Mark 16:9-20: He’s back!

“9 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. 10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.  12 Afterwards Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.  14 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.  15 He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.16 Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 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 people who are ill, and they will get well.’  19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. NIV UK

The story of the resurrection may have that ‘too good to be true’ feel about it. The first witnesses were met with incredulity also (11, 13 and 14). But many people who start out shaking their heads in disbelief, end up on their knees in wonder. We should not be surprised. As the last verse shows, the Lord is alive, and He works ‘’with’’ His church. He meets people today. He speaks to us. He shows us He is alive.  I remember the first time I saw the play of ‘the Lion, the witch and the wardrobe’. We had watched Aslan be slain at the hands of the wicked witch. But when, a little while later, he appeared triumphantly alive at the top of the steps towards the rear of the theatre, we wanted to cheer. Something of the thrill of the resurrection story vibrated through us. The symbolism rang loud bells in our hearts.  The message for a sin-infected world is ‘Danger, God at work!’ Sin and evil are under threat, because Jesus is alive, and His Kingdom is coming.

So let’s conclude our look at Mark’s gospel with a great big ‘Hallelujah!’ A.W. Tozer commented that some people come home from a ball game hoarse from shouting, but in the church our joy doesn’t often come close to that. How sad when we have such a thrilling message. He’s back!

‘The stone was rolled away, not to let Jesus out, but to let the church in.’ Seeing what we see, how can we be silent?