By Ryan Shaw
The gospel of Mark preeminently reveals Jesus as the servant of God, working wonders as He deliberately relates with broken, sinful and frail humanity.
Mark’s commission in chapter 16, vs. 15-18 reveals Jesus’ primary mission as the renewal of the whole creation through the salvation/ spiritual restoration of individuals and families.
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but He who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe; in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents and if they drink anything deadly it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.” – Mark 16: 15-18
An important translation problem is “to every creature.” The best translation from the original language is “to all creation.”
Jesus has a big-picture focus in mind when He communicates to “all creation.” This is very different than a calling to preach to “every creature.” Jesus fully recognized all creation needing His restorative truth to become what it was created for.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve lived in unhindered fellowship with God, obeying His laws and living according to His prescribed ways. All creation experienced the tranquility it was meant for.
Sin entered the picture and brought devastation to all of Adam’s descendants as well as to the very creation. Our role is to willingly “go into the world” that causes great suffering. We follow Jesus’ example of deliberately serving those who are broken, suffering and being abused.
Society is meant to be transformed from its evil corruption as human beings are restored to fellowship with God through the mediation of Christ. Creation can be redeemed when those given dominion over the world are themselves transformed, healed, delivered and living in vital communion with the living God.
Mark’s commission, therefore, calls us to embody and proclaim the risen Christ as the restorer and transformer of the whole creation.
That embodying and proclaiming is accomplished by going into the world, identifying with broken, confused, corrupt humanity by sacrificial service and releasing the power of Jesus to transform individuals and families.
As individuals and families are transformed they in turn transform creation itself, aligning it with the will of God. As they apply Biblical truth to their situations and circumstances, restorative power in creation is released.
Through His resurrection Jesus overcame the destructive, harmful, sinful forces in creation. These forces have corrupted humanity, destroying relationships, breaking down bodies, bringing corruption to the whole creation.
Understanding the context of Mark’s commission reveals a slightly different picture then we often have. We find Jesus as not only eternal savior of individuals but as bringing renewal to every area of human life, thus impacting creation itself.
Humanity has polluted the earth by breaking God’s laws, His covenants, choosing their own ways, rebelling against the created order of things. Paul tells us in Romans 8:19 the whole creation groans with great pains and is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God.
We know this ultimately takes place at Jesus’ Second Coming yet there is a much greater measure of restoration available even now. This is a crucial element of the Great Commission and one that the body of Christ has generally been guilty of overlooking and even minimizing.
The creation cannot be transformed, however, before the transformation of people. We must have the right order as we serve in His Great Commission. This has been a common mistake in the outworking of His commission.
Through the cross and resurrection, Jesus has released spiritual authority upon those responding to His commission in obedience (vs. 17-18). This authority is for the purpose of confirming the truth being proclaimed.
Jesus is revealing a crucial truth in these verses – most cultures of the world will not respond to the gospel through a verbal declaration alone. They need a demonstration of spiritual power confirming what is verbally communicated is in fact true.