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What Doesn’t Belong
Some passages are not in the older manuscripts–like . . .
the Gospel of Mark 16:9 to 20
Sometimes, what we say is really confusing. Why do “slow down” and “slow up” mean the same thing? Why do “fat chance” and “slim chance” mean the same thing? Why do tug boats push their barges? Why do we sing, “Take me out to the ball game,” when we are already there? Why are they called “stands”, when they are made for sitting?
Doesn’t “expecting the unexpected” make the unexpected expected? Why are a “wise man” and a “wise guy” opposites? Why is “phonics” not spelled the way it sounds? Why do we put suits in garment bags and garments in a suitcase? How come abbreviated is such a long word? Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?
In contrast to our language confusion, God gives us His Word directly, clearly, straightforward. Never with a desire for us to be confused, but with a desire for us to know and be transformed by His Word. This book is the Christian’s food, comfort, light, instruction and vehicle to know God, yet it is ignored and rejected. The second greatest gift God has given to the Christian, this book is the best gift you can ever give away–why?
1. It’s the only book that comes from God
2. It’s the only book that will keep you pure and mature you
3. It is the only book that guides you into God’s will
4. It’s the only book that will build you up when you feel down
5. It’s the only book that gives you the big picture to see truth, reality, and the future
This book is what keeps the Christian from sin, but tragically it’s usually sin that keeps the Christian from the Bible.
Last week, I introduced this final section of Mark with, “You Can Trust Your Bible,” and gave you reasons why you can. Today we wrap up our study of the gospel of Mark, examining the final section in this gospel to determine why these last verses, Mark 16:9 to 20, actually do not belong in your Bible. Really? Yes.
Our commitment as a church, and as preachers, is first and foremost not to wow you, move you, impress you, tickle you, or make you cry–it is to teach you what the Bible means by what it says. The mission of this pulpit is to show you what the original authors, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, meant to say to their audience, in the Greek language, back when they wrote in that culture. In other words, to determine the authors’ intended meaning. Only after that can we make legitimate application for today.
There’s only one correct interpretation for every passage of Scripture. I’m seeking to draw out, to exegete, with the use of intense study in the original language and with the help of men who have studied these passages now for almost 2,000 years, to expose you to the author’s intended meaning. Authorial intent–what did Mark mean when Mark wrote in the Greek Language just under 2,000 years ago to a Roman audience, as he was moved by the Spirit of Truth?
This book, the Bible, is God’s inspired Word–it is what Jesus would say if He were physically present today. We need to hear from Him. Not fancy, practical principles from the Bible on how to keep a clean house. Not series about some theological document one guy wrote in 1500. Not trendy series about what Christ is doing in this world, but sermons that work their way through the Word of God as God wrote it–that don’t skip over the difficult issues, that don’t burp and go on when the text says homosexuality is sin, women submit to their husbands, husbands lovingly link with and lead their wives, the church is to discipline its own, the world was created in six 24-hour days, sign gifts have ceased, Christian liberty requires wisdom, God is sovereign in salvation and more.
The commitment of FBC is to expose God’s Word to you as written. We won’t be as entertaining as other churches–not quite as clever, not as sensational, not as appealing, not as emotional. But we will, every week, do our very best to let you hear from God Himself. We are to work our way, verse-by-verse, and not pass over anything–even if it’s hard, difficult, scary, counter-cultural, or not funny.
And today is one of those sections where it might be hard for you to hear, because today I have to show you that this section of verses, Mark 16:9 to 20 actually is not a part of what Mark wrote originally. Follow along in your outline, and open to Mark 16.
Most of you wisely have a good study bible, an ESV or NASB, and if you do, hopefully you’ve noticed the brackets around this section of Scripture starting in verse 9 and ending after verse 20. Sometimes there’ll be a note in the margin, explaining that these verses are not in the oldest manuscripts, nor the best ones.
We reviewed last week that the Bible in your lap is drawn from over 25,000 manuscripts of the Bible, some as old as 100 to 125 AD. As a result, we can have great confidence that the precious Bible you hold is what the original authors wrote. That cherished Bible you have has an amazing and costly history.
For thousands of years, men and women have lost their lives to make certain you wouldn’t lose your Bible. And for thousands of years, there has been a careful, detailed commitment to preserve the copies of the original manuscripts, counting words, counting letters in lines, constant checking, so now when you read your Bible you can trust what it says–you can know you have an accurate translation of the original.
#1 THE FOUNDATION: How did you get your Bible?
I am indebted to several books and commentators for this information–Perspectives on the Ending of Mark, MacArthur on Mark, Hendrickson New Testament Commentary. All translations of Scripture are based on ancient sources that have been discovered in libraries and archeological finds. They are analyzed for accuracy, and they’re studied by the most fastidious, dutiful, thoughtful scholars throughout the centuries. So carefully it’s clear that if you have a formal equivalency Bible, a Bible that seeks a word-for-word translation from the original documents, like the NASB or ESV, you have an accurate Bible.
Friends, your New Testament started with Christ, who is the Truth, written by the Spirit of Truth and has been maintained by the God of Truth, providentially to give you the truth. You remember what Jesus said in John 16:13, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”
The Holy Spirit, who is the author of Scripture, inspiring every writer of Scripture, is also the preserver of Scripture. Supernaturally, He moved on the writers without disrupting their own words, thoughts or ideas, so that they wrote exactly what He wanted them to write.
I believe through providence He also motivated the preservers to make certain the Scripture stayed pure for history. The original manuscript Mark wrote was carefully and fastidiously copied by hand over and over and over. The printing press didn’t show up til around AD 1500. So everything up to that time was copied by hand, yet those scribes understood the seriousness of what they did.
It was so serious to them, one scribe copying an Old Testament book would carefully write down one single letter. He’d then leave and take a bath, then write the next letter and go take a bath. And he did that until the entire Old Testament was copied–a clean copy. It was his way, using a type of ceremonial cleansing, to remind himself after every letter of the importance of what he was copying. He was definitely pruny, but very, very, very accurate.
Focusing on the New Testament, in the beginning these copyists were copying the original texts written by Paul or Mark or James. They knew what they had in their hands, and they copied it carefully because they understood it was Holy Scripture. So from what they copied, today we have over 25,000 copies of the New Testament that are extant, meaning they now exist. As a result of having so many, we can compare them–and as they are amazingly similar, we can come up with an accurate translation. The Spirit of Truth preserved the truth for you and me.
The Dead Sea scrolls which were discovered in the mid-1900s, but were written before the time of Christ, showed us once again we have an amazingly accurate Old Testament–again demonstrating to us that the Spirit of Truth is preserving the truth for us. And last week we learned that no other ancient literature even comes close to the mass of manuscripts we have of the New Testament, and no ancient document demonstrates such uniformity and consistency.
Of the 25,000 ancient New Testament manuscripts, 5,600 are written in Greek and go way back to the second and third centuries. The one that dates back to AD 100 is called P-52–it is a part of the gospel of John, and John himself lived all the way up to AD 90, making P-52 a probable copy of the original gospel that John himself wrote, or at least very near.
These early documents are called papyrus, because they were written on an early form of paper and rolled into a scroll. One document called the Bodmer Papyri contains the gospels of John and Luke, and is dated AD 175. Then the famous scroll called the Chester Beatty Papyrus has all four gospels and the book of Acts, and is dated AD 200. Those are just two of 5,600, and what makes that number amazing is the second and third century persecution of Christians with an intent to destroy the New Testament Scriptures.
The Roman government sought to stamp out Christianity, yet the Lord preserved these ancient documents for us–accurate manuscripts that were very close to the original texts which were written or overseen by the apostles. Then when Constantine made Christianity legal, there was an explosion of manuscripts now translated in various languages.
Now some manuscripts were bound into volumes and not scrolls, and these are called codexes–and two of the most important codexes are the Codex Sinaiticus [A], which is the entire New Testament written about AD 350. The second Codex is called Codex Vaticanius [B], which is the entire Bible, Old Testament and New Testament, written about AD 325. Remember this–Codex Sinaiticus [A] and Codex Vaticanius [B] both end the gospel of Mark at verse 8.
There are 8,000 ancient copies of the New Testament in Latin called the Vulgate dating around AD 380. Plus there are 350 ancient copies of the New Testament in Syriac that go back to AD 200. Why is this important? Because we have all these ancient copies of the New Testament in various languages, and they all say the same thing.
You ask, “Didn’t any copyist make a mistake?” Sure, it happened. But like I affirmed last week, if they put in a wrong word or a wrong spelling, or left something out, or rarely (like with the end of Mark) they even tried to clarify or add something, we have so many copies we know when they’re doing that. Like if something shows up in a later manuscript, and it’s not in any of the earlier ones, we know it was added later. And that’s what happens at the end of Mark 16:9 to 20.
There is a science called Textual Criticism. One commentator explains it this way–say you have a manuscript in Greek that said, “It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven.” But then you find another fragment of a manuscript and it said, “It’s easier for a cord to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven.”
You certainly can’t put a camel through the eye of a needle, but you could put a cord through the eye of a needle. Which document is the correct one? What would your answer be? There’s only one two-stroke difference between the Greek word for “cord” and the Greek word for “camel”. The overwhelming majority of the texts say camel, not cord–and the oldest, best manuscripts say camel and not cord.
The right answer would not be cord, because nobody would turn cord into camel, but somebody might turn camel into cord. Plus the text actually says, “It’s impossible with man,” and it would be impossible to put a camel through the eye of a needle, but not impossible to put a cord through the eye of a needle. Camel is correct, and that’s a saucy but helpful illustration of the science of textual criticism.
Hopefully, I am giving you a helpful foundation to understand the final verses of the gospel of Mark 16. Verses 9 to 20 is a long textual variance, and we know it was not a part of the original autograph written by Mark, his original papyrus, because it is not in the oldest, best, most accurate Greek manuscripts. And that is why it is in brackets in your good study Bible.
#2 THE QUESTION: Why are verses 9-20 added?
Why is this long ending added here? If it’s not in the original, why is it here? One of the obvious answers is the way Mark actually ended his gospel in verse 8–this is Mark’s closing statement. “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.”
That’s it. Over. End of story. But it seems kinda unfinished. It doesn’t seem like an end–it seems like it just stops. Yet the language is dramatic. The resurrection is shocking. The women are convinced of the resurrection from the empty tomb and because of the angelic announcement. They are terrified and bewildered, but it’s dawned on them that Christ is risen–it’s all true, and in moments they’re full of joy. But Mark ends his gospel telling us they’re speechless.
So Mark is speechless too. Verse 8 says, “they said nothing to anyone,” and that was good enough for Mark–he was the same. He was speechless too and shut his writing down–gospel over. How fitting—the end is so dramatic and so powerful that neither the women nor the writer Mark could speak. So what do you need to add to verse 8? You have an empty tomb, an angelic announcement, and the wonder of eyewitnesses.
Mark started his gospel in chapter 1 verse 1, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Mark is writing to Romans to convince them Christ is the Son of God, and it was a Roman centurion that just declared in Mark 15:39, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” Mark wants you to be convinced Jesus is God in the flesh.
Did he accomplish his goal? Were these 16 chapters enough? Raising the dead, calming the storm, predicting the future in detail, healing all disease, teaching on salvation, describing eternity–is it clear? Is Jesus the Son of God? The centurion declares it–now the resurrection proves it. There is nothing left to say–so Mark is as speechless as the women. He’s proven his point and the gospel now ends with verse 8.
But this bothered a lot of people early in Church history. When the other gospels came out, Mark’s ending looked wimpy. The other gospels included a lot more post-resurrection history. There’s a lot more in Matthew, a whole lot more in Luke, and even more in John. It didn’t seem to match with Mark. Some speculate that Luke actually talked to Mark and said, “No need to write more, I got it covered in my gospel!”
One Early Church Father told us that Peter was the source for Mark’s writing his gospel. So some speculate because Peter was arrested then executed in Rome, Mark couldn’t ask him about what happened after the women left the tomb, so Mark just ended at verse 8. But doesn’t it seem if Mark is inspired and moved by the Holy Spirit to write, he could have kept writing? Yes–sure!
Others speculate Mark intended to use an open-ended gospel as an evangelistic tool for a person-to-person witness. The witness (using the gospel of Mark) then would tell the rest of the story. We don’t know–speculation is useless and can be harmful. So what does the text of verse 8 say? “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.”
The Greek word for trembling is timidity and fear. The Greek word for astonishment is bewilderment and confusion. The Greek word for afraid is phobia, being very, very afraid. The point is, this is very strong language expressing the terrifying bewilderment that has gripped their minds as they begin to understand that Jesus has come back to life.
It is an abrupt and shocking ending–but is it incomplete? That was the complaint. Early on, some felt it was inadequate and insufficient. So what happened? Very early in the second century, a few scribes started adding to Mark. This led again to more speculation. Some felt the ending was lost, so they added their own. The problem with that is this–how can you say something is lost if you didn’t know it existed? And if you did know it existed, it wouldn’t be lost.
Others felt they had to put an ending on Mark and just couldn’t leave it open and unfinished—“We can’t leave it like this.” So what did they add? What they knew to be true. At first they added a short ending that appears in some manuscripts. They added a smaller ending–do you have it? “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.” That’s all true, but it’s not what Mark wrote–they just added it. What does the . . .
First EXTERNAL EVIDENCE tell us?
Remember, there is all kinds of manuscript evidence that verses 9 to 20 were added later. Sinaiticus and Vaticanius both end at verse 8, as do other manuscripts. Our translations today are based on the most ancient and best Greek texts and they do not have the shorter ending, nor the longer ending, verses 9 to 20.
Even in the fourth century, two Church fathers, Eusebius and Jerome both wrote that almost all the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament of Mark end at verse 8. Did they know those other endings existed? Yes they did. They knew they existed. In the second century, Justin Martyr knew about other endings. Irenaeus, in 150 to 200, knew about the long ending. They knew they existed, but by the fourth century Eusebius says, “The Greek manuscripts do not include these endings.”
Now if you have a King James Bible, or a New King James, you’ll find verses 9 to 20 are in the regular flow of text without brackets, because the King James and the New King James are based on a medieval grouping of texts–meaning much later manuscripts. The KJV was written in 1611, and since then we’ve discovered earlier manuscripts, better texts, so all the later translations, NASB and ESV, are based on the earliest ancient New Testament Greek texts. That’s why if you have NASB or ESV it’s bracketed, because the earlier texts omit verses 9 to 20–they don’t exist.
The external evidence strongly indicates verses 9 to 20 don’t belong in your Bible. There are a few other endings floating around–other endings you don’t need to know about, because out of thousands of good documents, there were a few copyists who tried to finish the gospel of Mark for the Holy Spirit and for Mark. Officially, textual scholars and those who dig into the text all agree the external evidence argues for exclusion, not inclusion of verses 9 to 20, meaning those verses are not in Mark. Then what does the . . .
Second INTERNAL EVIDENCE tell us?
Let me read verses 9 to 20, as you read silently from your Bible. “Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it. 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. 15 And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
16 “‘He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. 17 These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.’ 19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.”
The internal evidence also strongly leans for exclusion, meaning verses 9 to 20 are not supposed to be a part of Mark–why?
ONE The transition from verse 8 to 9 is awkward
Verse 9 begins, “Now”–that calls for continuity with the preceding verse 8. However what follows in verse 9 does not continue the story of the women. Verse 8 is talking about the women, then it says in verse 9, “Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene.” There’s no transition there. It’s abrupt, it’s bizarre, it lacks continuity. He should be continuing the story of the women, based on the word “now,” not jumping to the appearance of Mary Magdalene.
TWO In verse 9 there’s a masculine pronoun
A masculine pronoun expects a “he” as its antecedent, not the women “shes”.
THREE Verse 9 says, “He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons.”
Why would Mark identify Mary Magdalene as the one from whom Jesus cast out seven demons? Why would he introduce her here, when she’s been mentioned three times in Mark’s gospel already? You don’t introduce someone after they’ve been mentioned three times, nor at the end of the story.
FOUR In Mark 16:7 the angel said, “ ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’ ”
The angel is speaking of Jesus’ promise to appear to His followers in Galilee, yet all the appearances that are recorded in verses 9 to 20 are of appearances in Jerusalem.
FIVE The vocabulary in 9 to 20 is not consistent with Mark
It doesn’t even read like Mark. There are eighteen words in these verses that are never used anywhere by Mark. The structure is very different from the familiar structure of Mark’s writing. The title “Lord Jesus,” used in verse 19, is never used anywhere else by Mark.
SIX There are also some strange themes in verses 9 to 20
The theme of not believing in verses 11, 14 and 16 and the theme of Gospel proclamation in verses 11 to 20. Those themes don’t exist anywhere in Mark. They’re unique and out of synch as subjects for Mark.
SEVEN The signs
They don’t appear in any of the four gospels, nor is a discussion of signs a part of any post-resurrection appearance of Christ (picking up serpents, speaking with tongues, casting out demons, drinking poison, laying hands on the sick). Now we know from Matthew 10, Mark 6 and Luke 10 that our Lord gave His apostles the power to cast out demons and do miracles.
We see the same at Pentecost and the birth of the Church, as well as through the books of Acts. We know Paul was saved from a snakebite in Acts 28. But we don’t have any illustration of drinking poison in the New Testament–not sure how that got added in. That action doesn’t appear anywhere else in Scripture, and is very scary when people take that as God’s Word—it’s not! So both internally and externally, verses 9 to 20 is foreign to Mark.
#3 The CONCLUSION: Where did 9 to 20 come from?
We don’t know WHO it came from, but we know WHERE it came from. Some scribes started picking things out of the other gospels and out of Acts and put them together to make up verses 9 to 20. Look at the chart I put together for you in your outline.
Verse 9 is taken right out of Luke 8:2
Verse 10 is taken from John 20:18
Verse 11 is from Luke 24:11
Verse 12 is from Luke 24–the road to Emmaus account
Verse 13 is taken from Luke 24:33 to 35
Verse 14 is taken from Luke 24:36 to 38
Verse 15 is taken from Matthew 28:19–you know that
Verse 16 is taken right out of John 20:23
Verse 17 is from Acts 2, 10 and 19
Verse 18 is from Luke 10:19
Verse 19 is from Acts 1
And verse 20 is from Acts 1
Everything in Mark 16:9 to 20 is virtually all contained in the gospels and the books of Acts
|MARK 16:9-20||GOSPELS and ACTS|
|9 Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons.||Luke 8:2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,|
|10 She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping.||John 20:18 Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.|
|11 When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.||Luke 24:11 But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them.|
|12 After that, He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country.||Luke 24:13 And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem.|
|13 They went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either.||Luke 24:33 And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, 34 saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.|
|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.||Luke 24:36 While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be to you.” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?|
|15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.||Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,|
|16 “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.||John 20:23 “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”|
|17 “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;||Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.Acts 10:46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God.
Acts 19:6 the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.
|18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”||Luke 10:19 “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.|
|19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.||Acts 1:9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”|
|20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.||Acts 1:8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”|
So what we have here in verses 9 to 20 is a patchwork of add-ins–a collage some scribe put together in order to finish Mark, to make Mark look like the other gospels to give him a better ending. But it is not a better ending cause it’s not supposed to be there. It is actually a bad ending–we have all that information anyway. And it’s all placed here in some disjointed, handicapped manner. I am hoping today you are loving Mark’s true ending more and more. Why does Mark end the way he does? Here are five W’s:
ONE It’s the way Mark WRITES
He started abruptly. Think about it. Mark skipped Christ’s pre-existence, the genealogy, Christ’s childhood that Matthew, Luke and John focus on. There is nothing about Elizabeth, or Zacharias, or their child, John the Baptist. Not a word about the annunciation, the angels, the virgin birth or Bethlehem or Nazareth.
Mark begins at the Lord’s baptism and the ministry of John the Baptist in verse 2. Then Jesus shows up to be baptized in verse 9. Mark includes nothing before the ministry of Christ and Mark writes nothing after the resurrection of Christ. Mark is getting directly to the point to prove to the Romans that Jesus is the Son of God, and he does so by following Christ in His ministry all the way up to His resurrection. Don’t you enjoy people who get to the point? That’s Mark.
TWO Mark exposes our WEAKNESS
Very few Christians know how we got our Bible, fewer still know what is in our Bible, and fewer still can answer the questions people are asking from the Bible. How important is it for you to know God’s will, to answer your children and students’ questions, to prepare them to identify error and stand firm on the truth?
Then join an RMG, take an equipping class, sign up for a study and get on the path toward true Christian maturity and strength. As Keith Green used to say, “Take the time to READ cause Jesus took the time to BLEED.”
THREE Mark encourages our WITNESS
The reason Mark writes was to be a witness to Christ. He wants to convince you that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Are you convinced? Is Christ your God–your Savior, Lord, Master, Friend, first love, and your life?
And are you motivated to share with others who Christ is? Share with them what Mark has said–help them understand why God came to die for sin, why it’s good news. Share with them why He agonized in the Garden, and how He bore God’s wrath, was separated, and became sin for His own, then proved it was all true by rising from the dead. Be a witness.
FOUR Mark exposes our WORSHIP
Do we love what Christ loves? Is Christ your first love? Is His Word our greatest treasure, His Church our family, His people precious brothers and sisters He died for? His Gospel the most important most exciting message to share? Are you lukewarm or hot? For biblically, the lukewarm are not saved. All true Christians are committed.
Is your worship sold out or a sellout? Do you really love things, people, events, and yourself far more than Christ? Have you died to self and are you following Christ as your life? Is your commitment fervent or failing today? Are you a living sacrifice or self-centered?
FIVE Mark ends with WONDER
The last word Mark wrote was the word “afraid.” They were afraid. But they were not afraid for their lives, nor were they afraid of being harmed or in danger. This is the word phobeo from which we get phobia, which means an irrational experience. They’re literally experiencing bewilderment, amazement, astonishment–we would say wonder. There are no human explanations. Mark ends in wonder. It’s my prayer that we can leave this study of Mark in wonder too.