Saturday (April 22): “Go and preach the Gospel to the whole creation”
Scripture: Mark 16:9-15
9 Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. 12 After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. 14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they sat at table; and he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.
Meditation: Do you believe the Lord Jesus is truly alive and ready to make his presence known to everyone who believes in him? The first to see the risen Lord was not Peter or one of the apostles, but a woman noted for her demonized living! She had been forgiven much, and loved her Master greatly. She was first at the tomb to pay her respects. Unfortunately for the disciples, they would not believe her account of the Risen Master. Jesus had to scold his apostles because of their unbelief and stubborn hearts.
The Holy Spirit makes our faith in Jesus Christ come alive Are you like the apostles or like Mary - slow to believe or quick to run to Jesus? Do you doubt because you do not see? The Lord makes his presence known to us through the work and power of the Holy Spirit. He gives us the gift of faith to know him personally and to understand the mystery of his death and rising. Do you believe his word and do you listen to his voice?
We are Christ's ambassadors and witnesses of his victory over sin and death After his appearance to his beloved apostles, Jesus commissions them to go and preach the gospel to the whole creation. Their task is to proclaim the good news of salvation, not only to the people of Israel but to all the nations. This is the great commission which the risen Christ gives to the whole church. All believers have been given a share in this task - to be heralds of the good news and ambassadors for Jesus Christ, the only savior of the world. We have not been left alone in this task, for the risen Lord works in and through us by the power of his Holy Spirit. Do you witness to others the joy of the Gospel and the hope of the resurrection?
"Lord Jesus Christ, increase my faith and hope in the power of your resurrection. And give me joy and courage to be your witness to others and to boldly speak of what you have done to save us from sin and death."
Psalm 118;1, 14-21
1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever! 14 The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. 15 Hark, glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: "The right hand of the LORD does valiantly, 16 the right hand of the LORD is exalted, the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!" 17 I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD. 18 The LORD has chastened me sorely, but he has not given me over to death. 19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. 20 This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. 21 I thank you that you answered me and have become my salvation.
A Daily Quote for Easter Week: The Great Commission, by Augustine of Hippo, 430-543 A.D.
"The command to the apostles to be witnesses to him in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and even to the uttermost parts of the earth was not addressed exclusively to those to whom it was immediately spoken. They alone would not be the only ones who would carry such an enormous task to completion. Similarly he seems to be speaking to the apostles very personally when he says: "Behold I am with you even to the end of the world," yet who does not know that he made this promise to the universal church which will last from now even to the consummation of the world by successive births and deaths?" (excerpt from Letter 199, To Hesychius 49)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.