15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they 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.”
19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.
Mark 16:15-20 (English Standard Version)
I’ve been wrestling with this post-Easter post for what I’ve discovered.
When we think about Jesus’s resurrection, we also hint at his upcoming ascension back to Heaven. For the next 40 days, Jesus wraps up his ministry and prepares his disciples for Kingdom work after he’s gone. It’s during this time we hear of the “Great Commission” where the disciples were commanded to preach the Gospel to everyone; and that miraculous powers would accompany the disciples. After his final words, Jesus was taken up into Heaven to sit at God’s right hand; and to work with the disciples in confirming his message by signs.
Now for many Christians, this would be a slam-dunk: Christ arose; he gave some final instructions to his people; and then he was taken up to Glory. However, this passage is a very interesting one since Chapter 16 only goes up to verse 8 when the two Marys and Salome discovered the empty tomb on the first day of the week, saw the strange man in white who tells them of Jesus’s resurrection, and their running off afraid and saying nothing. Verses 9-20 (including the above passage), were not part of the original manuscript. This is quite interesting since Mark was the first of the four synoptic Gospels to be written (around 65 CE, 30-35 years after the time of Jesus). Even the Codex Sinaiticus-an early Christian Bible penned in the middle of the 4th Century CE-doesn’t have verses 9-20.
So what do we make of these “after words”? What really happened after the events of verse 8? What did happen to Jesus? These are questions that would truly boggle one’s mind. Who was the man in white: an angel or some human follower of Jesus we weren’t previously introduced to? Did the two Marys and Salome eventually tell about the empty tomb, or kept it to themselves? Sad to say, we may never know despite the fact that verses 9-20 were (way) later add-ons; as well as the other three synoptic Gospels.
For now, we’re left to believe that Jesus appeared to his people, gave the Great Commission and then ascended into Heaven.
However, this does make for interesting discussion; or at least thought.