My mother was absolutely terrified of a snake. Any snake. Copperhead or Garter Snake, make no difference. To her, there were only two kinds, dead snakes, and those that were going to be dead if she saw them. I have some stories about her and snakes that, though not at the moment the happened, are hilarious. But that was my mother. And I am her son and I am not far from that either… but I have gotten better over the years.
I have learned in my lifetime that when confronted with danger or evil is no time to loose control. This is when you must step up and be in control of the situation. This is especially true when Satan attacks you in various and sundry ways. You have authority over everything on the earth, including Satan. He has no authority other than what he can steal from an individual.
I have labored over Mark 16:18 for over 40 years. I know many preachers and church leaders that have also, but I have never heard an adequate interpretation until God gave me this revelation. We are not to take a translation of the Bible too literally, as a translation is merely an interpretation of the translators. Especially a version that was written in 1611 and use today’s word meanings. That is asking for trouble.
I love the King James Version, mainly because that is what I was bought up with and there are so many study tools based on that translation. I do enjoy many of the other translations, especially the Amplified Bible. One must remember though, that a translation is just an interpretation of the original language.
With that said, it is for the believer to ‘take up the serpent’, in other words ‘confront the serpent’ as it shows in the Strong’s concordance as meaning: G142 by Hebraism (compare [H5375]) to expiate sin: – away with, bear (up), carry, lift up, loose, make to doubt, put away, remove, take (away, up). It does not mean we need to bring a sack of snakes to church to ‘prove our faith’ to God.
This verse is about much more than actually handling snakes.
Mar 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Mar 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Mar 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
Mar 16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Mar 16:19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
Mar 16:20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
There are many who deny this passage even exists in the original manuscripts. There can be a case made for that and if you want to, that is okay. This same sentiment is expresses many times in the New Testament. There are others that base their entire belief system on Mark 16:18, the handling of serpents and drinking of deadly things. They regularly handle poisonous snakes and drink deadly poisons to prove their faith. I understand why the believe this, but this is NOT what Jesus was saying in this passage or in any other. There is only one way to prove your faith and that is to confess Jesus as your savior and to take up your cross daily and follow Him. That is another message for another day.. this is part of taking up your cross.. Jesus is talking about the authority of the believer and in his name, we have authority over ALL things. We are to confront Satan when he attacks us, rebuke him ourselves. and send him on his way.
These Signs Shall Follow Them That Believe……. A good tree bears fruit.
18 And He said to them, I saw Satan falling like a lightning [flash] from heaven.
19 Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.
20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are enrolled in heaven.
The only serpent talked about in these passages is Satan himself and his demons. Yes, there are many deadly things that confront a human. Notice Jesus didn’t say ‘the Roman Army cannot hurt you’ though in the 1st century, they were the most powerful force on the earth. They could and would kill a Jew just for fun if not for profit. There were all sorts of robbers, murderers and other people running around that would kill you for what you have as much as who you are. None of these other ways are talked about in these verses. And there is a simple explanation.
It is YOU that has the power over Satan and his demons. This passage in Luke is totally about the spiritual realm, not the physical realm. Certainly not about Garter Snakes or the like. We should not be worshiping with snakes and poisonous drink.
Deuteronomy 6:16Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
16 You shall not tempt and try the Lord your God as you tempted and tried Him in Massah.
Mark 4:7 AMPC
Jesus said to him, On the other hand, it is written also, You shall not tempt, test thoroughly, or try exceedingly the Lord your God.
When Satan tempted Jesus, he just quoted Scripture to him and eventually told him to GET BEHIND ME… LEAVE ME ALONE. We have that authority over Satan because Jesus gave it to us. YOU speak to your mountain about your God instead of crying to God how big your mountain is. It is YOUR responsibility.
In Mark 11:22 And Jesus answering said to them, Have faith in God. 23 For truly I say to you, That whoever shall say to this mountain, Be you removed, and be you cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he said shall come to pass; he shall have whatever he said. 24 Therefore I say to you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.
Which of the signs follows you?
Casting out demons?
Confronting the devil?
Causing the lame to walk?
Restoring sight to the blind?
Cleansing the lepers?
Saving the Lost?
It is time we as the Church, the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, get off our duffs and GO. Go to individuals, go to families, go to groups. We need to be sharing the Gospel with everyone we see. What is the Gospel to a blind man? You don’t have to be blind anymore…. what about the lame? The demon possessed? We need to quit going TO church and start BEING the church.
But don’t go without your armor. .. and be prayed up, you might make an alligator mad.
In Ephesians 6:12, we find For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. We are not at war with snakes, scorpions, black widow spiders, alligators or poisons, we are at war with Satan and his demons. Make no mistake, you get in an alligator’s way, he will eat you unless you are full of the Holy Ghost and all prayed up. But just because you see one doesn’t mean he is after you. Same with a rattlesnake. He won’t chase you but don’t get in his way… unless you have on The Full Armor of God.
What Jesus was talking about when he used the term ‘serpent’
10 Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Why take to you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
19 And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
The only ‘snakes’ we are to take up are those ‘ an artful malicious person, especially Satan: – serpent’. Satan has been identified as a serpent since the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 3, we find this description of Satan right after God had told Adam and Eve to not eat of the Tree of Knowledge.
Gen 3:4 And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die: 5 For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Apparently, Adam and Eve didn’t have on the full armor of God. As it turns out they didn’t have anything on.. and gaining the knowledge of ‘good and evil’ was not such a good thing. They were NOT made gods, they only became aware of their sin and who they were outside of God’s protection.
A question comes to mind, why did Adam and Eve not listen to the truth of God and eagerly followed the lies of Satan? It seems man has not changed in that sense unless they meet Jesus Christ and they are changed. Satan will try to keep you from producing fruit.
May God bless the reading of this material and help each of us to grow as stronger Christians. May each of us take up the Gospel and go to everyone we see as your ambassador. May we realize that when we are seen, people are seeing you. May we be the ambassador you would have us be… in Jesus’ name. Amen