MAY 5111, 2019 PASTOR DON PIEPER
Right On The Mark 1 Peter 1:17-25 / Mark 16:9-20 "P.S. - GO, SHOW & TELL!"
On Easter we read Mark's edgy conclusion to his gospel, the only book in the New Testament that ends on a cliff-hanger. The oldest two manuscripts of Mark, dating back to the mid 4th century, conclude at verse 8, which ends with the women running from the empty tomb, "trembling and bewildered, and said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened." (Mark 16:8)
Later manuscripts, however, include two distinct alternative endings: a shorter, unversed ending and the longer ending which we just read. Both appear together in six ancient Greek manuscripts and dozens of Ethiopic copies of Mark. The story cries out to be continued...
The alternative ending we just read does just that. It reads like a postscript, a "P.S.", to the gospel. You know, like when you're writing a letter or an e-mail and you realize, after finishing it, that there's something else you wanted to say. Here's one that went viral, between a couple of students...
Lisa: Nothin' much — watching a movie.
Matthew: Fun. Which one?
Lisa: ....PS, I love you.
Matthew: Really?? Lisa, I've liked you for a while now. I was scared you didn't.... Do you wanna meet up?? I think we've got a lot to talk about.
Lisa: Matthew..., I'm so sorry..., ps I love you is the movie name....
So 'P.S.' is so happenin' ther's made a movie about it. Huh... Here's a another example in a note Calvin gave to his classmate, Susie, who has now been made to sit up front thanks to him. Here's note:
Calvin: Hey Susie, how's the view way up there? Ha! Ha! Calvin.
P.S. Try to steal a chalkboard eraser for me. I know. Inspiring, right?
Most people add a ps to a letter or e-mail because they realize that there's something they forgot to share. In texting lingo, it's a kind of "btw" - a, 'by the way'. Mark 16:9-20 is an amazing btw.
So what do we gain from this Markion btw, this postscript to the gospel of Mark? Quite a bit actually! I noted no less than seven powerpoints for the eleven disciples, and for all of us ever since!
Number One: Listen to the women! "After Jesus rose from the dead early on Sunday morning the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman whom he'd cast out seven demons. She went to the disciples, who were grieving, and told them what had happened but when she told
them that Jesus was alive and she had seen them, they didn't believe her." (Mark 16 : 9-11)
Tradition has it that Mary was a former prostitute, but here Mark 16 confirms what Luke wrote about her: "Jesus took his twelve disciples with him, along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them was Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons..." (Luke 8:1-2) This explains Mary's utter devotion to him. It also confirms what's at the heart of Mark's gospel — Jesus' kingdom of light/love invading Satan's kingdom of darkness.
Mark 16 also confirms that Mary was the first person to see Jesus risen from the dead... That's significant since women didn't have a legal voice... To use a women's testimony as the primary basis for one's resurrection evidence was a huge risk, evident in the fact that Jesus' own disciples refused to believe her. It seems that today we, too, tend to marginalize the voice of women in Christian community. Mary was not the last women to have a voice of influence in the early church.
Luke points to other women such as Lydia of Philippi and Priscilla as leaders in the early church. Priscilla is even responsible for correcting and teaching Apollos in his teaching and preaching. Mark 16 points to a vital power point: we men would do well to listen to the women.
Number Two: Consider the witness of outsiders! We're told that, "Later, Jesus appeared in a different form to two of his followers who were walking from Jerusalem into the country. They rushed back to tell the others, but no one believed them." (Mark 16:12-13)
These two guys were not part of Jesus' inner circle. They were 'followers' as opposed to disciples, as confirmed by Luke, who identifies one of these two followers as Clopas, who was clearly not one of the twelve. As outsiders, Jesus' disciples refused to believe their resurrection witness: "Later Jesus rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who'd seen him after he had been raised from the dead." (Mark 16:14)
It's kind of like how some Christians view believers of another denomination. One of the issues I've had at certain Lutheran events is that only Lutheran pastors, authors and professors are invited to speak and teach. That's so sad. We have so much to learn from those outside our circle. I myself was surprised at how blessed I was at the Alpha conference this year by a Catholic priest who got up and
shared his experiences of having his heart warmed...seeing lives changed. Consider the..... outsiders!
Number three: Be patient with unbelievers! The disciples' unbelief reminds us of how stubborn we all can be. Jesus may've rebuked his disciples but he didn't give up on them. One thing that comes thru crystal clear, in all four gospels, is Jesus' love and patience with those who've lost their way.
Our battle is not against flesh and blood — it's not about convincing people where they're wrong or of how bad they are. Our battle is never against people, but against the powers of darkness, and nothing is stronger in disarming the kingdom of darkness than an encounter with unconditional love!
Robby Dawkins tells of his offering to pray for people at a food court near the U of W where students, faculty and homeless folks hang out. In response to his offer one young man said, "I'm an atheist, but I'll let you pray for me if you can answer me this: let's say I've molested several girls before murdering them, and then I die, what's your so-called loving God gonna tell me?"
Robby's response about God sending his son to save folks like him only led into a debate so he said, "I can see you're really smart and I'm not lbut I'd still like to pray for you." He gave me a look, like, 'oh you poor, nieve thing, but then let me pray. So I did. 'Father, this fellow is really smart and I can't convince him you love him so would you show him right now how much you do
The young man groaned a complaint or two and then went quiet. Robby prayed some more. The guy looked up at Robby, leaned over and dropped his head on Robby's chest and burst into tears. A crowd gathered while this took place, several of whom said, 'I'm next!' Be patient with unbelievers!
Number four: Stand up and stand out! Martin Luther quotes Mark 16 in his small catechism, the part where Jesus declares, "Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved!" (Mark 16:16)
Some have understood this verse to mean that being baptized guarantees a spot in heaven but the following sentence makes it clear that salvation is relational, not sacramental. "For anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16) Paul confirms this in his letters when he writes: "A person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law." (Galatians 2:16)
And again, "Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privel-ege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory."
Jesus promised the thief on the cross that they'd meet again in paradise even though the thief had never been baptized. So why be baptized? Because it is there that we stand up and stand out — we publicly acknowledge that we need Christ, that we are his, and we are all in! To do so, is an act of faith and courage because it means we are taking a stand against the enemy. In doing so, we are likely to come under attack. Just ask Felicia and Makaila! They have experienced just that since being baptized just three weeks ago. Now today, Cassie is prepared to likewise take a stand for Christ!
Number five: You've been commissioned! Mark 16 echoes the great commission of Matthew 28. Here we find the marching orders of his church: "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone!" (Mark 16:15) Note that this commission was not just given to those with the spiritual gift of evangelism, but to all of his disciples and followers. Jesus is still sending us!
That's the vision behind our approach to bringing VBS to the community this summer, to put up tents by Ferino's, and a parachute, and play games and tell stories, & bring Christ to the kids! Its going to take a village of believers to pull this off! We need as many involved in possible! Talk to Natalia!
In the mean time, help get the word out about our parenting course...! Jesus said, "Go!" and as we go, as we do, as we love on the lost, we'll see miracles in the making!
That's number six: Do what Jesus did! Jesus is equipping us to do so: "These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name and they will speak in new languages... They'll be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed!"
None of the disciples were qualified to reach the nations. According to people who heard them. it was clear that they were an uneducated lot. They weren't any more articulate than me or you. They weren't people of influence or had expertise in much of anything other than fishing and taxing people! What set them apart is that Jesus chose them, sent them and put his spirit in them — as he has you!
Don't look to your past to determine your future. Look to what God is calling you to do. Satan will try to keep your focus on you and your thoughts on how unqualified you are. But Christ is with you, and in you, and as you step out with him, doing the things he did and reaching out to the people around you, he will equip you! He loves you, and thru you, those who cross your path.
I love how this second ending of Mark concludes! "When the Lord Jesus had .finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God's right hand. And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs!" (Mark 16:19-20) That's number seven: Jesus rules!
Most of us read the Scriptures and think, 'Jesus is God; that's why he was able to do the things he did.' But Jesus gave up his divine power and became fully human, receiving the Holy Spirit the same way we do, becoming an example to us all of what a life in obedience to the Father looks like.
He also sent out his disciples to do the same things they saw him do, and then he commissioned all of us and said, "You will do even greater things than these." (John 14:12)
As they went out, this bumbling, disbelieving bunch of misfits saw the Kingdom of God Jesus had so often spoken of and demonstrated, break out all around them. The sick were healed, the demonized were liberated, and the lost loved into Christ's kingdom - all demonstrations of his Kingdom message: The King is here! And wherever the King is, we experience King stuff! God's power breaking in is a by-product of his message and His presence in you! As you go, he will show! He'll show up...!