Today we completed reading the Gospel of Mark. The death of Jesus and the dreadful events of that time are a challenge to every person since. At the time most minds were locked in unbelief: there is a parallel today with the conviction that there is no Creator, all that exists is the outcome of an incredible series of ‘accidents’! When Jesus rose, “he appeared first to Mary Magdalene … She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it”.
His resurrection was an absolute shock to his followers; one even declared, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe” (John 20:25). It is interesting that there are Roman historians (e.g., Tacitus). who testify to the great number of believers in Christ in Rome by AD 64, when hundreds were put to death as scapegoats, being blamed for the fire that had destroyed much of Rome. It is suggested that Roman gods were angry at not being sufficiently worshipped! It seems people were turning to Christianity instead! What provoked this? “And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God’” (Mark 15:39).
Recall the encounters Jesus had with Centurions; one came seeking a healing for his servant and did not think it fitting that Jesus should visit his place. He believed Jesus did not need to! Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed. And the servant was healed at that very moment” (Matthew 8:13). Remember also Cornelius.
What leads to belief? What causes unbelief? Human prejudices are very powerful! Are you influenced by them? The people would not believe their Temple would be destroyed. Similarly today, there is no belief, except among dedicated Bible believers, that divine judgements are about to come on this increasingly godless world, a world that has turned its back on God just as it did 2,000 years ago. Let us believe with full conviction! “Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).