Rev. Dr. Delesslyn A. Kennebrew, J.D., M.Div. - Kingdom Builder - Visionary Strategist - Inspirational Writer
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AWKWARD MOMENTS: Questionable Verses and Unbelievable Appearances - Mark 16:9-14

AWKWARD MOMENTS:
Questionable Verses and An Unbelievable Presence
 
Scripture:
Mark 16:9-14
 
 
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Greetings!
 
BlogFam, I will be very honest with you.  Mark 16:8 and the following verses until the end present an awkward moment in the presentation of the Gospel story.  Let me explain. 
 
 
 
If any of you were to read this text from more than one version of the Bible, you will possibly find that there is an insert that is a disclaimer in the Holy Writ.  I am pretty sure this disclaimer was NOT a part of the original text but it has been added by the editors of the Bibles we read.  The editorial comment might read as follows -
 
[The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses
do not have verses 9–20.]
 
 
Thus, Mark 16:8 is considered the shorter ending of Mark.  I wanted to make you all aware of this insert because it would be dishonest of me to act like I do not see it if I am leading you through a verse by verse reflection of this passage of scripture.  I also point this out in order to invite you to reflect upon your own theological stance of the Scriptures we accept as Holy Writ, the very word of God spoken through the writers of these texts that we hold so dear.  This one insert raises questions, none of which I will attempt to answer nor will I pose the many that come to my own mind.  But I will say this.  As you read the Bible, unless you are skilled in reading the original Hebrew or Greek text, the reality is that we are all reading words that have been transcribed into a language that can sometimes be inadequate to reflect the exact meaning of the original authors. 
 
 
 
Therefore, we accept by FAITH that what we read – in our individually  or denominationally preferred versions – is the Word of God.  We accept by FAITH that the testimonies of the people in the Bible are true and that their witness continues to speak life into our present situations.  We accept by FAITH that the Bible is a way for us to understand the person and the ways of our God.  So, with this in mind, we will continue our journey, but I wanted to be honest with you about what we have encountered today and by FAITH we accept that Mark 16:9-20, the remaining verses of this final chapter of the Gospel, will also speak life and resurrection in light of the editorial disclaimer we read in advance of these verses.
 
 
And now we read, Mark 16:9-14 -
 
When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene,out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.
 
Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country.These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.
 
Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
 
 
 
I do not recall most of the Easter Speeches that I recited as a child; however, I will NEVER forget one line from a presentation we did at my home church.  The presentation was actually a collection of short monologues. Each of the participants was a character in the story who told their perspective about the resurrection of Jesus. I was Mary Magdalene and the line that I remember is this –
 
I WAS AN APOSTLE TO THE APOSTLES. 
 
 
I was so excited to say that ONE line in my entire monologue because that statement was revolutionary to my young mind who had never thought about the significant role of women in the Bible – especially not as it specifically related to the ministry of Jesus in the Gospels.  That ONE line blew my mind!  I was fascinated to hear a perspective about how Jesus chose to appear to a woman and Jesus spoke to this woman and told her to go tell the disciples that He was alive! 
 
I WAS AN APOSTLE TO THE APOSTLES.
 
 
I will NEVER forget that ONE line. I believe it struck a chord within me that I was unaware that there was indeed a possibility that the role of women in the proclamation of the Gospel message of resurrection and redemption was such a priority to the Savior that He saw and spoke to a woman FIRST after His resurrection.
 
 
 
When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene,out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping.
 
This is how Mark recalls this morning and why I was so excited to say that ONE line in my monologue. Unfortunately, like so many of us who share the Good News of Jesu sChrist, we will encounter those who will NOT believe the story and that has nothing to do with gender.  There are people who just refuse to believe that Jesus did rise again!
 
When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.
 
Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country.These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.
 
 
 
 
Have you ever received a word from someone that you did not believe because of WHO said it or because of WHAT was said?  My answer is YES and YES again.  I have not believed something someone said because of WHO said it and I have certainly NOT believed someone because of WHAT was said.  The truth is that when we consider the source of certain messages and consider the message from certain sources, well, we can hesitate to believe and others would validate our lack of belief. 
 
 
Think about it.  Who is going to BELIEVE a woman who used to be filled with demons and is now saying she just spoke with Jesus?  Who is going to BELIEVE two random strangers saying that Jesus rose from the dead because they saw him on some random road in the country? Who is going to believe those sources who used to be everything you say you would never be?  Who is going to believe a message that is totally contrary to what science and logic could authenticate?   
 
 
 
Jesus was crucified.  Jesus died.   Jesus was buried.  And now Jesus has risen from the grave.  Do you believe it?  YES or NO......or Maybe?
 
 
Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
 
 
Friends, I feel you asking Jesus – Jesus, do you really expect me to believe this message when I consider the source of such a message?  Do you really expect me to believe a message that is totally out of the ordinary even though you did say that it would happen?  Jesus, do you really expect me to believe that you would use the most unlikely people to proclaim your word?  Jesus, do you really expect me to believe that the promises of your word are already done in heaven and will be made manifest on earth?  Jesus, do you really expect me to believe in YOU?
 
 
My sistas and brothas, it is wise to consider the source of the message.  And it is wise to consider the message of the source.  However, in all of our considerations, let us never discount that holy variable of FAITH.  The editors of the Bible added that one statement to let us know that these verses are not included in early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses and I appreciate their honesty.  Yet, whether these verses were or were not included, the truth remains the same – There will be those who will not believe that Jesus has risen from the dead.  And therefore, will be rebuked for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe. 
 
 
 
On today, I pray for forgiveness for the ways we have expressed our lack of faith to accept the Word God speaks through brothers and sisters.   I pray that the sordid pasts of those who now proclaim the Gospel would be a source of strength as they witness about how the Lord has changed their lives.  I pray for forgiveness for our stubborn refusal to believe in God and to believe that God would choose to resurrect our lives in spectacular ways.  I pray that my BlogFam would speak about the resurrection of our Lord without shame or regret especially when they are looked upon as strangers with a random word about Jesus.  I pray that you all would be apostles to apostles, missionaries to missionaries, witnesses to those who witness, encouragers to those who encourage, and a blessing to those who have been a blessing to you.  I pray that when we experience those awkward moments, when we read questionable verses and sense an unbelievable presence, I pray that we would look for GOD and by FAITH, we will rejoice because our GOD is with us - even in the awkward moments.
 
 
 
God Loves You and I do too!
Delesslyn
Twitter - @AudraSunshine
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