Clarity and Confidence in God's Word
Scripture: Mark 16:9-20
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Table of Contents
- Can our Bibles be trusted?. - 9 -
- What do we do with this long ending of Mark?. - 10 -
- Why did Mark end his gospel then at verse eight?. - 12 -
This morning we're in Mark 16. In seminary, the question often comes up..."When you get to a church, what is the first book that you should preach?" Seminarians ask this question. The most common answer that professors will give is that you should preach the Gospel of Mark. The Gospel of Mark. Why?
- Well, first, it's a gospel. So, it puts the focus on Jesus, and on His life, it gives you the message of salvation.
- But second: of the four Gospels, it's a pretty quick book to preach through. So, you aren't spending the first five years of your ministry in a church in one book. We've spent over two years. And let me tell you, it's very quick for us to go through, we could have slowed down and taken a lot more time in the Gospel of Mark. But you cover 16 chapters in about two years, just over two years going line by line, that's pretty quick. It's pretty good, as we've been working our way through Mark.
So as a young church, we're only five years old, we have done just that. We have begun with the Gospel of Mark. And we have worked our way through the entire Gospel of Mark. And it's been a joy to go through it, right? It's always a joy to open up God's Word, and to see what He has to say, especially as we're talking about Christ, and His life, it's a joy.
Now, although Mark is suggested in seminary as the first book to preach through, when you go to a church, one of the things that is not really talked about is that you are going to have to deal with a portion of text at the end of Mark, that wasn't written by Mark. The debate then becomes, should you spend a Sunday and preach a sermon on this text? Or should you just end at verse 8 where we ended last week? Just move on to a new book. I figure that if I showed up this morning, and just open up to the book of Philippians (that's what we will be in next) some of you would be confused. And you would think, why didn't you finish the Gospel of Mark? There are still some verses there in my Bible that you didn't preach on. And you'd be wondering this, because in verses 9-20 of Mark 16, if you have a King James Bible or a New King James Bible, you'll see that the text just continues on from verse 8 to verse 9 as if the text just continues to flow there. The New King James Bible does have a footnote after verse 20, that says, verses 9 through 20 are bracketed in NU text as not original. They're lacking in Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, although nearly all other manuscripts of Mark contain them. But if you have a NASB, an NIV, or an ESV, you will see that verses 9 through 20 have brackets around them. There's brackets around them. Or you have a footnote that tells you that the earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses don't have verses 9 through 20 in them. Well, I don't want to leave you hanging this morning. So what I've decided to do is take this morning, and talk to you about verses 9 through 20, of Mark 16. And I want to help you to understand that these verses here are not in the original Greek manuscripts, and therefore are most likely not written by Mark. But I also want to help you understand that we shouldn't just throw them out either. What I want to do this morning is I want to bring clarity to this passage, bring clarity to this passage and build your confidence in God's Word.
So, I've titled this message here this morning Clarity and Confidence in God's Word. Notice it really doesn't have anything to do with the text that's there, right? Clarity and Confidence in God's Word. And this morning, it's going to be a little bit more like a class, like a Bible study. There are going to be some technical things that we talk about. And I want to show you why I believe Mark ends his gospel in verse 8. This is also very fitting, as we've been studying Bibliology in equipping hour on Sunday mornings, right? We just talked about The Inerrancy of Scripture this morning. What I want to do is I want to build your confidence and your trust in God's Word. And so, what I'm going to do here is, I'm going to use some questions as my outline to help you have clarity about this and give you confidence in God's Word.
We're not necessarily going to work our way through this passage, line by line, which is normally what we do, right? We take a portion of Scripture, and we go line by line through that passage. We're not going to do that this morning. My outline is going to be questions. Again, like a Bible study, or like a Bible class.
If you're a visitor this morning, I want you to know that I never stand up here and tell our church that I'm going to preach on something that is not in the Bible. And I'm never trying to convince our church that there are verses in your Bible that shouldn't be there. We don't do that. We believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. And you can be sure that as a Bible church (Faith Bible Church) we are confident about the Bible being God's Word. So, this is a unique Sunday, if you're here visiting with us this morning, but we welcome you, we're glad that you're here.
Now, if you look at Mark 16, I want to begin by pointing out a few things for you. Notice that the end of verse 8, notice the end of verse 8 there, then beginning in verse 9, there are brackets text. The end of verse 8, there, we are going to call "the shorter ending." Where it ends at verse 8, we're going to call that "the shorter ending." But then there is something that's called "the long ending." The long ending is verses 9 through 20, in brackets in the NASB in some of your Bibles that you're holding in your hand. But then, there is also what's called an "intermediate ending". An intermediate ending. And if you have an NASB, you'll see it at the end of verse 20, in italics. If you have an NIV, you'll see it footnoted, notice what it says. (And they promptly reported all these instructions to Peter and his companions. And after that Jesus Himself sent out through them from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.) You'll notice that it's italicized there in that text, and that is what is called the "intermediate ending", because some manuscripts have that italicized text after verse 20. But some manuscripts have it after verse 8, between verses 8 and 9, they will have that verse put in there. One manuscript, in fact, has it after verse 8, and then it doesn't have verses 9-20 one of the early manuscripts that we have. Some of your translations don't even have it at all -- you'll notice that. And that's because it's a pretty clear consensus by scholars that it was clearly added and shouldn't be there. This was added and shouldn't be there. And so those are the three endings, you have a shorter ending, the longer ending and then the intermediate ending, which shouldn't be there at all.
So please open your Bibles. And let me read this long ending of Mark for you beginning in verse 9. Mark chapter 16, beginning in verse 9. [Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.
12 After that, He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country. 13 They went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either.
The Disciples Commissioned
14 Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. 17 These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received 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 word by the signs that followed.]
That there is the long ending of Mark. Now, as I said, we're going to ask some questions, and then I'll answer them for you, and then give you a final conclusion to the book of Mark, and why I believe Mark ended the way that he did. So, let's start with our first question here this morning.
Question number one, how did verses 9 through 20 get into our Bibles? How did it get there? Well, for those like me, who hold the view that this was added by later scribe, and not written by Mark himself, the short answer is, we don't know. We don't know who put it there. But let me help you understand how the Bible was passed down. And then the theories of how it got there. You see, in the ancient times, they didn't have the printing press. Right? There was no printing press that was available to them. What did they have? Scribes, they had scribes. These were men who had a full-time job of copying documents. That's what they did. Imagine...you went to work every day. And all you did was write eight hours a day and just copied documents. That's what they did. Their job was to sit down and copy what someone else wrote. There were scribes who made copies of the original manuscripts of the Bible, and then other scribes who made copies of those, and so on and so forth. So you get copies, and then copies of copies and copies of copies as it continues to get passed down. These men, these scribes, were meticulous. They took their job very serious. They wanted to write exactly what was written as they were copying a document.
Now, did they ever make mistakes? Yes, they did. They did make mistakes. They weren't perfect, right? They're fallible men that are copying documents. But we have so many copies of different manuscripts of the Bible. Specifically, we're going to be talking about New Testament this morning. But we have so many copies of these manuscripts, that we can tell when a scribe has made a mistake. You take a bunch of manuscripts and you lay them on top of each other. And you can see any areas where a scribe made a mistake as you're comparing them with each other.
Now, did one of these scribes add the longer ending of Mark? We don't know. But there are some theories as to how these verses got in here. First, some think that it was added by Mark, because Mark ends so abruptly at the end of verse 8. Look at what it says in verse 8. "They went out and fled from the tomb for trembling and astonishment had gripped them and they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid." (Mark 16:8) Some will say, Well, what happened next? We want to know what happened next? Did they never speak to anyone about the resurrection at all? What happened? Did they actually do what the angel said? And go and tell Peter and the apostles that Jesus was going ahead of them to Galilee? Mark, you don't answer that for us.
The thinking is that the abruptness of the ending wasn't good enough for some. And so they wanted to add a closure to Mark's gospel, essentially, looking at verse 8, and they go, well, we can't stop there. We need some closure to this thing. Let's wrap this up here.
The second theory is, some say that the ending of Mark lacks resurrection appearances of Jesus. Did He actually appear to people after His resurrection physically? Some would say that if you're reading the short ending of Mark, you wouldn't know, right? You wouldn't know it. If you remember back in verse six, all we hear from the angel is that Jesus is not in the tomb, look at what it says in verse six. "And he said to them, Do not be amazed, you're looking for Jesus the Nazarene who has been crucified, He has risen, he is not here, behold, here is the place where they laid him." (Mark 16:6). Here's the empty tomb, here's the spot where they laid Jesus. But Mark then never gives us physical appearances of Jesus, right? It's not in there. So, did He actually physically rise from the dead? Yes, He did. Right? We know that of course He did. We know that because we have other gospels that tell us that. And even other epistles, 1 Corinthians 15 tells us. Right? That He appeared to many people. So, we have plenty of documented evidence that Jesus did rise, physically, He rose. And since He did, then there needs to be some account of this in Mark's gospel. Somebody needs to tell us about this.
But here's the counter argument to this. Here's the counter argument to this. Neither Mark nor John, give us the birth account of Jesus, right? It's not in there. Only in Matthew and Luke. They're the only gospels that give us the account of Jesus' birth. So, does that mean that Mark and John, need something added to them at the beginning to complete the account of Jesus? Answer: no. They're complete. They're complete without the birth account. And Mark is complete without the physical appearance of Christ. It is a completed gospel.
Another view is that scribes wanted to give the Gospel of Mark and ending like other gospels, we look at the other Gospel accounts, and we see that there's endings that are there. And those endings, they match up, they look similar to each other. So, this view is that they want to end the Gospel of Mark and make it look like the other Gospel accounts. If you read the ending of Matthew, Luke, and John, you're going to see the appearances of Jesus to the women. You're going to see His appearances to His disciples, you're going to see the Great Commission to go and preach the gospel. But Mark doesn't end that way. He ends abruptly with the women trembling, and full of astonishment and fear, right? That's where he leaves us. Some say that the ending was added, because it needed to be given a proper ending.
Whatever the case may be, there is very good evidence to show that this long ending was not originally written by Mark, but it was added. Which leads to our second question.
Right? That's what we would then naturally ask. What's the evidence then that shows that it was added? Well, there are two different types of evidences as you look at the Bible, and you study the Bible, two different types of evidences. There is what is called external evidence that scholars use and there is what is called internal evidence. External evidence and internal evidence.
First, we'll start off with the external evidence. This is evidence from manuscripts and early church fathers, external outside of the text that we read here, manuscripts and early church fathers. What we do know about the long ending verses 9 through 20 is that it was put in there pretty early. A scribe had put it in there, someone had put it in there pretty early on. There are some early manuscripts that do have it in there. But there are also many early manuscripts that lack it. They lack verses nine through 20. In fact, the earliest and most reliable Greek manuscripts do not have verses nine through 20. They don't have it. Two very early manuscripts, Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. And there's other early manuscripts that we have that don't have the long ending. They just end at verse eight, boom, that's it. That's the end of Mark's gospel.
Now, Codex -- Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. Codex. What does that mean? Codex simply means book. It's all it means. It means book. So, you have the book of Sinaiticus, and the book of Vaticanus. And they don't have the long ending of Mark. Books around in the first century books then were being created. They used to write everything on scrolls. But then they created books, and they bound them together as you could right now on the front, and the backside of pages, and then you would bind them all together. And all of those documents then bound together would be a codex. We call it a book today, but it's a codex. And in Codex Sinaiticus, and Codex Vaticanus, they don't have the long ending of Mark.
Now, some have said that the longer ending was lost, the longer ending was lost, they'll say that the scroll was rolled up, and then the last 12 verses ripped off of the scroll and it's lost. But there's a problem with that. Here's the problem. When they would write on a scroll, the scribes would write it down. And when they would roll the scroll, where would they start? From the bottom of the scroll, the ending of Mark, and then they would begin to wrap that up. So, what would be on the outside then of Mark? The beginning of Mark. So, this theory is not really accurate. Because that's not even how they would roll up scrolls, the ending of Mark would have been well protected, it would have been on the inside of that scroll. So that theory doesn't really work.
Now we do have the earliest manuscript of Mark, which is called P 45. I'm getting nerdy with you this morning. But it's called P 45. P stands for Papyrus. That's what they wrote these documents on, they wrote on papyrus. And then there's a numbering system that scholars give the manuscripts when they find them. P 45. P 45. Is the earliest that we have of Mark. So, you would think well just go to P 45. And let's look and see if the ending is there. Right? That's the earliest that we have. Well, there's a problem. P 45 actually doesn't have any of chapter 16 of Mark in it. It was lost, torn off, ripped. It doesn't have the ending the last chapter of Mark. So, we can't look at that. Because it doesn't even have the last chapter of Mark. So that doesn't help us. But the other earliest ones, Codex Sinaiticus, and Vaticanus, which date back to the fourth century, they do have Mark chapter 16 in them, and they don't have the long ending.
There's other external evidence that we have, and that is the evidence of early church fathers, early church fathers. These are men who came right after the apostles. We call them early church fathers, men who lived close to that apostolic period. They also concluded that the ending wasn't in the earliest manuscripts. We have two guys. The first guy's name was Eusebius, who lived from around 260 to 330 AD, pretty early on right? Pretty close there, then to the apostles, that Apostolic period. And he says that the most accurate copies that he had ended in verse eight. He said this, “The ending is not contained in all copies of the gospel, according to Mark. Indeed, the accurate copies conclude the story according to Mark, in the words, they were afraid.” What verse is that? Verse eight. For the end is here in nearly all the copies of Mark. So, Eusebius knew of the longer ending during this time. But he points out that the accurate copies end in verse eight, that's where they end.
Jerome, who lived around 347 to 420 AD, also said that almost all Greek manuscripts don't have it, the Greek manuscripts that were available to him. When asked about it, he said this, it appears in only a few copies of the gospel, almost all the Greek books not having this passage at the end. Now, Jerome would have been familiar with both Latin and Greek manuscripts. He was well aware of them. But his comment is about the Greek manuscripts that he had available to him. And he's saying that the early ones that he had available to him, did not have the longer ending of Mark.
Now, there are also books that are called lectionaries, some more external evidence, books that are called lectionaries. These are basically yearly Bible reading plans for the church's public gathering. There are still some churches that have this today. Right? Every service has a reading plan. So you show up on this Sunday, and they're going to tell you then what you are to read -- lectionaries. They had these in the early church as well. These lectionaries... later lectionaries, from about 800 AD on, they do contain the long ending of Mark. But the earliest ones that have been found, which go all the way back to Jerusalem, the church there at Jerusalem, they do not have the long ending in them. They don't contain it.
So, there's great external evidence that we have that shows that it wasn't in the early manuscripts, but was added some time later. Again, early on. It was added early on. But great external evidence that shows it wasn't in those original manuscripts.
There's also what is called internal evidence, hang with me, internal evidence. And this internal evidence shows that it was added. This would be the internal evidence is what we would actually find in these 12 verses there at the end, we can read these 12 verses, and then we can make some conclusions based upon how these verses are written. Right? We have it right there, in front of our eyes... internal evidence. And we can look at this passage here and see that it doesn't fit with the shorter ending of Mark. If you look at the end of verse eight, "for they were afraid" and then beginning of verse nine, "now after He had risen early on the first day of the week," you go, that's weird. Weird transition there, right?
Scholars have looked at the vocabulary of this ending, and they conclude that the vocabulary doesn't match Mark's vocabulary throughout his gospel, internal evidence. Now, I won't bore you with all the Greek words. But there are Greek words that are used in this passage that Mark doesn't use. It's just really odd. The language doesn't line up. Now,If you think about it, you read books, and you read authors of books. And when you read these authors, you understand how they write, right? You get familiar with how they write, and you go, wow, I really love that book. I want to pick up another book by them, because they write in a way that's helpful for me to understand. And you get familiar with the way that authors write. Well, the same is true with our Bible. Mark wrote in such a way that was unique to Mark. But if you look at verses nine through 20, all of a sudden, this is no longer unique to Mark. This is different. It doesn't line up.
There's also this strange transition between verses eight and nine, as I told you about. And that's a weird transition that happens there. And I wanted to read verses eight, and nine for us. Notice in verse eight, “They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” (Mark 16:8).
"[Now, after He had risen on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons." (Mark 16:9)
Weird, strange transition. Why is that a weird transition? Well, Mark was talking about the women, right? He's talking about the women and then all of a sudden, he goes to talk about Jesus and Mary Magdalene. We would still wonder what happened to these fearful women? What did they do? Mark wants us to wonder. I'll talk about that a little later. Then in verse nine, notice what he says there in verse nine, "after he had risen early on the first day of the week." (Mark 16:9) Well, this is redundant, because Mark already told us it was early on the first day of the week back up in verse 2. Look at chapter 16 in verse two: "very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen." (Mark 16:2) Mark, you already told us. Why are you going to tell us again here in verse nine? It's redundant, right? Notice also in verse nine, that Mary Magdalene is now introduced to us, notice this, look at look at verse nine. "Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons." (Mark 16:9) Well, Mark has already told us about Mary back up in chapter 15, in verse 40, look there. “There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome.” (Mark 15:40) Then we see in verse 47, look at verse 47 “Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were looking on to see where He was laid. (Mark 15:47) Then chapter 16, verse one, “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. (Mark 16:1)
We've already seen Mary three times now, right? But notice, in verse nine there, Mary Magdalene is introduced to us, as the one in whom Jesus had cast out seven demons. You've already introduced Mary, three times to us, you've told us about her. And then now all of a sudden, you're gonna tell us about who she is? The one that Jesus cast out seven demons. Now, did He cast out seven demons from her? Yes, he did. Yes, he did. So, no one's making this up. Nothing is made up in verses nine through 20. We'll talk about that in a little bit. But this is odd that Mary would be introduced to us when Mark has already told us about her three times.
As I said, there are other internal evidences. But because of time, we can't go through all of these, but you can get into the Greek and you can look at all of these evidences that show that this doesn't line up with Mark. So that's the external evidence and the internal evidence. Based upon what we have seen, the conclusion is that this ending was added, verses nine through 20, it was added. We must also be aware of this, so that we don't build doctrines solely based on this passage. We have to be aware of verses nine through 20, because we shouldn't build doctrines based upon these verses, as we conclude they were later added.
Let's look at a third question. Question number three. Which would logically now flow from this, we would ask this question. Can our Bibles be trusted? Can our Bibles be trusted? Something got added in? Can our Bibles be trusted? Well, what we need to do is we need to look at the New Testament manuscript evidence that we have of the Bible.
First, let's compare it to ancient literature. We're going to do a comparison of our Bibles with ancient literature. How does our present Greek New Testament compare with other ancient literature? One scholar Bruce Metzger, listen to what he says, I love this. This is so good. Bruce Metzger calls it "an embarrassment of riches". An embarrassment of riches. What does he mean by this? He means that we have an embarrassing amount of riches, when it comes to the New Testament manuscripts compared with all other literature that we have. It's embarrassing how many manuscripts we have that tell us exactly what God said. When you compare it to all other ancient manuscripts that we have. Another Greek scholar, Daniel Wallace says this, "When it compares to other ancient literature, the New Testament far and away has earlier and more manuscripts than anything else from the Greco Roman world." Here's what Wallace tells us. "The average ancient Greek or Latin author has less than 15 copies of their original works still in existence today, and that is in all the languages that it may have been translated into." Okay, did you catch that? Less than 15 copies. Less than 15 manuscripts.
The Greek New Testament has, in terms of copies in all languages, has well over 1000 times more copies. 1000 times more copies than the average Greco Roman author. Did God want His Word preserved? You bet He did. You bet He did. Homer, you probably read him in junior high or high school. You had to read Homer. He's the most popular of the ancient Greek writers. And he was writing -- listen to this -- 800 years before the New Testament. 800 years, so he could have way more copies produced. Because his work was much older, he had 800 years where scribes could go and copy and copy and copy and copy. His work is by far the most popular ancient writing we have, apart from the New Testament. The last count that we have, of all his works combined is -- listened to this -- less than 2000 copies. Less than 2000. His most popular work (The Iliad) has only 643 manuscripts. That's it... 643. But listen, for our Greek New Testament, we have over 5500 copies of Greek New Testament manuscripts. Then when you count the other ancient copies that have been translated into other languages, we have about 10,000 copies in Latin. We have several 1000 in Syriac and Coptic there are other Aramaic translations. And among all of these, we have close to 25,000 Ancient handwritten copies of the New Testament! 25,000! It doesn't even compare ... 643 (for Iliad) that was written 800 years before doesn't even compare...An embarrassment of riches, right? That we have.
Now, of these 25,000, ancient handwritten copies of the New Testament, are any of these complete copies? No, they're not. But we don't have complete copies of any other ancient literature either. They all had to be pieced together as well. But with that many ancient handwritten copies, almost 25,000 of them, we can compare them and come to an accurate text of what the original documents said. As we compare all of them, and we're grateful for the Bible scholars who do that, right? Bible scholar FF Bruce, he said this, "there is no body of ancient literature in the world, which enjoys such a wealth of good textual attestation as the New Testament." And the amazing thing about all of these manuscripts is that they're handwritten copies. They don't even have the printing press yet. They don't have computers to hit save. And it's saved there forever... put into a PDF, so you can't even change it. These are handwritten copies. The printing press wasn't invented until the mid-1400s. Gutenberg. And what did he print? Bibles, Bibles.
Now it's handwritten copies. As I said before, there are minor mistakes that scribes made in their copying. We won't hide that. These men, were not perfect. They're not perfect men. But we have so many copies of manuscripts available to us that when one guy makes a mistake, the other copies point out to us where that scribe made that mistake. I mean, it's simple science, right? It's a simple thing to do. Just compare them. And you'll see. The science here is known as "lower textual criticism." And as scholars study these manuscripts, we can be sure that what we have in our hands is the very Word of God.
One author says this, "Think for a moment about all that happened before you ever catch a glimpse of the English text." Think about that... we're holding an English text in our hands. Think about all that's happened. "God spoke through human authors who composed an original text. The originals were copied, and recopied. Textual analysts did their best to determine which copies most likely resemble the originals and produced a modern critical edition of the Old and New Testament texts. The translators then went to work, moving the meaning of the ancient biblical text into our language so that we can hear the Lord speak to us through His Word." That's amazing. Think about all the work that has been done so that you and I can sit here Sunday morning after Sunday morning, Wednesday night after Wednesday night and open up our book and hear from God. Did God want His Word preserved? You bet he did. And we can be confident that what we hold in our hands is the true and accurate word of God.
In fact, one scholar, A.T. Robertson said this, "The vast array of manuscripts has enabled textual scholars to accurately reconstruct the original text with more than 99.9% accuracy. And when mistakes were made, none of them changed the theology of the text." None of them did. You might have a misspelling of a name, or a misspelled word or a wrong number, they accidentally wrote down the wrong number. But none of them challenged the theology of the Bible. And because we have so many copies of manuscripts, we can know when a mistake was made, and we can correct it so that we know what the original manuscripts said. So, you can be confident that what you hold in your hand is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. That's what we have in our hands.
Now, let me ask a fourth question. Question number four. What do we do with this long ending of Mark? What do we do with it? Well, I believe we should keep it in there. Keep it there. Don't go home and make cuts in your Bible, don't rip anything out. Keep it there. You might ask, Well, why? Why keep it in there since Mark didn't write it? Here's a few reasons.
- First, number one, because we could be wrong. Could be wrong. Although there's great evidence and great scholarly agreement that it was later added by someone other than Mark, we could be wrong. And we don't want to throw out a portion of Scripture, right? We want it there. It's also in many of the early manuscripts. So since it's found in there, we can keep it in. Which by the way, is what scribes would have done. Listen, if a scribe had two copies before him, and he was writing on another scribe, and this copy did not have the long ending and this copy did have the long ending and he's writing this, guess what that scribe is going to do? He's going to write the long ending. Why? Because a scribe would never cut anything out. That wasn't their job to make those decisions. Their job was simply to copy. Now, they might put a little asterisk next to it a little something that might say, in this one, not in this one. And we have documented manuscripts, where scribes did put a little asterik. And they would tell you where they did something in there, or they would make a little footnote on there. We have those in our manuscripts. But a scribe would write the ending, because they wouldn't ever take anything out.
- Second, second reason why we should keep it in there. Because there's nothing in this ending of Mark that changes our theology, or our understanding of what happened after Christ resurrected, right? Nothing in there that changes. We know from other gospels that he did appear to Mary Magdalene, right? We know from other Scriptures that when the disciples heard the news of Christ's resurrection, they didn't believe it at first. Listen to Luke 24:10, it says this. "Now, they were Mary Magdalene, and Joanna and Mary, the mother of James, also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles." (Luke 24:10.) Luke 24, verse 11, says this, "But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. (Luke 24:11) The apostles at first didn't believe it. As the women show up, the tomb is empty, whatever. Nonsense, ladies. That's what Mark tells us as well, right? That it was nonsense. They didn't believe it at first.
We know that Christ commissioned the apostles to go and preach the gospel. He commissioned them, which is what it says in verse 15. “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. (Mark 16:15) We usually go to Matthew 28, right? 19 and 20. We go to that as the Great Commission, where we can see where Christ did commission them to go and preach the gospel. We know that signs and wonders accompanied the ministries of the apostles to authenticate their message. We know that Christ ascended into heaven, and he sits at the right hand of the Father, right? We know that -- we read that this morning in Hebrews chapter 10. He sits at the right hand of the Father. And we know that the apostles obeyed Christ and preached the gospel, and that signs confirmed the Word that they had preached. We know that. So, there's nothing in this passage that just completely destroys our theology. Nothing.
- Third reason to keep it in. Because this makes us better Bible students. Right? This makes us better Bible students; it should cause us to study it more and to dive into God's Word. Because we look at a bracketed text, we can go, okay...does this line up with other Scripture? Well, let's find out. And it causes you to dive into God's Word and become a student of the Bible, which is what we should be, right? We need to be Bible students. So, it causes us to study God's Word more. So that's why I believe that we should keep it in. Do I believe that Mark wrote it? No. But we should keep it in there.
Now, let me end with this final question.
Why did he end at verse eight? Look, at verse 8, “they went out and fled from the tomb for trembling and astonishment had gripped them, and they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid.” (Mark 16:8) I believe that he ended there because he wants you and I to have trembling and astonishment at this account as well. Mark has been telling us all along about the amazing work that Jesus has done all throughout His ministry, right? I mean, think about that, week after week, as we've showed up, and we've been in the Gospel of Mark, we leave here going, Wow. Amazing. It is. And from chapter one to chapter 16. That's been Mark's message to us. In chapter one, verses 21 and 22, listen to what it says. "They went into Capernaum. And immediately on the Sabbath, He entered the synagogue and began to teach. They were amazed at His teaching. For he was teaching them as one having authority and not as the scribes." (Mark 1:21-22) As Jesus goes into the synagogue and begins to teach, the people are amazed Who is this man? And Mark tells us that all the way back in chapter 1. Eleven times Mark uses the word "amazed." He wants us to be amazed at Christ. He wants us to be amazed at the work that Christ has done.
In chapter 16 in verse five, when the women show up to the empty tomb, what was their response? They were amazed. They were amazed. Then we should be left with amazement too, after reading all that we have read about our amazing savior, right? Remember, at the beginning, Mark told us that Jesus is the Son of God. Remember that? Mark chapter one, and verse one, turn over there. Mark one, in verse one, says this, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." (Mark 1:1) Here it is the beginning of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. Who is He? He's the son of God. Right there in the very first verse. Then we get to the end of Mark's gospel. And we see a centurion. In chapter 15, and verse 39, “When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39) And Mark's going, Yeah, I've been showing you that. This truly is the Son of God; this is the Messiah. This is God in the flesh. This is Jesus, our Messiah. And it took a Gentile centurion to utter those words to make that point.
Jesus is the amazing Son of God. One commentator says this as to why Mark ends his gospel at verse eight the way that he does. He says this, "the readers must now ask themselves, what will I do with Jesus?"
Some of you are here this morning, and he's just a good moral guy. He's the guy that came and sure, He did a bunch of good works. But to you, He's not Lord and Savior. I'm here to tell you this morning, that He is Lord and Savior, that He is the amazing Savior, who came to die for the sins of all those who would believe in Him. And if you're here this morning, and you don't believe in Him, it's because your sin has separated you from Him. You're a sinner. You've lied, you've stolen. You've used God's name in vain. You've broken the law of God, and you've sinned against Him. And because of your sin, you are separated from God.
And if you were to die in your sins, you will spend an eternity in hell. Where Jesus says it is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. But I'm here to tell you this morning, that there is hope -- that you don't have to spend eternity there. Because Jesus Christ came...He is the Son of God who gave Himself as the sacrifice for our sins. We read it in Hebrews chapter 10 this morning. He's the Savior of the world. And He offers you eternal life. And He commands you to repent of your sin and put your faith in Him alone. And if you do that, He will grant you the free gift of eternal life. All you must do is believe.
Listen, you can't work your way to heaven. You're not good enough. No one is. The only way to get to heaven is through faith in Jesus Christ alone, period. That's it. If you haven't done that, I would urge you to do that this morning. Put your trust in the amazing Son of God. And He will grant you the gift of eternal life.
And for those of us who have, we must wrestle with this question as well. What will I do with Jesus? What will I do with my amazing Savior, will you live your life for Him? It's what we're commanded to do. Will you submit to His Word? That's what He commands us to do. Submit to Him. Will you desire to grow into relationship with Him, and know Him more through His Word? That's what He commands us to do. Are you amazed by Him? I am. He is the amazing Son of God, the Savior of the world. And I'm so glad that He has given us His inerrant and infallible Word, so that we can know how amazing He is.
Let's pray, Father, we’re amazed at Your Son who came and lived a perfect life. A life that none of us could ever live. Because Your Word tells us that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." (Rom 3:23) That means every one of us has done that. We've sinned against You. And our sin has separated us from You. But we thank You for Christ who came and lived the perfect life and died on a cross as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He is our amazing Savior. We love Him. We love You, Father. We love You. And we thank You for Your perfect plan of salvation, to send Your one and only Son to take upon flesh and to live a perfect life and to go to a cross as the ultimate sacrifice as the one true sacrifice... once for all... so that all who put their faith in Him can have eternal life. We thank You for our amazing Savior. Father, we thank You for out time that we've had going through the Gospel of Mark, as we have looked and seen how amazing our Savior is. Wow. What an amazing God You are. We thank You for Your word that is inerrant and infallible, and trustworthy. Father, I pray that You would help us to be students of Your Word that we would desire Your Word as we desire to come to know You more, and that we would live it out for Your glory and Your glory alone. We pray in Christ's name. Amen.