Markby Robert M. Solomon
There is considerable doubt among scholars about whether verses 9-20 belong to the original text of Mark, as the earliest manuscripts do not include them. If so, Mark seems to end abruptly. Was it because he was killed before he could conclude his gospel, or was his conclusion simply lost? Attempts seem to have been made to give the book a proper ending through later additions. A short conclusion is added in some manuscripts stating that Jesus sent His disciples east and west with the gospel. In other manuscripts this passage (vv. 9-20) is included. These endings are recognised as not present in the original text. Nevertheless, this passage is included in most Bibles.
We have the unusual note that Jesus rebuked the disciples for ″their lack of faith″ and ″stubborn refusal to believe″ the witnesses He had sent (v. 14). Why so? In Scripture, matters were to be established with two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15; cf. Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1). Jesus had sent three witnesses to the disciples: Mary Magdalene (v. 9) and two others who were ″walking in the country″ (v. 12, these were the two who were walking on the road to Emmaus; Luke 24:13-35).
When Mary told the disciples what she had seen, ″they did not believe it″ (v. 11). When the two men also told the disciples what they had witnessed, ″they did not believe them either″ (v. 13). Hence, Jesus rebuked the sceptical disciples.
Jesus then told the disciples (and continues to tell us all) to ″Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation″, assuring them that anyone who ″believes and is baptised will be saved″ but anyone who ″does not believe will be condemned″ (vv. 15-16). Jesus promised to give them some amazing signs: the power to drive out demons, to speak in new tongues, to pick up snakes and drink poison without being harmed, and to heal the sick (vv. 17-18). Some of these were seen subsequently (see Acts 16:18; 2:4; 28:3-6; 14:8-10), but they do not seem to be normative.
Jesus, as the triumphant Son of God, then ascended to heaven and was seated at the right hand of God (v. 19), just as He had said earlier (Mark 14:62). Likewise, He will also return in the clouds (13:26-27). This is the glorious gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (1:1).
Reflect on why the disciples lacked faith and stubbornly refused to believe the three witnesses. What lessons can we learn from this? Mark's gospel is a witness to who Jesus is. Respond to Jesus in worshipful and trusting prayer and thanksgiving.
Jesus sits at the right hand of God (v. 19; Mark 12:36; Acts 2:33; 5:31; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20-23; Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; 1 Peter 3:22). What does this mean to you? What implications are there for global mission and your personal involvement in it?