Mark 16:9-20 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Longer Ending of Mark
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
Jesus Appears to Two Disciples
After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
Jesus Commissions the Disciples
Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
The Ascension of Jesus
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. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.
This is the end of Mark’s Gospel and no ending is complete without a mission for the followers of Jesus. Because of Jesus, the disciples go out and preach the good news that Jesus has conquered death and the grave. Jesus’ way of sacrifice and love won! Therefore, it is our job to preach that good news, too! Oh, are you not a preacher? Are you sure? There is a quote attributed to St. Francis where he says, “Preach. And if necessary, use words.” We all preach with our lives, don’t we? The way we preach as Christians is if our words and actions point to the good news that there is a new story that should shape who we are and what we do. How will you align your story with God’s story? How will you walk in and find success in the fruit of the Spirit instead of walking in the ways in which the world talks about success? Success for God is different. Jesus died, which many would say is a great failure, but in that failure, the whole world was changed forever. So go preach the good news! It is good news that darkness does not win! It is good news that love, grace, peace, hope and joy win! So go live like Jesus and just maybe others might say, “The way I see you living is telling me something new and I want to hear more of that story!”
~Jon Tschanz, Director of Young Adult Ministry
Mark 2:23-27 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Pronouncement about the Sabbath
One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath;
In the book of Hebrews, it tells us that we are to give grace daily in our lives. But, here, in this passage, Jesus is questioned by the Pharisees for breaking the law. Jesus did the unspeakable; he picked grain on the Sabbath so that he and his disciples may eat. The word that jumps out to me in this passage is the word, “Look.” It is as if the Pharisees are saying, “Look at those sinners, rule breakers and immoral people.” I wonder how much energy we use as Christians pointing our fingers at others saying, “Look at that person! They are so wrong, so bad, so sinful, so immoral.” Wouldn’t that energy be better used giving grace daily to all those we encounter? After all, we could have Jesus point at all of us and say, “Look at them. Those sinners.” But, Jesus doesn’t do this. Instead, Jesus looks at us and says, “Look! Those are people whom I have loved before they even knew me, whom I love now, even in spite of their mess, and will love always.” Now that’s some good news! Spend that energy wisely and give grace daily. Then people will point at you and say, “Look,” there is that person from First UMC Winter Park. They always treat everyone with value, they always make sure everyone belongs, and they speak love into lives of people who really need it. And then you will start to live a life where you see others and say, “Look, there is a person whom Jesus loves. God help me love them like you love them.” May you follow this Jesus. You won’t regret it.
~Jon Tschanz, Director of Young Adult Ministry
Mark 4:26-33 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Parable of the Growing Seed
He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
The Use of Parables
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it;
I have recently had the chance to go FUMCWP Encounter trip at Warren Willis and had the great opportunity to listen to Pastor Meghan Killingsworth all weekend long giving wonderful and impactful sermons. I remember, on Saturday afternoon Pastor Meghan gave a sermon on the mustard parable. She had two people come to the front and draw a picture of a garden with a fence around it. Although the drawing skills where a bit basic, we all understood what goes in a garden and what is supposed to stay out of a garden. Then Pastor Meghan took the drawing and drew a big messy mustard tree right in the middle of the garden. Mark 4:23 says, “Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” This big mustard tree that outgrew everything in the garden is now bringing in the exact creatures that the fence was supposed to keep out. Most people when they hear the Mustard seed parable think it is saying that the mustard seed is big and so must be like the kingdom of God. This comparison is not wrong but this parable also represents so much more than how big God’s kingdom is. The big mustard tree that grew in the garden brought in the birds and all the undesirable creatures that everyone wanted to keep out, That is what the kingdom of God is. The Kingdom of God is big, but it is also welcomes those who everyone else turns away or is deemed unworthy.
~Meredith Hadala, Age 15
Mark 12:28-34 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The First Commandment
One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.
The ancient Jewish court system was composed by three major religious sects: Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes; the first group with strict observance of traditional and written laws, the second only emphasizing on the written law and denying the resurrection of the dead and the existing of spirits and the last were the theologians and expert in biblical interpretation. They were most of the time confronting Jesus in public with questions of hostile nature; in this passage, the teacher asking the question about the greatest commandment doesn’t seem to be unfriendly. Jesus answer citing from Deuteronomy 6 with the commandment known as the “Shema” and added to the answer the second most important commandment “love your neighbor as yourself” from Leviticus 19.
God commanded us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength for our own benefit; however, we ought to love Him not looking for His blessings and profits, we will not get to mature in our Christian life until we learn to love God simply because he is good, lovely, merciful and gracious. No sin is too small to be insignificant, but we must admit that everyday we break what it is according to Jesus the greatest of all commandments, the most serious sin and the greatest of all transgression is not to love God and our neighbors as we ought to.
~Lloyd Dominguez, Facility Director
Mark 12:41-44 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Widow’s Offering
He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
Shortly after the people of Israel were brought from four hundred and thirty years of slavery in Egypt; God told Moses in Exodus 25 to ask the people of Israel that they bring offerings for the construction of the tabernacle, their first sanctuary in which God will dwell among them. They were to bring gold, silver, wood, oil and all sort of building and decoration materials, with the condition that they were to bring them willingly with their heart.
In Jesus times donations were brought to the temple in public, in the passage Jesus was present with his disciples, the Lord was particularly impressed by the offering of a widow, who’s offering was equivalent to one cent. While others were giving large amounts, Jesus didn’t pay much attention to the material value of the offerings as he was to the disposition of the people, most of them were giving without sacrifice involved, with a public display of generosity out of hypocrisy, on the other hand, the widow gave with sacrifice and with spiritual devotion, with love and loyalty to God.
In Matt. 6 Jesus teaches: Do not do your charitable deeds before men to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your father in heaven. We have a calling to give and to be generous with our finances, love, attention, respect and time, but we need to understand that God rewards those who give out of devoutness for him.
~Lloyd Dominguez, Facility Director
*The Scriptural passages are selected from the Lectionary on Mark, Year B. As a result some of the passages will be out of the normal order they are usually read.