I have been teaching through the Gospel of Mark with a group of men and it has been amazing to see the ministry of Jesus Christ, especially how relevant it is today. This is the final lesson in a 3 part series on the Gospel of Mark. I began teaching it back in the Fall of 2018. We are currently in the Summer of 2019. It is the shortest Gospel in the New Testament but, it is powerful and full of amazing information that stirs up life transformation. If you have not been following along through the entire study, the following 16 articles will be very helpful in helping you catch up.
- Jesus: Experiencing His Life and Ministry
- Jesus the Rescuing Teacher
- The unpardonable sin
- The parable of the sower and the seed
- Failing Faith needs a Faithful Friend
- Jesus serves individuals
- Discipleship according to Jesus
- Genuine Faith honors the Scriptures over religious traditions
- The teachings of Pharisees vs. The teachings of Jesus Christ
- Encountering the life changing power of Jesus Christ
- Getting Connect with God through Christ
- Superficial faith vs. Genuine faith
- The Second Coming of Christ
- Peter’s Denial of Christ
- Jesus’ Trial
- Christ’s Crucifixion Prophesied
The crucifixion has taken place. God the Son is dead. What is going to happen next? Jesus had been telling His followers that He would be resurrected on the 3rd Day, the first day of the week, which is Sunday. They had not paid much attention. This is where the story picks up in Mark 15.
There were many witnesses to the crucifixion, yet, Mark chooses to focus on the women who were there.
There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome. (Mark 15:40)
After mentioning that they were witnesses to the crucifixion, Mark then goes on to give us more details about these ladies.
When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem. (Mark 15:41)
These ladies were not just simple followers, joining the rest of the crowds to see a crucifixion. They were ministers. They were followers of Christ during His ministry and they ministered to Jesus. In fact, it was not just these two ladies but, as Mark notes, there were many women who followed Him. This is important. These women are going to be eye-witnesses to 3 major events in a very short period of time. God is preparing them to share what they have seen, heard, and experienced.
43 Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.
44 Pilate wondered if He was dead by this time, and summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already dead.
45 And ascertaining this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.
46 Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.
47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were looking on to see where He was laid. (Mark 15)
These ladies saw the death of Christ on the cross and then they saw Him laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. As I mentioned, these are two of the three major events that happen in a short time.
1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him.
2 Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.
3 They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” (Mark 16)
These same ladies are the first two on the scene on Sunday. They want to anoint the body of Christ with burial spices. They are worried about who will roll the heavy stone away for them because it was too heavy for two people to move.
4 Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large.
5 Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.
6 And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. (Mark 16)
These two ladies are the first people to discover that Jesus has risen from the dead. They saw His death. They saw His burial. Now they have seen His resurrection. They are viable witnesses and are ready to go and proclaim this resurrection to others. The first two people to proclaim the resurrection of Christ are two ladies. There are religions in the world today that do not value the testimony of women. The testimony of the resurrection of the Lord hinges on the eye-witness testimony of women. What a great God we serve! in Christ, like the Apostle Paul testified:
27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3)
What are these ladies going to do with the knowledge that they have attained?
7 “But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’ ”
8 They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. (Mark 16)
They go back to the disciples and testify to what they have seen, heard, and experienced. How will the disciples respond? Jesus had been preparing them for this very moment yet they had not paid close attention.
12 After that, He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country.
13 They went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either.
14 Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. (Mark 16)
The disciples did not believe the women. Two other brothers in Christ witnessed the resurrected Christ. They went back to share with the disciples and the disciples still did not believe, until Jesus appeared to them personally. Then He rebuked them for not believing the eye-witness accounts. Jesus stayed with the disciples for a while. What did He do with them for the 40 days that He met with them, before His ascension? The Gospel writer, Dr. Luke, gives us the answer to this question in his Gospel.
44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day,
47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Luke 24)
Jesus did Bible study with the disciples, teaching them from the Old Testament about the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah. Faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah leads to repentance and forgiveness of sins. Now the disciples are ready to be commissioned to go and teach the Word of God to the world. They have been in training for 3 years. They just witnessed the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. They had a crash course in Old Testament theology so that they would know how to lead people to the Messiah through the Word of God. All they need now is to be sent out to go to work.
After thoroughly training the disciples, Jesus sends them out to go to work doing what they had been trained to do.
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. (Mark 16:15)
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28)
When we put these two passages together, we get a clear picture of the commissioning of these well trained disciples. They are to go in all the world and preach the Gospel to anyone who will listen. This preaching the Gospel is under the umbrella of making disciples of Jesus Christ. There are two parts to making disciples. We must evangelize (preach the Gospel to anyone who will listen) and equip the ones who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We equip them to be good disciples and to make good disciples. We do this by teaching the Word of God to them and teaching them how to teach the Word of God to others. How long are we supposed to do this? We are to make disciples until we die and go to be with Christ or, when Christ returns to take us to Himself. If neither of these events has happened then, we are to be about making disciples.
There is a clear picture that emerges in Mark 16 of the impact (effect) of the Gospel in a person’s life.
“He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. (Mark 16:16)
The pattern, according to verses 15 and 16 is:
- Hear the Gospel
- Believe the Gospel
- Be saved
- Be baptized
Condemnation does not come as a result of not being baptized. Condemnation comes as a result of not believing the message of the Gospel. If you do not believe the message of the Gospel, then you are not saved. If you are not saved then there is no need to be baptized. Have you heard the message of the Gospel? Do you believe the message of the Gospel? Has your belief led to salvation? (rescue from sin) Have you testified to your faith and salvation by being baptized? Are you on mission to make disciples until the day that you die or until Christ returns?
Are the disciples going to obey this commissioning?
Jesus has done everything. He prepared the disciples. He died and rose again. He has trained the disciples and commissioned them. What are they going to do with this?
And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.] [And they promptly reported all these instructions to Peter and his companions. And after that, Jesus Himself sent out through them from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. ] (Mark 16:20)
The disciples were obedient to the calling that they were given. They went out and preached the Gospel everywhere, with anyone who would listen. The Lord was doing the work through them as they surrendered to Him. They went about teaching the Word of God, just as they had been taught. The message of eternal salvation spread throughout the world because of their obedience to the commission that they were given. We find one more example of a disciple who obeyed the commission given to us to make disciples by preaching the Gospel to all creation. That disciple is the Apostle Paul. The passage is known as the Resurrection Chapter in the Bible. It is I Corinthians 15. I am just going to focus on verse 1-8 in this section. The first thing that we learn about Paul is that he saw preaching the Gospel to the people of Corinth as the most important thing that he could do for them. He did not come to help them make money. He did not come to help them overthrow the government. He did not come to help them end slavery. He came with one purpose, to teach them how to be followers of Jesus Christ according to the Word of God. While in Corinth, Paul taught the Scriptures to the Corinthians. He showed the Corinthians, from the Old Testament, that the Messiah would die for our sins, that He would be buried, and that on the 3rd day, He would resurrect from the dead. Paul was so confident of the resurrection of Jesus Christ that he sent the people to go and check with other eye-witnesses to see if it really happened. He gives them a list of people with whom they could check. There are the 12 apostles who are still alive. There are about 500 believers who witnessed it, most of whom are still alive. There is James and then Paul uses himself as a witness because he was an eye-witness to the resurrected Christ. The Apostle Paul could not wait to teach the Scriptures to the Corinthians as he was on a mission to make disciples.
The original Apostles were obedient to their calling. The Apostle Paul was obedient to his calling. What about you, my dear friend, are you being obedient to the call to make disciples around the world? Do you have people to whom you can point and say, “those are disciples of Christ that I have made, or helped make”? If not, then why do you not have disciples? As a follower of Christ, this is a command to you, just as it is a command to me. You still have time to start, as long as there is breath in your lungs and Jesus has not returned. Why not get started today? Maybe it is training that you lack. Don’t let that stop you. Seek out a teacher who will disciple you in the Word of God, teaching you to observe the Word of God carefully so that you can teach that same Word to others. You will be amazed at how God will use you in a mighty way. May the Lord help us be good witnesses to what we have seen, heard, and experienced!