Afterward he appeared to the eleven … and upbraided them with their unbelief’, Mark 16. 14.
The reading of Mark’s concluding chapter to his gospel is most challenging as well as disappointing. Twice he has to record that despite clear witness to the Lord’s resurrection appearance they, the eleven, ‘… believed not’, and ‘… neither believed they them’, Mark 16. 11, 14.
The witnesses were clearly dependable and had no motive of deception or gain for their testimony. An individual’s word might attract some thoughts of doubt but when it’s ‘… two of them’, and both give the same record of their experience, and these agree with what the Lord had spoken to them concerning His death and rising again, you just wonder how they could coldly dismiss the truth.
Perhaps Mark allows us a slight clue to this surprizing state of affairs by adding ‘… as they mourned and wept’, v. 10, and ‘… as they sat at meat’, v. 14. Firstly they were still in shock and secondly, with time passing, they were becoming accustomed to the depressed situation and were now eating together. Neither reason is an acceptable one for not believing the bearers of the best news they could have desired … He was alive!
Actually there is no excuse for unbelief or doubting in a believer’s lifestyle at any time or circumstance. Once you think there is then Satan has a foothold he is likely to use against you constantly. A company of Christians that gets into the rut of accepting that ‘nothing is happening and that nothing ever will’, is heading for closure and in many cases the sooner they pack up the better. That is why when the Lord appears to the eleven, the first thing He has to do is to rebuke and refute their unbelief. We no longer use the word ‘upbraid’, but it is strong in the sense of ‘a disgrace, a matter of reproach, something that requires deformation!’
It was accompanied by what the Lord calls ‘hardness of heart’ and this condition does not allow faith to grow. It is totally unacceptable for those that belong to Christ to indulge in and has the deepest of effects upon the work and people of God. We must not only resist unbelief but expose and condemn it if once found amongst us. It is the greatest hindrance to God being able to work in and through us.
This is a sad blotch on the record as Mark winds up his exciting Gospel record. Moving on to Luke’s record as you continue through the New Testament, you find that the unbelief Mark says touched the end of the Lord’s earthly course also, according to Luke, touched the beginning of things. A more godly couple than Zacharias and Elizabeth you could not wish to find but when ‘… the whole multitude were without praying’ the priest Zacharias, who was offering the incense, was stubbornly resisting the Angel of the Lord and the good news he had brought to them. It would seem that Gabriel himself was nonplussed as to how that this man could not just accept the promises and purposes of God as stated and believe it.
In a day when we are so subject to doubting God and His word, becoming depressed and submitting too easily to things as we have got used to them, we must maintain a vigorous and proclaimed faith in God and His word each and every day the Lord leaves us here. ‘Lord I believe, help Thou mine unbelief!’ be our watch word as we pilgrimage home. We being ‘… fully persuaded’, Rom. 4. 21, and ‘… doubting nothing’, Acts 10. 21, and ‘nothing wavering’, Jas. 1. 6, will run the race and win the fight and claim the crown. Unto Him is all the glory!
This magazine will conclude the issues for another year. We do pray that each issue has been a source of comfort, exhortation and instruction to many dear saints across the world. We thank you for the many words of encouragement and help that you have sent in to us and thanks too to the many contributors whose articles we are privileged to publish. We are workers together with God.
This issue will not disappoint you I feel sure with its various articles of both practical and instructional content. May the Lord Himself add His own blessing to each reader through its pages.