Summary: Following the resurrection, Jesus left instruction for the disciples and the church - the Great Commission. This charge continues for the church, as we are responsible to reach the world with the Gospel.
Commissioned with the Gospel
Mark 16: 9-20
Today we come to the concluding passage in Mark’s gospel. We have discovered lasting truth in the time we spent moving through this precious account of the life and ministry of our Lord. While it covers a span of approximately three years, the impact is eternal. It is impossible to comprehend how the disciples felt at this moment, and years later as they reflected on the time spent walking with the Lord. They had experienced much with Him, and those memories and lessons would remain with them throughout their lives.
While we were not privileged to walk with Jesus physically as they did, I hope we have received guidance through our study that will remain as long as we live. We have spent months considering the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son, who came to earth in the form of a man to provide salvation for us, reconciling us to God, and guaranteeing eternal life.
The final passage begins with great uncertainty, but ends with unhindered devotion. Our lives are much like the disciples as well. We have moments of weakness and moments of triumph. Like these faithful men, we must not focus on the difficulties, but rest in the risen Savior. His triumphant resurrection promises eternal life and strength to endure whatever we face in life. As we close out this gospel, I want to consider the experiences revealed in the text as we think on: Commissioned with the Gospel.
I. The Crisis among the Disciples (9-14) – This passage opens by revealing a crisis among those who had faithfully followed Jesus. They were dealing with doubt and despair, wondering what their future held. Notice:
A. The Revelation (9) – Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. We know by examining the other gospels that Mary Magdalene, along with other women were the first to witness the empty tomb. Upon discovering that Jesus was not there, she ran to tell Peter and John. They too came and witnessed the empty tomb, knowing Jesus had risen from the dead. Following the encounter at the tomb, Mary remained in the garden, near the tomb. While in the garden, Jesus revealed himself to Mary. Not only did she experience the empty tomb, she also talked with the risen Lord. Jesus had died upon the cross, was buried in a borrowed tomb, but the grave could not hold Him. He came forth triumphant and appeared unto Mary.
B. The Affirmation (10, 12-13a) – And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.  After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. [13a] And they went and told it unto the residue. In obedience to the Lord, following her encounter with Him in the garden, Mary went and told the disciples she had seen and talked with Jesus. The long night was over and hope had risen with the dawn. Jesus had died, but He was alive. There was no reason for grief and mourning. The Lord had risen just as He had promised!
While Mark doesn’t specifically say, we know he referred to the two that Jesus walked with on the Emmaus road, about seven miles outside of Jerusalem. Jesus appeared to these and talked with them as they traveled, expounding the Word unto them regarding himself as the Christ. Upon His departure, their hearts burned within them, knowing they had encountered the risen Lord. These too came and told the disciples of their encounter with the risen Christ. Word began to come in to the disciples that Jesus was alive and well. They now had heard two eyewitness accounts from three different people, affirming the resurrection of Jesus!
C. The Rejection (11, 13) – And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.  And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. After hearing the miraculous testimony of Mary Magdalene and the Emmaus road travelers, the disciples refused to believe. Apparently, their hearts remained full of grief and doubt. I am sure they wanted to believe, but had a hard time dealing with the events of the past few days.
We may tend to be critical of them, but we are often filled with fear and doubt. It is good to hear of the encounters others had with the Lord, but often those testimonies do little to encourage our doubts. Closely abiding with the Lord is the best way to conquer fear and doubt.
D. The Confrontation (14) – Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. After coming into the midst of the eleven, Jesus chided them for their lack of faith and hardness of heart. These should have believed the report of the witnesses and rejoiced, rather than dwelling in doubt and unbelief.