Seriously

Re: Verse reading–Mark 15:33-41; 16:1-8 (day three)

“They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”  What to make of this verse?  It has no “I-can-do-all-things” ring to it.  It doesn’t urge us onto the evangelism trail.  And it sure seems to tamp down the joy.  Where’s the confidence, the eagerness, the breezy optimism we’ve come associate with this ancient Sunday morning?  Do these disciples just need time to clear their heads before donning an Easter bonnet?  Or do we rather need to learn from them: to take seriously as they took seriously that the world they knew—and took comfort in—had indeed been swept away, and they didn’t yet know how to live?  Their fear reveals not an unenlightened mind, but a perception of God’s footprint.  We should all be so afraid.

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Jesus as Teacher on the Cross

Re: Verse reading–Mark 15:33-41; 16:1-8 (day two) At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 15:34

Even on the cross, and perhaps especially on the cross, Jesus has something to teach us. As Jesus utters these words there are many who think he is calling Elijah, but he is actually quoting scripture. Psalm 22 is titled “A Cry of Anguish and a Song of Praise.” Like most Psalms of Lamentation it begins with an honest, desperate cry for help. The writer of these words understood that God can, indeed, feel very far away. There are moments that not only do we not feel his pleasure, but we actually feel that we have been abandoned. But you must keep reading. The psalmist, and certainly Jesus, understands a relationship with the almighty is honest. God wants us to cry out, even in despair, but that is not where it ends. With very little exception the Psalms of Lamentation turn somewhere in the middle. Once they have made their complaint known, they quickly acknowledge God’s purpose, his goodness, his ultimate authority. Jesus was teaching us to run to the scripture even in, and especially during our crises. Cry, scream, yell, but keep your focus on the author and finisher of our faith…Jesus did.

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Eyes to see

Re: Verse reading–Mark 15:33-41; 16:1-8 (day one)

“And when the centurion. . . heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely, this man was the Son of God.’ “–v 15:39.

I like this centurion.  I am grateful for his story.

For the last hours of his life, Jesus was SURROUNDED by clueless people.  When the Lord cried out, “Eloi, Eloi” (God, God) they thought he was calling for Elijah. To the very last, they were blinded by their own expectations of spectacle and Jewish vindication.

The centurion had clearer eyes.  He could see a deeper story, that Jesus was innocent (Luke 23).  Matthew says the earthquake convinced him. (Matthew 27)  Mark puts the emphasis on the Lord’s loud, triumphant last cry.  Either way, this man came to a correct and courageous conclusion that GOD was involved in the death (and the life) of Christ.

It is the grace of God that gives us eyes to see what HE is doing in the world.

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Conscientious

Re: Verse reading–Mark 14:43-52; 15:1-15 (day seven)

What is conscience?  Is it good or bad?  Commonly defined as an inner faculty that assists in distinguishing right from wrong, the ancient word literally meant, “that which I see with myself”(suneidesis), truth inwardly confirmed.

Coupled with the Word of God, conscience is a powerful tool for good.  It warns against wrong and urges toward right.  In 2 Corinthians 4:2, Paul said that conscience was his target.  “Commending ourselves to the every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”  Do you ever notice the Spirit’s appeal to you through your conscience?  Do you respond when He does?

In Mark 14, the Lord spoke to the conscience of the men who came to arrest Him.  “Why would you come at night?” he asked.  “I taught openly in the Temple”  “Why didn’t you arrest me then?”  Even then, the Lord was reaching out to them, touching conscience,  calling them a better choice.

His love still does so today.

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Mosaic of Wrongs

Re: Verse reading–Mark 14:43-52; 15:1-15 (day six)

“Why, what evil has he done?”-Pilate

That was Pilate’s immediate response to the frenzied cries to crucify Jesus. At best it was a half-hearted defense of Jesus; an effort to talk sense into the crowd. Everybody knew Jesus was innocent; the crowd, the Pharisees, Pilate, Herod, everyone knew he had done no wrong, he had done nothing worthy of capital punishment. Pilate did not know just how right he was though; Jesus had done no wrong EVER, not once had he sinned. The irony in this narrative is that it is everyone else’s “wrong” that stands out, not Jesus’. Judas’ betrayal, the Apostles’ flight, Pilate’s crowd-pleasing capitulation, the angry crowd, all a mosaic of wrongs.

Perhaps, one of the purposes of this narrative, is not for us only to see Jesus laying down His life, but to see ourselves for who we truly are, to see ourselves in the mosaic.

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Prayer Lessons

Re: Verse reading–Mark 14:43-52; 15:1-15 (day five)

“Again He went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy”.

Isn’t scripture wonderful? Every time we read it, God has a new insight or principle for us to learn. Through the study of Mark, God has placed in my heart, the role of prayer (practice and priority) in a strong and vibrant faith. Mark begins his gospel with the example of Jesus praying in chapter one. Another 25 times throughout the book, Jesus models or encourages prayer.

What if Jesus’ frustration with His disciples in the garden wasn’t because He felt they had let Him down, but rather they should have been praying because of the testing and temptations that were coming their way? Jesus didn’t count on them for sentimental support. He had already turned to God for strength, wisdom, and courage. He was still aware and concerned for their faith in their upcoming spiritual and physical dangers. Mark clearly wants his readers to learn the lesson the disciples didn’t- the ability to stand firm in trials of our faith is found in prayer.  The tensions and temptations are still very real for us. Will we learn and practice the prayer lessons found in the gospel of Mark?

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Fulfilling Scripture

Re: Verse reading–Mark 14:43-52; 15:1-15 (day four)

These words could define all of Jesus’ life…”but this has taken place in order to fulfill Scriptures. (v. 49)  There had be ample opportunity to have arrested Him earlier and the religious leaders thought they had made their own careful, precise plans, but prophets had prophesized long before that these events would take place.  In Psalms, Isaiah, Zechariah and even by Jesus Himself, the actions of the leaders were foretold.  God was in complete control of history…it all happened according to His vast plan.

Have you ever felt that your life was out of control?  Events were happening that you could not understand or change?  As we become more like Jesus, we can begin to recognize God at work.  A Christian worldview gives a completely different perspective of world events than you will hear on the news.  Filtering events through the lens of Scripture brings new focus and understanding.  Maybe we can come to the point of saying with Jesus…”but this has taken place in order to fulfill Scriptures!”

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Forbear

Re: Verse reading–Mark 14:43-52; 15:1-15 (day three)

“Jesus still made no reply.”  Consider: The one whose speech alone brought the universe into existence did not utter a word here.  This is what the use of speech looks like in the hands of a master.  Jesus refused to treat words as an escape hatch from the present moment.  Like using friendship to advance a self-serving agenda, or using others’ feelings of compassion to evade your responsibilities, the use of words to circumvent your own suffering is existential malpractice.  At this point, words would have only served to shield Jesus from the suffering that must come for the good of the human race.  You have perhaps desired to imitate the words of Jesus.  What will it take for you to imitate the silence of Jesus?

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Not in Secret

Re: Verse reading–Mark 14:43-52; 15:1-15 (day two) Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me…14:49

The same men who would stand on the street corners and pray loudly so that all could hear them and marvel at their knowledge of the scriptures are the ones who would sneak around and capture Jesus at night away from those crowds. These are the men who would loudly toss their coins into the offering in order to make as much noise and thereby indicate how much they gave. These who would seek Jesus’ life were politically savvy, and they understood public opinion. What they wanted the people to see, they did openly, loudly, with conviction. What they didn’t want the public to see was done in cover of darkness.

Be honest, where do we sin the most? Out in front of everyone? Not likely. Most of us know how best to hide our sins from the world. How did these actions turn out for those who sought to get rid of Jesus? For Judas? We all have business to do with Jesus, deal with him while you can.

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Fooling yourself

Re: Verse reading–Mark 14:43-52; 15:1-15 (day one)

“Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Rabbi’ and kissed him.”–v 45

Who was Judas trying to fool?  Not Jesus, certainly.  Their conversation a few hours before made it clear that Jesus knew what Judas was up to.  The other disciples?  Perhaps he hoped that the other men would assume that the authorities had “followed him” to the garden, without his knowledge or cooperation.  Maybe, even then, Judas believed that he could force a revolution and that eventually these men would thank him.   Why else would he pretend?

Most likely, Judas was fooling himself.  It is hard to look at sin (our own).  Painful.  To avoid the shame, we pretend, even to ourselves.  We tell ourselves lies.  We play a part, never realizing that the truth is (or will be) obvious to everyone.

“Nothing is hidden that won’t be revealed”–Luke 8:17.  Don’t fool yourself.  A sign in Heaven says, “Truth is spoken here”.

 

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