Yesterday and today I read the book of Mark on my iPhone through the course of the day. My big question from the book of Matthew has still been very much on my mind as I have been focusing on the words in the book of Mark.
The book of Mark does not go into great detail on most events. I would consider this book to be a summary of some of the most important events in Jesus ministry. In fact it says nothing about Jesus birth at all. It truly focuses on the ministry of Jesus.
As I was reading Mark various items have popped up that I thought I might write about, but as I got to the final paragraphs in Mark this verse has jumped out. It follows the theme of my question from the book of Matthew.
[youversion]Mark 16:15-18[/youversion] — And he said to them, Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover. (ESV)
This section is highlighted in the New Living Translation as an ‘alternate ending’. This is a section that is not found in the two earliest manuscripts of the book of Mark, but it is consistently found in later manuscripts. So, there are some that do not believe that this ‘alternate ending’ is actually scripture. I wonder if that is somewhat based on the words spoken here by Jesus do not seem to follow our experience of faith? He gives some specific signs that accompany those who believe. Casting out demons, speak in new tongues, pick up serpents, drink deadly poison and not be harmed, and heal the sick through laying on of hands. I know that I have some friends in the Assemblies of God Church that believe that speaking in tongues is a sign of true faith, and this verse certainly confirms this idea. But I have never met a Christian that does all of these things. And in fact I have only met some who speak in tongues, but they do not heal with their hands or cast out demons. So, where are these believers?
I continue to try and wrap my mind around the words in Matthew (which are also found in Mark) regarding the power of faith to literally move mountains, and now these signs of faith in this ‘alternate ending’ to Mark. I am continuing to wonder what does real faith look like? Does it look like what Jesus is describing here at the end of Mark? If so, I do not believe I have ever seen it, nor do I possess it. Or is this a non-scriptural entry added by scribes after the book was written or is Jesus using an analogy to simply describe that his followers will do great things?
I would appreciate any thoughts or comments on the subject you may have.