Mark 16:15-20 NRSVue
15And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. 16The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
19So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20And 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.]]
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Some thoughts on this scripture
When I look at these signs that should company believers, my heart sinks. I have never risked picking up snakes or drinking poison, and cannot be sure that I have ever cured a sick person. But when I think about the world I live in, I see room for hope. The name of Jesus strengthens me in times of great fear, when confronted by the unknown, by danger or by evil. I try to learn new tongues, including the language of the Worldwide Web. And there is always a need for healing hands to help the sick. I have good news to spread, that God is our loving parent, and his love is changing lives despite obstacles and problems.
The words of Jesus at the end of his Easter appearances link heaven and earth. From his place in heaven, the Lord works with us and is a companion in the work of proclaiming good news. His friendship with each of us is good news for us. We are to share that in different situations. Prayer deepens in us the sense that the message of Jesus is good news in our own lives and, through us, in the lives of others.
Each of us is called into the ministry of Jesus in some way. We are called to be 'other Christs', to be people who wish to make known and spread the love of God and his care for his people in the world. We may never know how much we have done this; it is sufficient that we do what we can. God has some work to do that can be done only through each person. In a time of prayer we ask that we use our gifts and talents as best we can in God's service.
The final departure of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit gave new strength and energy to the group of disciples. The new message seems to transcend boundaries like language among people and illness within people, and that evil does not conquer. From heaven the Lord continues his work on earth through his followers.
This section of Mark's Gospel is generally regarded by scholars as a later gloss inserted to soften the risen Jesus' criticism of the Eleven. (16:14) "And he rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart because they did not believe those who saw him after he had been raised." It explains the apostles' unbelief as due to the age in which they lived before Jesus' death and resurrection opened up the possibility of true belief and righteousness. In the light of such belief, the disciples are to go to the whole world and proclaim the good news to every creature.
I consider what I need to be better able to proclaim the gospel message.