Today we finished reading the Gospel of Mark. One needs to compare all the Gospels to appreciate the events after Christ rose from the dead. Such was the sight of Christ’s death on the cross that his followers could not begin to imagine he could rise again, like Lazarus: the one who had the power to raise others was dead himself.

Mary Magdalene was the first person to whom Jesus appeared (16:9 – for more detail see John 20:11-18). It says in Mark “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” (verses 10,11). The next two verses are a summary of Luke 24:13-33 with the two disciples who did not recognise Jesus on the road to Emmaus. He made their “hearts burn” as he explained the meaning of Scripture prophecies, now fulfilled in recent events. In astonishment they recognized him as they “brake bread” – what a shock when they saw his hands!

Mark says, “they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them” (verse 14). Jesus appears and tells them to go into all the world and proclaim the gospel …” (verse 15), which is repeated as he is about to ascend to heaven (Acts 1:8,9); followed by the challenging words of the angels “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven will come in the same way as you saw him go …”

Looking at Mark again, he stresses the final commission of Jesus, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel …” (verse 15) and the commission to do that is now just about complete. But is enough stress being put upon what the Gospel actually is? Paul expresses his astonishment that some were already “turning to a different gospel” (Galatians 1:7) and makes the point “that God … preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham …” (3:8) of the blessing to come on the nations. Christ warned his hearers, “there will be weeping … when you see Abraham … in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves cast out” (Luke 13:28). Let us believe the original gospel.

Mark quotes one of the final points of Jesus essential to preaching; “Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (verse 16). Everyone must face the question, ‘Do you believe what Jesus actually taught?’ Sadly, very few are saying ‘Yes’ today.