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The resurrection: the connection re-established between Jesus and the remnant
The last chapter is divided into two parts — a fact that has even given rise to questions as to the authenticity of verses 9-20. The first part of the chapter, verses 1-8, relates the end of the history in connection with the re-establishment of that which has always been before us in this Gospel — the relationship of the Prophet of Israel, and of the kingdom with the people (or at least with the remnant of the chosen people). The disciples, and Peter, whom the Lord individually acknowledges in spite (yea, in grace, because) of his denial of his Master, were to go and meet Him in Galilee, as He said unto them. There the connection was re-established between Jesus in resurrection and the poor of the flock, who waited for Him (they alone being recognised as the people before God). The women say nothing to any others. The testimony of Christ risen was committed only to His disciples, to these despised Galileans. Fear was the means employed by the providence of God to prevent the women speaking of it, as they would naturally have done.
The message sent by Mary Magdalene; the disciples' commission to every creature
Verses 9-20. This is another testimony. The disciples do not appear here as an elect remnant, but in the unbelief natural to man. The message is sent to the whole world. Mary Magdalene, formerly possessed by seven demons the absolute slave of that dreadful power — is employed to communicate the knowledge of His resurrection to the companions of Jesus. Afterwards Jesus Himself appears to them, and gives them their commission. He tells them to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. It is no longer specifically the gospel of the kingdom. Whosoever throughout the world believed and joined Christ by baptism should be saved: he who believed not should be condemned. It was a question of salvation or condemnation — the believer saved, he who refused the message condemned. Moreover, if any one was convinced of the truth but refused to unite with the disciples confessing the Lord, his case would be so much the worse. Therefore it is said, "he who believes and is baptised." Signs of power should accompany believers, and they should be preserved from that of the enemy.
Signs of power over the enemy's power and the proclamation of grace to all men
The first sign should be their dominion over evil spirits, the second, the proof of that grace which went beyond the narrow limits of Israel, addressing itself to all the world. They should speak divers languages. Besides this, with respect to the power of the enemy, manifested in doing harm, the venom of serpents and poisons should have no effect upon them, and diseases should yield to their authority. In a word, it should be the overthrowal of the power of the enemy over man, and the proclamation of grace unto all men.
Christ's ascension to the seat of power: the disciples' sphere of service
Having thus given them their commission, Jesus ascends to heaven, and sits at the right hand of God — the place from which this power shall come forth to bless, and from which He will return to put the poor of the flock in possession of the kingdom. Meanwhile, the disciples occupy His place, extending their sphere of service unto the ends of the earth; and the Lord confirms their word by the signs that follow them.
The accomplishment of the service of the great Servant-Prophet rendered to His Father in view in Mark's Gospel
It may perhaps be thought that I have dwelt little on the sufferings of Christ in that which I have written on Mark. Never will this subject be exhausted; it is as vast as the Person and the work of Christ must be. Blessed be God for it! In Luke we have more details. And I follow the order of thought which the Gospel sets before me; and it appears to me that, with regard to the crucifixion of Christ, it is the accomplishment of His service that the evangelist has in view. His great subject was the Prophet. He must needs relate His history unto the end; and we possess in a brief narrative, a very complete picture of the events that mark the end of the Lord's life — of that which He had to fulfil as the servant of His Father. I have followed this order of the Gospel.