Closing Message – “Gospel of Mark” Series
November 18, 2018 10:30 AM
Rev. Jeremy B. Stopford, Pastor

TODAY’S “SPECIAL”: “A Pun or Two”
Snow in November happens because people prematurely decorate for Christmas!
What do you call dental xrays? Tooth pics!
When I was little my mom used to feed me alphabet soup claiming I’d love it. I didn’t really – she was just putting words in my mouth.
Did you hear about the accident at Lenscrafters? A new tech got his hand caught in the lens grinder. Injuries were minor, but he really made a spectacle of himself!
Once upon a time there were two mice who lived in a museum. One evening after the museum had closed, the first mouse crawled into a huge suit of armor. Before he knew it, he was lost. “Help! Help!” He shouted to his friend. “Help me make it through the knight.”

If last week was “Good Friday”, then today – Mark 16 – must be Resurrection Sunday. Yes, it is Easter once again. Only please, one last time, do not be confused with this notation in our NIV which say that “these verses are not in the original text.” We should know by now that the NIV was not based upon the same text from which we get our KJV and NKJV. The NIV was based upon an older, but unfortunately obviously not as reliable, text. The end result is that sometimes it must come up with such observations.
But please don’t allow such observations to detract us to the magnitude of the message of the first Resurrection Sunday! There are many wonderful tidbits here. And there are glimpses that Mark wonderfully includes that make his narrative a treasure. Let’s go find them this morning! PRAYER

Angels! Did you know that over 290 times in the Bible, angels are mentioned? So obviously the subject is important to the Lord. Brace yourself – whenever an angel is identified, the angel is always identified as being male. There are NO female angels identified in Scripture. None!
Angels play a very important part in the resurrection story. Depending upon the witness, there were either one or two angels at the empty tomb. In Mark 16:5, the angel in Mark’s account is interestingly described as “a young man”. We know from other accounts that he is an angel. However, isn’t it neat to see that God is very detailed in describing this angel as being “young”? So God does not limit the age – at least the appearance of age – in His servants.
Are there angels today? Well, of course! I walked into the house the other day and a voice from the kitchen said, “is that you, angel?”. Hmm. She knows! But I can prove to you without a doubt that there are angels today. First of all, the scriptures – Hebrews 1 in particular – say that angels are “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will become the heirs of salvation.” Yes, you and I have guardian angels – or better, “ministering angels”. We may not be aware of them by sight, but by faith we can trust the Lord that they are there. So to say “my angel must be watching over me” or, “My angel must be working overtime today” may not be irreverent statements!
Second, there is a classic passage in 2 Kings 6. A student of the prophet Elisha and he found them surrounded by the enemy forces. The student was concerned as to what they were to do, and he was quite frightened. Elisha in typical fashion allays the young man’s fears: “there are more of us than there are of them!” Elisha then prays for the disciple’s eyes to be open. And they are! He sees that they are surrounded by the hosts of the Lord – all with drawn swords. Do we have that sense of the presence of the Lord at all times?
But third, I would like to prove to you by way of a demonstration. I need a volunteer. (one should come forward). Now hold still. Don’t move. OK, here goes. (I’ll put my arms on his/her shoulder). There! You have just been touched by an angel! Me! See – angels ARE real today! The actual definition of the word “angel” is “messenger, one who has been sent”. So if you are a messenger of the good news that Jesus loves you, then, well, by the authority of scripture even you are an angel – just like me!

Mark 16 is by far the shortest of the four gospels’ resurrection accounts. So Mark gives us what I call “glimpses” of the story. He tells us of the eyewitnesses – the 3 ladies who saw where the Savior was buried are the first to be at the tomb Sunday morning. Mary Magdalene is mentioned, verse 9, and we are given a reminder of her being the one out of whom the Savior had driven seven demons. John (chapter 20) gives us an extended narrative of her encounter with the resurrected Savior.
In Mark 16:12, Mark shares about the 2 men who were walking on the road to Emmaus. Luke 24 gives us their extended conversation with the Lord Jesus. But note please the way Mark words it: “Jesus appeared in a different form”. In these two stories, the ones Jesus was with did not recognize Him at first. For Mary, His tender voice gave Him away. For the two on the road, it was His familiar prayer of benediction over a meal. The Apostle Paul picked up on this. In our KJV in Phil. 2:5-8 are Paul’s classic words:
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,  who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
Did you notice? “Who being in the form of God” (v. 6) and “taking the form of a bondservant” (v. 7). That is the very theme of Mark! Remember Mark 10:45, our series’ theme verse: “For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” “The form” has as its roots meaning “the very nature of”. The Lord Jesus is the “God-Man”. He would repeatedly answer the demand, “please show us the Father”, with the wise insight, “if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” He is the very nature of the Father. John 10:30 reminds us, “I and the Father are one”. Wow! And Mark picks up on that in the resurrection accounts. The Savior becomes a Servant so that He may be the Savior.
But there is one huge glimpse that Mark gives in this final chapter. Did you catch it? In verse 3, “Who will roll the stone away?”. And verse 6, “don’t be alarmed”. How about verse 8, “trembling and bewildered…they were afraid.” And verse 11, after hearing Mary Magdalene’s eyewitness account, the disciples response? “They did not believe it”. After hearing the next amazing story of the two eyewitnesses on the road, the disciples’ response is seen in verse 13, “they did not believe them either.”
I like the way our NIV words the Savior’s response when He appears firsthand to His frightened disciples: “He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe” the eyewitnesses (verse 14). Yet remember this: Mark writes as one of us. As throughout his book Mark records the many instances of the learner’s lack of faith, so we, too, are being recorded for the many times where we do not trust the Lord. We are these disciples. This is our story, too. Let us learn with them – for after Pentecost, they were giants of the faith. And so we should be, too.

Mark wraps up his account with two fascinating commands of the Lord Jesus, the Savior’s last words of instruction to His disciples. First, Mark shares the Great Commission, with a twist. Please don’t let the wording confuse you! Mark quotes Jesus as saying (v. 16), “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” IF you leave that by itself, you would have to conclude that in order to be saved I must add something to my faith: be baptized. I must do a work in order to be saved. But see that Mark doesn’t end there. The next line is, “but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” As with the wisdom of James, “faith without works is dead”, so Mark is showing that first of all, I must demonstrate my inward faith by showing publicly that I belong to the Lord. But if I don’t have faith in the risen Savior, then I will not belong to Him throughout eternity.
And then the sermon title? “Do not try this at home”. Mark concludes his letter with a most unique command of the Savior: drive out demons, speak in new tongues, pick up snakes with your hands, you will not be affected by ingested poison, and you will heal all upon whom you place your hands. Wow! There are many groups today – presumably in the south – that adhere religiously to these words. But please do not neglect Mark’s closing words, for we will see them again in Hebrews 2:3-4. The Lord Jesus verified His Word through the new church with accompanying sign gifts. These gifts were displayed on demand by each of God’s servants. These gifts were to verify that what the early church was proclaiming is true: Jesus is alive! Even a casual reading of the books following Acts show that, once the Word of God was in complete written form, those sign gifts were no longer needed.
I have read, however, that in some of the African countries where God’s word is not in written language, many of these gifts are still present. But that is the exception, and certainly not the norm! Please, keep me away from snakes!
I have enjoyed preparing and presenting this series through the Gospel of Mark. I trust it has been as much an encouragement – and a challenge – to you as Mark’s gospel has been to me.
What is needed is a love for the Word of God! And the greatest lesson of Mark is that what is needed among those of us who claim to know the Lord Jesus is a servant’s heart. My life is not my own – I belong to the King of kings.
Is that your heart today? Have you come to the cross for your eternal trust? Are you showing publicly your faith in action? Is your life not your own, because you have been bought with the price of His precious blood?
Are you a servant of the King?

Close in prayer

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.