“Unhappy with Our Hesitation”
By Rev. Anthony L. Trufant
Mark 16:14-18, NRSV & MSG
14 Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. 16 The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
MSG: 12 Later he appeared, but in a different form, to two of them out walking in the countryside. 13 They went back and told the rest, but they weren’t believed either.14 Still later, as the Eleven were eating supper, he appeared and took them to task most severely for their stubborn unbelief, refusing to believe those who had seen him raised up. 15 Then he said, “Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized is saved; whoever refuses to believe is damned.17 “These are some of the signs that will accompany believers: They will throw out demons in my name, they will speak in new tongues, 18 they will take snakes in their hands, they will drink poison and not be hurt, they will lay hands on the sick and make them well.”
I’m always amped when I see the light bulb of deeper faith light up within members of EBC. It’s so gratifying to know my work, the work of the pastoral team, and that of so many of our servant leaders is paying off! Then, I quickly remember that the results are never mine nor ours. They’re the Lord’s! You and I are privileged to partner with him in the evangelization of seekers and the edification of believers — nothing more, nothing less.
My junior partner status in Kingdom Enterprises Brooklyn keeps me humble when things go well. That same truth keeps me from despairing when things go left — or for that matter when we don’t even get lift-off on something we are launching. I’m helped when I remember, irrespective of what happens, to just to do my part – for us to do our part – and leave the rest up to the Lord. Ultimately, however things turn out is not up to us, despite the fact others may blame us, or we may even blame ourselves.
In our text, Jesus does not simply take it on the chin when the disciples fail to receive and believe the message he sent to them three times through fellow believers. (Mark 16:6-8, 9-11, and 12-13) He critiques and corrects them for not believing the good news of the resurrection. He is very unhappy with their hesitation. After all, their hesitation is holding up the advancement of his kingdom agenda. So, he gives them a swift kick rather than a gentle nudge to move in the right direction of faith and follow-up.
To brief them on the next difficult, yet dynamic, incredible chapter before them, he tells them a few things which we would be wise to heed also. What are they? The Risen Lord says to believers, then and now:
We must not retreat from the world because of its fallen-ness, broken-ness, and lost-ness, but be willing to do battle to show how much God’s love endures to grant us a chance at a better life. (Vs 15a)
We must share the good news of Jesus with a world filled with and adept at producing bad news on an epic, ubiquitous scale. (Vs. 15b)
We must prepare for both the rejection and acceptance of Jesus’ invitation to salvation. (Vs. 16)
We must expect Jesus to confirm our proclamation of good news with demonstrations of power that lead to the elimination of evil and the restoration of the captives of sin.
I know this sounds like a tall, impossible order. And it is. Without Jesus, we can neither hope to take on nor triumph over these very real, intractable signs of active opposition to the Lordship of Jesus Christ (John 15:5). Through him, however, there is nothing we cannot do (John 14: 12-13; Philippians 4:13).
Today, there is only one question to be asked and answered: Do you want to make the heart of God glad today? Then, spend daily quiet time with him to listen, learn from, and live for him. Will you? I don’t know. I do know, however, that he is watching you and me.