He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.
Mark 16:15 | NIV (1984) | Other Versions | Context
The 4 Gospels are similar in some ways yet different in many ways – written by 4 different people, all under the revelation of the Spirit, written for the sake of the gospel, but with slightly different focuses. Not all the gospels detailed the birth of Christ, for example, and similarly, not all the gospels detailed the post-revival deeds of Christ. Mark 16:15 is arguably the most important thing that Jesus said after his revival. The equivalent of this verse in Matthew is what is commonly known as the Great Commission[Matthew 28:19-20], but while similar in message it is delivered in a very different way which is worth a discussion on its own.
into all the world – Be it Gentiles or Jews in those days, or be it the gender, the colour of the skin, the race, nationality or occupation today. For thousands of years the message has been exclusive to the Jews, God belonged to the Israelites alone, and extending their faith to the Gentiles was not something that the Jews would be comfortable with. But Jesus graciously commanded it.
It is interesting to note that, despite being there to hear Jesus say, go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation, and while Mark 16:20 says then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, it wasn’t like it happened immediately. Acts 10 tells us the story of how Peter received a revelation from God – “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” [Acts 10:13] Peter explains his reluctance to associate with a Gentile in Act 10:28 – You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him, but upon hearing Cornelius‘ vision, he said, I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right [Act 10:34-35]- and begins to preach to him.
preach the good news to all creation – To believe in the gospel is the entry to salvation, but preaching the good news is often the first step – how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? [Rom 10:14] All creation should not be misunderstood for the creatures of nature – it really means all men. Good news is often used interchangeably for gospel. One of the most notable places the term good news is used is in Romans 10, which is referenced a number of times in this post – But not all the Israelites accepted the good news [Rom 10:16]. Why was the gospel no longer exclusive for God’s chosen nation? Romans 10:16 sheds some light, but that is perhaps a more suitable discussion for another day. Regardless, let me thank God for His grace, for I am by no means a Jew – For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him [Rom 10:12].
Perhaps the most important word in this verse is the instruction – go. It is the first active verb of the sentence (the other being preach), and echoes the same sentiment as the earlier quoted verse – And how can they preach unless they are sent? [Rom 10:15] The significance of this word ‘go’ is immense. If the apostles never went, the Gentiles wouldn’t have heard the gospel. The apostles could have stayed where they were and preached there, to the Jews – but it was the going, the mingling amongst the Gentiles, the breaking of their own laws to associate with the Gentiles that opened the way for Christianity to be as far-spread as it is today. If Peter had chosen not to respond to Cornelius’ summon, if he had chosen not to go, he wouldn’t have had that little epiphany that opened the way for missions. Had the likes of Paul, Barnabas and the many other apostles never embarked on trip after trip of missions, perhaps history would have been very different. Perhaps I wouldn’t be writing this here today, as I probably wouldn’t have been privileged enough to have heard of Christ, or even believe in the gospel.
Missions, of course, is the theme behind this verse. There’s a lot to say about missions, about why we should go for missions, why everyone should be involved in missions – everyone is called to missions. I believe that, personally, but perhaps I would be a hypocrite if I go on further about missions. Maybe in a year or so, I will be more adequate support my study of this verse with experience. There’s a lot of hype on missions – and I think it’s fully worth it – mission deserves a lot of our attention. But let us also remember that all the world includes our own countries, our own communities, our own homes. All creation includes our own people, our own neighbours, our own families. Even if we have a million excuses not to cross the oceans and battle the language barriers; what excuses do we have for not preaching in our local missions? The active verb is – go. The active verb is –preach. It might be a verse that is equivalent to the Great Commission. But in all its essence, this verse really just means, go and preach.