Daily Readings & Thought for August 21st. “THEY WOULD NOT BELIEVE IT”
Today we completed reading the Gospel of Mark. One needs to compare all 4 Gospels to get a full picture of events after Christ rose from the dead. Such was the awesome sight of Christ’s horrible death on the cross, whether seen from nearby or from afar, that his followers could not begin to imagine he could rise from the dead again – as had Lazarus: the one who had the power to raise others was dead himself.
Mary Magdalene, according to Mark, was the first one that Jesus appeared to (ch. 16 v.9) which is parallel with the detailed account in John’s gospel (ch,20 v.11-18) . In Mark we read “she went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.” [v.10,11]
The next 2 verses are a summary of what is recorded in Luke 24 v.13-33 of the 2 disciples to whom, an unrecognised Jesus talked on the road to Emmaus – and made their “hearts burn” as he opened to them the meaning of Scripture – obviously prophecies, now fulfilled in recent events – then followed their astonished recognition of him as they “brake bread” – what a shock when they saw his hands!
Mark says, “they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them”. [v.14] Jesus appears and tells them to go into all the world and proclaim the gospel …” [v.15] which is repeated as he is about to ascend to heaven before their astonished gaze. (Acts 1 v.8,9) followed by the challenging words of the angels “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven will come in the same way as you saw him go …”
Looking at Mark again, he stresses the final commission of Jesus’, “”Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel …” [v.15] and the commission to do that is now at last just about completed. But is enough stress being put upon what the Gospel actually is? Paul, in writing to the Galatians expresses his astonishment that already some were “turning to a different gospel” [1 v.7] and makes the point “that God … preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham …” [ch.3 v.8] of the blessing to come on the nations. Christ warned his hearers, “there will be weeping … when you see Abraham … in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves cast out.” [Luke 13 v.28] Let us believe the original gospel.
Returning to Mark – he quotes one of the final points of Jesus that was an essential part of the preaching; “Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” [v.16] Everyone must face the question, “Do you believe what Jesus actually taught?’ Sadly, very few are saying ‘Yes’ today.