April 25, 2020 (Saturday) - A Cock-&-Bull Story? - A Reflection on Mark 16:15-20

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.” 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.

A few days ago we reflected on the apostle Thomas and his missionary journey to India (https://youtu.be/0jYSGyySzWA). I always get a few people commenting about the posts, and I find that very encouraging. Besides, I like to know what people think, so please do share your thoughts if you don’t already. Anyway, one lady commented that the things Thomas spoke about Jesus must have seemed like a really tall tale to those listening to him! And I have to agree.

Imagine you have never heard about Jesus and somebody tells you about a child being conceived by the Holy Spirit (the what?). Then this child grows up to become a great miracle worker, doing things like healing the sick and driving out demons. Then, despite being this amazing man who has been such a blessing to many, he is scourged and crucified, but although he dies, he rises from the dead on the third day! And, oh yes, he did all this because he was the Son of God come to save the world.

If you heard a story like this, and you didn’t know the first thing about Jesus, what would you think? You’d think you were being fed a real cock-and-bull story. So what made the people Thomas preached to believe? And the other people around the world that the other apostles preached to. By AD 200, there were about 250,000 Christians around the world, and in the next fifty years the numbers swelled to over a million! How?

Because this is NOT a cock-and-bull story. It is the truth. And when it is preached, God himself backs the words up with signs and wonders, and by filling the listeners with faith. Consider Peter on the day of Pentecost. He preached one sermon. It was a hard-hitting sermon where Peter accused his audience of killing the author of life. They could have killed him too; instead 3,000 became believers that day! Because God did what God had to do!

And God will do that today as well if we only fulfill the commission that he has given us. “Go into all the world,” our Lord says in today’s reading, “and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved. And those who believe will do great things in my name.”

Say Amen.