THE GREAT COMMISSION
14Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.
15And he said to them,
“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
17And these signs will accompany those who believe:
“IN MY NAME THEY WILL CAST OUT DEMONS;
THEY WILL SPEAK IN NEW TONGUES;
18THEY WILL PICK UP SERPENTS WITH THEIR HANDS;
AND IF THEY DRINK ANY DEADLY POISON, IT WILL NOT HURT THEM;
THEY WILL LAY THEIR HANDS ON THE SICK, AND THEY WILL RECOVER.”
19So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.
20And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.
The section from verses 9 to 20 do not appear in some of the older manuscripts of the gospel of Mark, and for this reason some sceptics claim it to be a spurious addition. But that is a product of their lack of faith. The verses are not present in the Sinaiticus and Vatican versions, but they are in the Alexandrian and Cambridge manuscripts; also these verses are quoted by Ireneaus, and are present in other smaller manuscripts, with less surviving text but as old as the first ones.
Apart from that, the whole story narrated in those verses, are also referred to in the other gospels (Matthew 28:16-20; Luke 24:13-35; John 11:20-18) and therefore taken as truthful, specially considering that even if they were added after the main text, it is so old an addition, and conforming to the rest of the gospels, that the main body of Christians has always taken it as part of the holy Scripture, with very important theological teachings which the devil has pretended to destroy without success.
Our Lord rebukes the initial unbelief of his eleven apostles, even though they had spoken to the women who saw Him resurrected, but still they doubted. This should be taken as a lesson for our weaker brethren, considering that if even the apostles of Jesus doubted, we must expect the same in our times, but we must over-come our weaker nature, by the examples of the ones who truly saw Him alive and acted accordingly.
Lord Jesus commissions the 11 to go around the world preaching the gospel and conversion, which is a reference to accept so much Jews, as gentiles and barbarians. Jesus commends his apostles, and in them, the whole Church, to preach Faith and Repentance, confirming it by taking water baptism as a seal of our compromise to follow Christ for eternity. Lord Jesus points out very clear the condition of getting baptized, apart from belief in Him, to be saved (v.16), contrasting this requirement with ‘not believing’ in Him, as enough condition for damnation. This makes clear that it is faith that saves us or lack of it which condemn us, but we need also Repentance, represented in taking the waters of baptism, as a ceremonial pledge to Jesus as Lord and Savior, and the taking of a new life in Jesus. That is why Jesus mentions baptism as being a requirement for salvation.
But on the other hand, only mentions lack of faith as reason to be condemned, making Faith the cornerstone of our redemption. Baptism therefore, of children or by force, or in any other manner that it is not born from a personal decision, it is not accepted by God and does not save. Baptism without personal faith, it is useless.
Lord Jesus proceeds to list some of the miracles that will follow ‘those who believe’ in clear reference to every Christian who has ever existed, even us today. This is a sign that super natural gifts, like speaking in tongues, healing of the sick, and strength to life threats, among other things, are as current as if it was back then. Signs and miracles are as valid today as always, because no expiration date was given for them; and because they serve the same cause they served 2000 years ago, a proof that God is with us.
Finally, the author, either Mark of one of his copyists added the final statement of the ascension, indicating in faith, which shows to be a later addition once the Christian faith was well established, that Lord Jesus took his place in Heaven next to his Father GOD YHWH, showing that they are two different beings, but equally divine in Glory.
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