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Showing posts from March, 2020

Cries of Lament

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Scripture:
Mark 15:33   When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Observation:
This idea of darkness reminds us of Isaiah 60:2 “For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.” The darkness covered the earth in the time that Jesus was dying, but this was a foreshadowing of the coming glory of the Lord.
Within a few hours Jesus cried out a Psalm of lament. In his pain and suffering he only spoke the very first line, a type of reference point for all those who were listening in. This is a Psalm of lament, and so we listen to the whole passage to be able to understand the context for Jesus’ words:
Psalm 22: 1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O m…

Faith Sees a Sign in All He Does

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Scripture:
Mark 15:25   It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. 29 Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.
Observation:
Mark brings us a story of the crucifixion that is simple and fact-filled. This moment is filled with jeers and mocking by those who could not possibly understand what Jesus was doing. Those who passed by were “shaking their heads” which brings up visions…

Who is Your Rufus?

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Scripture:
Mark 15:21   They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22 Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.
Observation:
People had traveled from across the Roman world to be in Jerusalem. Probably Jews, the family of Simon had originally lived in Cyrene, a city in modern-day Libya in North Africa. This was a prominent city in the region, influential in commerce and culture. Whether it was this family, or others, there were people from Cyrene also present in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.
At the time of the writing of Mark’s gospel, apparently, Rufus and Alexander were known to the church in Rome, or they would not have been mentioned. A man by the name of R…

Such Rich Irony

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Scripture:
Mark 15:16   Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. 18 And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. 20 After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
Observation:
It’s now the soldiers’ turn to mock Jesus. These are Roman soldiers who are ready to bring this man down. The color purple was not easy to extract for it came from mollusks in the sea. Only the wealthy, or members of the military might be able to wear an article of clothing with the deep color of purple. In another gospel the color is referred to as scarlet, but it is more than likely this same unique color of purple which would signify o…

Wishing to Satisfy the Crowd

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Scripture:
Mark 15:12 Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14 Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
Observation:
Pilate knew that Jesus was not really guilty of anything deserving death. He assumed that the crowd would want Jesus released. Probably he referred to Jesus in a very sarcastic way as “the King of the Jews.” He did not view him as a threat to his authority, and even asked the people to tell him what Jesus had done. The chief priests had been busy doing their work and had worked the crowds into a frenzy, leading the cheer “crucify him!” Wanting to remain popular with the people, Pilate gave in to the crowd and handed Jesus over to be put to death.
A rebel goes free, while the Messiah is s…

Amazement is Not Belief

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Scripture:
Mark 15:2 Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.” 3 Then the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 Pilate asked him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.
Observation:
After the religious leaders reframed the charges against Jesus so that they would be inflammatory against the Roman government, he was brought before Pilate. Here we discover another revelation of Jesus’ identity, only it’s not what Pilate thinks. He asks Jesus whether he is “the King of the Jews.” The understanding was that the Messiah would always be viewed as the King of the Jews, but Jesus’ understanding of that concept and the way it would be perceived by Pilate were two different things.
We don’t know what the chief priests said but we can imagine a cacophony of voices shouting out the things about Jesus that they found unpalatable. Jesus is invited to respond but h…

When Group Think Goes Wrong

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Scripture:
Mark 15:1   As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.
Observation:
Jesus had been tried throughout the night be the religious leaders. Now, they were rushing to take him to the Roman court, for they usually met in the early morning hours, sometimes before dawn.
The religious leaders had tried Jesus for blasphemy, and he had revealed that he was the Son of God. This declaration would never work in the secular court. They held a “consultation,” between the chief priests, the elders, scribes and the whole council. Jealousy consumed this group and they were determined to get rid of Jesus. The group had their own foregone conclusions and when they gathered, it was not for critical discussion, but simply for reinforcement of their own ideas. They knew that their charge of “blasphemy” would not work in the Roman court and they needed to recast thei…

Hope for Failed Disciples

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Scripture:
Mark 14:72 At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
Observation:
While Jesus is inside the house of the high priest being interrogated, Peter was in the courtyard standing among those who had gathered. He was the only disciple who followed Jesus that night, waiting to see what would happen. While Jesus was on trial, declaring his identity to the leaders, revealing his strength, Peter was outside denying his relationship to the man known as the Nazarene.
It’s an interesting turn of events for earlier in the evening Peter had been ready to fight against the guards and now, he is taken down by a servant girl. His accent having given him away, she is certain that he is from Galilee. Three times he denies knowing Jesus, and the last time he adds in some cursing.
It’s at that very moment of his third denial that the cock crows and Pet…