Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

Mark 16:9-20

“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.  And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.  And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.”(Mark 16:9-11)

When the women went into the city and told the disciples what they found, Peter and John went to the tomb and saw the empty tomb and the grave clothes.   After they went back, Mary remained at the tomb and saw the Lord, but the disciples did not believe her when she told them about it, as John 20:11-18 describes.

“After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.  And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.” (Mark 16:12-13)

Later in the day, Jesus appeared to two disciples on the way to Emmaus as described in Luke 24:13-35.  The disciples still didn’t really believe it.

“Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.” (Mark 16:14)

Jesus’ appearing to the eleven that same evening  is also described in  Luke 24:36-48 and John 20:19-23.  He would spend the next forty days teaching them and preparing them for when he ascended into heaven, although only a little of his teaching during this period is recorded.    

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.   He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.  And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:15-18)

It was during this period that Jesus gave the great commission to go into all the world and reach all peoples rather than just the Jews.  He made the point that faith in Christ was essential for the Gentiles to be saved, just as it was for the Jews.    Many have mistaken the word baptism here as referring to being baptized in the water rather than the spiritual baptism described in Romans 6:3-7.  “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin.”   Water baptism only illustrates the spiritual baptism, and without faith, is meaningless and cannot save anyone.   God would work the same in both Jews and Gentiles, producing the same spiritual results in their lives.  In Christ, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile as Romans 10:12-13 tells us.  “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. “

“So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.  And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” (Mark 16:19-20)

Forty days after the resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven, as described in Acts 1.  The disciples began reaching out to the world as commanded, spreading the gospel throughout the Roman Empire.  Mark was written  about 50-53 AD, about half way through the book of Acts and by that time a large number of churches had been established.  

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