Tag Archives: Mark 14

The King of the Jews? Or not?

14 Apr

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Who arrested Jesus while he prayed in Gethsemane after celebrating the Passover meal with his disciples? The soldiers led by Judas? Not really.

Why was Jesus arrested after Passover? For turning over the tables of the vendors in the temple a few days earlier? Partly. He undoubtedly angered many people, including the chief priests who continued to look for an opportunity to make their move… with the help of Judas.

The chief priests, with the scribes and Pharisees, led the Jewish people. The priests interpreted the Law to the illiterate masses. They stood between the people and God, making them the closest things to God on earth. And they liked it that way. Continue reading

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The Rooster Still Crows

3 Mar
 
The rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him,“Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.  Mark 14:72
 

Even if all the other disciples fall away, Peter intended to follow Jesus to death.  I believe he meant what he said.  In fact, after the rest of the disciples did fall away, Peter followed Jesus, if at a distance.  He stuck close enough to Jesus through the last night of his Master’s life that he got called out three times by strangers as having been with Jesus.

Peter declared he would follow Jesus, and he was the only one who actually did.  And the only one to deny Him three times in the darkness of a long, cold night.  His intentions and actions were well-meaning and heartfelt, but they were not enough.

In high school I spent a month living in Central America with relief workers out in the agrarian barrios where a sense of time came from the rhythm of life, not an electric timepiece.  Nights there are deep darkness– no street lights and very few lights of any kind break into the absolute black.  Life stops and everyone goes home to sleep under a mosquito net until dawn returns.  The roosters know when it is coming.  They begin with sleepy half-crows, but in just a few moments full-fledged morning announcements are erupting, answering one another, just before the sky turns one shade lighter than night.

I think that’s how Peter missed the first crowing that appears as a warning in verse 68.  But there was no missing the second one– or the cacophony that crescendo-ed until the sun appeared.  The roosters didn’t crow two times the morning of Jesus’ crucifixion and go back to sleep on their perches; they continued crowing incessantly with every muscle and feather for what must have seemed to Peter, an excruciating eternity.

And they crowed the same way the next morning.  And the next.  Every cry a brutal, ear-splitting accusation that cut deep into Peter’s soul.

After His resurrection, Jesus restored Peter three times, once for every denial.  After receiving the Holy Spirit, Peter went on to be the Rock he was named for and laid the foundation of the Church.  He did miracles, led a growing movement, and was killed for following Jesus.  (See the Book of Acts.) The same man who was afraid of a servant girl’s question before Jesus died, is mightily used by God after receiving the Holy Spirit.

His intentions and actions without the Spirit fell short of his desire; but inhabited by the Spirit, Peter accomplished what was impossible the night the rooster crowed.  Until he died, every morning when the reminder of who he was without the Spirit divided night from dawn, I believe he whispered a prayer of humble gratefulness to his Redeemer as he woke to serve Him another day.

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Heart-check for Sunday

Is there anything blocking the Holy Spirit from working through me?  Unconfessed sin?  Distractions?

While leading others in worshiping God, do I allow the Spirit total access and control, or does my focus shift to my own inadequacies or abilities?

When I realize that I am relying on my own strength, do I humbly confess immediately, acknowledging I can do nothing on my own, but all things through Him?

Leading from between a Hard Place and a Rock

11 Feb

Jesus was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, and still, while He was overwhelmed, He led His disciples, showing us what sacrificial leadership is.  Mark 14:34

SCRIPTURE

Even though His betrayer was in the room with Him, Jesus led His followers through the Passover meal, reading Scripture within the ritual.  While filled with dread for what is coming, The Word continued to teach His disciples, explaining the Scriptures they knew well in view of their present circumstance.

WORSHIP

Although He knew that all of them would fall away, He led them in a song of praise to God after the meal.  His concern was not that His worship environment met His needs, or that He was surrounded by others totally committed to the Father who inspired Him to worship.  He worshiped God because His Father was the same in His present circumstance as He had been when He delivered Israel out of Egypt and protected every firstborn in homes that had the Passover lamb’s blood smeared on the top and sides of the doorway as the angel of death passed over.

PRAYER

In Gethsemane Jesus prayed as no one has ever prayed.  Deep pleading and total surrender collided, preparing the way for the redemption of the world.  He understood the great suffering that would begin with His arrest, which was moments away, and continue until the rock was rolled back from the tomb on the first day of the week.  And His disciples were there to witness His prayer– until they fell asleep.  Not once or twice, but three times.  Why Jesus continued to wake them up is not recorded.  Was He looking for support from His friends?  Was He checking on them to make sure they understood how to truly pray?  Did He want to make sure they did not miss this ultimate lesson in prayer?

SACRIFICIAL LEADERSHIP

Knowing He was headed toward the cross and that everyone, including His Father, would abandon and turn away from Him, Jesus continued to lead His disciples to the Father.  They listened as He recited Scripture.  They sang praises to God with Him.  And they stayed awake long enough to hear Him wrestle in prayer.

Heart-check for Sunday:

Am I running away from God or toward Him? (There is no other direction!)

When I am in hard places, do others see God through my anguish?  Do I pursue Him with more resolve, so that others are drawn to Him instead of feeling sorry for me?

Christ is our example.  Even in our struggles, especially in the hard times, our leadership thunders through rhetoric into the hearts of those entrusted to us.  Hardship is laced with teachable moments if we stand firm in our relationship with God and run to Him.  Everyone is watching.  Some will follow.

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Illustration courtesy of Jonathan David Design

Beauty Sandwiched by Evil

4 Feb

“She has done a beautiful thing to me.” Mark 14:6

Humble devotion in the midst of evil deception, protected and affirmed by the Object of both.

Evil Deception

The sly and stealthy serpent wound his way through the streets of Jerusalem.  Just two days before Passover, the crowds were more excited than usual.  The Rabbi was here – the one who had healed with compassion, taught with authority, and recently called the scribes and Pharisees a brood of vipers.  And so they are looking for some sly way to arrest and kill Him.

Their hunt produced one willing – one of the Twelve.  The chief priests were delighted and promised to pay him well in pure silver.

Humble Devotion

During their plotting, in nearby Bethany, Simon’s house cradles great beauty.  The Rabbi is reclining at table just days before the greatest suffering the world has ever seen will begin, and a woman invades the meal with a spectacle.

She breaks alabaster (this is stone, not easily-shattered pottery), pushes through the men (who were leaning on an elbow, heads toward a low table, feet emanating outward like pillow fringe), and pours (it went everywhere, splashing the table, food, others) pure nard (very concentrated and highly aromatic, probably over-powering in a small room) on Jesus.  Her worship was not a quiet, unobtrusive moment with violins playing in the background.

There was no missing or ignoring her actions.  But those eating with Jesus missed her heart.  They rebuked her harshly; they yelled at her and criticized her intentions with, what they thought would have been a better use of her valuable nard.

The contrasts couldn’t be more compelling: powerful hordes of religious leaders and the inner circle of disciples opposite a single, unnamed woman; anger, power-hunger, self-righteousness, hate, criticalness, and deception juxtaposed against humble worship.  Sandwiched between the evil of the chief priests and Judas’ deception, this woman teaches the world what beautiful worship is.

Her devotion was–

  • humble and courageous.  She had to break through the social line of “no girls allowed”, knowing the men around the table wouldn’t like it one bit.  Even the women serving from another room would have been shocked at her bold inappropriateness.  If she cared what others would think, she didn’t let it stop her.
  • total.  Once she broke the alabaster, there was no mending it.  She knew before she entered the room that she would be giving it all.
  • pure.  She poured pure nard over Jesus, not a cheap or contaminated substitute.
  • intimate.  Touching the head was an intimate sign of blessing reserved for close friends and relatives.
  • public.  There was no hiding what she did from the people in the house, who, no doubt, spread the story throughout Bethany.
  • beautiful.

That she would always be remembered or that she was playing a part in the Passion of Messiah by anointing Him for burial wasn’t in her thoughts.  Jesus was.

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Heart-check for Sunday:

Am I a Teacher of the Law– in my own righteousness trying to force Jesus into what I think is God’s plan?

Am I one of those around the table– criticizing others’ worship with my superior plan, while not worshiping myself?

Am I able to worship God without regard to social conventions and with unadulterated total surrender?

What would the Church look like if each believer’s ultimate goal in worshiping Him was to hear: “She has done a beautiful thing to me”?

I want to find out.

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