Mark 16:15-20 15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
Last week we looked at the difference the Resurrection makes in the life of a believer. In the life of an unbeliever, the cross makes an eternal difference. Once a person is converted, it is the Resurrection that compels us not only to leave our old life of sin behind but calls us to a life of discipleship, to new life, to a resurrected life. I suggested last week that because of the Resurrection we are compelled to live a life of proclamation, actually telling people the Good News of the Gospel; that we are to live a life of decision, daily choosing to die and rise in Christ and confess Him as Lord, and that we must live a life of demonstration by loving others the way Christ has loved us.
In this post-Resurrection passage in Mark, we are given instructions about where we are to be involved in proclamation, decision, and demonstration and by what authority we should exercise all three. We are told to go to all the world in Jesus’ name. Let’s look more closely at those two pieces.
At no time has it been easier to “go into all the world” than now. Many of you have hundreds and some have thousands of friends on your social media and what you post and how you interact with people literally goes viral. Youtube videos get hundreds of thousands and millions of hits in merely hours. How can we capitalize on that kind of quick communication in order to be intentional about the spread of the Gospel? You can be sure that Satan has figured out how to use the internet to go into all the world with his message of despair, depression, dissension and doom! Pastor Rick Warren has suggested that Satan is at work through social media to:
1. To glamorize sin.
2. To imply everyone is doing it.
3. To fail to show consequences.
4. To get you to laugh at it.
All in an effort to minimize sin.
Satan is attempting to make sin look harmless. We have the responsibility to sound the alarm not just on the internet, but everywhere we go.
Why do you think Jesus had to tell the disciples to go into all the world with the Gospel? Don’t you think they would have instantly known the Gospel was for everyone? Remember, Jesus’ disciples had come out of the Jewish tradition. They had been part of God’s chosen people. They had heard all of their lives how special the Jews were to God. God had a special plan for the Jewish people.
Post crucifixion and resurrection, however, there had to be a shift in the disciples’ mindset. Yes, they had seen Jesus departing from cultural traditions to go out of His way to minister to non-Jews during His time with them, but they would still have had this mindset that Jesus had come to deliver them, the Jewish nation. Here Jesus was helping them begin to make that mental transition that the Gospel was to be preached to all, Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews).
It wasn’t an easy shift to make. They had always lived “under the law.” The law told them how to go about the events of daily life. What they were to wear, what they could eat and how it had to be prepared, how a farmer was to plow a field and harvest crops, how servants and family members were to be treated, how worship was to be conducted, every detail of life was informed by the law. The law even regulated how they were to be buried. In life as well as in death, they had learned to be controlled by the law. If they had a question about which way to turn, they had to look to the law.
Now, they were to transition to life not under the law, but under grace. They were to accept the internal ruling and reigning of the Holy Spirit and yet still respect the Jewish customs and intent of the laws. In addition, they had to learn not to impose their “lawish ways” of doing things on Gentiles who hadn’t grown up under the law because being the people of God was no longer based on a covenant through the law, but a covenant of grace (Romans 6:14).
At first it seemed Jesus directed his earthly ministry toward the Israelite nation. When you read Matthew 10:6 you see He commissioned the 12 to not go to the Gentiles, but to the Jewish people or as He called them, “The Lost Sheep of Israel.” But by Mark 16 and Matthew 28, Jesus had directed them to make disciples of all nations.
The Jews had to mentally get beyond what they had always embraced if they were going to be successful in reaching the entire world and not just the Jewish people, with the Good News of the Gospel. It was such a big transition that God had to give Peter a vision in Acts 10 to help open up his mind to see that when he said “all the world” He really meant it. Even in Galatians 2:11-21 we see Peter’s struggle to embrace it fully. Paul had to straighten him out a bit about some things and remind him that the blood of Jesus was for everyone. It was a mental shift that took time to adopt.
What mindsets keep us from going into all the world? From reaching out to everyone? From being aggressive about sharing the Gospel? Let me tell you, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Scientists and Moslems have no trouble going.
I believe the number one reason people don’t share their faith is because of some kind of fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of looking stupid. Fear of being labeled. Fear of some kind of persecution. We sing “Because He lives all fear is gone” except when it comes to talking to my co-worker, except when it comes to talking to my family, except when it comes to knocking on my neighbor’s door with the intention to share the Gospel message.
How do we move away from a mindset of fear? We do it by embracing a life of faith. Christian, let the Resurrection inform your faith. If Jesus predicted His death, burial and resurrection and pulled it off, and if the last enemy is death as the Bible says and Jesus conquered that, then we have nothing left to fear. Remember my definition of faith is that “faith is the constant conviction that God is bigger than my mountains.” When you live with that mentality you won’t be afraid to go where God wants you to go or say what He wants you to say.
I think the thought of feeling awkward, being uncomfortable, having to sacrifice something, perhaps God asking us to go somewhere on His behalf or give something on His behalf that will require sacrifice, also keeps us from sharing the Gospel. How far will we really have to go? What will we have to do? Get dirty? Be inconvenienced? Befriend people who aren’t like us? Deal with drama?
How do we move away from a self-centered mindset that keeps us in our comfort zones and from experiencing our spiritual potential? We do it by developing the mind of Christ. It is a mindset of humility, a mindset that considers the needs and interests of others (Philippians 2). It is not a mindset that we are born with. It’s not easily developed. It has to be the desire of your heart, an act of your will and the pursuit of your life!
On Friday early afternoon I was heading out the church drive to go to Valley Park to meet some other Rotarians. We were planting a tree and donating a bench as a club and we were to be there to get our picture taken. As I pulled out the church drive, a young girl with a couple of backpacks was coming up the drive. I rolled my window down and asked how I could help her. She said she needed to speak to a pastor or priest. I told her I was the only pastor on site, that I was headed to a park for a quick picture and that she could ride with me. She got in my van and off we went.
Long story short, I discovered she was a 15 year old runaway from a location about three hours away. She had a good home life but had been through some pretty tough stuff. I listened to her pain and sensed her depression. She had been dropped off at Sheetz by the last person who gave her a ride and as she walked east hoping to get a ride to take her closer to her hopeful destination she saw the church and felt compelled to seek advice.
I called Pastor Thom who was with another pastor at the time. He met me at the church. We only had her first name to go on, but as we talked with her, Thom checked the missing persons report from the state she said she was from and there was her picture and a description. We knew we had to act not only morally because a young girl was endangered out on the road by herself and because parents were worried sick but also because the law was looking for her and any help we gave her would make us accomplices in the whole process. In about an hour we led to her make the decision to let us call her mom. I kept the young lady with me as Thom had to drive to Newport, KY to get his mom. I prayed with her and over her life. Three and a half hours later, she was reunited with one of her parents who happened to be a pastor. Not what she wanted, but it was what needed to happen.
When I woke up on Friday, I had one thing on my agenda. This sermon. I had been in NC with the Painters on Thursday for Christina’s surgery and hadn’t started my message on Thursday as I typically do. Ministering to this young girl took the rest of my day Friday and into the evening which altered my plans, but what a joy to help her get safely home! It takes a daily shift in our mindset to be available for whatever comes our way.
We need to stop thinking about how going with the Gospel and compassion of Christ will change our plans. We need to stop asking, “What’s in it for me?” and start asking, “What will bring YOU, God, the most glory today?”
As we develop a new mindset about walking in faith and walking as Christ did, we can embrace our calling to go into all the world. Second, we are to go into all the world “in the name of Jesus!” Mark 16:17 says, “In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
This passage can be confusing at first read and has been a proof text for many churches throughout the years to practice some wacky stuff. We aren’t to go out looking for demons to exercise in order to show Satan who is boss. We aren’t to assemble together and prove we are worshipping in Jesus’ name by taking our turn in a pit of snakes! We aren’t to demand proof of Holy Spirit infilling by mandating that people speak in tongues, nor are we to drink grape juice laced with poison for communion to prove we are empowered by the Spirit of God. What this text is saying is that as you come up against challenges, the need for supernatural power or the need to escape some kind of persecution, it will come in Jesus’ name.
It’s a good thing the disciples had the name of Jesus as a weapon because they needed it on their mission to go into all the world with the Gospel. We read in Acts 16:-18 about a time when Paul had to exercise a demon out of a servant girl. His words in verse 18 were”In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
The disciples experienced Holy Spirit empowering on the Day of Pentecost when they spoke in new tongues. They were known languages but they had never learned them. People from all the known world had assembled in Jerusalem for the Feast of Week during which they celebrated receiving the Law on Mount Sanai, and when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers, those gathered there from other places heard the Gospel in their own language and were converted as a result.
In Acts 28 Paul actually had to shake a snake off of his hand and did so without suffering any ill effects. Jesus was telling the disciples ahead of time that they could do whatever the situation called for if they operated in the name of Jesus. He wasn’t going to stay physically on site to handle it for them, but He was telling them they would be able to handle whatever happened in His name.
What do we need to understand about using the name of Jesus as we go about our efforts to go into all the world?
- Using Jesus’ name means we represent Him. In Acts 3, Peter and John were
walking into the temple where they encountered a beggar. Peter’s words are recorded in Acts 3:6-8 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
The miraculous healing didn’t sit well with the religious authorities. They had worked hard to get rid of Jesus, and all of the sudden it was like Jesus’ influence had become exponential. They took action against Peter and John.
Acts 4:1-4 1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.
As representatives of Jesus, Peter and John were seeing thousands of people turn to Christ. They were commanded in Acts 4:18 not to preach or teach in Jesus’ name any more. They said in verse 20 they weren’t backing down. They said that they had to talk about what they had seen and heard.
The apostles were preaching and teaching and healing in place of Jesus, as His representatives, in His name!
- Using Jesus’ name also means we represent His interests.
Just as in the place of prayer when we ask FOR something according to God’s will, we know we will receive what we have asked for, (I John 5:14-15) we can minister with confidence in Jesus’s name when we are doing the will of God or when we are appropriately representing Jesus’ interest.
People who represent their own interests while trying to invoke the name of Jesus will wind up being found out and disciplined. Listen, the name of Jesus isn’t a magic phrase. It’s not an abracadabra formula for people to use as they wish. It was a tragic ending for people treating Jesus’s name that way in Acts 19:13-16 13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 [One day] the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
Those people weren’t representing Jesus. When you read the commentary, you find they were into some kind of magical abracadabra efforts in order to gain money or a following. They weren’t out to heal in the name of Jesus, but they wanted to use Jesus’s name for personal gain. The demons were the ones to confront the imposters by saying, “You’re using Jesus’ name, but we don’t even know you.” The Seven Sons of Sceva took a beating when the demon turned on them.
- Using Jesus’ name as a true representative of Him for His interests means we are equipped with His power and authority.
When you are faced with a situation that calls for a God-ordained miracle, you are to invoke the name of Jesus, and God will back you up. The same power that raised Christ from the dead will be available to you to accomplish whatever it is God has for you to do in His name. That is the kind of power and authority that is represented in John 14:13-14 “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
Should there be a knock at your door and you hear the words, “Open up in the name of the law,” you know someone on the other side of the door has the authority to be making that request. It is the law they are representing and they have been given the power and authority to make the demand. The same is true for true believers who operate according to the will of God. For example, we can say, “Flee” in the name of the Lord to demons and they must go.
I have no trouble asking God for signs and miracles and wonders to be performed when I know they are not for my benefit or glory and when I know that they line up with God’s promises in His Word. Just like I prayed for Michelle Justice’s uncle to be able to have a moment of consciousness though he had been clinically dead twice two days before her visit, and just as I asked for a sign that he would hear what she said and that she would have a sign that he had received the message and God saw fit to grant the request I am praying for signs and miracles and wonders for many dealing with cancer and other difficult life issues. We have the authority to ask for those kinds of things. Things that are impossible with man are possible with God, and He has given us power and authority to proclaim them.
It is all summed up in Matthew 18:18-20 18 “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. How are we given this power and authority? Here is the caveat. 20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
Pray for your kids in the name of Jesus to make right choices. Pray for your spouse or your co-worker to be saved in the name of Jesus. Pray for people to come off of drugs and to be delivered from alcoholism or a dependency on anything but Christ alone, but proclaim it and pray it in the name of Jesus. Pray for people to be healed in the name of Jesus. How many believers are underusing the power in the name of Jesus?
Jesus’s name truly is the name above all names. Every knee in heaven and earth will bow before His name one day and every tongue will confess Christ is Lord. I have been convicted this week about not using the power of Jesus’s name often enough. I have no trouble saying, “God bless you” to someone I pass out in the community, but what difference would it make if I said, “God bless you IN THE NAME OF JESUS?”
So, that’s it. Where do we go from here as we continue our exploration of the difference the Resurrection makes? We are to go into all the world (which will likely require a new mindset) in the name of Jesus which gives us the power and authority to carry out our assignment.