Feet first

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

“But go, tell the disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see him.”–16:7.

It is a pattern with God.  A struggle for me.  “Walk now, see later” whispers the Spirit. Obedience before confirmation.  Feet first.  Eyes second.

I am learning this lesson again.  Like the disciples, I find myself on the threshold of a new chapter.  Exciting.  Unfamiliar.  What I think I need is to see the Lord.  To hear His assurance.  What I actually need is to get forward to the place that He is telling me to go.  When I get there, He will meet me. He promises!

“Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign that I have sent you; when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”–Exodus 3:12

Go and then you will know!  I value assurance.  He values obedience.

Resolute

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

“…just as he told you.” Mark 16:17

It is no surprise to us, but Jesus did exactly what he said he would do. He followed through; he completed the task; he stuck to his word. He wasn’t all talk and no walk. He wasn’t all theory and no practice. He didn’t just flirt with redeeming the world (all those who would believe and call on his name); no, he actually redeemed the world.

This is helpful for us because it reminds us that the foundation of the Gospel is action. The Gospel was born in action, and thus gives birth to action for those who belief, affecting what we do by changing who we are. Jesus lived it, and so should we.

It’s a Heart Condiition

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

Mark 15:31 “In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were … saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself.” Did they really just say that Jesus cannot save Himself? Even after seeing Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead? (A greater sign) Why would they think, much less say Jesus cannot save Himself? They surmised that because Jesus wouldn’t use His power, then He didn’t have it. Their love for the praise of people and self-serving power kept them from understanding Jesus. They had no point of reference or heart for mercy, love, or self sacrifice. So they mocked it. However, Jesus’ heart understood completely- “unless a grain of wheat falls” (John 12:24). Jesus knew if He saved Himself He would not save others.
Only the Holy Spirit can change a human heart to understand and value this kind of perspective. May our hearts always demonstrate and easily recognize sacrificial love, mercy, and obedience.

Keep Your Focus

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

V.16 – “When the Sabbath was over…”

Mary Magdalene, Mary, and Salome were observing the Sabbath rules.  These were the principles that the religious leaders, who had just crucified Jesus, had so distorted and misused.  Have you ever known someone who rejected the church, saying, “They are just a bunch of hypocrites there”?  They are rejecting an institution established by God because of the failure of men.  These ladies maintained their obedience to God’s laws and were not distracted to disobedience by the sins of men.

Are we guilty of rejecting God’s Word because we see someone else’s distortion of the Truth?  Do we allow the focus of our heart to be sidetracked because of the sinfulness of others?  These ladies obeyed God’s laws even when it was not represented well by the very ones that should be their leaders in faith.  Keep the eyes of your heart on God and His Word…don’t be led to disobedience by the faithlessness of others.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?