Pick your poison

I preached today. As I mentioned last night. My passage was Matthew 9:35 to 10:23. All about the harvest. I was very careful to to point out that I think the passage refers to a specific group of people being equipped for a specific time – the disciples were called to proclaim the kingdom of God to the nation of Israel. And they were given the ability to heal people and drive out demons – I pointed out that we don’t have that ability.

A helpful soul came up to me afterwards and quoted Mark 16 – which is contentious – because it comes with this disclaimer: “((The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.)) ”

Here’s the quote this helpful soul gave me while suggesting I had it all wrong and we could in fact heal sick people and drive out demons:

17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 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.”

Again, I’m pretty sure the passage in Mark 16 is directed at the disciples – and you’ll find that in verse 15, that I didn’t quote.

I thought very hard about saying something along the lines of – “well I don’t see you drinking poison and playing with snakes” – but that would not have been loving. So I didn’t. Instead, I blogged it.


simone says:

is your talk up anywhere I can listen?

Nathan says:

Not yet – it may go up on the Willows website. I hope they use the first one (I did two services – but I think I mentioned that already). It was much better. I thought. It did however break the golden rule – stopping the clock at 31 minutes.

Amanda says:

What about v16? I think it’s lonely being left out of this discussion.

16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned

The quote in v17-18 is TO the Disciples but ABOUT those who will be converted, i.e. “those who believe”.

So are you arguing that this only refers to the “1st generation” of believers- those directly converted by the Disciples? If so, why did it then stop?

Nathan says:

That doesn’t really address the snake and poison part of the question though does it – incidentally there’s an American church that does handle snakes as part of their liturgy…

Amanda says:

Lol… well I guess most modern Western Christians don’t really encounter snakes or feel the impulse to drink poisons…

I guess we could do it as an experiment but Jesus said not to test GOD.

If we were in a persecuted country and had to encounter these things, who knows what would happen? I’d like to think GOD might choose to protect us from harm in these situations. (I just hope I never have to experience them first-hand).

Leah says:


I think it’s wrong to say that we DON’T have those gifts. I think they’re still around. But they’re not common and not something that you gauge a person’s faith by.

I’m a bit confused. If Mark 16:9 and the rest is a later addition by a pious scribe*, does it matter who these promises are made to?

* Which is widely held** to be the case, though I have read recently that one of the church Fathers refers/quotes a verse from this disputed section in a document from the 2nd C, but I haven’t bothered to check this out.

** The ‘only’ exceptions being KJV-onlyists, snake handlers, and some guys who used to proselytise in King George Square.