Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Daily devotions: The Missing Verse - Mark 11 v 26

Mark 11:26     “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your sins.”

In some early Gospel manuscripts, Mark 11 v 26 is missing. Either the person who was copying the original scrolls forgot to add in the verse, or the verse was added at a much later date. Thousands of years later, we still don’t know what to do with it, making it a mystery that we will never be able to unravel.

Some Bible translations deal with the problem by placing the verse as a footnote. That way the verse is included in the Bible, but is not officially a part of the translated passage. The new International Version of the Bible, which I read regularly constantly, places footnotes on practically every page of Mark’s Gospel. This means that the translators have been using more than several manuscripts to write the Gospel in English. It also means that they haven’t been able to agree on which version is the most original.

Most of the time the omission doesn’t really alter the emphatic meaning of the story, event, or teaching of Christ, but in the case of Mark 11:20-26 it actually does. Verse 25 ends with Christ granting authority to His disciples to forgive sins which the Church has used over the centuries to control people. When you add in verse 26, the whole passage takes on a new meaning: if Christ’s followers refuse to forgive, then they will also be unforgiven by God. In other words, when the Church refuses to forgive, it places itself in an unforgiven category. Jesus is teaching His disciples and us that grace is not just a godly gift; it is also a religious real-life obligation placed upon Christ’s followers.

Question for Personal Reflection

If God forgives me the same way I forgive others, what does that actually mean for me?

Prayer:            Lord Jesus, forgiveness is an essential part of being a Christian. We are meant to forgive others because we are forgiven by You. We are also forgiven by God in the same manner that we forgive others. This is both a great mercy and a heavy responsibility. Help us to review how and who we forgive. Keep us mindful of how this forgiveness affects our everlasting relationship with You. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

John Stuart is currently the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to

Today’s image is one of John’s latest Pentecost drawings. It’s called “Spirit in the City” and is an art nouveau type stained glass design of the Holy Spirit descending to Earth at Pentecost. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link:

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