Putting God's Word into Practice…

Notes on Mark 14-16 (Easter)

For over a week I have been focusing my attention on the four gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) accounts of the fragrant anointing, the last supper, the betrayal, arrest and trial of Jesus, His death and resurrection.

Mark 14-16:

  • Judas placed moralism over worship–He thought the woman wasted her perfume on Jesus instead of taking care of the poor.  Worship trumps moralism in Jesus’ eyes!  When someone pours out all they have at His feet it is beautiful to Him!
  • Peter made several bad choices leading up to his denial of Jesus. First, Peter followed Jesus “at a distance.”  Then he sat “warming himself” with the enemy. (14:54)
  • The crowds shouted at Jesus on the cross, “Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.”  The truth is, if Jesus had come down from the cross, there wouldn’t be anything to believe in!  It would leave us with unfulfilled prophecy and unfulfilled promises, and no sins would be atoned for! (15:32)  It was only by seeing Jesus’ death on the cross that belief was possible.  Even the Roman guard recognized it when he responded, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (15:39)
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Mark 15:42-16:20–Not the End!

What first stood out to me was the women again.  Not only did they minister to Jesus during His earthly work, they watched Him die.  They saw where He was buried and returned to minister to His body.  Because of their concern, they were the first to see the angel and hear the message of their Risen Lord.  They saw the empty tomb and were the first to see Jesus.  God trusted women with a message for the disciples, and trusted them with truth.

Although there are conflicting views on where the book of Mark ends (verse 8 or verse 20), I say, “Who cares!  Jesus is risen!”  These “extra” verses do nothing to alter the good news or the great commission or diminish Jesus’ power or promises. They also bring into focus the human bend toward unbelief and hardness or heart.  

This morning I finished the book of Mark but am left with the overwhelming knowledge that this is not the end…Jesus commissioned His followers to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation…And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompany signs.”  I’m so thankful they were obedient.

Father, give me the grace and courage I need to be obedient to this call too.  And let me never forget that I’m not working alone, but You are working and doing amazing things alongside me.  Keep me faithful!  Keep me zealous for the truth that Jesus is alive and that He is still working wonders! In His powerful name I pray, Amen!

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Mark 15:1-41–Ministering Women

As I read the passage today, the last two verses caught my attention.  They say, “There were also women looking on from a distance…When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him…”

Jesus had the heavy job of shepherding alone–and all the discouragement and rejection, burden-carrying, pouring out of self in hopes that people will believe, exhausting schedules, heavy-hearted wondering if all you’re doing is even making a difference that goes along with shepherding.  All of this culminated in one disciple betraying him, ten abandoning him, and the one who seemed to have the most understanding denying him.  He experienced severe suffering at the hands of unbelievers, was mocked by sinful men, and was nailed to a cross and lifted up to be scorned.  He was forsaken by His Heavenly Father because He took the responsibility of our–my–sins and willingly died in my place.  Yet through it all, God placed women–compassionate, loyal, servant-hearted, nurturing–around him to minister to Him and His needs.

This morning I was thinking about my life as a pastor’s wife.  The wife of a faithful, passionate, self-sacrificing servant of God.  I am the woman that God has placed in his life to minister to him and his needs in a way that no one else can.  He can be vulnerable and know that I will listen and love him unconditionally.  He can pour himself out and know that I’ll help him get filled back up.  He can trust that I’m praying for him, supporting him and cheering him on.  Or at least that SHOULD all be true.  

Lord, help me to consistently recognize what a privilege it is to minister to Your servant, my husband.  Show me how to minister to him as unto You.  Thank you for giving me more than I deserve!  You are too good to me.  In the name of Jesus, I ask.  Amen!

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Mark 14:53-72-Sticks and Stones

Yesterday I didn’t have access to a computer, but I still wanted to jot down what the reading made me think about occasionally throughout the day.  It’s really a rhetorical question.

Verse 64b-65 says, “And they all condemned him (Jesus) as deserving death.  And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards received him with blows.”

Verse 72b says, “And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times’.”

I wonder what hurt Jesus worse; the physical blows from unbelievers or Peter–the first to acknowledge Him as the Christ (8:29)–denying he knew Him?  Although both would be painful, I would rather get beat up and mocked by a stranger than to have my sons say they don’t know me.  Jesus’ suffering was much more extensive than I can even imagine.


Mark 14:32-52-A Good Night’s Prayer

Looks like God is admonishing me about sleep again!

Jesus was greatly distressed about the night that was coming.  He watched and prayed three times, while the disciples took three naps.  

What can we learn from Jesus’ prayer in the garden?  All things are possible for the Father, and the Father’s will prevails in our hearts when we take our requests to Him.  The disciples, however, demonstrated that their will/flesh was most important.  They did not recognize their need for the Father’s power.  Jesus specifically told them that watching and praying is the key to not falling prey to temptation and to overcoming the flesh.  They disregarded His warning and did not understand their propensity toward their own will/flesh.

The outcome displayed the difference between prayer and sleep.  Jesus embraced His call and suffering.  The disciples became frightened and ran away.

I often think that a good night’s sleep will best prepare me for a busy day, but maybe a “good night’s prayer” would be best.  If I want to see God’s will accomplished in and through me, I cannot idolize sleep!

Father all things are possible for You!  Please help me to give up sleep when it seems necessary.  Please give me the grace to recognize my need for prayer in overcoming temptation and my own flesh.  If I yield to You first in prayer, I know I will find myself yielding to you the rest of the day.  Please give me a heart that is empty of me and full of You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Mark 14:12-31-Jesus-Friend of Sinners

It still blows my mind that Jesus knew who was going to betray Him, yet, they ate a meal together.  Jesus, directly after confronting Judas, offered him the bread and the cup. Not only did Jesus know who His betrayer was, but He also knew that His closest companions would fall away. What an amazing Savior!  Then they sang a song together and departed the upper room.  The traditional song the Jewish people sang to close the Passover meal was called the Hallel.  If you have time, read Psalm 118 specifically and think about Jesus singing this song with His disciples including the betrayer as He begins His walk that would lead Him to Calvary.

It is possible to partake of the elements of communion and sing praises and have the heart of Judas toward Christ…isn’t that a scary thought?  It is possible to feel super close to Jesus and then fall away when overwhelming events take place.  Lord, strengthen my heart to never fall away.  Jesus, thank You for giving me a renewed enthusiasm for Your sacrifice and compassion to serve sinners like me and to die for sinners like me.  Thank You that You set Your mind on the cross and didn’t shy away or shrink back.  You are my Hero–my Champion!  I love you, Jesus!

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Mark 14:1-11 Motives

Worship comes from pure heart, but good deeds can come from a divided heart.  (In reading through the Old Testament last year, I realized that the opposite of being whole-hearted wasn’t “no-hearted” it was half-hearted.)

Mary took something of value and gave it all for Jesus.  Judas Iscariot (cr John 12:1-8) called it a “waste.” Nothing is ever wasted on Jesus!  Jesus rewarded her sacrifice/offering by defending her, giving her story a place in (hi(s)tory) and by calling her actions “beautiful.”

Judas used good deeds to mask bad intentions.  In John it says that Judas was a thief who often dipped into the disciples’ money bag.  Of course he would like the perfume sold and given to the money bag to be distributed to the poor.  {By the way, it is easy for people (pastors/missionaries/lay people) who are walking with and serving Christ to have the perspective that they are poor and don’t have enough, especially if they have to rely on others to meet their financial needs.  Satan can use this thinking to turn us bitter and greedy.} Insulted by Jesus’ public rebuke, Judas finds the chief priests and offers to betray Jesus for money–that he would probably give to the poor, right!!?

  • How often have I not given Christ all because I wanted some for me, or was afraid there wouldn’t be enough for me?  Or worse yet, He wasn’t enough for me?
  • How often has God through His Word or His servants corrected me and with a hard-heart, I’ve gone away angry?
  • How often have I betrayed Christ because of greed for selfish gain?
  • How often do I take matters into my own hands because of I don’t feel like I have enough?

1 Timothy 6:10a says, The LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of evil.

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Mark 13:3-37–Profoundly Personal

Before I even read my Bible today, I was already tired.  I had a hard time getting up this morning.  I didn’t have any momentum to accomplish anything.  I checked my emails before reading my Bible (bad idea) and got sidetracked with other things.  I came to my Bible at 8:30 a.m. still in my pajamas and overwhelmed with the prospect of getting everything done today.  I already wanted a nap!  

Opening up to Mark chapter 13, there were two phrases that I needed to hear.  “Be on your guard!”  and “Stay awake!”  It is so easy to get caught up in the temporal, to get consumed with getting by.  Some days it feels like I’m treading water, which is exhausting.  Sometimes it seems like sleep is an easy escape from taking action.

There is too much to do–Stay Awake!  It reminds me of the lyrics from an old Keith Green song:  “The world is sleeping in the dark that the church just can’t fight, cause it’s asleep in the light.  How can you be so dead, when you’ve been so well fed.  Jesus rose from the grave, and you, you can’t even get out of bed.”

Lord, help me to be on guard and to stay awake.  You have much for me to do today.  I need to care for my family with diligence and grace.  I need to teach my boys with wisdom and joy.  I need to serve others with humility and patience.  All of those characteristics come by way of your Holy Spirit and prayer.  If you return today, find me alert and faithful and doing the work that You have set before me in the power You’ve given.  You are great and greatly to be praised!  Please put a song of joy in my heart and let me work as unto You!  In the name of Jesus, I ask it, Amen!

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Mark 12:38-13:2-Hidden in the Heart

These three paragraphs have very different headings–Beware of the Scribes, The Widow’s Offering, Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple–but the theme is the same.  Appearances aren’t everything!

12:38-40.  The Scribes seemed important because of how they dressed, who they ran around with, where they sat, what parties they were invited to, and the length of their prayers.  They even used their spiritual facade to manipulate widows out of their possessions to satisfy their own greed.  They looked the part of spiritual  success, but inside, they were like rotting garbage!  Jesus said because of their hypocrisy, they would receive greater condemnation.  Jesus always looks through the outside and sees what’s hidden in the heart!

12:41-44.  “And he (Jesus) sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box.”  Isn’t that interesting!  Jesus was watching what people were doing because He really does care about tithes and offerings, but He wasn’t seeing $$$, He was seeing through the amount to the heart of the giver.  And lest we be naive, He is still watching what we are putting into the offering plate.  He doesn’t need our tips or our leftovers, He doesn’t need our grand donations either.  He is looking for hearts that demonstrate by their giving, that He is all they need!  That He is their treasure!

13:1-2.  We see this fixation with the external even in the heart of Jesus’ disciple who says, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”  Jesus responded with a promise that the stones would all be torn down and the temple destroyed.  Wonderful stones, wonderful buildings–they are thinking too shallow.  Wonderful God who fills the temple!  Wonderful God who made the stones! Wonderful God who gave people the ability to build a temple!

Lord, is my heart easily swayed by what is visible more than what is unseen?  Is my own heart pure toward You or do I focus more on my external appearances?  When You see me give, do You see a heart that gives joyfully because You are my true treasure?  Please don’t let me fool myself.  I want You to be my ALL!  What do You see, when You look into my heart?  Give me spiritual eyesight and eternal perspective!

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Mark 12:13-37 O-F-F-E-N-S-E! OFFENSE! OFFENSE!

Yesterday the score was 2-0 Jesus over church leaders. I wrote about how Jesus put the chief priests, scribes and elders on the defensive.  They called a time out, regrouped and sent their secret players–the Pharisees, Herodians, Sadducees, and Scribes–into the game in verses 13-37.  Jesus blocked every one of their shots!

Verses 13-17.  Pharisees and Herodians question Jesus about taxes to trap Him.  He recognized them as hypocrites and wisely answered back.  They marveled.  3-0

Verses 18-27. Sadducees came and tried to trap Jesus by questioning Him about the afterlife because they believed there was no resurrection.  Jesus responded with, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God…You are quite wrong!” 4-0 Jesus leading

Verses 28-34.  A scribe questioned Jesus about the greatest commandment.  Jesus told him to love God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength and to love his neighbor as himself.  The scribe responded in agreement but the shot is a little short.  He did not acknowledge Jesus as the Lord.  “After that no one dared ask Him any more questions. 5 pts. Jesus-0 pts. church leaders.

Verses 25-37.  Jesus took the final shot by teaching that He,the Christ, is greater than King David.  The shot was good!  The crowd went wild! “The great throng heard Him gladly.”  The victory goes to Jesus!

When we doubt or question the Lord and He responds:

  • Could He accuse us of being hypocrites?
  • Could He rebuke us for not knowing His Word or His power?
  • Could He say we answer back wisely, but we’re still not getting it?
  • Could He say that we hear Him gladly?
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