The Deeper Magic – Mark 16:9-20

Sorry for the delay in posting this week…I have no valid reasons, only excuses.

So, we’re going to finish our study in the gospel of Mark this Sunday.  It’s always sort of bittersweet to me to finish up a book.  Its a great feeling of accomplishment, but also a sadness to leave such familiar territory.

We’re going to be reading the last part of chapter 16, verses 9-20.   For roughly the last 1,800 years there has been a controversy surrounding these verses.  Many scholars, both ancient and modern, believe they are an addition to the original text and should not be included nor taken seriously.  If you feel like reading, you can find a fair summary of the opposing views HERE.

For my part, I find compelling arguments on both sides of the issue.  To determine if I should include these verses in our study, I asked myself some questions.  1) Are the verses in question in conflict with the rest of the Scriptures of the New Testament?  My answer was no, they’re not and in fact can be correlated to other gospel and didactic passages.  2) Do the verses introduce foreign doctrines?  Again, the answer is no.  Some cessationist advocates may try to insinuate that verses 15-18 could promote wild charismania…but even there, the things Jesus lists off in the passage DID get experienced by the Christians of the book of Acts….so a person could still argue that those gifts had ceased after that (if they wanted to, and wanted to be wrong).

The fact is, every translation of the Bible today still includes these verses, and just add a footnote.  God is pretty big, that much I’m sure of.  I think He’s well able to see to it that we have the Word He wants us to have…so…I’m going to teach on those verses.  What do you think about them?

If you read  them over, you’ll notice that one reaction is pretty consistent from those who only hear about Jesus rising from the dead.  What is it?  Put yourself in their place…how do you think you would have responded?  (seriously…when you read about someone who “spotted” Elvis working at a 7-11, what is your first reaction to that kind of “news”?)  Yet in verse 14, Jesus is none too amused at their response.

How would you summarize verses 15-18?  What do those verse tell us about the world we live in now that Jesus has risen from the dead?  V 19 is the fuel for v 20…Jesus “ascended”, or was taken into the unseen realm of  heaven (which N.T. Wright describes as the control room for the events of earth, which I think is brilliant).  From that place of power and dominion He does something…what does He do, and through what agency does He do it?

Well…don’t feel pressured to respond…I know this was late in coming.  And don’t feel like you need to answer all the questions I pose…if just one thing strikes your interest, lets talk about it!

Peace…see you Sunday!

13 comments

  1. In these verses, the word “believe” is repeated over and over again (6 times) and the word “unbelief” (1 time).

  2. Right on, Golda! A major theme is belief…or a lack of it. So what does that tell us? What specifically was to be believed? What does that mean to us, 2,000 years after this event?

  3. To Summarize Verses 15-17, This is The “Great Commision”, just like in Acts. This is the “good news” for us, this lays the foundations for all the churches that will ever be. V. 18 “Snakes on A Plain” (pun intended). V. 19 Jesus Sat at the Right Hand of God. His choice, he chose the best seat in the house! (and why not?). V. 20 the Lord confirmed his Word (the Gospels) by the signs!!
    Awesome!! Can’t wait until Sunday. Glad you finally got your post up Rob, We were begining to think you were elsewhere!

  4. The title brings up a question I had from last week.

    The deeper magic, according to Lewis: “…when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.”

    This is basic Christianity, and the theme of the New Testament: I’m a traitor, but Jesus died so I don’t have to.

    But where is this deeper magic written? In short, how do we know that Jesus’ death is enough? I don’t see it in the curse. It’s not in the Mosaic law (the animal sacrifices typified it, but I don’t see anything about “someday there will be a once-and-for-all sacrifice” in Exodus or Leviticus). I see Isaiah and Psalms hint at it, and the New Testament makes it plain, but where did those writers get the idea in the first place?

  5. Well Scott, that’s sort of what Lewis was hinting at by calling it a “deeper” magic, from before the dawn of time. The New Testament (mostly Paul) always refer to Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection as a “mystery” revealed. Not a mystery like a puzzle, where all the clues were there and just needed to be assembled; but a mystery in the sense of something that was hidden until the time was right for it to be revealed.

    There was no one passage in the Levitical law that clearly stated that there would be ONE sacrifice for all sin, although the seeds for the concept were planted in the sacrificial system.
    We draw our understanding about Christ’s sacrificial death from the prophets. Isaiah 53 would have been the clearest picture painted of what was to come, and we could say it was just a hint, but the wording is pretty clear in retrospect:
    Isa 53:5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
    the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.

    6 “We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to his own way;
    and the LORD has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all
    .”

    “… 10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
    he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. ”

    In this passage we have the forecast of a HUMAN sin offering, which will carry away the iniquity (sins) of us ALL. An offering that will produce an offspring, that is, a new kind of humanity whose sins are removed.

    The levitical sacrificial system was the framework to provide the concept, otherwise, Christ’s death wouldn’t have had a context for us to understand it. But the Levitical law only provided the outline, not the details. The prophets supplied those in the form of cryptic forecasts.

    Yet even there, Paul and the other New Testament writers freely claim that the fullness of understanding was hidden until after Christ ascended and the church age began.

    Does that make sense, or even come close to addressing your question?

  6. Well Rob, if you needed an excuse, that really looks like a good one, can’t say I blame ya!

    I know that the disputed verses have been in question for a while. I do wonder if in recent years the discussion hasn’t centered more around the protection of theological turf than what is the truth. Those that believe that “the gifts” (healings and miracles) ceased with the last apostle always say these verses aren’t applicable due to their doubtful authorship (for obvious reasons). Those on the Pentacostal/Charismatic side need these verses to be authentic to bolster their argument that the power gifts (as they call them) are still in operation today. Again, the discussion is less about “truth” and more about plugging in verses that support an already arrived at conclusion.

    For my part, I agree with you. If God is God (and he is), then we have to believe that this is the book he wanted to write. The story of the Bible’s cannonization (if that is a word) is too amazing and wonderful to believe anything else.

    Loved the study of Mark and the chance to exchange thoughts and ideas. Can’t wait to see where you go next!!

  7. Al-
    You are correct, however in the verses in Acts that you mentioned (7:54-56) I think the picture that you see of Jesus is one of him recieving Stephen into heaven. He has risen from his throne to await the arrival of Stephen, how cool! Remember that in John’s Revelation, he shows Jesus riding a white horse. Jesus is the first resurrected person. He sits, he stands, he rides, he eats (with his disciples on the beach), and he walks ( on the way to Emmaus).

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