Here's an interesting event that
happened in a youth group.
A young man was taken out of
a room of other teens, blindfolded, and told that when
he returned he could
do anything that he wished
. Those in the room had been told to shout instructions
to him from their seats.
When he entered the room, there was lots of noise
as all the other young people tried to persuade him to
do something. The blindfolded young man was confused and
stood paralyzed not knowing what to do or who to follow.
Then the young man was removed from the room, and
a new challenge was explained to those in the room.
This time, only two other young people could
speak to him, and they could stand close to him, but
they could not touch him.
One of them was trying to get the young man to
climb up some stairs and then give a hug to an
instructor who was standing at the top.
The other person tried to get the young man to do
anything else but climb up the stairs.
This time the blindfolded young man clearly
understood that two different sets of instructions were
being given, but he didn't know who to trust.
Sometimes he would start heading to the stairs,
and then stop and go in an opposite direction.
After more indecision, he was removed out of the
This next time, one slight change was made: the person
who was trying to get the young man to go up the stairs
was permitted to touch him.
When he entered the room again, the same people
as before began shouting opposite instructions.
Again he vacillated until the person telling him
to go to the stairs came up and put his arm around him
on his shoulder, spoke directly in his ear, and started
walking and nudging him toward the stairs.
The young man yielded immediately to his
instruction and guidance. After getting about half way
to the stairs, all the other young people in the room
began shouting in unison, “Don't go! Don't go! Don't
go!”, but the guide kept urging him on.
He paused for a moment, but then kept going and
began to climb up the stairs. When they got to the top
of the stairs, the guide told him to hug the instructor
that was before him.
He did so, and the room exploded with clapping
Here's the point in the instructor's words: “ ... it
became apparent that if our message [of the Gospel] is
to be heard, we cannot shout it from the ... confines of
our church buildings. We must venture out and draw close
to those with whom we wish to communicate.
If we really seek a life-changing commitment from
our young people, we also must reach out where they are
and in love, gently touch them, and [guide] them to that
We must reach them, touch them, and guide them!
An instructor asked the volunteer why he followed
the one with the vital message, the one who touched him.
After a few moments he said, 'Because it felt
like he was the only one who really cared'" (K. Davis).
The Gospel of Mark begins by saying that
it is “the good news” about Jesus (1:1), and it ends by
showing that this “good news” is being preached
everywhere by Jesus' disciples (16:20).
Here's some background about Mark that might be
Mark was written to a Gentile audience.
This can be affirmed because Mark translates
Aramaic terms in 7 passages and explains Jewish customs
in 4 passages; this would not have been necessary if he
had written to Jews.
There are 9 passages where Latin terms are used,
and there are 5 verses where Latin idioms are translated
into Greek, and this again points to Mark's readers as
Early church tradition has references to Mark
writing for the Romans or for the Egyptians.
Some scholars think that the reference to Rufus
in 15:21 (maybe the same Rufus mentioned in Romans
16:13) and the reference to Roman coins in 12:42 tips
the scales towards a Roman audience more than Egyptian
church tradition also says that John Mark was Peter's
helper in Rome and that Mark's gospel is based on
When you compare Peter's sermons in Acts with
Mark, you find some interesting similarities!
So what was the purpose of Mark's gospel?
This is difficult question to answer because Mark
does not explicitly say why he wrote, unless “gospel” is
Since this is the case, all kinds of reasons have
been given by scholars: some think he wrote to correct a
false doctrine; some think he wrote to try to calm a
controversy; some think he wrote to encourage Christians
A few scholars believe that Mark wrote to provide
an evangelistic tool to try to convert Gentiles—the good
news about Jesus in a written form that provided a new
way for Christians to share their faith.
It would be the first attempt then to share the
Gospel through writing.
This scholar's comment is accurate: “The purpose
of the gospel seems to be primarily evangelistic. It is
an attempt to bring the person and work of Christ before
the public as a new message ... without assuming much
knowledge of theology or Old Testament teaching on the
part of the hearer. [There are very few references to
the Old Testament.]
Its brief [stories], its [memorable] sentences,
its pointed applications of truth are just what a street
preacher would use in telling Christ to a promiscuous
crowd. ... it gives a picture of Christ that is factual
and inescapable” (Tenney).
Mark also wants his readers to be evangelistic.
How does he communicate this?
Well, it's interesting that one of the most used
words in Mark is the word “disciple”.
The disciples follow Jesus almost immediately as
this gospel opens.
Then throughout the rest of Mark's gospel, we see
them always in the background “watching, learning,
reacting, and gradually being molded into the focused
community who will become the spearhead of the new
movement of the kingdom of God after Jesus has gone”
You see, Mark “sets those first disciples before his
readers as a guide to their own following of Jesus”
Mark's gospel, those disciples see many miracles; hear
Jesus tell them over and over that He must die and rise
again and that they will abandon Him when He is
Jesus had predicted this; Mark 14:27 states: “Then
Jesus said to them, 'All of you will be made to stumble
because of Me this night, for it is written: “I will
strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.”'”
And then He adds something very interesting: “But
after I have been raised, I will go before you to
Jesus not only predicts their downfall but also
The disciples probably didn't grasp what He was
saying because they were too busy defending themselves
that they would not stumble.
After Mark shows that Jesus' death is an
injustice brought about by envious religious leaders,
and the disciples are scattered, and Jesus is buried, we
come to the conclusion of Mark's gospel in chapter 16.
In the previous parts of the Gospel, Jesus has
been seen as the misunderstood Servant and suffering
Servant predicted by Isaiah, but now He is about to be
seen as the Triumphant Servant, and His disciples are
brought back into the picture again, which provides some
profound teachings or motivations for those Christians
who first read Mark's gospel and for us as well!
Note the words in 16:6-7: “But he [an
angel] said to them [the women who had come to the
tomb], 'Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth
who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the
place where they laid Him. But go, tell His
disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into
Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.'”
Tell His disciples, and be sure to tell Peter.
This is a new fraternity!
Oh yes, they had all known each other before, but
now all of them had something in common.
They had all experienced Jesus' forgiveness!
Jesus was calling them again to regroup, despite
their desertions and denials.
They all knew that they didn't deserve such
grace, but what an exhilarating feeling it was to know
that He was calling them again and welcoming them back
to be with Him!
And Peter probably shed some quiet tears!
That new fraternity that Jesus offered those
disciples can be yours as well.
Have you deserted Him?
Have you even denied Him?
Has He been about as dead to you as He was to
Take heart, just as He welcomed His disciples
back, He's ready to welcome you back as well!
Now if Jesus forgave like that, aren't we as
disciples to imitate Him?
Paul answers this way in Ephesians 4:32: “And
be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one
another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
In the new fraternity, forgiveness must be a
continual reality because, like those disciples of old,
we too have all fallen short of the glory of God and
done those things contrary to what Jesus would have us
do. A new
fraternity—a forgiving people!
“He is going before you into Galilee,”
and here's a new continuity. Just as He had
always led them in the past, so He was now ready to lead
them into the future.
And what had Jesus displayed in the past?
That He was the one who came not to be served,
but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many
The Triumphant Servant was ready to lead them
once again in paths of service.
He was ready to take up where He had left off and
serve once again.
Other gospels show us how He ministered to these
disciples during the 40 days before His ascension: He
reassures Thomas; He explains the prophetic Scriptures
to them; He challenges Peter; He makes them all
breakfast; He makes great promises.
Now the disciples also needed to imitate the
Triumphant Servant and serve one another.
As He had ministered to them, now they must learn
to be good ministers to all as well.
And isn't that our calling as well?
Aren't we to be servants of one another and to
you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not
use your opportunity for the flesh, but through love
serve one another” (Galatians 5:13), and “do good
to all” (Galatians 6:10). “Make me a servant, Lord,
make me like You.
For you were a servant; make me one too.
Mold me and shape me, do what you must do.
So make me a servant, Lord, make me like You.”
A new continuity—a serving people!
Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene,
but when she told the disciples, notice the response in
verse 11: “And when they heard that He was alive and
had been seen by her, they did not believe.” Then
Mark tells us that Jesus appeared to two disciples, and
when they reported to the rest of the disciples, notice
their response again in verse 13: “but they did not
believe them either.”
In verse 14, Jesus appears to the eleven
while they were eating and rebukes them for their
hardness of heart and unbelief!
Now here's a new credibility!
It is interesting that after Peter's confession
in chapter 8 that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus began to
tell them several times that He was going to die and to
rise (8:31; 9:30-32; 10:32-34). One commentator rightly
observed: “Mark's paradoxical story thus invites us to
think God's thoughts, not human thoughts, and when we
begin to do so it will come as no surprise to find that
the end was not after all the end, and that the promise
of resurrection which was the barely noticed [ending] to
each of Jesus' passion predictions is the only possible
The story has only just begun” (France). Yes, the
disciples had heard those statements time and time
again, but only now with Jesus' rebuke did they begin to
His death, which seemed to be the end, was really the
The new era of His promised kingdom was about to start!
All His prophetical predications about His
resurrection were accurate and believable now.
Now all his other predictions would also come
true: there would be false teachers (13:5 and 22); the
Holy Spirit will help them to speak up for Jesus
(13:11); Jesus will come again in great power and glory
so they much be watching (13:26 and 35)!
Now just as sure as He was alive and standing
before them all regrouped, exactly as He had predicted
earlier, so all those promises in chapter 13 would be
fulfilled as well!
His prophecies are now truly believable!
This is why I say a new credibility.
What about us?
Do we really believe Him?
Do we believe that He will help us in our efforts
and that He will come again one day to gather together
all the righteous?
Do we believe that He can offer us the best
quality of life here and the greatest eternal reward in
If He fulfilled His prophecies with His
disciples, He can certainly fulfill His prophecies to us
as well! A
new credibility—a believing people!
And then Jesus tells His disciples something
truly incredible in verses 15-16: “Go into all the
world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who
believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does
not believe will be condemned.”
So many times in Mark's account, He tells the
disciples and others NOT to tell about Himself and His
work (1:44; 5:43; 7:36; 8:30).
They had viewed His being Messiah as political
and limited to Israel.
Now they were beginning to understand that it was
spiritual and international!
This was a new responsibility!
Now they were to speak up and tell all people the
And what good news it was: Jesus is the triumphant
Servant, death does not have the last word, God's
kingdom will win over the forces of evil, divine
forgiveness is real, and eternal life is possible!
Jesus states a truth here that is very
plain—there are only two kinds of people in this world
according to Him—a person is either saved or condemned.
There is no middle ground.
They are followers of Jesus or followers of
are in God's kingdom or the Devil's kingdom.
Our job's are to be proclaimers and rescuers, to
help others escape from the kingdom of darkness and evil
and become a part of the kingdom of light and
Preach the gospel—that's what Peter did, that's
what Mark was doing with his new “gospel” message, and
that's what Jesus challenges His disciples to do, and it
is our challenge as well!
How can we sit Sunday after Sunday in this
building and not share with those around us that great
news that we mentioned just a moment ago? As I asked in
a recent previous sermon: “Are we going to be fishers of
men or keepers of the aquarium this year?” A new
responsibility—a preaching people!
Now read the next exciting information
in verse 19: “So then, after the Lord had spoken to
them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at
the right hand of God!”
The Bible says that Enoch was “translated”
into heaven, and Elijah was “taken up” into heaven, but
only one human has ever ascended and been received up
into heaven—and that's Jesus!
He truly is the King of Kings!
This is the ultimate political statement; Jesus
is in “the White House” of all the universe!
God is still reigning over this world, and Jesus
is right there beside Him in the seat of imperial
And He's just waiting and longing to help those who will
call on Him!
This is a new sovereignty!
And with such a sovereignty on our side, what can
we do? We
can dream big things!
Didn't Peter say in his first sermon: “Your
young men will see visions, and your old men will dream
dreams” (Acts 2:17)?
What are your dreams for the Prescott Church of
we want more members?
Do we want more ethnic groups?
Do we want to help others through more service?
Do we want to have more missionaries?
Do we want to be more evangelistic?
Do we want to have more influence for good?
“Oh, Bro. Paul, now don't get carried away there.
Having all those things would be almost
O beloved brethren, remember this truth: Jesus'
specialty of the house is impossibility!
Think about His miracles in Mark: power over
nature, power over demons, power over diseases, power
over distance, power over death!
If He arose from the grave and is now seated next
to God's own throne, would anything be impossible for
Brothers and sisters, dream big dreams and pray big
prayers for the Exalted One wants to become involved in
The apostle Paul puts it this way: “I pray ... that
you might know ... what is the exceeding greatness of
His power toward us who believe, according to the
working of His mighty power, which He worked in Christ
when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His
right hand in heavenly places, far above all
principality and power and might and dominion, and every
name that is named ... Now to Him who is able to do
exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think
[are you dreaming yet], according to the power that
works in us [yes, it can work right here and right now],
to Him be glory in the church [that's us] by Christ
Jesus [that's the exalted One] to all generations,
forever and ever! Amen!” (Ephesians 1:18-21 and
A new sovereignty—a dreaming people!
And then Mark finishes with this
great passage: “And they went out and preached
everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming
the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.”
Bless their hearts, those disciples obeyed the
Lord and started proclaiming that great news everywhere.
And then notice the next five words: “The Lord
working with them!”
Remember what “grow” means: God Rewards Our Work.
When we will be obedient to His marching orders
and do our part, you can always count on Jesus to jump
in and do His part.
Evangelism is always a team effort!
Now that's a new security!
Those apostles in the first century faced some
tough audiences; they stood before the Jewish Supreme
Court, before kings and proconsuls, before pagans who
worshiped Zeus, Mercury, Artemis, and other Roman gods,
before die-hard synagogue rulers and hostile Jews,
before philosophers, before magicians and
fortune-tellers, and before common people who had little
faith (that sure sounds a lot like the diversity of
people that we work with too, doesn't it?).
And Jesus was right there along side them in
“And lo, I am with you always, even unto the
end of the age or all history” (Matthew 28:20).
It's hard sometimes for us to remember His
presence since we can't see Him, but He promises us that
He will be present to help work with us as well.
A new security—a trusting people!
What good news Mark shares with us
in this last chapter through the disciples!
A new fraternity—a forgiving people!
continuity—a serving people!
A new credibility—a believing people!
A new responsibility—a preaching people!
A new sovereignty—a dreaming people!
A new security—a trusting people!
The disciples didn't let Jesus down; they went
everywhere proclaiming the good news!
Will we accept that challenge presented in this
Will we reach out to others, touch them, and
[guide] them to that commitment to Jesus that they need
to make in order to be saved?
Will we recognize Jesus' kingship, authority,
power, and closeness and be the evangelistic disciples
that Mark challenges us to be?
The old hymn has it right: “Go, labor on, spend,
and be spent; your joy is to do the Father's will.
It is the way our Master went.
Should not His servants tread it still?
Go, labor on, it is not for naught; your earthly
loss is heavenly gain!
Men will not heed you, love you, or praise you.
The Master will praise you, what are men?
Toil on, faint not, keep watch and pray.
Be wise the erring soul to win.
Go forth into the world's highway, compel the
wanderer to come in.
Toil on, and in your toil rejoice!
For after toil, comes rest.
After exile, home!
Soon shall we hear the Bridegroom's voice, the
midnight peal: 'Behold, I come!'”
Do you need to be more forgiving?
Have the fires of serving grown cold?
Do you need prayers for a greater faith?
Are you fulfilling your responsibility to reach
and to teach others?
Do you need to dream once again?
Are you trusting daily that Christ will be with
you? Do you
need to believe in Jesus and to be immersed in His name
in order to be saved?
Whatever may be your need this morning, the
Triumphant Servant wants to help you!