Mark 16: 15-20 | King James Audio Bible KJV | King James Version
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
19 ¶ So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
20 And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
The disciples receive the universal apostolic mandate, commanded by Jesus to take the good news to the whole world, to preach to everyone. This apostolic mission applies to the Church to this day. It applies to the whole Church, laity included. All members of Christ’s body share the Christian vocation to lead others to faith in Christ, to be instruments or vehicles of salvation for others. We are to take the good news to everyone, through our words, through our works, by example.
In these verses of the Bible, Christ clearly teaches that both belief and baptism are necessary for salvation. The Church teaches that conversion to faith in Jesus Christ should lead to Baptism, by which original sin and any sins a person may have committed are forgiven. Where Baptism is impossible, we are taught that it may instead take the form of the baptism of blood, which is martyrdom, or the baptism of desire, where there is love of God and the desire to be baptized may be, at least, considered implicit. We are marked by our Baptism, welcomed as members of the Church, the children of God.
In the early years of the Church, there were frequent miracles of healing performed by those who believed in Christ. These were visible proofs of the truth of Christianity, most helpful in inspiring the faith of those hearing the Gospel. Miracles are worked to this day, but they are infrequent, exceptional occurrences. Our call to faith is long established. The Church stands as a visible witness, potentially to all. We rejoice when new miracles are confirmed, finding our faith and God’s love for us reflected in these extraordinary events, especially of healing.
We may, though, additionally interpret Jesus’ words in ways that are clearly relevant to all Christians every day of our lives. Through faith in Christ, we may cast out devils, meaning that we help to overcome the evils which can so often choke contemporary society. We may heal the sick, meaning that we are alert to the plight of the poor and the sick in our society, and we work to help them and bring them comfort. We may resist poisons, such as the poisons of gossip, greed or jealousy. We may speak with new tongues, meaning that we hear and listen to other people in ways which are informed by love and faith, as we seek to see God in our fellow man. These everyday miracles flow from Christ, and from the mutual love of God and man.
Christ, then, ascends into heaven, body and soul, to take his rightful place at the right hand of the Father, in full possession of the Kingdom he has won through the Passion and Resurrection, our Lord and intercessor with the Father, whose sons we are through Jesus. The Holy Spirit is with us, continuing to inspire our faith and works, as he did the apostles, as they began the demanding and dangerous task of establishing the body of Christ that is the Church.
‘Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but he still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of his body, have to bear. He showed this when he cried out from above: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? and when he said: I was hungry and you gave me food.
‘Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to him? While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth are with him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and his love. We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love.
‘He did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. The fact that he was in heaven even while he was on earth is borne out by his own statement: No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.’ St Augustine
What is the Ascension Of Jesus Christ?
The Ascension marks the completion of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the beginning of his reign from heaven. At its most basic level, the Ascension refers to the moment when Jesus, after appearing to his disciples for a period of 40 days following his resurrection, was taken up into heaven.
The Ascension touches on important theological and spiritual themes, which have been the focus of Christian reflection and devotion throughout the ages:
- Christ’s exaltation: The Ascension marks the moment when Jesus was ‘taken up into heaven’ and seated at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19; Acts 1:9-11). This exaltation of Christ is a central aspect of Christian theology, affirming Jesus’ divine nature and his role as the Lord of all creation.
- Christ’s continuing presence: Although Jesus is no longer physically present on earth after the Ascension, Christians believe that he is still present in a spiritual sense through the Holy Spirit. This continuing presence of Christ is a source of comfort and strength for believers, who can turn to him in prayer and find guidance and support in their daily lives.
- The mission of the church: The Ascension also has important implications for the mission of the church. Before ascending into heaven, Jesus gave his disciples a mandate to go into all the world and preach the Gospel (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 24:47-48; Acts 1:8). This mission continues to be a central focus of Christian ministry and outreach.
- Hope for the future: Finally, the Ascension is also connected to the Christian hope for the future. Just as Jesus ascended into heaven, Christians believe that he will one day return to earth to establish his kingdom in full. This hope for the future is a source of comfort and encouragement for believers, who look forward to the day when all things will be made new.
Go And Preach The Gospel | The Good News About Jesus
Mark 16:15-20 records Jesus’ final instructions to his disciples before his Ascension into heaven. In these verses, Jesus commands his disciples to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. This mandate has been interpreted and commented on by Catholic and Protestant theologians throughout the ages.
‘The Ascension is the cause of the glory of the saints, because it is the entrance of Christ into glory. And hence it is said in the Collect for the Ascension Day: ‘Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we who believe Thine only-begotten Son, our Redeemer, to have this day ascended into heaven, may ourselves also in mind dwell amid heavenly things.’ Hence it is clear that the Ascension is a more excellent festival than Easter Day; and this for three reasons. First, because on that day Christ completed the work of our salvation; secondly, because on that day our hope of heaven was set before us; thirdly, because on that day the Lord ascended to the throne of His Father, as conqueror of the world and of the devil.’ (Summa Theologica, III, q. 57, a. 3)
Protestant theologians have commented on the significance of the Ascension. John Calvin wrote about how the Ascension is a sign of Christ’s continuing presence with his Church, even though he is physically absent:
‘Christ has not abandoned his Church, but rules from heaven. For as his body was raised up to heaven, so that it no longer dwells on earth, so also his power and efficacy, his grace and spirit, remain with his Church. And this he will continue to do until the end of the world.’ (Institutes of the Christian Religion, IV, 1, 9)
The mandate to the disciples to go into all the world and preach the Gospel has been a central focus of Christian mission throughout the ages. Catholic and Protestant theologians have reflected on the meaning and implications of this mandate. St. Francis of Assisi saw the mandate as a call to live out the Gospel through humble service and evangelism:
‘Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.’ (attributed to St. Francis of Assisi)
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, emphasized the urgency and importance of the Gospel message:
‘I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.’ (Journal, June 11, 1739)
The mandate to go into all the world and preach the Gospel has also been a driving force behind Christian missionary work. Catholic missionaries like St. Francis Xavier and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta have dedicated their lives to spreading the Gospel to people around the world. Protestant missionaries like William Carey and Hudson Taylor have also played a significant role in carrying out this mandate.
In recent years, theologians have emphasized the need to interpret the mandate to go into all the world and preach the Gospel in light of the cultural and social context of the present day. Pope Francis, for example, has called for a ‘missionary conversion’ that involves reaching out to people on the margins of society and engaging with the pressing issues of our time:
‘The mission that God entrusts to each one of us leads us from fear and introspection to a renewed realization that we find ourselves precisely when we give ourselves to others. Missionary discipleship means putting ourselves at the service of others, bearing witness to the Gospel and our faith in Jesus Christ, and promoting human dignity and the common good.’ (Evangelii Gaudium, 120)