Today’s reading link: Genesis 46; Mark 16; Job 12; Romans 16
I’ve recently taken the opportunity to consider what others would say if asked, “What is most important to Jon?” Even if you barely know me, you are probably aware of how easily and freely I verbally proclaim my love for triathlons, India Pale Ales (IPAs), coffee, travel, and fine food. And if you know me fairly well you hopefully have heard me passionately talk about how much I cherish and adore my wife, and the great joy that our children bring. What tugs at me is the fear that too many people would be surprised to know that I love Jesus. My treasure may appear to be more Earthly focused rather than Heavenly focused.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)
The “good news” that I usually share is missing the Good News that we are commanded to share. In today’s reading, the resurrected Jesus commands us to share the Good News so that others may be saved.
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.” (Mark 16:15-16)
We are told to take action. Throughout his preaching and teaching period, Jesus was constantly on the move. He was not an earthly king on an earthly throne being served. Jesus went, but without concern for his own comfort. And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58)
into all the world
Jesus traveled to numerous cities throughout Galilee. “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” (Matthew 4:23) The apostle Paul traveled extensively as well. The Lord’s words in Acts 9:15 are referring to Paul, and his travels are well documented throughout the book of Acts. But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. (Acts 9:15)
The NLT Bible uses “preach” and the ESV version uses “proclaim”. The word preach (preacher) brings back memories of the guy in a suit, giving a sermon on a Sunday morning (something most of us haven’t done). The word proclaim hits closer to home. We can proclaim things through speech (verbal or written) and through our actions. These words from Peter provide more context to the act of speaking and serving to glorify God:
If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11, NIV)
The Gospel (or the Good News) is repentance of sins and faith in Jesus Christ. Before we can proclaim the Good News, we need to believe in our own hearts and live as though it is actually good news. The Good News offers eternal life with our loving creator so we should share it with great joy! Consider the apostles after they had been jailed, humiliated, interrogated, and beaten for sharing the Good News. Their response? Rejoicing. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. (Acts 5:41)
to the whole creation.
The message is for everyone. We are God’s creation. In the context of the writing of the Bible there was a great division between Jews and Gentiles or the Greeks, so it needed to be said that even the Gentiles get to share in this eternal salvation. For further reference, please refer to Romans 10:5-21 as it beautifully and miraculously teaches the message of salvation for all.
Whoever believes and is baptized
This refers to believing the gospel, that Jesus rose from the dead, that Jesus was who he said he was, the Son of God. As we believe in our hearts, we will have outward actions that reflect our belief. Baptism is one outward step to reflect our inward belief.
will be saved,
Saved from sin and given eternal life. Sin separates us from God; he cannot tolerate sin therefore he sent Jesus to die as a sacrifice, as a replacement for our sin. It is binary, we can be with him or without him and it is our choice to believe or not believe. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
I slowly typed this last part and it gave me a chill. The thought of condemnation for anyone, especially those I love, cuts me to the heart. If you are reading this and you do not yet believe, please consider that it is not the me the author of this post, your friend, your co-worker, or “the christian” who condemns; this is Biblical text coming from a God who is a God a love, but also a God of wrath. He either saves or condemns, based on our choice. Our culture spins lies in telling us that a loving God wouldn’t condemn good people. He loves us, but if we do not love him back, we are inherently rejecting him. We are for him or against him. We will be with or without him for eternity and this is serious business. “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15)
Father God, would you put it in our hearts to recognize the great significance as to the choices we make and the direction our lives are pointing people to? Would you open doors to conversation that would glorify you? Would you soften the hearts of those who do not yet believe? Would you equip us through your Holy Spirit to have the words that clearly and truthfully reflect your will? Thank you God for loving us so much, for giving us free will, and saving us through your son Jesus. Amen.