Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: 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."
In a Nutshell
The story of Jesus with us on earth concludes and so the story of how our lives are rescued from sin begins.
Did you notice how Jesus supported the women when they tried to pass on what they had seen and heard? This was just before Jesus commissioned His disciples to spread the gospel. It is like Him saying to them: "I understand your tradition that says women can't be legitimate witnesses. But that tradition is now finished! It is over. Stop pretending that it isn't! I'm fully in charge. Listen to me!"
Jesus commanded them to start believing, to accept what His Father has done by raising Him from the dead! They are to stop using something God has made, whether the person is a male or a female, as an excuse! We are given no reason to go on a power trip! We are to stop manipulating! As the angel had said: You are not to be alarmed! It was a simple, direct command.
Jesus tells them their task, and ours. It is to develop our God-given new life. He told us everything we need to know so we can live lives that tell the good news. Salvation lifts judgment. It removes condemnation. To believe is to receive the gift of forgiveness.
You are to live in such a way, says Jesus, that those who reject you will only be those who continue to disbelieve God's free forgiveness. They prefer to stand under condemnation, remaining as they were. Forgiveness has now broken out and will spread around the world so that it can be seen. The way we live will make it clear that we follow Jesus.
Evil spirits will be cast out and new languages will be spoken,
Serpents and dangerous animals will be subdued;
You will be protected from those who would want to poison you,
Your service is to care and help and heal.
What Jesus said then to His disciples is His word to us now. Hearing it we know who we are - our lives are given to us to care for His creation until He comes again. This repeats in a new way what God said right at the beginning, in Genesis 1:27-28. We set our clocks by His Coming. He will come on time … for us. We can depend on Him.