.
“Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen Him after He had risen” (Mark 16:14).
Has it ever occurred to you that the first time Jesus appeared to His own disciples, it was with words of rebuke? Certainly Jesus must have understood the pressure the disciples were under with all the persecution, grief, and confusion. Surely Jesus loved them and had a plan for each of their lives. But, Jesus didn’t come into this world to pamper us and tell us how wonderful we are. No, He came into this world, and spent three years training these disciples how, to enter into spiritual warfare and see the blind set free.
I firmly believe that we Christians are seeing such spiritual defeat in our lives and in our churches because we are not entering into the battle. We are sitting in our ease waiting for Jesus to fight the battle for us. However, He only fights for us in response to risks we ourselves take in service to Him.
If Jesus spoke words of comfort to you today, what would it sound like? Would He be saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant“, or would He be rebuking us for such little faith in a crucial time?
As Mark concludes his account of the life of Jesus, we read that the disciples refused to believe that Jesus had risen when Mary Magdalene was an eyewitness. “Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either” (Mark 16:12-13).
Although Jesus had raised others from the dead, no one had ever raised themselves from the dead. So, this news was hard for thinking people to receive. And note that this current verse says that He appeared in a different form to two other disciples. Is it possible that Jesus could appear in a different form to people today? Why not?
If Jesus could appear as another man, is it possible that Jesus could appear in the form of a woman? Why not? How about someone from another race? Why not?
I’m interested in your comments to these questions about Jesus appearing today. What do you think?
“When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen Him, they did not believe it” (Mark 16:9-11).
Jesus had assembled a motley crew of disciples. Among them were a Publican, a terrorist, and this woman who had been demon-possessed. They were not an impressive bunch hiding out there in the upper room. Their emotions were raw and their hearts were full of fear that the hostility of the crowd would spill over onto them.
The first to see Jesus risen was Mary Magdalene, whose life had been dramatically changed. When she reported the encounter to the disciples, they refused to believe. Because their hope had been stripped, they could not believe in anything beyond their own selves.
Hope is a necessity in life. Without hope, we might as well end it all. But seeing Jesus had revived hope in Mary. Getting a glimpse of Jesus always revives hope in people. Get another good look at Jesus today and remember what His word says, and have your hope restored.
“Why should I forgive you?” asks the Lord. “‘Your children have forsaken Me and sworn by gods that are not gods. I supplied all their needs, yet they committed adultery and thronged to the houses of prostitutes. They are well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for another man’s wife. Should I not punish them for this?’ declares the Lord. ‘Should I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this’?” (Jeremiah 5:7-9).
This word from God came as the prophet Jeremiah was interceding for God’s people. The prayer was for Israel being destroyed by the invading Babylonian Army. This occurred centuries ago, but the context sounds like he’s writing about the United States in the 21st Century. While Christians are crying out for deliverance from God, the people continue to break every rule in the book, like toddlers in their Terrible Twos.
The Lord made this declaration to Jeremiah, who was interceding. Could it be this prophecy is about to repeat itself in America? Does God have a legitimate right to discipline His children? Should we not heed this warning and clean up our own houses?