Day Fifty-Four with Mark: Mark 14:43-52

This will be our last day in Mark for a while.  From January 3-13, I am going to be in the Holy Land, and I intend to put up some daily thoughts from my time there.  I also will attempt to upload pictures and videos here to my blog.  It will be about 8 hours ahead, so these won’t come in the morning.  But hopefully they will come!  Pray for us while we are there, and I look forward to sharing as much as possible with you from there!

Today we are looking at Mark 14:43-52:

43 Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. 47 But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 48 Then Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 All of them deserted him and fled.

51 A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.

q4305230Today, we see Jesus betrayed, and we see much what we talked about yesterday.  They came for Him with swords and clubs.  One of the disciples reacted with anger (John tells us it was Peter) but we see that Jesus doesn’t react that way.  He willing goes and says in fact, you know you didn’t have to come to me in this way.  I taught openly, you come in secret.

One of the spiritual points I always take away from this is we see that as humans how afraid, our worried, how angry everyone was when this was happening, can’t you always get a sense of calm from Jesus?  Don’t you almost get a sense of Him being in control in the midst of this?  I alway do.  He is the calm in the midst of this storm.  We see Peter attack.  We see others run.  We see Jesus full of peace.

Remember, He is peace, in the midst of the storm.  He is calm in the midst of the storm.  When the winds are blowing and the waves are rocking, He is our calm.

Trust Him.

One last thing, you know one of the reasons why I know the Bible is true?  If I was going to write something and make up these stories, you know what I’d do?  I’d make myself look GOOD.  I mean seriously, if I was going to invent all this, I’d be that man.

And look at everyone, except for Jesus.   They are imperfect.  They make mistakes. All their mistakes are cataloged, for all of us to see.  All their failures.  We see a young man get so scared, he ran away naked, which was even more embarrassing then, than it would be now.

Know who that man was?  Mark.  The author of this Gospel.  Believe me, I wouldn’t have included that.  But he did.  Why?  Because it shows that Jesus is the only perfect one, He is the only capable saving.

One of the many reasons why I believe the Bible is this, it is the story of God’s perfection and humanities imperfection.  It shows the love that a perfect God has for His imperfect creation.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

If you’d like to receive these thoughts by email, be sure to click here and join my email devotional group!

Day Fifty-Three with Mark: Mark 14:26-42

Today in Mark, we look at Chapter 14: 26-42:

26 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters; for it is written,

‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’
28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though all become deserters, I will not.” 30 Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said vehemently, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And all of them said the same.

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. 34 And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” 35 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” 37 He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? 38 Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. 41 He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

A couple of things stand out to me about these passages.  First, let us remember, that it wasn’t just Judas that betrayed or didn’t stand up for Jesus in the moment.  Everyone (but for John) deserted.  And here is the thing to remember about Jesus in this.  He still loved them.  Even though the failed, even though they weren’t faithful, His love for them did not change.  Remember, Jesus love for us is not based upon our actions or our faithfulness, His love for us is based upon who He is.

We are not loved because we are good.  We are loved because He is good.  And it is His goodness that in time makes us good.

We see this the most in Peter.  Peter was the leader and after Jesus says that He will be left by everyone, Peter says, no, not I.  And Jesus says, you will deny me three times.

jesus-praysWe see the disciples begin to fall away, when Jesus was praying. And to me, that’s the second thing that stands out in this passage.  Look at how Jesus prayed.  Look at the passion, the pain, the hurt.  Remember that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine.  He knew the cross was coming.  He knew what was going to happen.  He knew what awaited.

And He still chose it. Because He loved us.  He loved His disciples that would deny Him soon, and He loves us, who do much the same.  He knew what must be done for the salvation of the world.

No one took Jesus life from Him.  No one murdered Him.  He willing chose the cross.

So when you read the story of the Garden, remember the prayer He prayed, remember the help He sought from His Father, remember the passion and strength it took.

Remember the choice He made, for us and for the world.  Remember God’s plan, from the very creation for our redemption.

Remember how much you are loved.

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 14:43-52.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

If you’d like to receive these thoughts by email, be sure to click here and join my email devotional group!

Day Fifty-Two with Mark: Mark 14:1-9

Today in Mark we are going to look at Mark 14: 10-25.  In this passage we see Judas agree to betray Jesus and the institution fo the Lord’s Supper:

10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11 When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

The Passover with the Disciples
12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 13 So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, 14 and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” 16 So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

17 When it was evening, he came with the twelve. 18 And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?” 20 He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. 21 For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”

The Institution of the Lord’s Supper
22 While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. 24 He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

We see today in the first passage Judas go to the religious leaders and make the offer to betray Jesus.  We’ll look a little more in-depth at that in a few verses later when we see his plan to betray Jesus come to fruition.  John’s Gospel gives some spiritual insight into what is going on in Judas as well.

rfWe see after that the Passover meal, which is the foundation for the Lord’s Supper.  Those of us that are Protestants, we have two “sacraments” (some say ordinances), and our Catholic friends hold to seven, but within all streams of Christianity we all hold two of these in common – baptism and Holy Communion.  It is interesting to note that both of these have their origins in Jewish traditions.  Baptism most like came from Jewish mikvah baths, a type of ceremonial or purity washing, and Communion as we see here comes out of the Passover meal.  Understanding the culture of Jesus day truly does help us to get a fuller picture of exactly who we are as Christians and followers of Jesus.

There is much that can be said out communion, but just a couple things I’d like to point out.  There are two important “parts” to remember about communion.  The first is one that we are familiar with, and if we aren’t careful, will be all that we focus on.  We see in this meal, it is a call to remember what Jesus has done for us.  It is a call to remember the sacrifice of Jesus for our sake and for our forgiveness.  Part of the meal is remembering just what He has done for us.

But, that is not all that the meal is.  It is also a looking forward.  In this meal, we look forward to that time when He will return, and He drinks it anew in the kingdom of God.  That time when we will all gather at the wedding feast of the Lamb.  That time when there will be no more sickness, pain, and death.  It is also a looking forward to what is to come.

The United Methodist Church (of which I am an ordained Elder) teaches that in this meal, as the elements are blessed, the real presence of Christ is made known in our hearts.  Christ is present with us in that moment, and in all our lives, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

And one last thing.  If you ever feel unworthy to take the meal, remember who Jesus served here.  He served the meal to those that would soon desert and betray Him.  He even served Judas.  He was even present at the table.  We all come to the table, not by our own worth.  We all come to the table based off the grace of Jesus Christ.

And through that, all are welcome as His table!

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 14:26-42.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

If you’d like to receive these thoughts by email, be sure to click here and join my email devotional group!

Day Fifty-one with Mark: Mark 14:1-9

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas.  Another housekeeping note, sorry we missed a few days last week, with Christmas and a few unexpected things popping up, I was unable to get these out.  But we are back on!

Let me give you a schedule for these rest of this week.  We’ll be walking together through Mark through Thursday. And then, we will be taking a break for about 10 days.  From January 3-13 I am going to be in the Holy Land. But while I’m there, I’m going to attempt to send out a daily update of what we have seen and done, and if the internet is agreeable, send out some daily video blogs as well.  So, you’ll get to get to walk with us through our trip to Israel, if all goes according to plan!

Today, we look at Mark 14:1-9:

It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; 2 for they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”

The Anointing at Bethany
3 While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. 4 But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

Today we see in verses 1-2, the setting of the stage for what is to happen through the rest of 14-15, the Passion, where Jesus is betrayed, suffered, and died. In Chapter 16, we see the Resurrection.

We see that the religious leaders were looking for a way to arrest, charge, and kill Jesus.  From their perspective, Jesus was upsetting the apple cart, He was disrupting their power, showing people the truth, and freeing the to truly keep the law the way God desires (Loving God and Loving Neighbor) and not carrying the heavy burden that the religious leaders had placed upon them.

They didn’t like this at all; they were now actively seeking a way to destroy Him.

But, we know that there is a bigger plan in place.  We know that God is at work in all this, because Christ’s death upon the cross would atone for the sins of humanity, and the resurrection would forever crush the power of sin, death, and the grave.

Remember, there is always something bigger happening that what our eyes can see.  God is always, always, always doing more than we can imagine, even if we can’t see or can’t understand.  God is always at work.

jesusIn the next passage, we see one of those passages that always sets a little uneasy, and doesn’t really make sense, at least to me a first. In this, we see a woman anoint Jesus with expensive ointment, and then she gets fussed at by the disciples.  What all is happening here?

As an act of devotion to Jesus, as an act of thanksgiving, she takes this ointment, and pours it upon Jesus?  Why?  Well, this ointment was probably a part of her dowry, to given upon her wedding, and in this act, she is saying that Jesus is worth more to her than anything else in her life, anything else she could possibly ever possess.  He is the most valuable thing she could behold.

And she is willing to lay everything down for Jesus.  Willing to give everything up for Jesus.  Willing take what was her most valuable possession and devote it all to Jesus.

Wow!  What faith.  What worship.  What devotion. What devotion.

But she gets fussed at because she it told that she could sell it and give it to the poor, to which Jesus replies that we will always have poor with us.

What does that mean?  Does that mean that we shouldn’t work to help the poor?  That we should quit trying?  That they shouldn’t matter?

No, what Jesus is saying is this.  We live in a fallen world.  We live in a world sin and brokenness.  Until He returns, there will be death and sadness and brokenness and pain.  Now, because of the resurrection, these things no longer have a hold on us, but they are still there.

So, here this, you can’t do everything.  You can’t fix everything.  You make everything perfect.  I can’t.  You can’t.  No one can.

Don’t put the weight of the world to fix everything on your shoulders. That’s not your job.  Your job is the same as mine.  To be faithful.  And if you are faithful, and I am faithful, together, all of us can make a huge difference for Jesus.

Together.  Today, we all be faithful.  May we give our best for Jesus. And may we give Him praise for what He will do!

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 14:10-25.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

If you’d like to receive these thoughts by email, be sure to click here and join my email devotional group!

Day Fifty with Mark: Mark 13

A few housekeeping notes.  I’ll be doing this studies through Wednesday this week, with a special Christmas Eve one on Thursday. And next week will look (mostly) normal, but then there won’t be one for a few weeks, I’ll be on a trip to Israel with a group, but while in Israel I’m going to share updates about what we’ve seen.  Just wanted to let you know where things are going the next few weeks.

The next few days we’ll be looking at Chapter 13.  Click here to read it.

Mark 13 121This is one of the apocalyptic parts of Mark’s Gospel. Some of what is happening in this passage is referring to the destruction fo the Temple in 70 AD while other parts of the text are talking about the second coming. Which parts are which? That’s a great question. . . .

That’s one of the things with apocalyptic works, is that it’s not always clear which is which. That’s why there is so much debate of what passages like this mean, because no one really is sure about timeline and when things will happen. Jesus actually makes this point today in this passage.

So today, I want to make a few observations from this text that may be helpful for our daily living. For me, that’s the tool I use the most with passages like this. Let’s look at the big picture, what can we see from a big perspective, what makes sense on a big level. Here are some big points to understand within this text.

First, we are told several times, don’t be afraid. You’ll see things that are happening that worry you; that scare you. Don’t be afraid. Over and over in scripture that is one of the primary messages of the Bible. Don’t be afraid. Even when things are bad or scary or worrisome. Don’t be afraid. God has this. God is at work. Good things are coming. No matter how dark and bleak it may look, don’t lose hope. God is at work. Things will get better.

The second thing is the reason number one is important. There will be troubles. In this passage Jesus says several times, it will be tough. It will. There will be troubles. The Christian life is not a life of protection from harm. The Christian life is not a life of protection from trouble. There will be trials and troubles and fears and worries. The Christian life is a something that magically keeps this way. In fact, sometimes quite the opposite. The more faithful you may be the more troubles you may face.

But remember point one. Don’t be afraid. God has this. God is at work. Don’t be afraid. God is with us. All will be well. Don’t be afraid.

The third observation is this – be alert. Jesus tells us to pay attention in life. I think this means not just to things concerning His return, but to all of life. Don’t sleepwalk through life. Look around. Pay attention. Where is God at work? Where is God moving? What is God doing? Where does God want you to plug into His works? Let’s pay attention today!

And last, in regards to His return, He says no one knows the hour or date. Only the Father. For me, this renders any group or organization that says – it’s going to happen on _______ invalid because Jesus plainly say, no one will know. Are we closer to His return? Yes, every day we live we are a day closer. And for us a believers, His return is a good thing, a place with no more death, fear, sin, sickness, none of the destructive things of this world.

So, going back to point one – do not be afraid!

We’ll look a little more in depth tomorrow at Chapter 13.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

If you’d like to receive these thoughts by email, be sure to click here and join my email devotional group!

Day Forty-Nine with Mark: Mark 12:35-44

Today we are going to look at three different stories as found in Mark 12:35-44:

35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David? 36 David himself, by the Holy Spirit, declared,

‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet.”’
37 David himself calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?” And the large crowd was listening to him with delight.

Jesus Denounces the Scribes
38 As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! 40 They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

The Widow’s Offering
41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

We see in these passages the conclusion of the stories in Mark 12 where different religious leaders come to Jesus, not for real answers, but to test Him and try to trip Him up.

So what we see in conclusion to Mark 12 is three different stories where Jesus puts many of these debates to rest.  What we see here in 35-37 Jesus proving to the religious leaders that He is superior to David and the traditions of the people.  In this passage, Jesus takes a Psalm and shows how in it David is giving a prophecy of Him.  So, even David knows that the Messiah is greater than he is and the Jewish traditions.

David is the icon of what it means to be a great king.  And here the great king is saying that the coming Messiah is greater than he.  So, if you regard David with authority (which the leaders did) you have to agree that the messiah is superior, and Jesus is the Messiah.  So, by their own standards, they should listen to and follow Him.  But they don’t.

Then in 38-40 Jesus warns people about following the religious leaders.  They really aren’t interesting in following God or leading others to God.  They are more interested in their own power and authority.

They aren’t worried about giving glory to God (even they claim to be) they are worried about their own glory and their own power.

james-c-christensen-the-widows-mite1This is seen to be true in the last story, 40-44, where the religious leader makes an offering and demands attention for the gift that he is given.  That is contrasted with the widow is give out of her poverty, but gives all that she is has.

The widow is not giving for attention or power of anything like that.  She’s giving out of devotion to God.

That’s what Jesus is trying to show us.  It’s about that love, that devotion, that desire to know and be faithful to God. That’s what the humble followers possess.  That’s what the powerful leaders lack.

Today may we desire and have the same type of humble following of Jesus Christ!

Next week we are going to spend a few days in Chapter 13.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

If you’d like to receive these thoughts by email, be sure to click here and join my email devotional group!

Day Forty-Eight with Mark: Mark 12:28-34

Today we look at Mark 12:28-34:

28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; 33 and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.

24737_24737_8For once, we get someone asking Jesus a legitimate question.  This scribe isn’t coming to test or trick Jesus, he is coming to ask him a real question about belief and what is right.

His question, for a religious leader of the day, would be the most important question that could be asked.  What is the greatest commandment?

The reason why this is such a pressing issue for these religious leaders is because so much of their faith, their understanding and relationship to God is tied up in the commandments.  Those commandments handed to them by God through the Law, and those commandments that religious leaders came up with help them live under their understanding of the Law.

Notice I said to live under their understanding of the Law, not the actual Law.  So much of the Law keeping of Jesus’ day was an additional burden placed upon the backs of people that was never God’s plan or design.

So the question is asked, what is most important.  And Jesus says this.  Of all the things that could be important, Jesus says the most important command is this.  Love.

Love God.

Love neighbor.

Love yourself.

Love.  Love is the height of the Law.  Love is the purpose of the law.  Love is what it all comes down to.  We are called to love God. That means personally, through our own devotional life, as well as publicly, through acts of worship.

We are called to love our neighbor personally, through acts of charity, as well as publicly, gathering together with others to work for the good of others.

And we are called to love ourselves.  You are precious.  You are loved.  You really can’t properly love anyone until you realize that you are worthy of love yourself.

Love of God, love of neighbor, love of self.  This is the height of the law.  May we good law keepers today.  May we love.

Friday we’ll look at Mark 12:35-44.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

If you’d like to receive these thoughts by email, be sure to click here and join my email devotional group!