The Book of Mark #107 chapter 16;9-20
The Book of Mark
The Ending of the Gospel
Mark 16:9-20
 
I want us to return one more time tonight to the book of Mark, and look again at the ending of chapter 16.  I don’t feel like I gave enough time to the verses we considered last week, and I don’t want to leave you with the impression they are not credible or unimportant or shouldn’t be considered. 
 
As I said, there are lots of questions and considerations regarding this text because it isn’t in the oldest and most reliable manuscripts, however, there are many scholars who argue quite strongly that these words are, indeed, authentic and that they are intended to be a part of Mark's gospel.
 
And as I said last time, almost everything you find in these verses  can be found in the other three gospels and that leads me to conclude that what we have here was intended by God to be here, so since we have been so in depth and detailed with the rest of the book, I didn’t want to leave this out and miss the blessing of studying this section as well. 
 
It is important to note that the conclusion of Mark's gospel, including these verses, ends just exactly as it should.  It begins with the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and it ends with the gospel of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord. These verses call Jesus the Lord. He is referred to here as the Lord. This Sunday morning we’re going to look at what it means to call Jesus Christ the Lord.
So this text will make a great introduction to that message and you’ll be that much farther ahead of those who don’t come on Wednesday nights. 
 
First of all, these verses reveal
 
1. The Lord's Appearance
 
Notice in verse 9-14 that three times we are specifically told that Jesus appeared. 
 
For instance, in verse 9 He appeared to Mary Magdalene, in verse 12, he appeared in another form unto two of them and in verse 14, afterwards he appeared to the eleven. There are actually ten or eleven appearances of Jesus after his resurrection.
 
For a period of 40 days, Jesus walked on the earth, revealed himself to his disciples and gave them unquestionable proof that he was alive. In Acts 1:3, the Bible says that Jesus showed himself alive by many infallible proofs. These people, who were not prepared for the resurrection of Jesus, came to be absolutely totally convinced that Jesus Christ had walked out of the tomb and that he is alive forever more.
 
I want you to notice the three appearances which Mark gives to us. The first appearance is the one that Jesus made to Mary Magdalene. In this appearance, He rekindles love.
 
When you study the life of Mary Magdalene you will discover that here is a woman who had a great reason to love Jesus. In fact, Mark says in this 9th verse that Jesus had cast out seven demons from Mary Magdalene.
There is no evidence in 3 Scripture that Mary Magdalene was an immoral woman. A few years ago there was a blasphemous rock musical entitled, Jesus Christ, Superstar. In this rock musical, Mary Magdalene was pictured as a prostitute making attempts to seduce the Lord Jesus.
 
By the way, that rock musical made Judas the hero and made Jesus the buffoon of the whole thing as well. Let me say to you that that is an absolute perversion of the New Testament teaching.
 
We are told that the Lord cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene and nowhere are we told that she was an immoral woman. The love which Mary Magdalene had for Jesus was a love which arose from an appreciation in her heart of what he had done for her in freeing her from the shackles of her sin and giving her a new life in him.
 
So, she loved Jesus with all of her heart. The Lord Jesus reveals himself to her in all of his risen glory. The Lord Jesus Christ just speaks to Mary Magdalene and her love for Jesus Christ is rekindled.
 
And that’s the way it ought to be.  Those who have been forgiven much, love much.  Once you have an awareness of just what Jesus has really done for you, it will create in your heart an unbounded love for Jesus. One of the most profound truths that can ever grip the human heart is the truth that Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong, he is weak, but I am strong.
 
My heart is overwhelmed today when I think of the love of Jesus. Love responds to love. If someone loves you, you want to love them.
If you love someone, you want them to love you. You and I, as believers in the Lord Jesus, serve and know a Savior who is alive and who loves us with an everlasting love. Jesus said if you love me, I love you. Jesus says I will make myself real to you. So, the resurrected Lord appears to Mary Magdalene and he rekindles her love.
 
She is so excited and thrilled about the love of the living Lord that she runs and tells them about it. Yet, the Bible says they didn't believe it.
 
The second appearance of the Lord was to two on the road. This is recorded in more full form in the 24th chapter of Luke's gospel. These two were on the road to Emmaus. Jesus, the living Lord, revealed himself to them and when he did Jesus Christ restored their hope.
 
They had lost their hope. In fact they said to Jesus before they realized who he was, we had trusted, we had hoped that Jesus would be the one who would restore, redeem Israel. They had lost their hope so they were going back to their businesses. They were going back to their homes. They were going back to their previous pursuits. They had lost their hope.
 
Yet, when Jesus Christ, the living Savior, revealed himself to them, so excited and thrilled were they in this renewed hope that they turned and went back the eleven miles to let it be known that their Savior was alive.  This message of the resurrection of Jesus is the message of hope which this world so desperately needs.
 
 
You read the literature of the times and you will become aware that we are in an age where there is hopelessness. Listen to the music of our age and you will again come to the realization that we are living in a time when people seem to have no hope whatsoever. They have lost hope. Many a person realizes they are situation where there is no hope.
 
A little family stands outside a hospital room. The doctor walks out, shakes his head, and looks at them and says there is nothing we can do. He's not going to make it. It is a message of hopelessness. Everywhere we turn people seem to have lost their hope. Those who do not know Christ and those who do not know the promise of eternal life which Jesus has given to them, find themselves facing the impending reality of death and they have no hope whatsoever.
 
The Bible says if you die without Jesus Christ you will die in your sins and you have not a hope in eternity. The only hope for life after death is in the fact that Jesus Christ rose again from the dead and will make himself real to you in a new birth experience.
 
This is wonderful to know that the risen Lord renews hope. He places hope in our hearts. Ten thousand years from now the children of God will be more alive in their glorified bodies than they are in these old mortal bodies right now. We are going to live forever because Jesus died and rose again and came forth the victorious living Lord.
 
These appearances of Jesus rekindled love, the restored hope, but they also renew faith.
 
In the 14th verse, he appeared unto the eleven. You will notice all through these verses it says they didn't believe. They didn't believe. The purpose of all this is just simply to say to us that these people who became the firs witnesses of the resurrection gospel were not pre-programmed to believe that Jesus was alive.
 
In fact, their unbelief was rather stubborn. They were rather persistent in their unbelief, were they not? So, the only thing that renewed their faith was the appearance of the resurrected Lord Jesus. The thing that was important was not their faith.
 
The thing that was important was the object of their faith. Faith, in order to be valid, has got to be fully grounded upon facts. There must be substance to your faith. In one sense of the word, everybody has faith whether they believe they do or not.  Everybody believes in something. Everybody has some kind of object to their faith.
 
God has innately placed in the heart of man the ability to believe. Everybody believes something, but the question comes, is there an adequate object of your faith? Is your faith grounded upon some fact that is substantial?
 
 Suppose you are in a tall building and the building is on fire. There is no way to get down. The elevators are out of commission. The stairways are filled with smoke. There you stand at the window way up there in the building at floors above the ground. The only possible hope you have got is to jump out of that building. I say to you, “Go ahead and jump. It will save your life.  It will save you from the fire.”
 
You say, “Is there anything down there to catch me?”  I say, “It doesn't really matter whether there is anything down there to catch you or not just as long as you believe there is. As long as you have faith there is something there, it doesn't matter whether there is anything or not.”
 
So you jump. You go down about six floors, so far, so good. You fall another six more floors and nothing tragic happens. But I've got news for you in about thirty more feet, unless there is some intervention that breaks your fall, when you get down there to the bottom, I don't care how much you believe, I don't care how strong your faith was, unless there was something to catch you when you hit the ground--splat. It's all over for you.
 
Your faith is only as substantial as the object of your faith. That’s why it is so important that when someone confesses their faith as a believer, they understand, “We confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and our confession is the belief in our heart that God raised Him from the dead.”
 
That is the substance of true, saving faith.  The Bible doesn’t give us any sinner’s prayers or talk about making a decision for Christ.  It talks about the confession of our faith and the belief of our heart.  And in the immediate days after the resurrection, we find Jesus, as one would expect, moving in the hearts and lives of His disciples to rekindle their love, restore their hope and renew their faith. So, these verses reveal the Lord's appearance.
 
Then there is a second revelation of our Lord in these verses and it tells us about  
 
2. The Lord's Assignment
 
verses 15-18
 
Jesus gives these eleven men an assignment. And keep in mind, this is post-resurrection.  Also, keep in mind that of the original twelve, one, Judas, has betrayed the Lord and hung himself so now there are eleven.
 
Of this eleven, one of them, Simon Peter, has denied he knew the Lord with profanity and curses. The rest of them have run away and deserted the Lord and they are now sitting behind closed doors with their knees knocking to the tune of Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.
 
And suddenly the Lord shows up and says to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
 
I can just see those guys turn around and say, “Who's he talking to? Here we are afraid to get out of the building, afraid we are going to get crucified too and now he's saying to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
 
What a naïve, audacious thing to say to this little ragtag group, and yet, you’ve read the New Testament.  You know what happened.  Before the first century was over, Jerusalem, which historians estimate had a population of around 200,000 and half of them were won to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
 
They spiritually shook their world for the Lord Jesus Christ. You and I this very morning are feeling the effects of the witness of those eleven men. Because they went into tall the world, the gospel eventually made it to you and me. 
 
And with the privilege comes the responsibility to do what they did. Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. That word, preach, is a Greek word which means to announce as a herald. It is a word used for an ambassador who had an announcement to make from the King.
 
You and I have announcement to make from the king of king and Lord of Lords. It's the good news about Jesus Christ. It's the good news about whoever you may be and wherever you may be, though you have sinned and deserve hell God loves you and wants to give you heaven.
 
 In the person of his Son, He punished sin and made it possible for you to have forgiveness of your sins. God said you go tell the whole world about that. Everybody has a right to hear that. Every human being in this world has a right to hear that.
 
Missionary Oswald Smith said many years ago, “Why should anybody in the world hear the gospel twice until everybody has heard it once?”
 
We're to go beginning at Jerusalem and at Judea and Samaria and into the uttermost parts of the earth. He breaks down the assignment. Obviously, not all of us can go everywhere and preach the gospel to every creature, but we can give money to send missionaries that they may go and pray for them as they serve. 
That’s why I love being a Southern Baptist.  I can have part in the fulfillment of the Lord’s command every moment of every day all over the world. 
 
And I can get very personally involved in my Jerusalem, right where I am, telling the gospel to every person. God has given us an assignment.
 
And notice what He says in
 
verse 16
 
The main thought of that verse is not baptism. He is not teaching here that you have to be baptized to be saved. The crucial word is, believe. Baptism does not confer salvation, it confirms salvation.  Baptism is an outward act which demonstrates an inward experience. He did not say he that does not believe and is not baptized is condemned. 
 
It is the one who does not believe that is condemned.  Remember, we confess with our mouth and believe in our heart. 
 
So, we have here in these verse gospel proclamation--go preach the gospel. We have gospel reception--believe. Then number three we have gospel confirmation.
 
Verses 17-20
 
It is important to keep in mind these early Christians did not have a New Testament. At this point in time, the apostles, many of them, were involved in writing the New Testament, but there was no New Testament.
So the Lord allowed them to do some miraculous things to authenticate their message. Basically, in the absence of a New Testament, the signs were a testimony to the Word of God they delivered.  Today we have a full and completed revelation from God.  It tells us of the miracles and amazing things that happened, but we don’t have to have accompanying signs because we have the Bible.  
 
And for that reason, among others, I believe that signs and miracles were apostolic gifts for that time and that age and need has passed.   And by the way, the sign was never the center of the message.  IT was the attention getter so the gospel could be preached.  
 
In regard to these confirming signs, Jesus mentions five things that would confirm their message. 
 
He talks about casting out demons and they did that. They would speak in new tongues and that happened.  They would take up serpents and Paul did that. They would drink anything deadly without it hurting them and we have no record of that. They would lay hands on the sick and they would recover and that is recorded also. 
 
According to the New Testament, there is no question that the apostles did these very things. But the age of signs ceased with the apostles. 
 
But please hear me:  That doesn’t not lessen God ability to do miracles or heal or anything He wants to do.  So what is the message of these verses? 
 
 
Simply this:  When you and I go out seeking to win souls to Jesus Christ, God will give us the necessary power and provide the protection to do everything we need to do.  In simple words, He was saying to them, and through them saying to us, “You preach the gospel and I'll take care of you.”
 
The Lord's appearance, the Lord's assignment, one final thing:
 
3. The Lord's Ascension
 
verses 19-20
 
The battle was over, the victory was won and the sacrifice he made was complete and concluded and now as resurrected living Lord, He went up and sat down.  He is at the right hand of the Father and there, He is at work in and through His spiritual body, the Church, to do the same things He did while He was here in the flesh. 
 
In fact, in those two verses we have this beautiful picture of those two things in perfect relationship.  We find a sacrificed Savior Who has completely fulfilled the mission of salvation, now honored and seated in the place of authority in heaven working though His church on earth as He protects and provides everything they need to get the job done.    That's how the gospel ends. It begins with Jesus, it ends with Jesus.
 
Mark wrote the beginning of the gospel and you and I have the privilege of writing the ending as we continue His work on earth. 
 
Let’s pray.
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