A
Doctrinal
And
Devotional
Commentary
On the
Gospel of Mark

 Part 2

 

Written by Rénald Leroux Jr.
Info Page

 

A Doctrinal and Devotional Commentary of the Gospel of Mark
 

© Copyright 2018 by Rénald Leroux Jr.
 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author except as provided by the Canadian copyright laws.
 

"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."
 

Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved

Bibliography

 

Adam Clark Commentary (On Line)

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible (On Line)

Arno Gaebelein’s Annotated Bible (On Line)

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible(On Line)

Complete Word Study N-T by Spiros Zodhiates Editor (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S.A.)

Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible (On Line)

Expository Dictionary of N-T Words by W.E. Vine (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.)

Expository notes of Dr. Thomas Constable (On Line)

Interlinear Hebrew/Greek English Bible by Jay Green (Associated Pub. and authors, Lafayette, Indiana, U.S.A.)

John Gill’s exposition of the whole Bible (On Line)

Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Bible (On Line)

Strong’s exhaustive concordance of the Bible (Abingdon Pub., Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.)

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible (On Line)

Word Studies in the N-T by Marvin R. Vincent (Eerdmans Pub., Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.)

Word Study Concordance (Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois, U.S.A.)

Word study New Testament (Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois, U.S.A.)

 
Introduction to the Gospel of Mark

 

1. Author

Strictly speaking this gospel is anonymous. There are no reference within the text that reveals who the author is.

Outside sources state that it was John-Mark (the cousin of Barnabas, Col. 4:10) who was the author. This is a short list of men who thought John-Mark was the author:

  • Polycarp (c. 110-150)

  • Hermas (c. 115-140)

  • Papias (A.D. 140)

  • Ireaneus (c. 130-202)

  • Justin Martyr (c. 150-155)

 

2. Date

Again this is difficult to pin-point exactly but most believe that Mark was written anywhere between A.D. 64-69.

 

3. Place of origin and destination

The text does not give us a direct answer. The Church Fathers believed that the gospel of Mark was written in Rome for Gentile Christians.

 

4. The purpose of Mark

To encourage Christians who were suffering because of their faith by showing that Christ also suffered in many ways.

 

5. Theme of Mark

To manifest that Christ was the ‘Suffering Servant’.

 

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The gospel of Mark
41 – Questions concerning divorce
10:1-12

1 Getting up, He went from there to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan; crowds gathered around Him again, and, according to His custom, He once more began to teach them.

Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. 3 And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. 7 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, 8 and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

10 In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. 11 And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12 and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”

(NASB)

 

1. The setting (10 :1)

 

Every story has a setting and the one we are going to investigate has one that is becoming more and more familiar.

 

1 Getting up, He went from there to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan; crowds gathered around Him again, and, according to His custom, He once more began to teach them.

 

Jesus is once more on the move and this time he is passing through Judea which is located in the southern part of Israel between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. He is traveling eastward beyond the Jordan River. Our text does not mention where exactly this event happens. The recording of this same event is also found in Mat. 19:1-12 and the village where this event happened is also not revealed.

 

A usual crowd of people ‘gather around Him again’. It seems that wherever Jesus arrives news spread of his presence like a prairie wild fire. It is important to understand this to comprehend the growing hatred the religious elite have against Jesus. The people are turning to HIM for their spiritual guidance thus abandoning the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and the other teachers of the Law. This, in-turn, means that they are losing their power and control over them.

 

Here we also see that ‘according to His custom, He once more began to teach them’. The ministry of teaching has a predominate place in Jesus’ life. He used every occasion possible to speak concerning His Father and the kingdom that was at hand. This noble cause should also be carried out by ALL who declare themselves Disciples of Christ. We need to remember the Great Commission that was given by Christ as he left to be with His Father.

 

Matthew 28:18-20

(18)And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

(19)"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

(20)"teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

(NKJV)

 

And also in:

 

Acts 1:8

"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

(NKJV)

 

2. The tricky question (10:2)

                               

Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. 

 

Now the Pharisees (who were the main adversaries of Christ) ‘came up to Jesus’. This wasn’t by ‘chance’ that they passed by and saw Jesus and decided to ask him a question. This was intended, for in Mat. 19:3 it is written:

 

(2) Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking…

 

The word ‘testing’ (PEIRAZO) in Greek means: to test, to scrutinize. It is obvious that they wanted to find some fault in the teachings of Christ. If they could do this then they could accuse him and have him put away for good. So what was their question?

 

(v.2) …and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. 

 

This happened to be a BIG question in his days. Actually there were two schools of thought that were very opposite to one another. The two opposing men were Rabbi Hillel and Rabbi Shammai. Rabbi Shammai taught that the grounds for divorcing a spouse had to be on sexual grounds. While Rabbi Hillel taught that one could ask for a divorce based on ANY reason. The entire debate depended on the interpretation of Deut. 24:1,

 

Deuteronomy 24:1

"When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house,

(NKJV)

 

By answering one way or the other Jesus would have been automatically a target for the ‘side’ he did not choose. So what is Jesus going to do?

 

3. Jesus’ question (10 :3)

 

3 And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?”

 

Here we see the wisdom of the Lord, he brings the Pharisees back to where it all began – with God giving his commands to Moses. Now, for the most part, the Pharisees did not respect Jesus but ALL did respect Moses. None could disavow this great man of God. This is a perfect lesson that we should all acquire. As a Disciple of Christ I am called to base all of my spiritual understanding on what the Scriptures teach and not on human philosophy and wisdom (Col. 2:8).

 

4. The Pharisees answer (10 :4)

 

4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” 

 

The Pharisees were referring to Deut. 24:1 that is mentioned above. This verse was the ‘key’ to the entire dispute between both ‘clans’. Notice that they mentioned that ‘Moses permitted’. Moses never obliged a person to divorce! A person could always manifest forgiveness, mercy and compassion. As Jesus will explain still today when our spouse offends us even with an immoral sexual behavior – one can forgive like Christ has forgiven us at the cross (Col. 3:13).

 

5. Jesus’ explanation (10:5-12)

 5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. 7 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, 8 and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

10 In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. 11 And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12 and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”

 

So that it will be easier for us to understand I will separate Jesus’ response into various sections.

 

Section one is found in verse five:

 

5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.

 

The whole matter of divorce is founded on ‘your hardness of your heart’. The term ‘hardness of heart’ (SKLEROLARDIA) means: hard heartedness, fig. destitution of spiritual perception. In other words we have a hard heart when we do not perceive things like the Lord God does; the subject here being a husband-wife relationship. It is our hearts that bring divorce into being. The lack of forgiveness, mercy, compassion and grace are the ingredients that makes divorcing our spouse attractive. THIS is the reason why such an exit from marriage was in the Law of Moses.

 

Section two is in verses six through eight:

 

 6 But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. 7 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, 8 and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. 

 

In this section Jesus brings the Pharisees back to the original intent for marriage, what God had in mind when marriage was instituted. We first see that the intent for marriage is strictly between a man and a woman (male and female). No other form of marriage is acceptable before the Lord no matter what mankind says!

A second thought is that of the creating of a new family cell (leave his father and mother). A newly married couple is not an extension of the family cell of their parents but rather an independent entity. A third thought is the sexual aspect (the two shall become one flesh). A marriage includes a physical union between the man and the woman. It also gives the idea of the two becoming one. They are two individuals that have sex but rather two people that through marriage and an a sexual act become one in all aspects.

 

 9 What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

 

This phrase ‘seals’ the original goal of God for a marriage. Normally a marriage is not to be broken. Are there any exceptions? There are two. The first taught by Jesus in Mat. 19:9.

 

"And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."

(NKJV)

 

If one of the two is unfaithful to his/her spouse then then the spouse to whom this offense has been done against can divorce. Note that permission is granted but it is not automatically done. An offended spouse may manifest compassion and, forgiveness and shower his spouse with grace. Never the less permission is given in this case.

 

The second is taught by Paul in 1 Cor. 7:15:

 

But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.

(NKJV)

 

If a couple is unevenly ‘yoked’ and the unbelieving spouse no longer wants to be in a marital relationship – then we are to let the person go and can re-marry (not under bondage in such cases). There are no other Biblical reason for divorcing. This was God’s original ideal. Unfortunately SIN has made this very difficult to accomplish.

 

10 In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. 11 And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12 and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”

 

After Jesus leaves the Pharisees and arrives at a familiar house Jesus continues on the subject of divorce. He speaks of a man who unlawfully divorces his wife and tells his disciples what happens when this is done.

 

“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12 and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”

 

Without a divorce founded on biblical grounds you become an adulterer (commits adultery against her and she is committing adultery). Notice that both genders are used as an example. Both men and women are referred to here. There is no distinction, no difference, and no discrimination. Divorces always has its roots in a hardened heart and everything should be done to save a marriage. Unfortunately we live in a sinful world.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Still today the question of divorce and remarriage is tricky and often brings confusion.

  2. To find the right answers we must come back to the initial intent of God towards marriage.

  3. Only sexual immorality, abandonment and death (of course) can end a marriage.

 

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The gospel of Mark
42 – Jesus and the little children
10:13-16

13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” 16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.

(NASB)

 

1. The disciple’s rebuke (10:13)

 

13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. 

 

There are very few stories, in the life of Jesus, where children participate. This is one of them. So let’s listen to what Christ has to say. In this first verse we see that there are four participants in this episode.

 

The first are the parents for they were the ones that ‘were bringing children’. This wonderful teaching for all of us who are parents or older family members. We see the importance of bringing our children to the feet of Jesus. It is what every Christian parent should do. It is their responsibility to teach them about the Lord and his wonderful works and grace. This reminds me of what the Father instructed Moses to write:

 

Deuteronomy 6:6,7

(6)"And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.

(7)"You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

(NKJV)

 

As we can see from our text these parents were doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord and when we bring our children closer to our Great Redeemer we also are acting well. Let no one discourage you from your calling as a parent or a close relative to bring your little ones to Jesus.

 

The second participant is the Lord Jesus. The parents brought their children ‘to Him’ – Jesus. There was a reason why they brought their children to Christ for they knew who he was:

 

John 8:12

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

(NKJV)

 

He was a shining light in the very dark world that they were living in. They could have also seen in him the possibility that he just might be the Messiah! Who else could have done all these miracles and spoke as no other man has? The children that we have should only be brought to Christ. No church or religious institution can ever save from the judgment to come. Christ and only Christ should be introduced to our children as Savior and mediator between mankind and God the Father.

 

Acts 4:12

"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

(NKJV)

 

Our third group are the children for the parents brought their ‘children to Him’. This tells us a lot. For the parents to willingly bring their children to Christ manifests that they knew that their little ones would be welcomed by him (as we will see in verse fourteen).

I can not but ponder on the following: do we welcome little children in our lives? If we represent Jesus to the little ones (because we are his disciples) what do they see in us? Are we stern and grouchy, cold and unaffectionate? Or do their little faces brighten up when they see us? Remember what Jesus said concerning the way we act with children!

 

Matthew 18:6

"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
(NKJV)

 

Our last group are the Disciples of Christ. One would think that they would have welcomed the parents bringing their children. Quite the contrary! They acted the opposite since ‘the disciples rebuked them'. The word rebuked (EPITIMAO) means; To censure, forbid or admonish. In other words the Disciples of Christ were telling the parents to ‘go away’ or to ‘leave Jesus alone’ or ‘not to bother him’. Quite a welcoming committee! Imagine an usher of your church telling parents to leave their children at home and not to bring them in the sanctuary! As we will see they did not have the mind of Christ. It always surprises me to see that even after being with Christ and learning from him for so long the disciples ‘mess up’ so easily.

 

2. Jesus’ indignation (10:14-16)

 

14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” 16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.

 

Notice in verse fourteen that Jesus ‘saw this’. There is nothing that slips out of his eyesight. I’m glad that this is so. Jesus knows and sees all that occurs. As the Good Shepherd he keeps a watchful eye on each of his sheep.

It is comforting when I live difficulties knowing that I am under his care, but stressful when I stray from the narrow path. One way or another a disciple’s life is always under the Lord’s radar.

 

It is written that Jesus was ‘indignant’ (AGAN) meaning: to be greatly afflicted. Jesus was not happy with what he saw. The disciples telling the parents to ‘go away’ or ‘stop disturbing the Master’ irritated him. I wonder how many times the Lord sees what we are doing and it brings forth the same sentiment? So this is what he said to them:

 

“Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 

 

The disciples were trying their best to keep the children away from Jesus. I wonder if they thought that children were not important enough or worthy enough for the Master to attend to them? We need to remember that two thousand years ago children did not have the same status as today. This is how Jesus reacted to his disciple’s claims: ‘Permit the children to come to me’. This is in direct opposition to his disciples. When in our lives the Holy Spirit opposes our thoughts we need to take heed!

 

Jesus says ‘Permit the children to come’. The idea behind the word ‘permit’ (APHIEMI) is: to send, to go. Jesus is telling the disciples to let them go and allow them to ‘come to me’. He is telling them that they are terribly wrong and their attitude concerning children is not to be repeated! He then tells them: ‘do not hinder them’. The word ‘hinder’ (KOLUO) means: to stop, prevent or forbid. Often our attitude can hinder children one way or another. Children are often watching adults: the way they act and talk and how they interact with other people. Once again, a warning is given concerning our relationship with children. Children should always be welcomed in church and not seen as a nuisance!

 

(v.14)… for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 

 

What did Jesus mean when he said that ‘the kingdom of God belongs to such as these’? The term for ‘such as these’ is (TOIOUTOS) meaning: of this sort (denoting character). In our text we are dealing with children, small children (PAIDION): an infant, young child. Now what trait of character do ‘such as these’ have that is so particular? I believe that in a corresponding text we have a clue:

 

Matthew 18:3,4

(3)and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

(4)"Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

(NKJV)

 

Our clue is found in verse four where Jesus says: ‘whoever humbles himself’. In general little children are humble, they are unpretentious and meek. Being ‘humble’ is a key trait of character to enter the kingdom of God. The opposite to being humble is to glorify oneself. Do you know the one who first tried to glorify himself before the Lord and what happened to him? Lucifer was cast from the heavens (Isaiah 14:12-15) and is waiting for his eternal judgment. Remember what James wrote:

 

James 4:6

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."

(NKJV)

 

After telling his disciples not to stop them from coming to him and also telling them ‘why’ it is so, Jesus now gives to all of them a severe warning.

 

15 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” 

 

This is an absolute truth, there are no exceptions. NO ONE will ever enter the kingdom of God if he first does not ‘receive’ (DECHOMAI) meaning: accept, take or receive it with the attitude of a child which is in all humility. It is said that pride is the greatest of all sins and here we have a perfect example of this. It will stop you from entering the kingdom of God. Pride has no place in anyone’s life especially one who calls himself a Disciple of Christ.

 

 16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.

 

Notice how warm and affectionate Jesus is. ‘He took them in his arms’. He is not a distant person, he loves the little children and welcomes them openly. Can you imagine being embraced by the Lord? It just might be that when we will be with him we also will feel his welcoming arms around us! Notice that Jesus did exactly what the parents had hoped for (v.13… that he might touch them). He did more than that he also blessed them by laying his hands upon them. Jesus always gives more than what we hope for.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Bring your children to Jesus and don’t hesitate to do this.

  2. Never be a stumbling block for children.

  3. Always keep a humble heart.

 

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The gospel of Mark
43 – The rich young man
10:17-31

17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

23 And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

28 Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.”29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”

(NASB)

 

1. The million-dollar question (10:17)

 

17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 

 

I often call this the ‘Million dollar question’! There is no question more important for you and I to receive a biblical answer to than this one. It will determine where you will pass eternity!

 

This story is also told in Mat. 19:16-22 and Luke 18:18-23 and they will be helpful for us to get a complete understanding of this event. In Luke we see that this man was a ‘certain ruler’, which tells us that he had authority, power, either political or civil. Rulers have great possessions (as we will later see). People usually are respectful and even, to some decree, fear them. Now this man was not very old for in Mat. 19:20 it is written ‘the young man’.

 

As Jesus was just about to set out (EKPORENOMAI) meaning: to depart, for a new journey this rich young ruler ‘ran up to Him’. It seems that this man could not restrain himself from getting his question answered. By this we see that it had been pressing on his mind – where shall I be for all eternity?

 

This manifests that no matter what the riches of this world you possess they will never ease your conscience from thinking about the afterlife! What the world offers does not quench your spiritual thirst. May this be a lesson for all who have ears to listen! This man had it all: money, power, authority, admiration and respect but his soul was as dry as the Arabian Desert. So this was his big opportunity to speak to Jesus and it seems that nothing would stop him from doing so.

 

(v.17)…a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him,

 

This is quite a feat for a rich person to do. He set aside his pride and ‘ran to Him’. He may have hesitated and seeing that Jesus was getting ready to leave he ‘ran to Him’ before it was too late. May we never hesitate but run to Jesus before he also gets out of our sight! He did an even greater thing because he ‘knelt before Him’. This man was determined to get Jesus’ attention. He humiliated himself before Him. I do not believe that a rich person does this very often – humility is not a trait of character often found in rich rulers especially in those days!

As we can see this question concerning the afterlife is truly pressing his heart. He recognized that Jesus had the answer he needed but will he accept what Christ says?

 

(v.17)… and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 

 

We can understand that Jesus stopped when this man humbled himself and was attentive to what he was saying. Jesus always has an open heart for those who are honest in their approach. This is when he asks the BIG question. I believe that this is the only story where such a question is raised. I wonder why?

 

He calls Him ‘Good Teacher’ He sees in Him something that was different than all the others who taught. He saw Him as being ‘Good’ and as we will see this becomes one of the corner stones of Jesus’ discussion with him. This man is asking how he can ‘inherit eternal life’. In both Matthew and Luke he asks ‘What good thing shall I do’. In his mind he has something to DO to be able to ‘inherit’ (KLERONOMEO) meaning: to be an heir to – eternal life. People were taught that to obtain God’s favour one MUST DO this and that, follow the Laws and the tradition of the Elders and so forth. This is what RELIGION is all about – doing in order to receive from God. All religions have this same base. Follow the rules and God may give you his favors. This man didn’t know what rules and regulations he had to follow – he was mixed up and wanted a clear path to walk on. Still today the vast majority of people are in complete confusion regarding ‘how to be O.K. with God’. Do you personally know the way to the Father (John 14:6)?

 

2. Jesus’ first answer (10:18,19)

 

18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 

 

Before answering, Jesus sets one thing straight: ‘No one is good except God alone’. This was a real blow to this man’s understanding of himself as it is to countless others. The vast majority of people truly believe that there is some ‘good’ in them. We are taught that we were born ‘good’ and that it is life that makes us sometimes to be ‘bad’. Let’s be very clear and once and for all ‘No one is good except God ALONE’. In his great epistle to the Romans Paul discusses this very openly that ALL have sinned and NONE are good (Rom. 3:9-18).

 

Since this man thought that he needed to do things to inherit eternal life Jesus places a test before him and names him six of the Ten Commandment. Please notice that these six have to do with his relationship with others and not the ones that deals with his relationship with God (the first four). The test is very simple ‘how are you doing with people around you?’.

 

3. The young man’s answer (10:20)

 

20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”

 

As with most of us this man does not see himself as he truly is. He still believes that he’s a good person and that his relationship with others was following God’s standards. He is totally blinded as the Scriptures write:

 

2 Corinthians 4:4

whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

(NKJV)

 

4. Jesus’ final recommendation (10:21)

 

 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 

 

Jesus kept ‘looking at him’. Even though, after being told that only God was good, this person still thought too much of himself and could not grasp his profound state of sinfulness not only does Jesus continue on ‘looking at him’ but also ‘felt a love for him’. Rare are the occasions where it is written that Jesus loved a specific person. We see this with Martha, Mary and Lazarus and also with the apostle John. Here lies another case before us. The word ‘love’ (AGAPAO) means: to love in a social or moral sense. We know that Jesus loves sinners, plain proof is set before your eyes. One might wonder why Jesus said the following:

 

(v.21)…“One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 

 

A hint is given to us in Mat. 19:21:

 

Matthew 19:21

Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

(NKJV)

 

Remember that the young ruler was looking for something to do to inherit eternal life. His belief system told him that work and rules are necessary to gain God’s approval. After telling the young man that it is impossible because ‘no one is good except God alone’ Jesus places another test to show him who he really is – a great sinner. In other words Jesus says: ‘If you want to be perfect and work your way to heaven (which is impossible) well do this:

 

(v.21)…go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 

 

Jesus told him to do three things, which are all bundled in one main idea. The first is ‘sell all you possess’. Don’t forget that he was rich. He was told to abandon all that made him who he was. The second is ‘give to the poor’. He was to willingly abandon what he had and loved but give it to people that he did not know. People that were totally the opposite to who he was. Third ‘come and follow me’. He needed a new direction in life, no longer living for himself but being totally devoted to following Christ. Now a promise was given if he would do this ‘you will have a treasure in heaven’. Wasn’t that the answer to his question – having eternal life. One might find Jesus’ answer very strange and it is. But be reminded that the person wanted to WORK to get to heaven. Here Jesus is just showing him that it is impossible to go to heaven by OUR own means.

 

5. The young man’s response (10:22)

 

22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

 

Please notice what the fruit of the man ‘who owned much property’ is. It is described in two words. The first is ‘saddened’ (STUGNAZO) meaning: to render gloomy. The second is ‘grieving’ (IUPEO) meaning: to distress. All that his wealth brought to him caused him to be saddened and to feel sorry and inward pain. This man was torn apart. He wanted the heavenly blessings but COULD NOT RECEIVE THEM because his heart was attached to earthly treasures. Remember the words of Christ:

 

Matthew 16:24

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

(NKJV)

 

This man had come to Jesus, humbled himself and asked the most important question that a man needs to know the answer. He was not ready to accept what Jesus said. As with many we come to Jesus wanting him to say what we would like him to. He left empty handed and broken hearted – all because of his love for money! Is there something that is keeping you from following Jesus?

 

6. The disciples concerns and Jesus’ response (10:23 – 31)

 

23 And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

28 Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.”29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”

 

Verse twenty three is a warning for all whose aim in life is to gain all that is possible while setting God aside. In reality they have their own god – Mammon!

 

23 And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 

 

 

Amen that Jesus did not say that that it was ‘impossible’ for them to ‘enter the kingdom of God’ but rather ‘How hard it will be’. But why? It is because the riches of this world had possessed their hearts and blinded their desire for any true spiritual life. Remember what Paul wrote to the Corinthians concerning their salvation:

 

1 Corinthians 1:26-29

(26)For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.

(27)But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;

(28)and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,

(29)that no flesh should glory in His presence.

(NKJV)

 

Not many among the Corinthian believers were: wise, powerful and noble of birth. The words of Christ are true, it is difficult for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God.

 

 24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

 

I can understand why the ‘disciples were amazed’. They also wanted to enter the kingdom of God but by hearing the words of Christ they wondered if THEY would ever enter! Now the word ‘amazed’ (THAMBEO) means: stupefy, astonished – they just couldn’t believe what they had just heard. So Jesus will continue speaking on this very important subject.

 

 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 

 

Jesus compares the impossibility of a camel to ‘go through the eye of a needle’ (This was a proverbial expression is Jesus’ day). There are different view concerning this but the Greek is very revealing. The word ‘eye’ (TRUMALIA) means: an orifice. The word ‘needle’ (RHAPHIS) means: puncture, a needle. So Jesus is truly comparing a camel with a rich person. See the image and how difficult it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God!

 

26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

 

It seems that the further Jesus explains how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God the more the disciples ‘were even more astonished’. I can understand because it is the same today. It happens that when we search and study certain theological subjects that it seems that we understand less and less.

 

So they asked this question ‘Then who can be saved?’ If the rich and noble and important people can’t enter easily how can the rest of us (poor and negligible people) enter? In other words they were saying ‘What about us’! Jesus then reveals to them a secret:

 

“With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

 

Jesus transfers the capacity to enter the kingdom from the person unto God himself. Isn’t that the Gospel story? What man can never do God does for mankind. Christ died in our place. Christ was judged in our stead. He was our substitute at the cross. What Jesus is telling them is the following: ‘You can’t do it on your own but it is possible for God to do it for you’. The prophet Isaiah wrote:

 

Isaiah 12:2,3

(2)Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; 'For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.'"

(3)Therefore with joy you will draw water From the wells of salvation.

(NKJV)

 

It seems that Peter is not satisfied with the answer that Jesus brought. He may also want to be very certain concerning the future for himself and the eleven others.

 

28 Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.”29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”

 

If the rich hardly can enter the kingdom of God – what about us for ‘Behold we have left everything and followed You’. They had left fathers and mothers and work and business and their own families. What Peter had said was true. Some today may feel the same that they have left all for Jesus. The Master has not forgotten them and will reward them.

 

Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. 

 

Here is Jesus’ promise to all who follow him with a heart that is true. We see that they will not be forgotten, quite the opposite, for ‘he will receive a hundred times as much now’. How can I receive a hundred times as much – now?

I can clearly understand and it is simple. Before I came to Christ through repentance I had one set of parents, one home and a few friends. Now as a believer in Christ I have friends all over the world, homes, ready to receive me across the globe. A family of millions upon millions in every continent. Christ has truly fulfilled his promise.

 

There is an aspect of this promise that many shun to receive: ‘along with persecutions’. We don’t want ‘persecution’ and we try to avoid this at all cost. Yet Jesus says that they will come and depending where you live on this planet persecution will differ in form and fashion.

Jesus ends with ‘and in the age to come, eternal life’. Notice that Jesus made a full circle on the subject that was brought to him by the rich young ruler – eternal life and how to get it. Be a real Disciple of Christ and eternal life is yours.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Have you asked Jesus to become your Savior and repented of your sins?

  2. Do you understand and accept that there is nothing good in you and that only God is good?

  3. Do you really believe that you can keep all of God’s commandments?

  4. Do you have any idols that keep you from following Christ?

  5. Have you left all to follow Christ because of what he has done for you at the cross?

 

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The gospel of Mark
44 – Jesus predicts his death again
10:32-34

32 They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, 33 saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. 34 They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.”

(NASB)

 

1. Jesus leads the way (10:32)

 

32 They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him,

 

Have you ever noticed that it is never the Disciples that lead the way or decide to go here or stop at the next village? Disciples follow their Teacher and never the opposite. Jesus is leading his disciples and their destination is Jerusalem. Far too many believers have this notion all wrong. They want to lead. They want to tell Jesus what to do or what things ought to happen in their lives. They believe that they have the right to plan their own lives and choose what their future will look like. They are the leaders and they want Jesus to follow them in their dreams and aspirations – what folly! Here ‘Jesus was walking ahead of them’ and they followed. Are you trying to follow or lead in your life? Are you the master or the servant? Do you decide or wait for instructions? Failure is clothed in leading one’s life instead of being led by Christ.

 

Jesus was leading them to Jerusalem – the Holy City. Jerusalem lies about 60 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea and about 38 from the Jordan River. The most ancient name of Jerusalem was Salem (Gen. 14:18). It later became known as Jebus (Judges 19:10,11). It was David that took the city from the Jebusites (2 Sam. 5:6,9) and that is why it is also called ‘The city of David’. It is at this point that Jerusalem becomes the religious and political center of Israel. After the kingdom was split in two, Jerusalem continued to be the capitol of Judah. Afterwards it was plundered by the Babylonians but was rebuilt by the Israelites in 536 B.C. It passed through the hands of Alexander of Macedon, then Ptolemy of Egypt. In 170 B.C. it fell into the hands of Antiochus Epiphanes who set up the image of Jupiter in its temple. Jerusalem recovered its freedom in 163 B.C. and a century later it was conquered by Rome. It was taken and totally destroyed by Titus in 70-71 A.D. When Jesus lived, Jerusalem was the religious center for all Jews whether they lived in Israel or were living elsewhere in the world.

 

(V.32)… and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful.

 

This phrase can be difficult to analyse. Before continuing my question is: ‘why are they amazed and fearful?’ Is it because of what was said in our previous section concerning how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God? Or is this phrase a description of the atmosphere that the Disciples felt as they followed Jesus who was describing what will happen to him?

 

One thing we do know is that they were both ‘amazed’ and ‘fearful’. The word ‘amazed’ (THAMBEO) means to be stupefied or astounded. It is as though they could literally not believe what they either were hearing or presently living with Jesus. There are times when walking with Jesus brings an overwhelming sense of peace and wonder but other times it is just too much for our minds to receive. A bit like when Peter walked on water or when Jesus calmed the storm. The other interesting fact is that ‘those who followed were fearful’. The word ‘fearful’ (PHOBEO) means: frightened and by analogy to be in awe of. Walking with Jesus can be frightening. Think of the persecutions that are described in the book of Acts, especially when Saul received permission to persecute followers of Christ. He brought them to jail and even killed some of them. It is NOT TRUE that once you are born again all will be well. Paul wrote the following:

 

2 Timothy 3:12

Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

(RSV)

 

Please notice that even though the Disciples were amazed and fearful they continued to follow Christ. Far too many because of fear, stop being witnesses of Christ. They shrink away and live a life in the shadows. They are ashamed to be known as believers. Remember what Jesus said:

 

Luke 9:26

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

(RSV)

 

While they were following Jesus the Master he begins to do the following.

 

(v.32)… and again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him.

 

The word ‘again’ tells us that Christ is repeating what he once has said. In this case it is in Mark 9:30-32 where he first spoke of his coming death. Notice that he only takes ‘the twelve aside’. There are things that are meant only for the true disciples. When one follows Jesus on a daily basis as the Disciples did they are bound to learn things that sporadic followers never will. What a lesson for all of us who call themselves believers in Christ! The closer we walk with our Master the more we will be taught deeper insights of our faith. Never miss an opportunity to be with Christ. So Jesus tells them once again ‘what was going to happen to Him’. I believe that Jesus is preparing his Disciples for the coming events that will change their lives – His leaving! We will see that to the very end they did not grasp the full extent of his words concerning the sufferings of the cross. Another reason for studying the Scriptures is that we also will be prepared in life and not be astounded or worried by the current events of this world.

 

2. Jesus tells it all (10:33,34)

 

 33 saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. 34 They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.”

 

There are five main statements that the Lord tells his Disciples. Let’s briefly look at them.

 

The first is ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem’. This is very important because Jesus had to die in Jerusalem. Have you ever wondered why? It is because Jesus is the ‘Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29,36). The Passover Lamb was sacrificed once a year and its blood was poured out for the forgiveness of sins of the Nation. This was done at the Temple situated in Jerusalem. The High Priest would enter the holy of holies with the lamb’s blood and the Lord God would be appeased and forgiveness be given. This was what is called a ‘type’ of Christ in the Old Testament. It pointed to the ‘real’ offering that would come. As I said this Passover celebration was to be done ONLY in Jerusalem. Since Jesus was ‘the lamb of God’ he automatically had to be sacrificed in Jerusalem.

 

The second is ‘and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes’. The chief priests and the scribes were the religious elite. It would be through their hands that the Son would be given over. How ironic is that! Those were the guardians of the Law and the teachers of the multitude. Those who were to prepare the people for the arrival of their Savior - the Messiah, are the very ones that will be the instrument that brought death to Him. Beware of religious people that say they represent God for many of them are false prophets and false teachers. They play the ‘religious game’ for their own benefit! In Mathew 23 Jesus calls them: hypocrites, blind guides and sons of those who murdered the prophets.

 

The third is ‘and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles’. Why would the religious elite hand Jesus over to the Gentiles? Why would they not just arrest him and kill him? Simply because they were under Roman authority and because of this they were not allowed to kill a person that had broken a law. They could beat him and whip him and bring any other form of punishment but not kill a person. It was only the Roman authorities that could do this. For Christ to ‘hang from a tree’ he had to pass into the hands of the Roman authorities. In fact Jesus had six trials! Three before the Jewish tribunals and three before a Roman court.

 

The fourth is ‘They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him’. Jesus was prophesising how he would be handled by both the Jewish and Roman authorities. His death would not be in any way ordinary! He would be hated for no other reason for than saying that he was the Son of God!

 

The fifth is ‘…and three days later He will rise again.” This might be the most unbelievable statement of all. Being put to death and then to live again after three days! Actually the resurrection of the Messiah was the Father’s proof to all humanity that Christ IS THE MESSIAH!

 

Acts 17:31

because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead."

(RSV)

 

I believe that is why so many are ferociously trying to demolish or belittle the death and resurrection of Christ for this is the central point, the corner stone of our faith – Christ died and was raised from the dead to give us victory over sin and death.

 

CONCLUSION

  1. Allow Jesus to lead the way – follow him!

  2. Stay close to Christ and you will learn greater and deeper spiritual truths.

  3. Following Christ is not easy. There is a cost.

 

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The gospel of Mark
45 – James, John and Jesus
10:35-45

35 James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. 40 But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

41 Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John. 42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

(NASB)

 

1. The request of James and John (10:35-37)

 

35 James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” 

 

This story is also told in Mat. 20:20-28 and it is necessary to put the two together to get the full picture of our present segment. In Matthew we see that it is the mother of John and James that speaks for the benefit of her two sons. This can mean two things. First of all their mother can come on her own behalf and speak for her sons without their full consent or second it can also mean that the sons ask their mother to do so because they feel awkward in doing it for themselves. One must remember that this episode in Matthew comes after Jesus tells his disciples the following:

 

Matthew 19:28

Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

(RSV)

 

It may be logical to believe that one follows the other since both speak concerning sitting on thrones. We may presume that Salome the mother of James and John has a motherly desire for the best for her sons and participates in this story. The demand was the following:

 

(v.35)…“Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 

 

You need also to remember that in Mark 9:33-37 Jesus teaches his disciples concerning being humble and serving one another. Telling them that whoever wants to be first needs to be the last. And here we are with John and James who seem to have totally forgotten that lesson. I guess we are all like the two brothers so forgetful about what true servanthood is all about. They were thinking about having the best places in the kingdom of God and what about us are we also always looking for the ‘best’ and forgetting what the true best really is?

 

Notice the tone of the communication unto Christ ‘we want you to do’ and also ‘whatever we ask of you’. It is not a favor but a demand that is made upon Jesus. I don’t believe that we see this anywhere else in the gospels. Their attitude is certainly not from a humble heart. Again I must say that this kind of communication between people and Christ has not changed much in 2000 years. How much demanding is there in our prayer meetings or in our hearts! We want Jesus to absolutely do this or fix that.

We demand and claim what our flesh desires and believe that Jesus is like a ‘genie in a bottle’ which we rub with our prayers. Have you noticed that all who came to Jesus for healing did it in a very humble manner? All the people that did not know Jesus personally had a better attitude towards Christ than these two disciples who have known him for quite a while. It seems that we also can get too ‘friendly’ and forget who Jesus truly is.

 

 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 

 

Notice that Jesus doesn’t get irritated even though what they had done was insulting. You see if he would have gotten exasperated and ‘told them off’ then they would not have been able to receive the lesson that was intended for them. This is the perfect model for all Disciples. When someone annoys us we also should keep our calm and bring something good out of it all. Remember this proverb:

 

Proverbs 26:27

He who digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back upon him who starts it rolling.

(RSV)

 

So Jesus extends his hand and continues what John and James have started: ‘What do you want me to do for you’. At this point it seems that after Salome asks a request for her two sons Jesus turns to them and speaks to both of them.

 

37 They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” 

 

The word ‘grant’ (DIDOMI) means to grant, to give. They turned to Jesus because they thought that only Jesus could give them what they asked for. We see that they recognized his authority and capacity to be able to do such a thing. They wanted to sit ‘one on your right and one on your left’. These were the best and certainly the most honorable places one could have at an important event. This reminds me of the parable of the ambitious guest in Luke 14:7-11.

 

This parable speaks of a person who desires the best place at a wedding. Jesus warns not to do this because someone more important can come along and you will be asked to leave your place for someone else to have and you will be publicly put to shame. The conclusion of this parable is the following:

 

Luke 14:10,11

(10)But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, 'Friend, go up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.

(11) every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

(RSV)

 

This is a lesson that both James and John had not yet understood – humbling oneself and letting the Lord exalt you at his chosen time.

 

2. Jesus’ question and the brothers’ foolish answer (10:38-40)

 

38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. 40 But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

 

In response to the demand of James and John we see that Jesus does not give an answer right away because there were issues that needed to be dealt with first.

 

38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 

 

There was a price to be paid to be able to sit at the right and left hand of Jesus. There is always a price to be paid for anyone who desires to follow Christ whole-heartedly. Jesus makes it very plain when he said the following:

 

John 15:19,20

(19)If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

(20)Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.

(RSV)

 

This price is often forgotten. A true Disciple of Christ understands that he or she can no longer ‘fit in’ with the rest of the world for he has become a child of God. But not all believers see themselves as ready to do so. Why are so many ashamed of following Christ?

 

Jesus says ‘You do not know what you are asking’. Their demand was a foolish one. It seems that they only saw glory and greatness but had not even thought if it was the will of God for them to be able to. Are we also too swift to ask things of Christ without taking time to see if it would be for the greater glory of the Lord? Jesus is saying: ‘Do you think you able to pass through what I will pass through to be able to get the reward of sitting on my right and on my left?’

 

39 They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.

 

They answered in a twinkling of an eye: ‘We are able’. How imprudent it is to answer too quickly. Jesus had just told them ‘you do not know what you are asking’ and they still did not know what they were talking about. May we always take time and think and also pray before we answer important questions.

The cup is often used as a symbol of suffering ( Psalm 75:8Isaiah 51:17Jeremiah 25:15-28) James and John (wanting to sit on his right and left) thought they were strong enough to suffer. Jesus confirms that they will suffer (to a point that they never knew they would) but he also confirms the following:

 

 40 But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

 

The Father has prepared certain places and honors for certain people. This is the Father’s prerogative and not the Son’s. In reality they were asking the wrong person!

 

3. The apostles get upset (10:41)

 

41 Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John. 

 

In the past we have seen that the Disciples talked among themselves concerning who was the greatest (Mark 9:34). What presently seemed to irritate the other ten is that James and John were actually doing something to try to be the greatest in the eyes of Christ. The word ‘indignant’ (AGANAKTEO) means: greatly afflicted, to be displeased. What James and John were doing got the rest of them angry and upset at them. Their ‘best friends’ were back-stabbing them. May we never be the ones that cause strife between brothers and sister in Christ! We need to be very watchful of our actions and our speech.

 

4. What it means to be first (10:42-45)

 

42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

 

Jesus comes to the rescue for this can destroy the fellowship and in part the work of Christ’s training of the twelve – so he steps in. I believe that there are times when we need also to ‘step in’ when the situation in front of us demands leadership from us. Jesus will give an example of what IT DOES NOT MEAN to sit on a throne and have glory and power. He points to something that they could easily identify with – ‘rulers of the Gentiles’ and ‘great men’. He points to them how they unfairly exercise their rule and their authority. The disciples could instantly think of the Roman rulers that treated them with cruelty and understand the words of Christ. Then Jesus tells them what IT DOES MEAN to have authority and glory.

 

43 But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 

 

Jesus says ‘NO’ this is not the attitude that you should have. Being great IS NOT sitting on my right or on my left. Being great is being ‘a servant’ for all and if you desire to be first (as John and James did) ‘you shall be slave of all’. That’s not the picture that the two brothers had in mind. It is also often not the picture that Christians have in mind today.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Don’t make any demands on the Lord – we are just servants.

  2. Don’t make any foolish requests – think before you ask.

  3. Let God glorify you and not the opposite.

  4. True glory rests in serving others.

 

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The gospel of Mark
46 – Bartimaeus by the road
10:46-52

46 Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.”50 Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. 51 And answering him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.

(NASB)

 

1. Poor Bartimaeus (10:46,47)

 

46 Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

 

This is the first and only time that the town of Jericho is mentioned in Mark. Jericho is a city found in Benjamin (Jos. 16:7). It is situated about 25 klm. North East of Jerusalem. It was the first city that was overtaken by the Israelites after entering the Promised Land (Joshua 6). Jericho was later rebuilt on another site and it had also been known as the ‘City of palm trees’ (Deut. 34:3). It flourished so much that it became second only to Jerusalem. It was the residence of the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 2:4,18).

 

Jesus was leaving this town. This story is also told in Mat. 20:29-34 and Luke 18:35-43. Whatever business Jesus had in Jericho it was finished and he was leaving. He was leaving ‘with His disciples and a large crowd’. We have often seen that when Jesus arrives it does not take a long time before a crowd forms to see him.

His reputation grows from day to day and the people of Jericho were more than pleased to have the opportunity to actually see Jesus. The person that this story focuses on is a man called Bartimaeus. In Hebrew the prefix ‘bar’ means ‘son of’ so Bartimaeus was the son of Timaeus. It is written that Bartimaeus was ‘a blind beggar’. If being blind was not enough he had to beg for his sustenance. It seems that his family was not wealthy enough to take good care of him. Being blind made him an outcast in society. Many considered the illnesses of a person as a God given punishment for some sin in their life. Usually no one really wanted to have anything to do with sick people. They even feared that their sickness would fall upon them if they were touched. So Bartimaeus had to beg – that’s all he could do.

 

Please notice that he ‘was sitting by the road’. That was all he could do. He just sat there probably from morning to night. He was by the road because people were coming in and out of Jericho and he hoped that some would give him alms. But today someone would pass that would change his entire life. Jesus still passes by the lives of people and wants to help them.

 

47 When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

 

Let’s not forget that there was a crowd that followed Jesus and when there is a crowd one thing is certain you can hear them coming. There was a different type of noise that Bartimaeus could hear – not the usual hustle and bustle. At one point ‘he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene’. By his reaction we will see that Bartimaeus had already heard of Jesus even if this had been the first time he had been in Jericho. He knew that Jesus was the great miracle worker and a prophet from God. This was his chance his one-time opportunity and he was not going to let Jesus just walk by. How many times can we let Jesus just pass us without calling upon his name to come to our aid?

 

So Bartimaeus ‘began to cry out’. The Greek word (KRAZO) means: to call aloud, to scream. Bartimaeus did not shyly call out to Jesus as though he was holding his breath. He was literally ‘crying his lungs out’, screaming and screaming his name. I believe that we need to learn more and more to call forcefully out to Jesus like Bartimaeus did.

He called him ‘Son of David’. This title given to Christ was more than just being a descendent of David, how would Bartimaeus have known this? The term ‘Son of David’ had a Messianic meaning. To point this out we need only to read the event when Jesus came to Jerusalem sitting on a colt of a donkey in Matthew 21. Notice that in verse five a prophecy is brought forth and the one sitting on a colt was ‘your king is coming to you’. In verse twenty five we read:

 

Matthew 21:9

And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!"

(RSV)

 

The crowd cheered ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’. The crowd expected Jesus to be their coming King, who is ‘the Son of David’ who is the Messiah for ‘comes in the name of the Lord!’ We can easily believe that Bartimaeus actually though that Jesus was the coming Messiah – and he was right.

 

Notice that he asked for only one thing – ‘have mercy on me’. He did not ask for a specific thing, he only wanted Christ to look at him and have compassion and mercy. If Jesus could do that he would instantly recognize his need and (he hoped) bring forth a miracle in his favor. Is it not better to let God decide what is best for us than to always demand what we believe is best! Have you asked Jesus to have mercy on you and heal you from your sinful state?

 

2. People’s disapproval (10:48)

 

48 Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

 

It seems that the crowd did not appreciate Bartimaeus shouting out to Jesus. It is written that ‘Many were sternly telling him to be quiet’. The word ‘sternly’ (EPITIMAO) means: To censure, admonish, forbid. We can understand from this that they were not politely asking Bartimaeus to be quiet – they were strongly telling him to “shut up’. We can see the disdain the crowd had for this poor man. Instead of thinking that this could be his opportunity to be healed and lead a normal life – they just put him down. How different they were from the four friends that brought the paralysed man to Jesus and opened the roof to get him to be with the Lord (Mark 2:4).

 

The word ‘quiet’ (STOPAO) means: muteness, voluntary stillness. They wanted this man to cease calling out the name of Jesus. How many around us are trying to do the same, doing all they can to make his followers be silent about Him? They often succeed but will Bartimaeus cease his crying to Christ? It is written ‘but he kept on crying out the more’. The more they tried to silence him the louder he got! Nothing was going to stop Bartimaeus from trying to reach Jesus – his life depended on it. And so does the life of every person on this planet.

 

3. Jesus calls Bartimaeus (10:49-51a)

 

49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.”50 Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. 51 And answering him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

 

Hearing the cries of Bartimaeus ‘Jesus stopped’. How I love these two words. Jesus stops everything he was doing for ONE PERSON. Remember that the disciples are following him and the crowd of people is following him – a great many people, but ONE PERSON caught his attention. A blind beggar, a non-person, a man that people despised. How wonderful is the heart of Jesus, how great is the Messiah filled with compassion, mercy and grace. If you are crying out to him with a sincere heart as Bartimaeus was – Christ also hears you.

 

Once he stopped he said ‘Call him here’. I wonder how the crowd felt. The one they pushed away and loathed has become the one Christ commanded to be brought to him. Once more this shows me the difference between the heart of man and the heart of Christ. Look how the people changed their attitude towards Bartimaeus for they said ‘Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you’. A minute ago they were crushing him and demeaning him, trying to take away the little dignity he had. Now they are encouraging, cheering and reassuring Bartimaeus. When Jesus speaks –everything changes. Just as the waves and the tempest became still (Mark 4:35-41) so the lives of men are in his hands.

 

What did Bartimaeus do when he heard that Jesus was calling him? We see him ‘throwing aside his cloak’. This was his outer garment. This man was sitting by the road all day long and he was dirty. He instinctively throws off his outer garment for he knew he was unclean and did not want to present himself that way before Christ. What a wonderful spiritual picture of a person coming to Christ and wanting to be unclothed of their sins! Bartimaeus knew who he himself was and who Christ the Messiah was also. He didn’t slowly walk towards Jesus ‘he jumped and came to Jesus’. No one was going to stop him now – Jesus called his name and wants him to come to him. Have you heard Jesus call out to you? Have you turned away from His calling? Are you still sitting on the road of life? What is stopping you from ‘jumping up’ like Bartimaeus did?

 

The BIG moment has come and Jesus said ‘What do you want Me to do for you?

 

4. Bartimaeus request (10:51b)

 

(v.51)… And the blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!”

 

Bartimaeus was not afraid to speak to Jesus, he knew he would not be reprimanded like the crowd did. So he spoke to him and told him the desire of his heart ‘Rabboni, I want to regain my sight’. His most precious, valuable and prised need was to see again. If he could see again then everything would be different. Could you give me my eyesight? The first time we come to Christ our most important need is salvation – the forgiveness of our sins and that is what we should ask for.

 

5. The miracle (10:52)

 

52 And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.

 

In this case the faith of Bartimaeus was strongly manifested and it was his faith that made him persevere and ‘catch’ Jesus’ attention. True faith is always the key to our life as a disciple of Christ. Remember what is written:

 

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

(RSV)

 

Now, is faith ALWAYS the key ingredient for a person to obtain God’s favour? Some people teach that person will not be healed if he has very little faith. In the Gospels we do find miracles where faith has little or nothing to do with the healing or miracle. In Mat. 12:9-14 the man with the withered hand did not even speak or ask Jesus anything and was healed. In Luke 7:11-17 Jesus raised the widow’s son from death and no one asked anything from him. In Mat. 8:28-32 Jesus chased away a demon from a man who asked for nothing. In John 5:1-17 Jesus healed a man who again did not ask for healing he did not manifest any faith needed to be healed – quite the contrary. So NO it is not always the faith of a person that is required but ALWAYS the grace of God upon that person.

 

(v.52)… Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.

 

The point I would like for you to notice is the following ‘and began following Him on the road’. In the beginning of our story Bartimaeus was ‘sitting by the road’, he now is walking with Christ. When our eyes are opened to spiritual truth concerning Christ there is only one thing we ought to do and that is to also begin to follow Him on the road of our life. Is that what you are doing?

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Do you see yourself as also being spiritually blind or have you been born again?

  2. Have you ever cried out to Jesus so he can have mercy on you? If not what is stopping you?

  3. Do you allow ‘the crowd’ to silence you as a Disciple of Christ?

  4. Are you openly able to speak to Jesus like Bartimaeus did? If not, don’t be afraid, just speak with an honest heart.

 

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The gospel of Mark
47 – The triumphal entry
11:1-11

As they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, 2 and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ you say, ‘The Lord has need of it’; and immediately he will send it back here.” 4 They went away and found a colt tied at the door, outside in the street; and they untied it. 5 Some of the bystanders were saying to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission. 7 They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it. 8 And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. 9 Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting:

“Hosanna!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David;
Hosanna in the highest!”

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late.

(NASB)

 

1. Preparing his entrance (11:1-6)

 

You can also read this present story in Mat. 21:1-11 and Luke 19:29-40. The days of Jesus’ crucifixion and departure are drawing closer. This is the beginning of the final phase of the ministry of Christ. It is believed that about three years have passed since he was baptized by John. His triumphal entry into Jerusalem will be his last major public appearance before the cross. In a unique way this is how it should have been if the Jews would have received Jesus as their Messiah. But God had other plans since salvation was also to be given unto all the Gentiles.

 

As they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, 2 and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ you say, ‘The Lord has need of it’; and immediately he will send it back here.” 4 They went away and found a colt tied at the door, outside in the street; and they untied it. 5 Some of the bystanders were saying to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission. 

 

Jesus is heading for Jerusalem but before he arrives he makes preparations for his stay with his disciples. Bethphage was a little village on the eastern foot of the Mount of Olives. Bethany was also a small village near Bethphage on the same side of the Mount of Olives. It was on the road towards Jericho about 4 klm from Jerusalem. It was here that Jesus ‘sent two of His disciples’ on an errand. We see that preparation is important in ministry. May this be a lesson for all of us. Too much time is wasted because of lack of preparation. In my office I have a plaque that says: ‘I did not plan to fail, I failed to plan’. So what were the two supposed to do?

 

“Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ you say, ‘The Lord has need of it’; and immediately he will send it back here.” 

 

Jesus was asking the disciples to do something out of the ordinary. They had to take a colt and bring it to Him. Now the colt did not belong to them and just taking it was not permitted (it would be stealing). Jesus knowing that this might bring up trouble he prepared the disciples with what to do.

 

 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ you say, ‘The Lord has need of it’; and immediately he will send it back here.” 

 

Jesus was reassuring His disciples that everything would go well. Actually, as we will see, this had been prepared before the foundation of the world. Did you know that there are ‘good deeds’ that the Father has also prepared for you before the foundation of the world? As they were sent to get the colt for the Lord so are His present day disciples sent all over the world to do His bidding.

 

Ephesians 2:10

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

(RSV)

 

The disciples trusted the Lord and did exactly what he had told them. Is it not comforting and reassuring to see that everything lies in the hands of God!

 

4 They went away and found a colt tied at the door, outside in the street; and they untied it. 5 Some of the bystanders were saying to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission. 

 

What I also notice is that there were some people who objected to the disciples doing God’s will. There will always be people who try to hinder the Lord’s work. But notice that as soon as the words of the Lord are spoken ‘They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them’ the entire situation turns around and they are able to do as they were told. The Word of God always has to be central to the ministry that the Lord gives his disciples.

 

2. The people’s reaction (11:7-10)

 

7 They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it. 8 And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. 9 Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting:

“Hosanna!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David;
Hosanna in the highest!”

 

It seems that some of the disciples made a ‘saddle’ for the Lord because they ‘put their coats on it’. Once this was done Jesus took his place on the donkey. It is interesting to know why Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. What Jesus was doing is that he was manifesting that he was the ‘servant ruler’ of the people. When a king rode on a donkey it manifested that he was here to serve the people over whom he ruled (Judges 10:4, 12:14) and not to dominate them. On the other hand when a king arrived on a horse it was for political or military purposes. Jesus chose a donkey because he was a servant-king and this is the main theme of the gospel of Mark.

 

8 And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. 

 

The crowd responded by doing two things. The first is ‘many spread their coats in the road’. This was actually an homage that they were giving Jesus. It was a royal homage. We see that the people did this when Jehu became king (2 Kings 9:12,13). The crowd was declaring that they recognized Jesus as their coming king – the Messiah. But the hearts of men are fickle and it will only take a few days before they cry out for his execution! The second thing is ‘and others spread leafy branches’. In John 12:13 it is written that these were palm tree branches. In those days palm branches were commonly used as a symbol of joy and victory. They were also used by the Roman soldiers and the Jews as a symbol of peace (Rev. 7:9,10). This is exactly what the Lord Jesus brought to the people.

 

 9 Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting:

“Hosanna!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David;
Hosanna in the highest!”

 

This was a Messianic prophecy that was accomplished before the crowd’s very eyes. It may be that many understood what was truly happening – the Messiah was with them.

 

Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass.

(RSV)

 

They shouted out ‘Hosanna’ which means ‘save now’. This was a shout of joy coming from the people’s hearts towards their God. The cry ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord’ is from Ps. 118:25,26 which again is a cry of joy unto the Lord God.

 

10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David;
Hosanna in the highest!”

 

This was the promised kingdom that they referred to (1 Kings 2:4, 8:25). At this point if the religious leaders rejected Jesus as the Messiah we see that the crowd welcomed him. They rejoiced at what they were seeing – Jesus entering Jerusalem sitting on a donkey – just as it was prophesised!

 

3. Jesus’ destination (11:11)

 

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late.

 

Was this a sign that Christ was giving. As he entered Jerusalem he headed straight for the temple. This reminds me of the first occurrence where Jesus manifested his goal in life.

 

Luke 2:49

And he said to them, "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"

(RSV)

 

His time had not yet come and after his triumphal entrance he humbly went back with his disciples. I wonder what the crowds thought at this point seeing him going back to Bethany.

 

CONCLUSION

  1. Preparation in life is always necessary. Christ has prepared his triumphal entrance to Jerusalem. Has he entered your heart?

  2. Do you still react with joy and reverence at the thought of Christ in your life? Are you still laying down your coats and waving palm branches before him?

 

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The gospel of Mark
48 – Jesus clears the Temple
11:12-19

12 On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. 13 Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening. 15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; 16 and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. 17 And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.”18 The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.

19 When evening came, they would go out of the city.

(NASB)

 

1. Jesus is hungry (11:12-14)

 

Here we see that Jesus and his disciples were heading back to Jerusalem. He had a triumphal entry but left the Holy City to head back to Bethany.

 

12 On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. 13 Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.

 

It was customary to be able to take whatever fruit one needed from the trees that were on the road-side. This was not against any law and anyone doing this would never be punished. So Jesus and his disciples are returning to Jerusalem because they are but a few days from Passover. It is believed that there were four or five days left before this great feast.

On his way ‘He became hungry’. This provides further proof that Jesus was fully man for he had needs like you and me. He came to a fig tree which brings us to verse thirteen and fourteen. These verses, if not well understood, might seem very strange.

 

13 Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.

 

Passover has been calculated to be in the very beginning of the month of April so we are at the end of March. In Judea we are entering summer and it was very possible that fig trees would bear fruit. Actually the fig tree had fruits before the tree is in leaf but the fruit mature with time. Jesus being hungry ‘He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it’. He was hoping that the tree had mature fruits, that it was ready for harvest.

 

It is written that Jesus ‘found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs’. There was a season for figs but figs could be found on certain fig trees all year round. There are two types of fig trees. The ‘Baccore’ which bears fruits in June. The ‘Kermouse’ which is used for preservatives and cakes, bears fruits in August. Some of the ‘Kermouse’ fig tree (long and dark type) had fruit that hangs on it all winter long. This fruit could be eaten at any time once it was ripe.

 

14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.

 

Expecting to find fruit but seeing none Jesus cursed the fig tree. This entire section is prophetic and must be seen this way as we will see later in Mark 12:1-12. The fig tree is a symbol of Israel and God was expecting fruits from His people but they had none. They were His people, they had received the Law and the Prophets. They knew exactly how they should have lived to glorify the Lord God – but they did not. They were spiritual hypocrites and like this fig tree outwardly seemed to be ready for harvest but had no fruit. The curse that Christ brought forth was a sentence of destruction upon Israel.

Time had come, the Messiah was in their presence but they rejected His very presence for the most part. Because of this, Israel would soon be devastated.

 

2. Jesus is angry (11:15-17)

 

15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; 16 and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. 17 And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.”

 

When you look at the last verse of our last section and we look at what he did in this section we can see something particular.

 

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late.

(NASB)

 

First notice that ‘after looking around at everything’ (PERIBLEPO) meaning: to look ALL around, Jesus took a careful look at the state of the temple. He inspected his father’s house and how the caretakers were looking after it and how it was administered. He did nothing ‘He left for Bethany’. It was after the event with the fig tree not bearing any fruit, after the cursing of the tree that when he came back he begins to execute the sentence he had just brought forth! This was the beginning of the end of God’s patience with his beloved Israel.

 

15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; 16 and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple.

 

The Holy Temple had become more of a market place where one could make business selling different articles such as animals for the sacrifices or exchange monies for Temple money. The people were exchanging the spiritual aspect and reverence to the Lord into a lucrative commercial trade industry. This time Jesus ‘cleans’ the house, by doing three things.

 

The first is that he ‘began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple’. The word ‘drive out’ (AKBALLO) means: expel, send away. In other words Jesus kicked out those who were buying and selling in the temple. People were allowed to buy animals for a given sacrifice. One did not bring an animal on a long trip to Jerusalem, he would buy one once he arrived. The problem was that this was done ‘in the temple’. People had taken their business ‘inside’. There are things that you do outside the temple and things that you do inside the temple. I wonder what the Lord thinks of all these churches where merchandise is sold and publicity is made to go and buy this and that after the conference is finished. A church building is not a place for commerce it is a place of worship.

 

The second is that Jesus ‘overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves’. The word ‘overturned’ (KATASTREPHO) means: To turn upside down, overthrow. The temple had it own currency and since people came from different parts of the world they needed to exchange their currency into temple currency. So there was a commerce for this. We still have them – places where you can exchange your money for the currency of the country that you are visiting. This also was done inside the temple and Jesus vigorously turned every table upside down. By kicking the seats ‘of those who were selling doves’ he was telling them to ‘get out of here’. He was causing quite an upset in the temple.

 

Third is that Jesus ‘would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple’. Again this dealt with the commerce and the business done inside the temple. Jesus stopped all provision of selling ‘goods’. He went to the source of the merchandizing and cut off its foundation. Have you noticed that the religious leaders had let all of this commerce just pass by and had done absolutely nothing to stop any of this? I believe that this clearly manifests their spiritual state. Woe to many so called churches of today!

 

17 And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.”

 

Jesus brings back the true perspective or the true reason for the existence of the temple. It was to be a place of communion between God and His people, a place where one could be in the presence of the Lord a place where forgiveness was to be poured out and worship brought not a place of commerce.

The temple was to be ‘a house of prayer for all the nations’. This was taken from Isaiah:

 

Isaiah 56:7

these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

(RSV)

 

People had changed the House of God and ‘made it a robber’s den’, a place where people would steal from those coming to the temple. Does this not resound in your mind? Does this not still happen? Some churches and ministries still make money from people who come to them for spiritual guidance! What would Jesus do if he would be here today and visit those who say they speak in his name!

 

3. The reaction of the religious authorities (11:18,19)

 

18 The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.

19 When evening came, they would go out of the city.

 

Notice that the chief priests and the scribes did not try to stop Jesus for they had their hand in this by giving permission to do commerce inside the temple.

They did not dare try to stop him because of what people thought of him. The people believed that he was a great for prophet a few days ago he had entered Jerusalem and was acclaimed as a great man from God. Some even thought he might be the Messiah. The religious elite ‘were afraid of Him’, so they set out to see ‘how to destroy him’.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Jesus expects that we bear fruit.

  2. The House of God is a place of communion and not commerce.

  3. Some of our churches and ministries need to reflect on how they are doing things and repent!

 

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The gospel of Mark
49 – Jesus and the fig tree
11:20-26

20 As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. 21 Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. 24 Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. 25 Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. 26 [But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”]

 

1. Peter’s statement (11:20-21)

 

This ‘block’ can actually be separated in two. The first deals with faith (v.20-24) and the second dealing with prayer (v.25,26).

 

20 As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. 21 Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.” 

 

In our last section Jesus, after cleaning out the temple, leaves Jerusalem. We can gather from v.20 that night time had passed and Jesus and His disciples are once again on their way back to Jerusalem (v.27). As it was noted before we are looking at the very last days in the life of Christ. As they did last time they passed by the same fig tree. We can see by this that there were not many different roads to take from Bethany to Jerusalem – there was probably just one main road. Now there was something particular with this tree ‘the fig tree withered from the roots up’.

 

Naturally this has to do with the cursing of the fig tree (11:12-14) which Jesus had done previously. It’s one thing to say something extra-ordinary but it’s quite another for what you said to happen! For the cursing of a tree to actually occur you need to be more than a man for only God can do such a thing. No man has power over nature.

 

The fig tree was ‘withered’ (XERAINO) meaning: to desecrate, to shrivel, and to dry up. One day it has leaves which gave the passerby the impression that the fruits were ready for harvest and the next it is completely dead. Something important is mentioned about this tree - ‘from the roots up’. The word ‘root’ (RHIZA) simply means a root. Remember that this fig tree symbolizes Israel and its spiritual state. On the outside it look pious and spiritual like the fig tree with its luscious leaves. But inside Israel was not spiritually alive and did not bear fruit like the fig tree who had no fruit for Jesus to eat. This tree withered up ‘from the roots up’ just as Israel did. It had dried up spiritually from the inside and the very roots of their attachment to God had become dead. And once the roots dry up the entire life is destroyed. May this also be a warning to all who are Disciples of Christ, if the inside is drying then the outside will be dying!

 

2. Faith, prayer and forgiveness (11:22-26)

 

22 And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. 24 Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. 25 Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. 26 [But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”]

 

Peter is astounded by what he saw and calls out to Jesus for an answer to something that happened that he just doesn’t understand. May this be a model for all of us. When we are confronted with a situation that is out of our reach our natural instincts should be to call out to the Lord and speak to Him about it. Jesus responds first of all by saying: ‘Have faith in God’. When confronting difficult situations or incomprehensible facts of life we must not be frightened but instantly place our faith in God.

 

Mic 7:7

But as for me, I will look to the LORD, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

(RSV)

 

But what is ‘faith’? The book of Hebrews answers that quite clearly.

 

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

(RSV)

 

In the following verse Jesus explains what perfect faith can do. Since no man has perfect faith it is understandable that no man can do what Christ did.

 

 23 Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.

 

Jesus is speaking in what is called a hyperbole. A hyperbole is a figure of speech that contains an exaggeration of ideas for the sake of emphasis. Christ did not mean that one’s faith could do this but accentuates the power of having faith in God. In other words it is faith in God that opens up the doors in doing unbelievable things. A history of 2000 years of Christianity is filled with men and women of great faith that have done great things for the Lord. When reading the Bible it is so important to recognize what type of language is being used for if we don’t we will actually believe (as it is presented to us) that we can move mountains by faith.

 

 24 Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. 

 

Is Jesus giving a magical formula for receiving from God what we desire? A bit like Aladdin who only needed to rub the magic lamp and a genie would do what he commanded? Obviously he is not. First, all that is granted by the Father is according to his own will. Notice in Hebrews 11 how many great saints did not receive what they hoped for! It was simply not in God’s will for them to receive – the time had not come yet. Second, the emphasis is on faith not your own but faith in who God is and what God can do. If we truly have faith in the perfect God of Israel we need to say as Christ did: ‘Not my will, but yours be done’. It is evident that in His prayer in the Garden Jesus had perfect faith yet he placed everything in His Father’s hands.

 

The third aspect concerning prayer deals with forgiveness. How many Christians believe that their prayers are heard and yet are not because of this.

 

 25 Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. 

 

Forgiveness is the third aspect of Jesus’ teaching concerning prayer. The first is having true faith in God, the second is praying according to the will of the Father and the third deals with forgiving others. Here we see that people who do not honestly forgive others are not forgiven by the Father! In other words he will deal with you as you deal with others. If we remain unforgiving God does the same. Does this mean that our salvation is lost? Absolutely not but what it means is that our relationship with God is broken because we do not forgive as He has forgiven. Remember the parable about the servant who owed a fortune to his king and was released from his debt (Matthew 18:21-35) because he begged him? And what the same servant did with his friend who owed him a hundred denarii – he did not release him of his debt because of his lack of forgiveness. Remember the last verse of this story which is the focal point of it all.

 

Matthew 18:35

So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."

(RSV)

 

Beloved make certain that your heart has forgiven everyone of everything before you go to prayer because that is what the Lord God has done to you because of Christ.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Have faith in the person of God and do not rely on your own faith.

  2. When you pray do so in the will of God and not your own.

  3. Be certain that you have forgiven everyone before you pray.

 

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The gospel of Mark
50 – Jesus and his authority
11:27-33

 

27 They came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to Him, 28 and began saying to Him, “By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?” 29 And Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question, and you answer Me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me.” 31 They began reasoning among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ 32 But shall we say, ‘From men’?”—they were afraid of the people, for everyone considered John to have been a real prophet. 33 Answering Jesus, they said, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

(NASB)

 

1. The authorities question Jesus’ authority (11:27,28)

 

In section forty-eight the religious authorities fearing Jesus ‘began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him’ (11:18). We can only assume that they now had a plan and began executing it.

 

27 They came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to Him, 28 and began saying to Him, “By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?” 

 

The ‘they’ are the disciples and Jesus. In our last section we saw that they headed for Jerusalem and came across the fig tree. Once the teaching concerning this tree was over they continued towards their goal which was Jerusalem. In life we must not be deterred from the goal that the Father has set for us. On our walk on the narrow path events will occur (like the fig tree) but these must not prevent us from marching forward.

 

Once he arrived Jesus ‘was walking in the temple’. He went to the most important section of Jerusalem – His Father’s house which he had ‘cleaned out’ a little while ago. It did not take long before ‘the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to Him’. We can see by this that they were on the ‘look out’ for Jesus. Let’s not forget that they had decided to do away with him (11:18). When they saw Him they asked the following questions:

 

28 and began saying to Him, “By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?” 

 

These two questions really have the same answer. ‘By what authority’ or ‘who gave you this authority’ sound the same. What they wanted to know is ‘who gave you permission to act this way and where did you get the capacity to do it’. Let’s keep in mind that THEY thought that THEY were the religious authority and since Jesus had not obtained THEIR authority then they believed that he did not have permission to act the way he did.

 

2. Jesus’ response (11:29,30)

 

29 And Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question, and you answer Me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me.”

 

This is another incredible example of the wisdom that Christ had. He could have told them the answer – ‘It is with my Father’s authority that I do these things’ but Jesus wanted to go deeper and teach them about themselves. So instead of directly answering them he asks them to answer his question first promising that he would answer their question. You see the religious authorities wanted to trap Jesus with their trick question but the tables have turned and Jesus will set his own trap and win.

 

 30 Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me.”

 

If asked, the vast majority of the common folk that saw and heard John would have automatically answered – from heaven. The crowds thought greatly of John because Christ had revealed who he really was:

 

Matthew 11:7-10

(7)As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind?

(8)Why then did you go out? To see a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings' houses.

(9)Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

(10)This is he of whom it is written, 'Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.'

(RSV)

 

Why was it so difficult for the religious elite to see what was so evident? Sometimes the answer is difficult to accept for Jesus had already told the religious leaders that they were spiritually blind (Mat. 15:14). How difficult it is to accept our faults, how blind we often are to our personal sins! The question Jesus asked was quite simple to answer – from heaven or from men.

 

3. The authorities reaction (11:31,32)

 

31 They began reasoning among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ 32 But shall we say, ‘From men’?”—they were afraid of the people, for everyone considered John to have been a real prophet. 

 

The word ‘reasoning’ (LOGIZOMAI) means: To take an inventory, to estimate, to think. Confronted by this seemingly simple question they began to seriously think of all the consequences of their answer. The more they thought the more they understood that this was a ‘trap’ question. There were two possibilities”

 

“If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ 

 

If they answered ‘from heaven’ then the logical conclusion is that they should have accepted that John was the forerunner of the Messiah which would be Jesus. They would have to conclude that they were wrong and would have to bow down before Jesus and worship him.

 

32 But shall we say, ‘From men’?”—they were afraid of the people, for everyone considered John to have been a real prophet. 

 

On the other hand if they said that the baptism of John was not from heaven there were also consequences that they did not want to face – the people. They knew that the people thought that John was a prophet. They had ignored him but not so with the common people. There would have been a riot if they would have spoken against John. So what are they to do? Even today when we willingly deny the truth we may try to reason things but to no avail. Let us never be spiritually blind like they were. May we joyfully accept the Lord’s authority over our lives.

 

4. Jesus’ final response (11:33)

 

33 Answering Jesus, they said, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

 

Having thought and discussed about it, seeing that one way or another they were ‘caught’ with not having a good answer they simply said: ‘We do not know’. The whole point of Jesus asking them a question was that they would reflect and come to the conclusion that he truly is from the Father and that the Father gives him authority to do all these things. But they didn’t want to lose face, their pride had taken over. By not taking this opportunity they missed the chance given to them to get right with God. Are we passing up opportunities that God places in front of us? Do we let our pride get in the way?

 

By saying ‘Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things’ Jesus manifests that he actually had the ‘upper hand’. They had come to try to catch him one way or another but Christ turned their own ‘tables’ upside down as he did with the sellers in the temple.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Before coming to Christ with our complaints and grievances let’s make certain that our heart is pure before him.

  2. When Christ places his finger upon a sin that we have, let us be humble enough to accept the truth and repent.

 

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The gospel of Mark
51 – The parable of the tenants
12:1-12

 

And He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard and put a wall around it, and dug a vat under the wine press and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. 2 At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, in order to receive some of the produce of the vineyard from the vine-growers. 3 They took him, and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent them another slave, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. 5 And he sent another, and that one they killed; and so with many others, beating some and killing others. 6 He had one more to send, a beloved son; he sent him last of all to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But those vine-growers said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!’ 8 They took him, and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vine-growers, and will give the vineyard to others. 10 Have you not even read this Scripture:

‘The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the chief corner stone;
11 This came about from the Lord,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

12 And they were seeking to seize Him, and yet they feared the people, for they understood that He spoke the parable against them. And so they left Him and went away.

(NASB)

 

1. The parable of the tenants (12:1-9)

 

One must know what a parable is and its usage before continuing. The Oxford dictionary defines a parable as: a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels. What we will see in this section is Jesus telling a story (real or invented it does not matter) to bring his audience to understand a spiritual lesson.

 

And He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard and put a wall around it, and dug a vat under the wine press and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. 2 At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, in order to receive some of the produce of the vineyard from the vine-growers. 3 They took him, and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent them another slave, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. 5 And he sent another, and that one they killed; and so with many others, beating some and killing others. 6 He had one more to send, a beloved son; he sent him last of all to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But those vine-growers said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!’ 8 They took him, and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vine-growers, and will give the vineyard to others.

It is written that Jesus ‘began to speak to them in parables’. The ‘them’ refers to the religious elite that had just questioned his authority (Mark 11:27-33). You can see this new section either as a continuing confrontation or a continuing teaching hoping that some will come to the truth. What I see is that Christ continues to communicate spiritual truth to his adversaries. May we never cease to hope to see family, friends and people in general come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

 

This parable must be heard in the context of Jesus dying in a few days and trying to reach the hearts of these men. Remember that they are very familiar with Jewish history and well versed in spiritual matter and the tradition of the elders. They should have understood both the story that Jesus was telling them and the conclusion that he had drawn.

 

Before we continue it must clearly be understood that Jesus is speaking concerning Israel. It is clear from the Old Testament that God considered Israel as his vine that he planted himself.

 

Psalms 80:8,9

(8)Thou didst bring a vine out of Egypt; thou didst drive out the nations and plant it.

(9)Thou didst clear the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land.

(RSV)

 

Jeremiah 2:21

Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine?

(RSV)

 

Another section that you must absolutely read is Isaiah 5:1-7 which describes the disappointment God has towards Israel his vine. Once you have read this section you will easily notice the direct links between what Jesus is saying and what the prophet Isaiah wrote. It is undeniable that Christ makes a direct reference to the state of Israel and how it discarded the will and exhortations of God.

 

(v.1)…“A man planted a vineyard and put a wall around it, and dug a vat under the wine press and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey.

 

Here we see the tender care that the Lord God had for his vine. He first determined a place to plant his vine (in Palestine). Then he ‘put a wall around it’. That speaks of his protection, how he guarded Israel from its enemies. He then ‘dug a vat under the vine press’. He provided everything needed for its growth and well-being. Finally he ‘built a tower’. A high place for looking outward to be prepared in case of an attack. Every detail mentioned is to manifest the tender care and love God had for his people. All he did was for their benefit. Once this was done, once everything was in order and the vine had taken roots in its vineyard the owner ‘rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey’. God left the administration of the vineyard to his people and went away.

 

 2 At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, in order to receive some of the produce of the vineyard from the vine-growers. 

 

Harvest time is the time when the vine should have grapes that are mature and ready for the taking. This speaks of the time that Israel should have been mature, bearing spiritual fruits, and ready for the second part of God’s plan which deals with establishing his kingdom on earth. Remember that the Lord God had done everything so that his vine could grow, be secure and well taken care of. The owner of the vine (God) was expecting a harvest ‘in order to receive some produce of the vineyard’. So he sends a slave to the vine-growers. This represents the Lord God sending prophets and God fearing people to His vine Israel.

 

 3 They took him, and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 

 

This was the vine-grower’s response to the owner of the vine sending someone to get his share. They had no respect for the person ‘beat him and sent him away empty-handed’. In other words they rebelled against the owner of the land.

 

 4 Again he sent them another slave, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. 

 

So the owner is patient and he sends another messenger but when he got there ‘they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully’. Notice that the treatment the second messenger got was worse than the first one. The first one got beaten and the second one was wounded in the head and was treated shamefully. This manifests that the vine-growers despised more and more the owner of the vineyard. This manifests Israel that was growing further and further away from its God, how they became even violent against the messengers that were sent to them.

 

 5 And he sent another, and that one they killed; and so with many others, beating some and killing others. 

 

Jesus continues his parable and introduces new factors to his story. Not only do the vine-growers wound the messengers that were sent now they kill them! Did Israel kill prophets that were sent for them to repent of their ways – yes and this is what Jesus said:

 

Luke 11:47,48

(47)Woe to you! for you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed.

(48)So you are witnesses and consent to the deeds of your fathers; for they killed them, and you build their tombs.

(RSV)

 

Also notice that ‘and so with many others’ by this we see that the Lord God perseveres and send more and more servants to warn his vine about their spiritual lack. May He be blessed for His patience and perseverance! This reveals the heart of Israel that is growing harder and harder – reacting so violently against their Lord.

 

6 He had one more to send, a beloved son; he sent him last of all to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 

 

The parable now speaks of the owner who decided to send his own beloved son. This is a clear picture of God the Father sending His beloved Son into the world. The father in the story thought that the vine-workers would never do any harm to his son for ‘They will respect my son’. In real life Israel should have respected their Messiah, they should have greeted him with respect and dignity – worshipping Him as their divine Savior.

 

 7 But those vine-growers said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!’ 8 They took him, and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard.

 

This is another prophetic picture concerning Israel. In our parable the vine-growers seeing the heir (the son) believed that by killing him they will become owners of the land! This perfectly reflects how the vine-growers (the spiritual leaders in general) also thought. They did not really want God to rule over them and by getting rid of all the messengers (prophets) and now the heir (the Messiah) they think they will continue to rule as they desire. So what did the vine-growers do?

 

 8 They took him, and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard.

 

Not only did they kill the beloved son but they also ‘threw him out of the vineyard’. This is exactly what the religious elite will do the Son of God. They will take him, then they will kill him (on the cross) and they will also ‘threw him out’ because he will die just outside of Jerusalem on mount Golgotha. No one, unless they are spiritually blind, could not have understood the parable Jesus had spoken.

 

 9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vine-growers, and will give the vineyard to others. 

 

This is the conclusion or the spiritual lesson of the parable. It tells them what will happen to them. Once the vine-growers go as far as killing the son of the owner he will unleash his fury against them.

 

(v.9)…He will come and destroy the vine-growers, and will give the vineyard to others. 

 

The taking care of God’s kingdom will be taken away from Israel and he ‘will give the vineyard to others’. These ‘others’ are the Gentiles (for there are only two groups of people on earth).

 

Acts 13:46

Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.

(RSV)

 

We are now in the times of the Gentiles where the gospel is preached to all Jews and non-Jews. All can now enter into a new covenant with God. A covenant sealed with the blood of Christ shed on the cross, a covenant which is perfect and eternal (Heb. 10:10-14). This was a promise that the Lord God had made to Abraham that through him ALL NATIONS would be blessed (Gen. 12:3).

 

2. The question (12:10,11)

 

 10 Have you not even read this Scripture:

‘The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the chief corner stone;
11 This came about from the Lord,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

 

Then, as though to seal his parable, Jesus asks a question. This question points directly to the Holy Scriptures. Since they were the teachers of Israel they knew the Torah very well. Jesus is using the Words of God to ‘drive a nail’ in the story. He is telling them that they are the ones the vineyard owner (God) is talking about. He is also telling them that he is the ‘chief corner stone’ that the builders had rejected! A picture of them rejecting the ‘corner stone’ that the Lord had placed for Israel.

 

3. The reaction (12:12)

 

12 And they were seeking to seize Him, and yet they feared the people, for they understood that He spoke the parable against them. And so they left Him and went away.

 

They didn’t understand anything, their minds were blinded. They wanted to ‘seize him’ but again we see that ‘they feared the people’. The Scriptures testify that ‘they understood that He spoke the parable against them’. What is so unbelievable was that they understood yet they were so spiritually blind that they rejected Christ. Something in them burned against Jesus and whatever proof was set before them they disregarded it.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. May our hearts be open to the Messiahship of Christ.

  2. May we serve the coming King – God’s beloved Son.

 

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The gospel of Mark
52 – Jesus and paying taxes
12:13-17

 

13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. 14 They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” 16 They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17 And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.

(NASB)

 

In our last section we left the religious elite wanting to seize Jesus but since they were afraid of the crowds they refrained from arresting him. By the first verse we can imagine that they went and gathered together and thought about what they could do.

 

1. The trick question (12:13-15a)

 

13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. 14 They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay or shall we not pay?”

 

It seems that the opponents of Christ thought of another attack. They knew that people in general hated to have to pay taxes to the Roman Empire so their trick question would deal with this subject. If Jesus would say that they should pay taxes to Rome then people would rise-up against him. If he would say not to pay taxes then he could be accused of sedition towards Rome. So they thought that this was a win-win situation for them.

 

It is written that ‘they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him’. It is incredible how opposing forces can team-up and be in accord to fight Jesus together! You see the Pharisees and the Herodians normally were common enemies. The Pharisees had a disdain for Rome and hoped that God would establish his kingdom on earth. They loved and taught the tradition of the elders and did not want to be polluted with the ways of Rome. On the opposite of the spectrum you had the Herodians. This was a political party that sympathised with Rome. They followed Herod who was the representative of Rome for that region. They welcomed the reign of Rome and also accepted the Roman culture. In everyday life these two groups of people detested each other but for this cause, because Christ was a threat to both groups, they decided to work together to have victory over him. This is so even today, various groups who are drastically different will join forces to try to demolish any Judeo-Christian belief and walk of life. This was their plan ‘to trap him in a statement’. If they could catch Jesus saying something wrong then they could use this against him. This was their trick question:

 

14 They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay or shall we not pay?”

 

They first flatter Jesus with four statements. We should always be very careful when people who normally do not like us speak well of us in such an unusual way. The first flattery is ‘we know that you are truthful’. How devilish of them! If Jesus was ‘truthful’ (ALETHES) meaning: true as in not concealing, why would they not listen to him in the first place? The second flattery is ‘and defer to no one’. The word ‘defer’ (MELO) means: to be of interest to. Since Jesus was truthful he did not take in consideration anyone or any party when he talked. He did not say one thing to a certain person and something else to another. This is a rare quality that we all should possess. The third flattery is ‘you are not partial to any’ This is a continuation of the second flattery but gives a sense that Jesus does not look to or regard certain people for his own benefit either. The fourth flattery was ‘but teach the way of God in truth’. Notice that all four flatteries are actually true. They were not flatteries because flatteries exaggerate and embellish and this was not the case. Jesus was all that they said he was. But because they had twisted evil minds they thought that flattery was a way to break his defense against them! So here is the question.

 

Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay or shall we not pay?”

 

The ‘poll-tax’ was a tax that everyone who had been listed on a Roman census had to pay. The question dealt with how Jesus felt towards the Roman Empire and their rule over them. Did he embrace them or did he reject their authority? We must remember that Israel was a theocracy – God ruled over them as supreme Lord. But Rome was a dictatorship – Man ruled over them. The poll-tax was not a great one, quite small actually but all women between the ages of 12 and 65 and all men between 14 and 65 had to pay it. As I said before, the people in general despised paying this tax because for them it meant that they accepted ‘Caesar’ as their ruler. It was like paying a tribute or giving an offering to him which would be idolatry. So, Jesus, ‘shall we pay or shall we not pay’?

 

2. The amazing answer (12:15b-17)

 

But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” 16 They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17 And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.

 

Notice that when the Pharisees and the Herodians approached Jesus they used flattery against him. Jesus being truthful and not partial did not react as they did for he began answering them by reflecting upon them who they really were. Jesus ‘knowing their hypocrisy’ (HUPOKRISIS) meaning: to act, actor, deceit. Jesus could see right through them. He knew that they were trying to fool him and planned to use his answer against him. May we also remember that we can not ‘play the fool’ with Christ for he can see right through us! He asked them ‘Why are you testing Me?’ The word ‘testing’ (PEIRAZO) means: to entice, to test. This was no friendly discussion. They were not really interested in the true answer but were looking for any answer to use against him.

 

So Jesus asks ‘bring me a denarius to look at’. A denarius was the standard silver coin in the days of Caesar Augustus. It was a normal day’s wage for a soldier or a day laborer. This was the coin that was used to pay tribute to Caesar. That is why Jesus asked for a denarius.

 

16 They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 

 

This denarius bore the image of the emperor and the inscription "Tiberius Caesar, son of the divine Augustus" on one side and "pontifex maximus" on the other. The Jews viewed the term of "pontifex maximus" (chief bridge-builder) in the sense of high priest. You can understand why both inscriptions were offensive to them. So Jesus asks ‘Whose likeness and inscription is this’. The word ‘likeness’ (EIKON) means: likeness, representation or image. The word ‘inscription’ (PIGRAPHE) means: superscription, inscription. For the coin had a stamped picture of Augustus Caesar and a phrased describing him. The answer was quite simple for they did not hesitate and said ‘Caesar’s’. It may be that they thought ‘we got him – he’s going to say that we should pay to Caesar’. That’s all that they would have needed!

 

17 And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.

 

In his great wisdom Jesus answered perfectly. If something belongs to somebody – give it to him and if something belongs to God – give it to Him also! No one could refute such an answer. There are some Christians today who refuse to pay taxes to their governments because they are worldly and not of God. This teaching manifests that even if we would live in a country as mean and cruel as Israel which was under the ‘boot’ of Rome we still would need to pay what was asked.

 

I wonder if sometimes, as Christians, we forget to give ‘God the things that are God’s’ with our time, energy, capacities, monies and so forth? Do we preciously keep OUR part and openly neglect GOD’S part?

 

And they were amazed at Him’. They just could not believe what they had just heard! They had mastered a ‘win-win’ plan. They were confident that they had Jesus in the palm of their hands for whatever way he chose he would automatically lose. Yet with a few words they had been humiliated before everyone that was there.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Fools will always fail in their relationship with Christ.

 

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The gospel of Mark
53 – Marriage and the resurrection
12:18-27

 

18 Some Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection) came to Jesus, and began questioning Him, saying, 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves behind a wife and leaves no child, his brother should marry the wife and raise up children to his brother. 20 There were seven brothers; and the first took a wife, and died leaving no children. 21 The second one married her, and died leaving behind no children; and the third likewise; 22 and so all seven left no children. Last of all the woman died also. 23 In the resurrection, when they rise again, which one’s wife will she be? For all seven had married her.” 24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken.”

(NASB)

 

1. The Sadducees and their trick question (12:18-23)

 

Before we begin our section I must explain who the Sadducees were. First of all the Sadducees were a religious group or school of thought. One of their main points was that they did not believe (contrary to the Pharisees) that the oral law was a divine revelation from God. They believed that only the written Law (the Law of Moses) had divine authority. They also did not believe in the resurrection after death, or in angels and spirits which the Pharisees believed (to their credit). In other words they were very much in rivalry with the Pharisees. In general the Sadducees were wealthier than the Pharisees and even if they were less numerous this gave them political power. It must be noted that Jesus confronted the Pharisees on more occasions then he did with the Sadducees.

 

18 Some Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection) came to Jesus, and began questioning Him, saying, 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves behind a wife and leaves no child, his brother should marry the wife and raise up children to his brother. 20 There were seven brothers; and the first took a wife, and died leaving no children. 

21 The second one married her, and died leaving behind no children; and the third likewise; 22 and so all seven left no children. Last of all the woman died also. 23 In the resurrection, when they rise again, which one’s wife will she be? For all seven had married her.” 

 

In our last section we see that the Pharisees (12:13) came to Jesus with what I call a ‘trick question’ and they failed to trap him. This was a golden opportunity for the Sadducees to prove that they were smarter than their rivals the Pharisees. So they also came to Jesus with their own ruse.

 

19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves behind a wife and leaves no child, his brother should marry the wife and raise up children to his brother.

 

What the Sadducees were referring to is found in Deut. 25:5-10. Up to this point, what they said was true. They did not mention that a man did not have to do this if he really did not want to. It was an insult for the widow and shunned upon but he did have a choice.

 

20 There were seven brothers; and the first took a wife, and died leaving no children. 21 The second one married her, and died leaving behind no children; and the third likewise; 22 and so all seven left no children. Last of all the woman died also. 

 

As you may notice the story that they invent is so outrageous that it is impossible to believe – even though it is a story! A woman marries one man who dies and then marries his brother who also dies and so on until all seven brothers pass away without leaving her with child. As their premise it is just plain senseless. It is a ridiculous story because they don’t believe in an afterlife and think they can discount it with this fairy-tale.

 

23 In the resurrection, when they rise again, which one’s wife will she be? For all seven had married her.” 

 

They finally come up with their trick question. You must remember that the Sadducees DO NOT believe in the resurrection. If all brothers had this woman for a wife once they rise from the dead who will be her husband? Will it be the first, second or all the way down to the seventh husband? I can imagine a grin on their face thinking that they will prove Jesus wrong. If they can do this he will be declared a false prophet and people will stop following him.

 

2. The fundamental reason for spiritual mistakes (12:24)

 

24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God?

 

This is a very important verse not only for the Sadducees but for EVERYONE to understand. There are so many false teachers, prophets, pastors and so forth today simply because they perform the same mistake as these men did. First of all Jesus tells them straight out ‘Is this not the reason you are mistaken’. Jesus tells them ‘you are wrong – totally wrong’. At this point I can also imagine their faces growing long and their eyebrows sinking over their eyes! Jesus does not fool around with TRUTH. He continues with what grounds he declares that they are mistaken. There are two points that he brings forth.

 

The first one is ‘you do not understand the Scriptures’. When Jesus speaks of the Scriptures (GRAPHE) meaning: document, holy writ he is speaking of ALL of what we call the Old Testament. For Jesus quotes not only from the books of Moses but also the Prophets which the Sadducees do not believe have authority. So they were mistaken because they did not use the entire Scripture to base their belief on. In other words they chose the section(s) that they wanted and left out the section(s) that we unfavorable to them. Still today we see this all the time. People speak in the name of the Lord but use the verses to prove what they think instead of leaving the Scriptures speak for itself. How shameful this is and Jesus openly condemns those who do this.

 

Matthew 15:14

Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

(RSV)

 

Matthew 23:15

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

(RSV)

 

Is it important for us to ‘understand the Scriptures’. Of course it is. It is vitally important so we do not get swayed by smooth talkers.

 

The second ground for them being mistaken is that they did not know ‘the power of God’. Not only did they not know the Scriptures but they did not understand ‘the power of God’. In other words they limited their concept of God and made for themselves a little god that was able to do only certain little things. For them the miracle of life after death just could not be. They believe that angels and spirits don’t exist because God is not that powerful! We may not go as far as that but how many times do we believe that a particular situation can not be resolved. –We also limit God in our thinking. The power of the God of Israel is limitless. I hope you believe this!

 

Psalms 115:3

Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.

(RSV)

 

Psalms 135:6

Whatever the LORD pleases he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.

(RSV)

 

3. Jesus answers the Sadducees (12:25-27)

 

25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken.”

 

The answer is quite simple. People ‘neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven’. One of the purposes of marriage is procreation (having children). Since Adam and Eve were under a curse and were condemned to die, procreation was necessary. On the other hand spirits (good or bad) are beings created to live eternally – they never die. Because of this there is no procreation. This is the point that Jesus is bringing. Once we rise from the dead there is no marriage, no need for procreation since people have now been given celestial bodies (1 Cor. 15:40) that are somewhat like the angels in heaven. They had it all wrong!

 

But Jesus does not stop there, he continues his explanation and goes even further.

 

26 But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? ? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken.”

 

Notice that Jesus will use a verse that is found in the Books of Moses (the only ones that they thought had any authority). He will show them how little they actually knew of the Scriptures! They gloated about their knowledge! There is a difference between knowing and understanding. One can recite entire books of the Bible yet understand very little of what he knows.

 

Jesus makes a statement ‘He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken.’ Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not dead but were alive with the Lord God. Our God is life and gives life. Our God gives live even unto those who have physically died (Rev. 20:12,13). For the second time Jesus says ‘you are mistaken’ but adds the word ‘greatly’. The Sadducees really had no clue about what they were speaking about.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Don’t think that you are smarter than everyone else – you will be surprised!

  2. Use the entire Scripture on which to base your theological understanding and not only the sections that you prefer.

  3. Allow Christ to reprove you when you are mistaken.

  4. There is no marriage after death.

 

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The gospel of Mark
54 – The greatest commandment
12:28-34

 

28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and 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 The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that He is One, and there is no one else besides Him; 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 himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.

(NASB)

 

1. The scribe and his question. (12:28)

 

There are many major players in this gospel: Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, teachers of the Law. In our present section we have another group who are called the ‘Scribes’. Who are they and what do they do? We can find the history of the scribes from the times of King David to the times of Jesus.

  1. It first of all seems that they may have had some sort of duty to record military events (Judges 5:14).

  2. The scribes (SOPHERIM meaning: to write, to set in order, to count) later filled an office with King David and Solomon (2 Sam. 8:17; 20:25; 1 Kings 4:3).

  3. We can also see them as treasurers and managers of the King’s monies (2 Kings 12:10).

  4. In the days of Hezekiah the scribes transcribed old records and interpreted the Law (Jer. 8:8).

  5. After the captivity this office became more dominant as they were the ones who preserved the Sacred books, the laws, the hymns and prophecies of the past (Neh. 13:13)

  6. With time ‘the words of the scribes’ were honored above the Law! It became a greater crime to offend them than to offend the Law! This became the first step in annulling the commands of God in favor of the traditions of the elders (Mark 7:13).

  7. They evaded the Law and tampered with the conscience of men (Mat. 15:1-6; 23:16-23)

  8. They and the Pharisees were constantly denounced by the Lord (Mat. 7:29).

 

(These 8 points were taken from Smith’s Bible Dictionary)

 

28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”

 

The word “arguing’ (SUZETEO) means: to investigate, discuss, reason, dispute. What the scribe was hearing was the discussion between the Sadducees and Jesus concerning marriage after the resurrection. We can gather that this scribe was present when the Sadducees confronted Jesus with their ‘trick question’. Being a witness of this and ‘recognizing that He had answered them well’ he also wanted to talk to the Lord. Now the word ‘recognizing’ (EIDO) means: to know, to be aware, behold. So he knew that Jesus was right and because of this he wanted to know Jesus’ opinion concerning a question he had in mind. We will later see that contrary to the Sadducees this scribe had good intentions.

 

(v.28)… “What commandment is the foremost of all?”

 

Since the Torah was at the heart of Jewish life it was natural for this man to ask this question. There were 613 different laws in the Old Testament but which one was the most important? Which one stood above all the others? Now the word ‘foremost’ (PROTOS) means: best, chief, first of all. So this scribe wanted to be certain concerning the most important of all the commandments. If the answer was important for the scribe it should be just as important, even more, for all true believers today. So let us listen to the answer Christ gave.

 

2. Jesus’ answer (12:29-31)

 

29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and 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.” 

 

Jesus uses the same Greek word for ‘foremost’ (PROTOS) so we know that his answer is in line with what the scribe is asking. There can be no mistake about it. For the first part of His answer Jesus quotes Deut. 6:4,5.

 

The first part of the greatest commandment deals with who God is: ‘The Lord God is one Lord’. This speaks of the ‘oneness’ of God, that God is a single being and no one else is like Him. The Israelites were surrounded by countries who worshipped different gods and idols. By giving what is called the ‘Shema Yisrael’ the Lord God identifies Himself as the only true God'. Jesus emphasises the importance of knowing God before you can do anything else in relationship with Him.

 

The second part of the greatest commandment deals with our love for God. Notice that it is written ‘with all your’ on three occasions. This term comes from the Greek word HOLOS which means: complete, all, throughout. The greatest commandment deals with the ONLY God and also our love towards Him. We are to be ‘complete’ in our worship towards Him. Our relationship with God must envelop our entire being. We must give Him our fullest, complete and total devotion. God does not accept ‘part-time’ worshippers!

 

Jesus goes on to explain the different aspects of life where the Lord God is to be loved. It must be said that the word ‘love’ is difficult to explain. May we just say that loving someone is giving our whole-hearted attention to him. Our entire being is to be involved with our deep attachment to God. It begins ‘with all your heart’. This manifests where our devotion rests. The heart is portrayed as the seat of all of our emotions. We were created as emotional beings and we must encompass this aspect of who we are in our relationship with God. The second is ‘with all your soul’. This refers to who we are for we are living souls. All of me (all the different parts which makes me) should love the Lord God. The third is ‘with all your mind’. This speaks of my intellect, my thoughts and so forth. And finally ‘with all your strength’, with all the capacities that the Lord has allowed you to have. This gives the idea that I should use my God-given gifts and capacities to manifest how important God is for me.

 

31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 

 

Notice that the scribe asked for the first and greatest of all the commandments. Also notice that Jesus gives him more than he asked for! Not satisfied with teaching what is the greatest commandment Jesus moves on to explain the second greatest commandment which deals with people.

 

It is relatively easy to ‘love God’ and not care about people around us! That’s what most of the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the scribes were doing. It is very easy to be comfortable in our own little world while shutting out the rest of the planet. So Jesus knowing that a balance is needed includes a second commandment of greatest importance – our relationship with others.

 

The word ‘love’ in relationship with our neighbor is the same as the one used in relationship with the Lord God. It is a deep attachment which touches our intellect and also our volition. The second commandment deals with our ‘neighbor’. Remember when one asked Christ ‘Who is my neighbor?’ in Luke 10:29-37. This parable teaches us that our neighbor is actually anyone who is next to you – whoever he is. Now we are given the standard of what our love should be for our neighbor. We need to love that person just as much as we love ourselves. Remember what Jesus said:

 

Matthew 7:12

So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

(RSV)

 

3. The scribe’s response (12:32,33)

 

32 The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that He is One, and there is no one else besides Him; 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 himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 

 

The scribe acknowledges that Christ answered wisely. What I would like for you to notice is the last phrase: ‘is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices’. This is so important for us to understand. The Lord God desires our love and devotion and that we treat others just as we love ourselves MORE than all the sacrifices one could offer to receive forgiveness for his lack of love of God and his neighbor. Remember what Samuel said to King Saul:

 

1 Samuel 15:22,23

(22)And Samuel said, "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

(23)For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king."

(RSV)

 

4. Jesus’ declaration (12:34)

 

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.

 

The declaration of Jesus is unique in the gospels. He sees that the scribe answered ‘intelligently’ (NOUNECHOS) meaning: intellect, the mind, mindfully. His reasoning coincided with the thoughts of Christ so Jesus approved. Because the scribe accepted the teachings of Christ on this matter Jesus replied ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God’. The word ‘far’ (MAKRAN) means: at a distance. This gives the idea that the scribe was near the kingdom of God. He was not yet IN the kingdom for he had not accepted Christ as the Messiah. There are people that agree with most of the Christian doctrines but for some reason have not taken a stand for Christ and follow Him. They are near but not yet IN the kingdom. Have you made up your mind? Is Christ your Messiah and have you repented before him?

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Do you practice the first and second greatest commandment?

  2. Are you NEAR or IN the kingdom of God?

 

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The gospel of Mark
55 – Whose son is the Christ?
12:35-40

 

35 And Jesus began to say, as He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself said in the Holy Spirit,

‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet.”’

37 David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; so in what sense is He his son?” And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him.

38 In His teaching He was saying: “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places, 39 and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, 40 who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation.”

(NASB)

 

1. Jesus’ teaching concerning the Christ. (12:35-37a)

 

In our last few sections we have seen the Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes come to Jesus and ask him questions. What we now see is the opposite. Jesus is asking and no one seems able to answer!

 

35 And Jesus began to say, as He taught in the temple, 

 

It was accustomed for Jesus to take every opportunity to teach people concerning the kingdom of God. He preached to masses as with the Sermon on the Mount (Mat. 5-7) and on the last day of the Feast of the Tabernacles (John 7:37-39). But he also preached to individuals like the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-42) and the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). This time Jesus teaches in the temple. It was normal for Jesus to do this. As we will see later, when he will get arrested he will openly say that he taught daily in the temple (Mark 14:49).

 

(v.35b)… “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself said in the Holy Spirit,

‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet.”’

37 David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; so in what sense is He his son?” 

 

The question is a difficult one. The religious elite understood that one day a descendant of David would re-establish a God given throne in Jerusalem. Some even thought that this king to be would actually be the Messiah. The problem deals with the relation between David and the Christ (which means Anointed = Messiah). How could the Messiah be both lesser than David (being his descendant) and yet at the same time be greater than David (being his Lord)? Here Jesus quotes Ps. 110:1. This is a Messianic prophecy, notice that there are two LORDS ‘The Lord said to my Lord’. Who was David’s Lord if not God the Father? So God the Father spoke to another Lord but who is he if not God the Son. So the father told the Son to ‘sit at my right hand until I put Your enemies beneath your feet’. Jesus today is sitting at the Father’s right hand (Rom. 8:34, Eph. 1:20, Col. 3:1, Heb. 1:3, 1 Peter 3:22). So Jesus asks ‘in what sense is He his son?’ Now the Pharisees (Mat. 22:41) were not able to answer Jesus’ question. More than that the religious elite was so humiliated before the crowds that Matthew tells us the following:

 

Matthew 22:46

And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did any one dare to ask him any more questions.

(RSV)

 

2. The response of the crowd (12:37b)

 

Let’s not forget that all of this happened in the open at the temple. Jesus lives in the light. He does not hide as we sometimes do. He is not afraid to bring the truth forward and also teach lessons to those who are for Him and also to those who oppose Him.

 

(v.37b)… And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him.

 

The crowd ‘enjoyed’ (HEDEOS) meaning: sweetly, pleasure, gladly ‘listening to Him’. Why would they do that in this particular case? I believe it is because Jesus had the upper hand with the Pharisees. He ‘shut them down’ with one question. We must remember that in general people were afraid of the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin because of the power they had over them. Remember the story of the blind man that was cured by Christ and how his parents were so afraid of them?

 

John 9:22

His parents said this because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if any one should confess him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.

(RSV)

 

So, for once someone stood up to these men and put them in their place. And the crowd just loved it. Justice was being served and the hypocrites were openly rebuked! No wonder Jesus was loved by the common people and hated by those who proclaimed to be ‘men of God’.

 

This is a lesson for all who are Disciples of Christ. We must not be afraid to stand up for the truth. Paul writes to Titus that he must stand up to some Cretans because of what they say – ‘Therefore rebuke them sharply’ (Titus 1:13). He also tells Titus ‘Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority’ (Titus 2:15). He also tells Timothy to do the same thing (2 Tim. 4:2). People of God need to rebuke when falsehood about God is shared by anyone.

 

3. The warnings against the scribes (12:38-40)

 

38 In His teaching He was saying: “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places, 39 and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, 40 who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation.”

 

Jesus ends this confrontation with a word for the crowd that was present. He warns them: ‘Beware’ (BLEPO) meaning: to look at, behold, take heed. Jesus was warning them concerning the scribes. May we also take heed to what the good Lord has to say for we live in times of great religious hypocrisy! There are six things that the Lord points out.

 

First: ‘Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes’. Some scribes like to make a ‘fashion statement’. They wanted to stand above the crowd and dress so much better than the common people. What a contrast with John the Baptist who was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt and Jesus himself who only had a tunic to his name!

 

Second: ‘and like respectful greetings in the market places’. The scribes loved attention. They manifested it not only by what they wore but also by the ‘greetings’(ASPASMOS) meaning: salutations people gave them as they walked about. Again this is something that Jesus had taught not to do.

 

Matthew 23:8-11

(8) But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren.

(9) And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.

(10) Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ.

(11) He who is greatest among you shall be your servant;

(RSV)

 

Third: ‘and chief seats in the synagogues’. Again this has to do with prominence. The synagogue was to be a place of worship and communion with God. They turned this around and instead of having people focus on the things of the Lord they wanted the focus to be on themselves! Remember Jesus on the night he was betrayed, he washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:5). He was humble and served instead of being served.

 

Fourth: ‘and places of honor in banquets’. Even when they were out of the synagogue they wanted the best. Being invited to banquets they wanted to be at the ‘head of the table’ but Jesus warned that this should never be done.

 

Luke 14:8-11

(8) "When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him;

(9) and he who invited you both will come and say to you, 'Give place to this man,' and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.

(10) But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, 'Friend, go up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.

(11) For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

(RSV)

 

Fifth: ‘who devour widow’s houses’. The word ‘devour’ (KATESTHIO) means: to eat down. These scribes would take advantage of widows and their weaknesses. Paul also speaks of men who take advantage of certain women.

 

2 Timothy 3:6,7

(6) For among them are those who make their way into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and swayed by various impulses,

(7) who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

(RSV)

 

Sixth: ‘and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers’. The scribes wanted to show how spiritual they were. The word ‘appearance’s’ (PROPHASIS) means: outward showing, pretence, show. They made a public spectacle of what should have been done in private like Jesus taught.

 

Matthew 6:5,6

(5) "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

(6) But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

(RSV)

 

Jesus ends with a terrible warning that should make all of us shiver!

 

(v.40)…these will receive greater condemnation.”

 

There will be a judgment and the scribes will ‘receive greater condemnation’. The word ‘greater’ (PERISSOTEROS) means: in a more superabundant way. The word ‘condemnation’ (KRIMA) means: avenge, condemned, damnation. So the scribes that love to do these six things will be judged in a far greater way than others will. May we also be warned not to have such an attitude!

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. The Christ is also the Lord God.

  2. May we never bear the fruits of the scribes.

 

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The gospel of Mark
56 – The widow’s offering
12:41-44

 

41 And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. 43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”

(NASB)

 

1. Jesus observes (10:41,42)

 

41 And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. 

 

What is the ‘treasury’ that Jesus sat down opposite from? Its origin goes back to the early days when the Israelites would bring to the House of Yaweh their tithing, offerings and even spoils of war. We see this as early as Joshua 6:19 and 24. When David secured provisions for the construction of the temple it was placed in the ‘treasuries’. We also see that David made certain that Solomon would build the temple with a room for the ‘treasuries’ (1 Chron. 28:11). Later when the temple of God was plundered by enemies it is written that they carried away its treasures (1 Kings 14:26; 15:15,18; 2 Kings 12:18, etc.) Under Nehemiah, with the rebuilding of the temple, the treasury chambers were also included (Neh. 13:4). This is where the people brought their tithings and offerings of all sorts. In the times of Jesus the ‘treasury’ were 13 trumpet shaped chests that were in the ‘court of women’ for the reception of the offerings of the people coming to worship in the Lord’s house.

 

Easton’s Bible Dictionary writes: "Nine chests were for the appointed money-tribute and for the sacrifice-tribute, i.e., money-gifts instead of the sacrifices; four chests for freewill-offerings for wood, incense, temple decoration, and burnt-offerings" (Lightfoot's Hor. Heb). The apostle John mentions them in John 8:20. With this verse we can imagine that the ‘treasury’ in the court of women was a place where Jesus openly taught in the temple.

 

Notice that Jesus ‘began observing’ (THEOREO) meaning: to be a spectator, behold, perceive. It seems that Jesus was in the ‘women’s court’ where the ‘treasuries’ were and since the thirteen chests were there he simply looked at how people reacted to them. Would I dare say that Jesus does the same today? If he truly is with us ‘until the closing of the age’ (Mat. 28:20) then Jesus – God the Son can not only perfectly be with us but also see everything that we do. As a child of God we are called to remember to do all things for His glory (1 Cor. 10:31). We see that Jesus is also interested in what people do so he watches them pass in front of the treasury chests.

 

What he observed is ‘how the people were putting money into the treasury;’ There seems to be an imbalance in churches concerning money. Either it is over stated – give, give, give or God wants you to be rich, rich, rich – both are incorrect! On the other hand if you believe that God is not concerned with your giving then you are wrong. The text reveals the opposite. In this section Jesus will deal with offerings in relation to our heart. In our church setting it would be Jesus observing what we give when the offering plate passes in front of us.

 

(v.41)…and many rich people were putting in large sums.

 

The first group of people that Jesus noticed were ‘many rich people’. The word ‘rich’ (PLOUSIOS) means: abounding, fullness, richness. There were wealthy people that came to the temple, passed through the ‘court of women’ and before entering the temple they ‘were putting in large sums’. The word ‘large’ (POLUS) means: much, many, largely. So they put in the treasuries a good amount of money. Since they were wealthy they put in MORE than those who were less fortunate. Just like in our churches some who have more give more – or do they?

 

42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. 

 

We also see ‘a poor widow’ that comes along. The word ‘poor’ (PTOCHOS) means: beggar, poor, in distress. WE can see the contrast with the ‘many rich people’. One is rich and gives much and the other is poor and she gives ‘two small copper coins’. The coins that she placed in the treasury were the smallest denomination of Roman coinage available. It is said that it was worth one eighth of a cent. The word ‘cent’ (KODRANTES) means: the fourth part of something, so the poor widow didn’t give much – right?

 

2. Jesus responds to what he sees (10:43,44)

 

43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”

 

It seems that what he saw touched him so much that he wanted his disciples to also benefit from what he had seen. One might say that it is normal that the rich give more and the poor give less that there is no lesson to be learned from this. How wrong we are if we believe this is the case.

 

So Jesus ‘calling His disciples’, the word ‘calling’ (PROSKALEOMAI) means: to call towards, to summon. He calls them to come near him for he has something to say. Do we hear our Master’s voice calling us? Do we listen to the Spirit’s voice when he desires to teach us and guide us? Jesus begins his lesson on giving to the House of the Lord.

 

(v.43)…“Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; 

 

He tells them that the poor widow ‘put in more’ (PLEON) meaning: more in quantity or quality. Now we know that she did not put in ‘more in quantity’ for she gave next to nothing. So we come to understand what Jesus meant – she gave more in ‘quality’! Many rich came and gave good amounts of money and don’t forget that this was publicly done. People nearby could actually hear the sound of all the coins that you would drop in the ‘treasury’. Now why would Jesus demean the rich who were putting a lot of money was it not for the House of the Lord? Was it not for its up-keeping and maintenance? Was it not to pay the salaries of those who worked in it? Was it not also for the distribution for the poor? So what’s wrong with the rich that Jesus was watching? How could they give less than the poor widow?

 

44 for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”

 

It is written that the rich ‘put in out of their own surplus’. The word ‘surplus’ (PERISSEUO) means: in excess, superfluous. It seems that what they gave actually meant nothing for them. It was what we would call ‘pocket money’ or ‘loose change’. What they gave changed nothing in their life. If I have one hundred dollars and give one dollar as an offering does it really have an impact on my life? – No!

 

On the other hand the poor widow ‘put in all she owned, all that she had to live on’. She gave ‘out of her poverty’. The word ‘poverty’ (HUSTERESIS) means: falling short, penury, want. She gave out of her necessity in life, what she needed to buy food and other necessities. When she gave, it was out of her love for the Lord. Her giving also manifested that she believed that the Lord would provide for her. What true love and faith!

 

Do you remember the Lord’s complaint through the prophet Malachi when he spoke of their worthless sacrifices that they brought to Him?

 

Malachi 1:6-8

(6)"A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. You say, 'How have we despised thy name?'

(7)By offering polluted food upon my altar. And you say, 'How have we polluted it?' By thinking that the LORD's table may be despised.

(8)When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that no evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that no evil? Present that to your governor; will he be pleased with you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts.

(RSV)

 

What they brought manifested their hearts towards God – he wasn’t much in their eyes so they gave insignificant offerings. In this story the rich brought insignificant amounts of money – their spare change. But the poor widow offered the best she had not of her surplus for she had none but out of her need!

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Jesus is interested in what we do and what we offer to the Lord.

  2. Let us not give out of our surplus but bring offerings to the Lord that are worthy of his Majesty.

 

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The gospel of Mark
57 – Signs of the end of the age
13:1-27

 

1 As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?” 5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.6 Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. 8 For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

9 “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. 10 The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. 12 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 13 You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 15 The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house; 16 and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat. 17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 But pray that it may not happen in the winter. 19 For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will. 20 Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days. 

 

21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him; 22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.

24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.

(NASB)

 

(I believe in the rapture of the church, the reign of the Anti-Christ, personal coming of Jesus Christ, the millennium, and the final battle of Armageddon and finally the restoration of all things the way they were intended by the Lord God. The subject is so vast that only a quick overview of events will be mentioned in this section.)

 

1. Questions asked (13:1-4)

 

1 As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”

 

 

This section occurs after Jesus openly condemns the spiritual leaders who were in the temple. We can see that Jesus left them ‘As He was going out of the temple’. Although the religious elite had been publicly humiliated before a crowd of people there was nothing that they could do. They left him unharmed. It is at this point that the disciples manifest interest in the beauty of the temple: ‘behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings’. The disciples were looking at the temple and feasting their eyes on its superb architecture, asked Jesus to participate in their wonder.

 

2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

 

Instead of agreeing with his disciples, which he could have, Jesus projects he future of the temple. Now there is a great lesson to be understood here. There are things that are apparent and things that will become apparent. Our eyes should be fixed on the things that will become apparent in the future. The way we see things should reflect how the Lord God sees them. The disciples saw a wonderful building before them but Jesus saw its destruction and desolation: ‘Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down’.

We know that this happened in 70 a.d. when General Titus destroyed Jerusalem and crushed its rebellion against Rome. It is important to understand that since that time the Jewish people have had no legitimate place to offer a sacrifice for the atonement of their sins.

 

3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately, 

 

Being intrigued by Jesus’ statement four of his disciples (the original four) come to him for a private chat. The Mount of Olives is just East of Jerusalem and you can see the city afar off. It was part of a small mountain chain and it was richly planted with trees. People often came to this Mount to escape the busy city of Jerusalem. Here they could find themselves in a calm and cool environment especially during the hot summer season. Why only these four disciples – we don’t know. May I suggest that, as with people in general, some are more curious than others?

 

4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?” 

 

Their question is like a coin, it has two sides. The first is ‘when will these things be’ and the second ‘what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?’ So they wanted to know when it was going to happen (the destruction of the temple) and what are the coming signs that this will happen. One must not forget that the temple was at the very heart of the Jewish existence. Hearing Jesus say that it will be destroyed was unheard of. No one thought that the temple would ever be devastated again.

 

2. Concerning the Tribulation period (13:5-23)

 

5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.6 Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. 8 For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

9 “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. 10 The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. 12 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 13 You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 15 The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house; 16 and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat. 17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 But pray that it may not happen in the winter. 19 For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will. 20 Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days. 

 

21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him; 22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.

 

I must point out to you again that this is just an overview and that you should read good books in relation to the end-times.

 

2. A - The warnings of Jesus (12:5-8)

 

5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.6 Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. 8 For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

 

His first warning concerns imitators that will come after he departs. Their goal is to: ‘misleads you’. The word ‘mislead’ (PLANAO) means: to cause to roam, to go astray. Some will come and have a secret desire to separate people from the truth. They will do this by lying saying ‘I am He’. False prophets will declare lies to mislead people even saying that they are Christ! How many have already come and declared to be prophets of God saying that the return of Christ would be on a given day! How many have declared that the end-times have already begun! Jesus was right and will ever be right!

 

His second warning deals with ‘wars and rumor of wars’. He tells his disciple ‘do not be frightened’ because ‘those things must take place; but that is not yet the end’. People are always afraid when war is on the rise and many believe that each ‘great war’ will be the end of the world. But Jesus says no it’s not the end yet. Since the nuclear age the world has been under constant threat of annihilation but true believers know that men will not destroy the world in such a war.

 

His third warning deals with four aspects: the rising of one nation against another, kingdoms against each other, earthquakes on the rise and also famines. But again we are told ‘These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs’. The word ‘beginning’ (ARCHE) meaning: a commencement, order of time. The disciples were asking ‘when will these things be?’ and Jesus begins to set this in a time-frame to answer them. All these warnings lead up to the ‘when’ they were asking about. All these things mentioned are not the ‘when’ but ‘the beginning of birth pangs’. Similarly as a woman has her contractions she knows that the time is coming for her to give birth.

 

2. B – The coming sufferings of his disciples (13:9-13)

 

9 “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. 10 The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. 12 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 13 You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

First Jesus said to be on your guard for false prophets and people saying ‘I am He’. Now Jesus tells them to also ‘be on your guard’. The word ‘guard’ (BLEPO) means: behold, beware, and take heed. Our attention must focus on Jesus’ warnings because far too many Christians are sleeping instead of being alert! The unbelievers will ‘deliver you to the courts’. The word ‘deliver’ (PARADIDOMI) means: betray, bring forth or put into prison. True believers will be persecuted by the civil authorities. This began shortly after the ascension of Christ when Peter and John were first arrested in Acts four. Throughout history Christians have been persecuted. It is said that more Christians were killed in the 20th century than all the preceding centuries combined! Once they have been captured ‘you will be flogged in the synagogues’. The word ‘flogged’ (DERO) means: to scourge, beat, smite. Believers will be greatly mistreated but what is unbelievable is that this will be done ‘in the synagogues’! The synagogues were places of worship not places of torture.

So you can see what type of ‘anti-Christian’ climate will exist. People will take pleasure in hurting people in houses of worship.

 

There is a reason for all of this and Jesus says ‘you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them’. Since Acts 1:8 we are called to be witnesses of Christ and this will continue until the coming of the end-times. The word ‘testimony’ (MARTURION) means: to give evidence, to testify. The testimony of the risen Christ will be brought even to the highest ranks of this world’s system.

 

10 The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 

 

In the ‘Great Commission’ (Mat. 28:19) the apostles were told to ‘make disciples of all nations’. To accomplish this, Christians will testify of Christ by their life and also by their verbal testimony ‘to all nations’.

 

11 When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. 

 

Hearing all of this it is normal that fright builds up in one’s heart and one may become faint in his faith – even want to hide the truth about it. In verse eleven Jesus encourages his disciples. He tells them ‘do not worry beforehand’. The word ‘worry’ (PROMERIMNAO) means: to be anxious in advance. This makes me think of when Peter was jailed and in the middle of the night when he was sleeping an angel woke him up to free him (Acts 12). And also of Paul and Silas who were singing songs while in prison (Acts 16). These men did not ‘worry beforehand’!

 

Now why were they not to be worried simply because:

 

(v.11)… but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. 

 

Christ gives the assurance that the Holy Spirit will be with them and just ‘say whatever is given’. The word ‘given’ (DIDOMI) means: to give, bestow, grant. It is the Holy Spirit who will give them what to say. So they will not need to think about a defense before the courts. It is reassuring that God will be with us in every circumstances for He said: ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Heb. 13:5).

 

12 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 13 You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

 

Jesus now speaks of the sufferings that his disciples will receive from their own families. Hatred will bring betrayal and betrayal will bring forth death. Ferocious animosity will not only be between brothers but also ‘and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death’. Parents will deliver up their children to the authorities and children will do the same towards their parents and all ‘will be put to death’.

 

But why all this hate? What is the source of all this revulsion? Jesus says ‘You will be hated by all because of My name’. It is because true believers belong to Christ and the world hates the Messiah.

 

John 15:18,19

(18)"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.

(19)"If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

(RSV)

 

Jesus ends this part by saying something that has troubled many believers throughout the centuries. Many believe that because of this phrase we can lose our salvation!

 

(v.13)… but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

 

Dr. Thomas Constable gives a clear analysis of this phrase:

 

The last part of Mark 13:13 states a general principle. Faithful endurance of persecution to its end results in deliverance. Disciples who endure their persecution faithfully to the end of that persecution will experience deliverance from it while they are alive. Disciples who endure their persecution faithfully to the end of their lives will experience deliverance from it by death. Disciples living just before Jesus returns who endure their persecution faithfully to the end of the present age will experience deliverance at Jesus" second coming.’

 

When Jesus says: ‘he will be saved’ the word ‘saved’ (SOZO) means: to save, deliver, protect. It is used in a vast variety of meaning and contexts. Often we automatically think of being ‘saved’ having to do with salvation. But many times it has nothing to do with it. In Mat. 8:25 the disciples cry out to Jesus ‘save us’ (SOZO).

It was from the storm. In Mat. 9:21 the same Greek word is used (SOZO) by the woman with the flow of blood to mean ‘made well’. In Mat. 14:30 Peter cried out (SOZO) to Jesus ‘Lord save me’ when he began to sink in the sea.

 

The context has nothing to do with personal salvation from the judgment to come for His sacrifice is perfect and eternal (Heb. 10:10-14). It has to so with the persecution of Christians and their deliverance from their persecutors. Even if deliverance comes through the death of the believer, let us remember what is said:

 

John 3:36

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.

(RSV)

 

2. C – The coming of the abomination (13:14-18)

 

14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 15 The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house; 16 and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat. 17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 But pray that it may not happen in the winter. 

 

Once the scene is set and the world is ready, the Abomination of Desolation will appear. The Book of Daniel speaks of this unique person in chapters 11 and 12. With his power he will be able to go to war against God’s people and institutions. He will enter into conflict with all that is holy on earth and systematically win. He will replace sacrifices to the Lord by having(or forcing) people to worship him. His goal is to reign in Jerusalem as God himself. When these day will appear Jesus says: ‘flee to the mountains’. Don’t go back home to get something, not even a coat, just ‘flee’ away from where you are. He also thinks of the tragedy of being pregnant and having nursing babies ‘in those days’. How difficult it will be for them to ‘flee’. Being warned. Jesus says: ‘But pray that it will not happen in the winter’; which would make everything so much more difficult. One will need to cry out to God in those dreadful days for He will be their only consolation and hiding place.

 

2. D - The time of tribulation (13:19-23

 

19 For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will. 20 Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days. 

21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him; 22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.

 

Jesus is describing the ‘time of tribulation’. The word ‘tribulation’ (THLIPSIS) means: pressure, afflicted, persecution. This period of time will be one of great persecution that ‘has not occurred since the beginning of creation which God created’. Nothing has ever been seen to be as terrifying as the time of tribulation. When you think of all the horrors of the past: wars, natural devastation, pestilence, plagues and epidemics one can not imagine the terrors that will come about. And not only that Jesus continues and says: ‘and never will’. This world-wide period of tribulation, this reign of the antichrist will never be followed by anything as hideous in earth’s history either!

 

 20 Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days. 

 

The grace of God is also manifested in mankind’s darkest hours. It is written that the Lord God will ‘shortened’ those days’. The word ‘shortened’ (KOLOBOO) figuratively means: to abridge. The Lord God will reduce this period of time. One might ask why? The answer is because ‘no life would have been saved’. The antichrist would have systematically killed everyone on earth. Here we see the true face of our spiritual enemy. That is why one of the names given to him is Abaddon which means ‘the destroyer’ (Rev. 9:11). It is written ‘but for the sake of the elect’;

The elect (EKEIKTOS) meaning: favorite, chose, elect. In the Old Testament it is the nation of Israel (Deut. 7:6) and those who would enter into covenant with Yahweh. In the New Testament God adds all those who call upon the name of Jesus will be saved (Acts 2:21) and become God’s elect (Col. 3:12). So for those people God will shorten the days of tribulation.

 

2. E – One last warning. (13:21-23)

 

21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him; 22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order tolead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.

 

He returns to the first warning in 13:5 about false prophets telling people ‘here is the Christ’ or ‘He is there’; as though false prophets envelop this entire time period. He tells us ‘do not believe him’. This is plain to understand yet so many today follow preachers and teachers who flood their cursed gospel upon the earth.

 

22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.

 

These false Christs and false prophets will be able to do unbelievable signs and wonders. But their desire is to ‘lead astray’ (SPOPLANAO) meaning: to pass astray, to err. Their power will come from the evil one himself (Rev. 13:2) who gives it to his servants. They will do all they can to lead the believers astray that is why we need to take heed as we see in the following verse.

 

23 But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.

 

Knowing that these things will one day come it is the responsibility of the Disciple of Christ to understand what is happening and prepare himself. Jesus has ‘told you everything in advance’ so take heed.

 

3. Concerning the Second Coming (13:24-27)

 

24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.

 

Jesus continues his discourse on the end-times. We are now at ‘after that tribulation’. This describes the grand return of the ‘Son of Man’. Jesus often referred to himself by using this title (Mat. 8:20; 9:6; 11:19). The universe will react to his coming. The ‘sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will be falling, and the powers that are in heaven will be shaken’. I can not imagine the type of celestial catastrophes described here but no one will miss the coming of the ‘Son of Man’. Jesus will return with ‘great power and glory’. He will be ‘coming in clouds’. He will manifest all of his glory to the entire human race. What a grand arrival for all of his enemies to see!

 

27 And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.

 

His angels will have one task to do and that is to ‘gather His elect from the four winds’ that is from the four corners of the world. ‘From the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven’. Wherever they are they will ‘gather together ’(EPISUNAGO) meaning: to collect upon the same place. All the true believers will be gathered together. I wonder what would be the number of the elect present. This reminds me of the lament of Christ when he stood before the Holy city.

 

Mat. 23:37

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

(RSV)

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. The end-times signs are difficult to be certain of but we can be certain of what we do know. Difficult times are coming but our Lord will triumph.

 

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The gospel of Mark
58 – The day and the hour
13:28-37

 

28 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 

32 But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

33 “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. 34 It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. 35 Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’”

(NASB)

 

1. The parable of the fig tree (13:28-31)

 

This is actually a continuation of the sermon that Christ is giving concerning the end-times. He comes with two ending conclusions. The first is explained through a common fig tree.

 

28 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 

 

Jesus desires his disciples to ‘learn’ (MANTHANO) meaning: to learn, to understand. He tells them all he can about the end-times so that they can understand them. He does not want to leave them in the dark concerning these times. Although they are not told everything they are given hints so that they can perceive that they are on the way of becoming true. So Jesus speaks of a fig tree. As we have already seen they were very common in Israel and there were different species. But they all had certain things in common. All had leaves and all bore fruit. It is wonderful how the Lord uses common objects to bring forth spiritual lessons.

So he explains that when a branch ‘has already become tender and puts forth its leaves’ then people are certain that ‘summer is near’. One goes with the other. I could say ‘when you see the sun going down you know that night time is upon you’. It is a fact of nature that can not be denied for both go hand in hand.

 

29 Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 

 

So when you will see all these signs that I have spoken about come closer and closer (as the leaves on the fig tree) ‘recognize’ (GINOSKO) meaning: to know, to be aware of, perceive. What are we to know and understand is – ‘that He is near, right at the door’. I must tell you that the pronoun ‘HE’ is actually ‘IT’ in the Greek! It is difficult to know exactly what Jesus is referring to because ‘it’ can be either the return of the Messiah or ‘it’ can also refer to the destruction of the temple. On the other hand ‘it’ can also refer to both since some prophecies have a double occurrence in time.

 

30 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 

 

If this is a double-prophecy then it is easy to understand. The ‘generation’(GENEA) that Jesus is speaking of ‘will not pass away until these things take place’. Meaning that this will happen within a person’s life time. If it is to be taken as an end-time event (the return of the Messiah, antichrist, etc..) then the term ‘generation’ (GENEA) which means: an age, generation or nation can also refer to the nation of Israel which ‘will not pass away until these things take place’. Either way or both ways work very well with the text. I believe that Jesus is saying that this generation will see the destruction of the temple and that Israel (as a nation) will not become extinct and will see the return of the Messiah.

 

Jesus puts a ‘seal’ on what he has just said:

 

31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 

 

It is a solemn declaration that these things will happen. It also manifests the deity of Jesus because NO MAN can guarantee that his words will last for ever!

 

2. The day and the hour (13:32-37)

 

32 But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

33 “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. 34 It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. 35 Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’”

 

Verse thirty two is so important and has become the stumbling block of a great many ‘false prophets’. There are so many people that have tried to determine the ‘day’ that these things will happen but ALL have been proven false. The bible is very clear ‘no one knows’! Absolutely NO ONE, not ‘even the angels in heaven, nor the Son’. The only person who does know is ‘the Father alone’. So stop believing all these false teachers and preachers – NO ONE KNOWS. Now some say that if the Son does not know, then that means that he is not God! They forget that Jesus as the Son of Man does not know. When he took on flesh he emptied himself of certain glories (Phil. 2:5-11) and became a man.

 

33 “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. 

 

If the disciples do not know the ‘when’ of these occurrences what are they to do? First they need to ‘take heed’ (BLEPO) meaning: behold, beware, to look at. Jesus is saying that the disciples should keep an ‘eye open’ for these signs. If the generation in Jesus’ time saw the destruction of the temple the present day disciple must keep his ‘eyes open’ to see them coming. Do you remember when Jesus asked some of his disciples to stay awake with him and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane? They fell asleep instead Mat. 26:36-46). This is what Jesus does not want us to do – to fall asleep spiritually! The second is ‘keep on the alert’. In the Greek it speaks of (PROSEUCHOMAI) meaning: pray, supplicate. Unfortunately we may miss the Greek meaning of the text. It truly gives the idea that one should be aware of these things coming but also that one should pray to the Father because they are coming. Now why should someone be alert and pray? Because people do not know when the ‘appointed time’(KAIROS) meaning: proper time, will come.

 

34 It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. 35 Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’”

 

To encourage his disciples to always be alert Jesus tells a parable. Actually this story talks about what the disciples ought to do until the end-times arrive. He first speaks of ‘a man’, this is Jesus himself. He goes ‘away on a journey’ – that is goes back to his Father in heaven. But before he leaves he does these things:

  • putting his slaves in charge’ – since he leaves he gives authority to his slaves (as he gave authority to his disciples to carry on)

  • assigning to each one his task’ – they all had their specific work to do (as the disciples have different ministries and spiritual gifts)

  • commanded the door keeper to stay on the alert’ – the doorkeeper of the sheep pen needed to be alert and keep the sheep in safety. (as the disciples need to be watchful for enemies on the rise)

 

I imagine that you have noticed that between verses 34 and 37 Jesus says three times to be ‘alert’ (GREGORENO) meaning: to keep awake, to be vigilant. We all recognize the importance of repetition in the Scriptures! We are to be alert because:

  • you do not know when the master of the house is coming’ meaning that we do not know when Jesus will return so we should be busy doing what he has asked us to do.

  • whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning’ giving the idea that there is not a single part of the day that a disciple may be relieved from being alert.

  • in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep’. What shame the disciple will feel when the Master comes suddenly and he is found at fault!

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. We do not know when the Messiah will come back and until he does we need to stay alert!

 

 

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The gospel of Mark
59 – Jesus is anointed
14:1-11

 

Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him;2 for they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise there might be a riot of the people.”

3 While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head. 4 But some were indignantly remarking to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted? 5 For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they were scolding her. 6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. 9 Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”

10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. 11 They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.

(NASB)

 

1. Planning ahead (14:1,2)

 

Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him;2 for they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise there might be a riot of the people.”

 

We know that Jesus was sacrificed (killed) on the day of Passover for that is the day that the sacrificial lamb was offered as a sin offering for the entire nation. Our text says that the ‘Passover and Unleavened Bread were two days away’ this means that the Lord Jesus is two days away from His death on the cross.

 

The Passover was instituted in Exodus twelve. Just before the Israelites were going to be freed from Egypt a perfect lamb had to be killed and its blood applied to the posts of their houses. When the Lord would strike all the firstborn of Egypt He would see the blood of the lamb and ‘Pass over’ the Israelites leaving them untouched (Ex.12) from this plague of destruction.

The liberation from Egypt was to be celebrated from generation to generation to remind the Jews of the grace of God. When God’s people ate the pascal lamb they also had to eat ‘unleavened bread’ with bitter herbs to go along with it (Ex. 12:8). This was to remind them of the bitter life they had in Egypt before God intervened for them. The feast of the Passover was one of the three ‘Great Feasts’ of Israel and it is also our context for this section.

 

(v.1)… and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him;2 for they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise there might be a riot of the people.”

 

The religious elite ‘chief priests and scribes’ had been seeking to get rid of Jesus for a while and since their plans had all failed they once again planned to strike out against Him. They ‘wanted to seize Him by stealth’. The word ‘stealth’ (DOLOS) means: decoy, trick, bait or craft. Their plan was not to confront Jesus with the actual truth found in the Scriptures. They had tried before and had always been stumped by the Lord. So they decided to get rid of Jesus in a way that was not honorable – by trickery. Why did they want to ‘seize Him’? They wanted to ‘kill Him’; to once and for all get Jesus out of their way so that they could spiritually rule over the people in peace and by doing so keep them in spiritual darkness. They wanted to kill Jesus but ‘not during the festival, otherwise there might be a riot of the people’. They knew that he was loved, admired and even considered a prophet by the people. Had they not welcomed him with great honors when he entered Jerusalem sitting on a donkey?

 

2. The broken vial (14:3)

 

3 While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head. 

 

We know that Jesus was in Bethany which was a few kilometers from Jerusalem. Bethany was the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus which Jesus had raised from the dead. Bethany was also the home of a man called ‘Simon the leper’. There is no other mention of this man in the New Testament. What is to be noted is that this man had probably been cured by Jesus and he could now have a social life. When he was a leper people were forbidden to have any contact with him fearing to also catch his disease. We can see that Simon was grateful unto Jesus because he had cured him – his house was open to the Master. So should all true believers also be eternally grateful to Jesus for curing them of the most dreadful of all diseases – sin! Should not our homes and our hearts always be open to receive Christ?

 

(v.3)… and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head. 

 

While they were at the table ‘there came a woman’. Mark does not tell us who she is but in John 12:3 we are told that it is Mary the sister of Lazarus. If you read this event in John 12 you will find two facts that might sound troubling. The first is that in Mark it was two days before Passover and in John it was six days before the Passover. Is this a mistake? Actually the Passover was a feast that lasted seven days. So depending on which day of the seven day Passover you are speaking about both could be right. The second is that in John it seems that this meal was in the house of Marty, Martha and Lazarus while in Mark it is in the house of Simon the leper. When you read the text in John closer you see that the supper was given in Bethany (where all four lived) but it was Simon who received Jesus and Mary, Martha and Lazarus were invited guests because of their close friendship with Christ.

 

Now Mary comes to Jesus while he was at the table with an ‘alabaster vial of very costly perfume or pure nard’. Alabaster was a very fragile stone that would be cut and shaped into various shapes. Alabaster is also sometimes called onyx marble. It is made of a translucent carbonate of lime and was prized because it kept perfume intact. This small vial contained ‘pure nard’. This nard (also called spikenard) was an aromatic herb of the valerian family. It was imported from Arabia, India and the Far East. The vial was broken and she poured it ‘over His head’. This is one of the reasons why this ‘ointment’ was to be deemed so precious to the Lord.

 

3. The resentment of some disciples (14:4,5)

 

 4 But some were indignantly remarking to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted? 5 For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they were scolding her. 

 

Some were indignant’. The gospel of John (12:4) tells us that the main character who resented Mary for doing this was Judas Iscariot. Now there will always be people who resent the fact that someone does some good. This is just because they would not have done it that way or not at all. May we be very careful not to resent other Christians for doing any type of good that we may think is unwise! You see these disciples believed that ‘this perfume had been wasted’. Here we see the true heart of Judas. He could not accept that Jesus would be given this offering of perfume but would have wanted it to be ‘sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor’.

Three hundred denarii was worth one year’s wage for a man of labor. Mary was offering a year’s worth of income! What does that say about her heart and love for Christ!

 

In John there is a verse that gives us more light into the heart of Judas.

 

John 12:6

This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it.

(RSV)

 

Judas may have looked very ‘humane’ by saying ‘and the money given to the poor’. But he was a hypocrites since he was the treasurer of the group (John 13:29) he would have desired to have all that money in his hands! John 12:6 tells us that Judas Iscariot ‘was a thief’ and that he ‘was used to take what was put into it’.

 

(v.5)…And they were scolding her. 

 

The word ‘scolding’ (EMBRIMAOMAI) means: to snort in anger, to blame. So they were openly angry with what she did and they were publicly blaming her for what they thought was ‘wasted money’. It is not for us to decide how a person’s money is to be spent for the Lord. Even if we do not understand or would not have done it, it is between the Lord and them. How cold hearted are some disciples, how little have they learned from the Master!

 

4. Jesus’ rebuke (14:6-9)

 

6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. 9 Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”

 

The first thing He said was ‘Let her alone’. This is easy to understand, Jesus is saying ‘stop it’ or ‘that’s enough’. I can imagine that his voice grew louder as these words came from his mouth. He would not have a disciple act that way with Mary. This is not the way any disciples should act with a fellow believer. The second thing was ‘why do you bother her’ The word ‘bother’ (KOPOS) means: to cut, toil or pain. It seems that the disciples were very mean in the eyes of the Lord. Jesus saw the harm that they were doing to Mary. We need to understand that words do ‘cut deep’ and profoundly hurt.

We should always watch the words that come out of our mouths and be certain that they edify (Rom. 14:19; 1 Cor. 10:23; 1 Thes. 5:11). The third thing he says is ‘She has done a good deed to Me’. Here Jesus is ‘setting them straight’. Some disciples thought she was foolish but Christ says that what she did was ‘a good deed’. Now the word ‘good’ (KALOS) means: beautiful, valuable, virtuous. They thought this was ‘not good’, Jesus says it was ‘very good’. This reminds me of the following verse:

 

Isaiah 55:8

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD.

(RSV)

 

The fourth thing he said was:

 

7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. 

 

The very thought that one day because of greatness of man’s heart he will eradicate poverty from the world is absurd. It is very clear from these words that we will always have the poor among us. What the Lord says is that we should help them ‘whenever you wish’. BUT Mary did the right thing because ‘you do not always have me’. In verse eight and nine Jesus explains WHY she had done a ‘good deed’.

 

8 She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. 9 Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”

 

Without knowing it Mary had done the prophetic act of anointing ‘My body beforehand for the burial’. We must remember that after Jesus was taken off the cross by Joseph of Arimathea he will not get a proper burial preparation before he is placed in the tomb. Only after the Sabbath would some women come to his burial site to properly dispose of his body but by that time he had resurrected from the dead!

 

Verse nine tells us of the great honor that will be given to Mary (sister of Lazarus) down the centuries. Jesus says that what she has done ‘will also be spoken of in memory of her’. May I encourage all Disciples of Christ to do things that will be honored and remembered! May we be remembered for our ‘good works’ (Eph. 2:10) and not the opposite.

 

5. The revolt of Judas (14:10,11)

 

10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. 11 They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.

 

It seems that this ‘waste of money’ was too much for Judas. His love for money and his lack of accepting the Lord’s rebuke pushed him and he ‘went off to the chief priests’. Now he perfectly knew that they were Jesus’ enemies but his heart was now set on doing things his own way. May we never rebuke the Masters teachings concerning our faults! His plan was to ‘betray Him to them’. The word ‘betray’ (PARADIDOMI) means: bring forth, cast, and deliver. So he tells the chief priests that he was able to deliver Jesus into their hands.

 

11 They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.

 

The chief priests were so happy, because they could finally get their hands on him! They offered Judas a sum of money. In Mat. 26:15 we see that the amount was thirty pieces of silver. This was another fulfillment of a prophecy found in Zechariah:

 

Zechariah 11:12

(12)Then I said to them, "If it seems right to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them." And they weighed out as my wages thirty shekels of silver.

(13)Then the LORD said to me, "Cast it into the treasury" --the lordly price at which I was paid off by them. So I took the thirty shekels of silver and cast them into the treasury in the house of the LORD.

(RSV)

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. It is always good to do good to honor the Lord.

  2. We will always have the poor among us.

  3. Do we also have a sufficient price that would let us abandon our Lord for it?

 

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The gospel of Mark
60 – The Lord’s Supper
14:12-26

 

12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” 13 And He sent two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him; 14 and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 15 And he himself will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; prepare for us there.” 16 The disciples went out and came to the city, and found it just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

 

17 When it was evening He came with the twelve. 18 As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.” 19 They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?” 20 And He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl. 21 For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” 22 While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.” 23 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.25 Truly I say to 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.” 26 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

(NASB)

 

1. Preparation for the last supper (14:12-16)

 

We have come to the night before the death of Jesus. The time has come for the Son to lay down his life for the benefit of those who would believe in him.

 

12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” 13 And He sent two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him; 14 and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 15 And he himself will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; prepare for us there.” 16 The disciples went out and came to the city, and found it just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

 

As we have said before, Passover and the day of Unleavened Bread are part of the same feast. The Passover lamb was to be sacrificed and the unleavened bread was to be eaten with bitter herbs. All of this was to commemorate the Lord’s delivery of His people from the slavery of Egypt. We see that the disciples were preoccupied: ‘Where do you want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?’ They turned to Jesus for leadership for he was their Master. May we also be people whom others turn to for advice and leadership! Jesus gives them the following orders to secure a place for the Passover meal.

 

First, ‘He sent two of His disciples’ (v.13). It is often beneficial to be two when we are sent to do God’s business. It is always encouraging to be with a fellow believer. Second, he gives them very precise directions: ‘go into the city’ then ‘a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water’ (v.13). They were ordered to ‘follow him’. Then they were to meet a man at the end of their journey and talk to the owner of the house saying ‘The teacher says, ‘Where is my guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?’ (v.14). Jesus gave them a clear picture of what they were to do and also of the circumstances surrounding that event. Some parts of the Bible are mysterious but amen that the ‘Good News’ is easy to understand for anyone who has ‘ears to listen’. Third, the man would show them where the place for the Passover meal would take place.

 

16 The disciples went out and came to the city, and found it just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

 

Here we see that the disciples did what Christ said. They found things just as Christ said they would happen and the Upper Room was found. Once this was done ‘they prepared the Passover’. It seems that nothing was left to chance. This should be the Christian’s way of life, to follow instruction like the Lord tells us.

 

2. The shocking declaration (14:17-21)

 

17 When it was evening He came with the twelve. 18 As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.” 19 They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?” 20 And He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl. 21 For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”

 

Contrary to other events when Jesus was present this time He was only ‘with the twelve’. There were no crowds not even any followers, just Jesus and the twelve. This was a unique event and Jesus wanted to be alone with his apostles. The setting is a peaceful one yet Jesus was going to drop a ‘bomb’ into their conversation!

 

18 As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.”

 

They were ‘reclining at the table and eating’. It was, after all, Passover and they were enjoying a meal of lamb with bitter herbs. There was a sudden change of atmosphere when Jesus said: ‘Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me – one who is eating with Me’. Someone would ‘betray’ (PARADIDOMI) meaning: to surrender, to yield, to bring forth. Someone would actually betray Jesus and hand him over to the authorities! How could anyone ever want to do that?

 

19 They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?”

 

Every one (except Judas) was bewildered. Out of their confusion ‘They began to be grieved’. The word ‘grieved’ (LUPEO) means: distress, to be in heaviness. It seems that their hearts were broken at the thought that one of them would do such a thing. It was utter disbelief and they openly said: ‘Surely not I

 

20 And He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl. 

 

Jesus was not going to leave his disciples in suspense, after all this was a grave accusation. So he gives the disciples a clue to whom it was going to be: ‘It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl’. The dipping in the bowl has to do with the bitter herbs. In the pascal meal they needed to eat unleavened bread AND bitter herbs. So people would take the bread and dip it into the mix of bitter herbs and eat it. The gospel of Matthew tells us clearly who would betray Jesus:

 

Matthew 26:25

Judas, who betrayed him, said, "Is it I, Master?" He said to him, "You have said so."

(RSV)

 

After this astonishing revelation, Jesus continues to speak about His traitor.

 

21 For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”

 

Jesus could not escape what was written concerning him. The Holy Scriptures are eternal for they are the words of God. No man can escape either! We need to take heed to the warnings concerning the judgment to come and how to escape it through the beloved Son. Let us not be like the people in the days of Noah who heard of the coming flood and responded by laughter and mockery. Can you imagine the judgment that will fall upon Judas for ‘It would have been good for that man if he had not been born’. What a terrible judgment awaits him!

 

3. The Lord’s supper (14:22-26)

 

22 While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.” 23 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.25 Truly I say to 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.” 26 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

 

This is what we often call ’The institution of the Lord’s Table’. Jesus is not disturbed by the fact that He will be betrayed, for His eyes are fixed on the mission that the Father has given Him. May we be like Christ and not be deterred from the ‘narrow path’ that we are called to walk on.

 

Jesus shares both the bread and the cup of wine. In a few hours Jesus will share his life for them also and not only them but for all who would later believe. Both bread and wine are representative. They are NOT his actual flesh and blood. The Bible is very adamant about this – we are not allowed to drink or eat blood (Lev. 17:12-14; Acts 15:20).

 

Jesus speaks about a new covenant, a covenant which ‘is poured out for many’. This new covenant is ‘sealed’ not by the death and blood of a sacrificial animal but by the death and blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). He is the suffering Messiah that would come to deliver his people from their sins. Notice that his blood would be ‘poured out for many’ not for all but for many. Some believe in universal salvation – that everyone who ever lived will be saved. But as we see, this is not so.

 

25 Truly I say to 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.” 26 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

 

In verse twenty five we have a glimpse of how eternity will be. We see that Jesus will drink wine in the kingdom of God. We also know that there will be a great feast given for the Bride of Christ (Rev. 19:6-10). They sang to the glory of God! Even when he knew that death was upon him Jesus glorified the Father. How much we need to learn from our beloved Savior concerning accepting all things with the right attitude. And off they went to the Mount of Olives.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. As we march forward may we do as Christ asks us.

  2. May we be careful not to betray Christ.

  3. Let us participate with great joy in the Lord’s Table.

 

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The gospel of Mark
61 – Jesus predicts Peter’s denial
14:27-31

 

27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, because it is written, ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.’ 28 But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” 29 But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times.” 31 But Peter kept saying insistently, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all were saying the same thing also.

(NASB)

 

1. The Lord’s declaration (14:27,28)

 

We left our last section with the betrayal of Judas being exposed by the Lord and the establishing of the Lord’s Supper. It was a bitter-sweet Passover meal for his disciples. They are now heading for the Mount of Olives where yet another scene of great importance will take place.

 

27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, because it is written, ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.’ 28 But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” 

 

It was one thing to learn about Judas falling away and betraying the Lord but quite another to hear what the Lord now had to say. You must remember that when Jesus spoke about a betrayer all were asking ‘Is it me? How relieved they must have felt when the culprit was exposed! They might have even felt that they were the strong ones – the faithful ones.

 

Jesus tells them ‘You will all fall away’. It wasn’t only Judas that would betray but each and every one of them. The words ‘fall away’ (SKANDALIZO) means: to trip up, stumble or to entrap. The event that will happen on the Mount of Olives, will become a stumbling block for them for they will all deny Christ, not in the same manner as Judas but deny just the same.

 

Jesus explains the circumstances of their falling away: ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered’. This is taken from Zachariah 13:7. We all know that the shepherd is the Lord Jesus and the sheep are his disciples. The word ‘strike’ (PATASSO) means: to knock, to smite.

The shepherd will be struck down. Notice that the ‘I’ in ‘I will strike down’ is God speaking! It is God – the Father who will strike down God – the Son at the cross for it is written:

 

2 Corinthians 5:21

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

(RSV)

 

In verse twenty eight the Lord prophesises that not only will he be raised from the dead but also that they will also meet together.

 

 28 But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.

 

After telling his disciples that he will be smitten Jesus brings joy to his disciples’ hearts, first by expressing once more that he will be raised from the grave. The resurrection is so important because it manifests that the Father has accepted his Son’s sacrifice for sinners (Rom. 4:25; 6:4; 7:4). Secondly he declares that they will meet again in Galilee. This came to be true in John 21:1-23 (The Sea of Tiberius is another name for the Sea of Galilee for Tiberius was the capitol of the region of Galilee). May our hearts also be encouraged with the thought that we willalso be with Christ one day.

 

2. Peter’s declaration (14:29)

 

 29 But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.” 

 

Once more we see the impetuous character of Peter. Instead of accepting the words of the Lord and humbling himself – he raises his heels against him! Peter should have felt crushed and ashamed under the thought that he will ‘fall away’ from his Master – but no! Peter makes a statement that must have surprised everyone but Christ! ‘Even though all may fall away, yet I will not’. What Peter is doing is that he places himself above all the others. They are weak but I am strong. They will fail but I will succeed. Peter was tearing everybody down and placing himself on a pedestal. Are we not also sometimes like Peter putting others down or thinking that we are better or more capable than others?

 

3. The Lord’s response (14:30)

 

30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times.”

 

This is one of Jesus’ famous sayings. The truth is different than the words spoken by Peter. Jesus is saying ‘Yes you will deny me, not only once but three times’! It was the pride of Peter’s heart that was speaking. But the Lord can see his true intention. Let’s not be mistaken here – Peter truly loves the Lord and believes that he will never betray him. The reality however is far different. As we commonly say today ‘Talk is cheap’. May our lips always weigh our words. May our emotions not control our thinking. May we see ourselves as we truly are.

 

4. Peter’s insistence (14:31a)

 

31 But Peter kept saying insistently, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”

 

I don’t understand why Peter is reacting this way especially after Jesus tells him that he surely will deny him and that three times. The facts are there and the Lord has spoken but Peter refuses to accept what the Lord tells him. We see a streak of pride rising in him. How many times do we systematically refuse to consent to what the Lord says? How many times do we think we are so much better than we really are? How many times do we argue with the Lord? Notice that this time Peter goes further than his first statement. The first time he says ‘Even though all fall away, yet I will not’ (v.29). The second time Peter says ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You’. He is now saying that he is ready to die with Jesus. It seems that Peter has lost touch with reality, his emotions have completely blinded him. He is going deeper and deeper into his denial.

 

5. The others join in (14:31b)

 

And they all were saying the same thing also.

 

This is an often forgotten phrase for we tend to think only of Peter and what he has said. Let us not forget that ‘they all were saying the same thing also’. It seems that the other disciples joined in Peter’s folly. This manifests the fact that we need to be very careful with our thoughts. Here we have a leader who stands up and voices his thoughts and intentions. The reaction of his fellow disciples is simple to join in with what Peter is saying – without taking the time to think it through. Am I really willing to go to death with Jesus? May this be a warning for all of us.

Let us not be too swift to in bark on another person’s desires and direction. In reality it is not only Peter that said that he would be ready to die with Christ and failed – ALL did.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. May we humbly receive the words of the Lord.

  2. May we have a balanced view of where we stand before the Lord.

  3. If the Lord rebukes us it is not time to try to prove him wrong.

  4. Do not be carried away by someone else’s emotions or speech.

 

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The gospel of Mark
62 – The Garden of Gethsemane
14:32-42

 

32 They came to a place named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here until I have prayed.” 33 And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. 34 And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” 35 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. 36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” 37 And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 Again He went away and prayed, saying the same words.40 And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him. 41 And He came the third time, and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough; the hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”

(NASB)

 

1. Jesus’ request to his disciples (14:32-34)

 

They have now arrived in the Garden of Gethsemane. This garden was a short distance from Jerusalem just east over the bridge of the Kidron. It was a peaceful place where olive trees thrived. This would be the last setting where Jesus would freely share with his disciples.

 

32 They came to a place named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here until I have prayed.” 

 

As we will see the Lord will divide his disciples into two groups. He asks the first group to ‘Sit here until I have prayed’. They were to stay still and sit down until the Lord had finished praying. What a great lesson for all believers! We are too often very active in our life simply thinking that the Lord is automatically with us in our endeavours. Here we see the opposite. Disciples sometimes need to do NOTHING until they hear from the Lord. Business is not automatically a sign of holiness. Jonah had to stay still in the belly of a fish to hear from the Lord. Elijah had to stay still in the mountains to hear the voice of God. Jacob laid still and slept when the Lord spoke to him in a dream. Let us not move forward for the Lord until we have the certainty that he is leading us ahead.

 

33 And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. 34 And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.”

 

We know that Jesus had an ‘inner circle’ of disciples, people who were closer to Christ and into which he poured himself in a different manner. Peter, James and John were the three disciples who were closer to Christ and sometimes he brought them alone with him. One may wonder ‘Why does Jesus do this’? In Gal. 2:9 Paul tells us that Peter, John and James were the pillars of the church in Jerusalem. Jesus was simply training these three men for the ministry waiting ahead.

 

It is written that Jesus ‘began to be very distressed and troubled’. The word ‘distressed’ (EKTHAMBEO) means: utterly affright, greatly sore. The word ‘troubled’ (ADEMONEO) means: to be full of heaviness. Jesus is allowing Peter, John and James to see the state of his heart. Jesus knows what lies ahead and is profoundly shaken by what he knows. Then he says: ‘‘My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death’. The word ‘soul’ (PSUCHE) meaning: spirit, breath, this distinguishes man from the rest of creation. God did not breathe into them to make them a living soul. This manifests that Christ was perfectly man just as he was perfectly God – the Son. Now his soul (his very being) was ‘deeply grieved’ (PERILUPOS) meaning: intensely sad, exceedingly sorrowful. His sadness was so intense that he felt as though it introduced him to death itself! Jesus was already bearing the weight of our sins – his heart was tearing (figure of speech) under the pressure in the Garden of Gethsemane. He asks his three disciples to ‘remain here and keep watch’. To ‘keep watch’ (GREGOREUO) means: to keep awake, be vigilant. He was going a little further on and asked them to keep awake. It is very rare that Christ had ever asked them to do something for him personally. Has Christ asked you to do something personal for him – are you keeping watch?

 

2. Jesus speaks to his Father (14:35,36)

 

35 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. 36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” 

 

We are witnessing the battle of the flesh in Christ. We often say that Christ is fully man, and it is true, but we do not often see the battle of the flesh in him. The devil had tried just before Jesus began his ministry (Mat. 4 and Luke 4) offering him things that would please his flesh and Satan failed. Now at the very end of his ministry we again see Christ battling against his flesh and he is agonizing over it. If fighting against the flesh was difficult for Christ imagine how it is for all of his followers! The flesh has always been a forceful enemy of the children of God because it hates everything that has to do with true spirituality (Gal. 5:19-21).

 

His prayer was ‘if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by’. He knew of the cross and the judgment he would have to bear. He knew that the Father would turn His face away. He knew that he would taste the cup of his Father’s wrath. So he pleaded if there was another way, if this could just ‘pass by’. He knew that the Father had the capacity to take this cup away for he said ‘All things are possible for you’. There is no limit to what God the Father can do and taking this cup away was one of them. But even though Christ knew that the Father was capable of doing so and his profound wish was not to taste the fury to come, he quickly added: ‘yet not what I will, but what you will’. The will of the flesh was conquered through prayer and submission to the Father. Amen, that Christ won this first victory! May I add that the only way followers of Christ can ever conquer over the flesh is by readily submitting to the will of God through prayer.

 

3. Jesus speaks to Simon (14:37,38)

 

37 And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 

 

Remember that Jesus had asked his disciples to remain watchful, to keep awake while he prayed a short distance from them. Also remember that Christ had shared the deepest troubles his heart possessed. He expected that their love and consideration for him would keep them from falling asleep. He expected that they also would pray along with him through this trial – but they didn’t! When he came back he ‘found them asleep’. How disappointing this must have been for Christ. At the time of his greatest need of encouragement they failed him. He said ‘Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?’ Just one hour – that’s all I was asking. I gave you three and a half years of my full attention could you not watch for just one hour? How many times have we fallen asleep instead of being awake and remaining strong for the Lord? Jesus adds:

 

38 Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 

 

He tells his three disciples how to battle against (spiritual) sleepiness. They were supposed to keep watch but they fell asleep. What was missing was ‘and pray that you may not come into temptation’. I believe that the temptation spoken of above is to stop being watchful and fall asleep while they were supposed to be brave and rise above the situation. Prayer will always be an instrument against failing as a disciple. Jesus recognises the power of the flesh when he says: ‘the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’. The flesh has no power and will never have power over sin because sin finds its power in the flesh (Romans 7 & 8).

 

4. Again Jesus speaks to his Father (14:39)

 

39 Again He went away and prayed, saying the same words.

 

The faults or weakness of his disciples do not deter Christ from his mission. He goes back and begins once more to pray to his Father. This is another lessons that should be noticed for believers who are active in the mission of the church and are often touched by what others do. Many are not as zealous as you may be and this has a ‘dragging down’ effect. We lose our enthusiasm because we are disappointed in others who have ‘fallen asleep’. If this is the case may Christ be our model – may we persevere!

 

5. Jesus speaks to his disciples (14:40)

 

40 And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him. 

 

So Jesus comes back for a second time. I can only believe that he hoped that this time they would be watchful and would follow his advice and pray. But Jesus ‘found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy’. It was late in the evening if not in the early hours of the new day and they were physically tired. They may have tried to keep awake but they were also limited by their humanity – so they fell asleep once more. We see that Jesus spoke to them because it is written: ‘and they did not know what to answer Him’. Please notice in both occasions how Jesus reacted. They failed him but he did not retaliate. He simply spoke with them and encouraged them. May we have the same attitude with those who fail us!

 

6. Jesus speaks to his disciples a third time (14:41,42)

 

41 And He came the third time, and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough; the hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”

 

We understand by verse forty one that Christ went back and prayed to his Father for ‘He came back the third time’. He presented himself before his Father on three occasions and the Father’s answer was the same, His plan was not going to change, the cross laid ahead and he must drink of the Father’s cup.

 

We also see that even with two warnings concerning being watchful, they still failed a third time. This time his speech was quite different:

 

(v.41)…It is enough; the hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”

 

Jesus fully accepts the will of the Father, he submits to His authority. He knows his time has come to be ‘betrayed into the hands of sinners’. He tells his disciples to get up knowing that Judas and his band are at hand.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. There are times when it is better to stop and wait until the Lord leads us forward.

  2. There are times that prayer is needed to fight the flesh.

  3. At all times our prayers should end with ‘not my will but thine’.

  4. There are times to move forward with our Lord even when it is troublesome.

 

 

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The gospel of Mark
63 – Jesus is arrested
14:43-52

 

43 Immediately while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who were from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard.” 45 After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, “Rabbi!” and kissed Him. 46 They laid hands on Him and seized Him. 47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as you would against a robber? 49 Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me; but this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures.” 50 And they all left Him and fled.

51 A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him. 52 But he pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked.

(NASB)

 

1. Judas betrays Jesus (14:43-46)

 

We have seen that Judas left the Passover meal after he was declared the traitor, the one who would betray the Lord. Jesus took Peter, John and James to be with him while he prayed but on three occasions they fell asleep. Finally Judas returns and delivers Christ for the silver coins he was promised.

 

43 Immediately while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who were from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard.” 45 After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, “Rabbi!” and kissed Him. 46 They laid hands on Him and seized Him. 

 

As Jesus finishes speaking to his disciples ‘Judas, one of the twelve came up’. The description of Judas as ‘one of the twelve’ is striking. He is ‘one of the twelve’ which describes all the spiritual benefits that this man received: being with Christ, hearing him speak, witnessing all the miracles, seeing his compassion and caring for all who came to him.

He had learned so many spiritual lessons concerning the kingdom of God as he walked with the one who was the true light of the world. Yet, this man called Judas was as blind and deaf as a rock! He delivered unto the religious elite the one who had never sinned and all of that for 30 pieces of silver. Remember the rich young ruler who asked ‘What shall I do to have eternal life’? He also turned from Christ because he loved money more than anything else. May this be a warning for all readers! You may outwardly know Christ and follow him as you were taught. You may even have ministries (as Judas did) but do you really love Christ and have repented unto him?

 

(v.43)…came up accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who were from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 

 

This crowd is described as people with ‘swords and clubs’. So a good number of men (I presume no women took place in this mob) came armed with swords and clubs. Now who were these men? In Luke 22:52 some were called ‘captains of the Temple’. They had superintendence over the Levites and priests who guarded the temple. They were also known as the temple police. In John 18:2 we see that they were a ‘detachment of troops’ and ‘officers from the chief priests and Pharisees’. It seems that by the term ‘detachment of troops’ the Roman soldiers were part of the arresting party. There was an exceeding amount of force used to capture the Lord! I can only imagine that the religious elite did not want to fail in their twisted plan.

 

44 Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard.” 45 After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, “Rabbi!” and kissed Him. 46 They laid hands on Him and seized Him. 

 

To be certain that they would seize the right person Judas had given a signal to those who had come to arrest Jesus – a kiss. It would be the person whom he kissed who they needed to arrest. Imagine being betrayed with a kiss! One of the most personal signs of affection was to become the instrument of a death sentence. His kiss would be remembered and used as an adage for centuries to come – it is still used today as the greatest sign of betrayal! Judas comes to Christ and said ‘Rabbi’. This was a term of respect which in Hebrew meant: ‘my great one’. Be warned, it is not everyone who respects you who is attached to you. This was the signal, Judas had given his kiss now the time had come to arrest Jesus.

 

2. A disciple’s defense (14:47)

 

 47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. 

 

One of the disciples ‘drew his sword’. This is the only place where a weapon is ever used, for Jesus was the ‘Prince of peace’. In reality it was not a sword as we see in a more contemporary setting but rather a dagger-like knife that was used for many different practices. They were of customary use and possession in Jesus’ time. We know that it was Peter that drew his sword (John 18:10) and that the name of the servant was Malchus (John 18:10). Notice how bad a fighter Peter was – he couldn’t even use his sword right! He only cut of the ear instead of causing more damage. By this we see that the apostles were not men of violence. But Peter wanting to protect his Master did what he thought was right – but he was terribly wrong! How many times do we do things for Christ thinking that this is the right thing to do and it is not! Notice that in Luke 22:51 Jesus took time to heal the ear of poor Malchus. Even when violence reigns Christ takes time to do good – and so should all of his disciples.

 

3. The response of Christ (14:48,49)

 

48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as you would against a robber? 49 Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me; but this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures.” 

 

Jesus speaks out and confronts the mob not with violence but with his words. He asks them if they think he is a robber ‘as you would against a robber’. If not why come ‘with swords and clubs’? The image that they had of Christ had been warped! They had the opportunity day after day to see what type of man he was. They knew that he was a man of God for he was ‘in the temple teaching’. So why come with violence in your hearts? And why, still today, is there so much violence against the name of Jesus? Why are there still Disciples of Christ who are martyred in so many countries? It is the hatred that people have for Christ. The following verse explains it very plainly:

 

John 15:18

"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.

(RSV)

 

Jesus also says:

 

John 15:25

It is to fulfil the word that is written in their law, 'They hated me without a cause.'

(RSV)

 

All of this was to ‘fulfill the Scriptures’. We can see in Isaiah 53 some of the Scriptures that were being fulfilled:

 

Isaiah 53:3

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (RSV)

 

Isaiah 53:7-9

(7)He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.

(8)By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?

(9)And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. (RSV)

 

Isaiah 53:12

Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

(RSV)

 

And also a verse found in Zechariah:

 

Zechariah 13:7

"Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me," says the LORD of hosts. "Strike the shepherd, that the sheep may be scattered; I will turn my hand against the little ones.

(RSV)

 

4. The disciples’ reaction (14:50-52)

 

50 And they all left Him and fled.

51 A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him. 52 But he pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked.

 

Seeing what was happening and fearing the Roman troops and the Temple guards ‘they all left Him and fled’. The shepherd had been struck and now the sheep were being scattered (Zec. 13:7). Just a few hours ago they all had said that they were ready to die with Christ (Mark 14:31). How fickle was their promise! Have you also made promises to the Lord and abandoned them at your first trial? We are no better than they were – are we not!

 

It seems that at a certain point in time ‘a young man’ it is believed that this could have been John since he was the youngest by far than all the others. We later see that John was also not afraid to follow Jesus into the High Priest’s court. If this is John we understand that he had a change of heart and wanted to follow his beloved Christ. This is a good lesson for all who fail Christ – there is always the possibility of turning back to him. It could also have been someone who had heard the soldiers leave with the Temple guards at night in Jerusalem and followed them afar to see what the commotion was about. If this is the case he left in a hurry in his ‘linen sheet’ (his pyjamas) and followed everyone. When the soldiers began to seize Jesus and his disciples (John 18:8) and the fight broke out between Peter and Malchus this young man could have been easily caught in all of this.

 

 52 But he pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked.

 

The young man was able to free himself but at a great cost he ‘escaped naked’. He would rather run away naked than to be in the hands of the soldiers!

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. May we never betray Jesus!

  2. Before doing something impulsively be certain that it is the will of God.

  3. The Scriptures will always be fulfilled.

 

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The gospel of Mark
64 – Jesus is before the Sanhedrin
14:53-72

 

53 They led Jesus away to the high priest; and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes gathered together. 54 Peter had followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the officers and warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, and they were not finding any. 56 For many were giving false testimony against Him, but their testimony was not consistent. 57 Some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him, saying, 58 “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.’” 59 Not even in this respect was their testimony consistent. 60 The high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” 61 But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 63 Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? 64 You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. 65 Some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers received Him with slaps in the face. 66 As Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Nazarene.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.” And he went out onto the porch.69 The servant-girl saw him, and began once more to say to the bystanders, “This is one of them!” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders were again saying to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too.” 71 But he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this man you are talking about!” 72 Immediately a rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had made the remark to him, “Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And he began to weep.

(NASB)

 

1. Jesus is lead away (14:53,54)

 

53 They led Jesus away to the high priest; and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes gathered together. 54 Peter had followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the officers and warming himself at the fire. 

 

We have seen that the Roman soldiers and the Temple guards arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Now in our present scene we come to understand that they brought Jesus to stand before the high priest, the chief priests, the elders and the scribes.

 

Before we begin I must explain that Jesus passed through two trials which were made up of three parts each. Not all of them are mentioned in Mark. Actually not all of them are mentioned in a single Gospel. So here is the sequence of all six settings.

 

The Jewish trial

  • Before Annas (John 18:12-14; 19-24

  • Before Caiaphas (Mat. 26:57-68; Luke 22:54; 63-65)

  • Before the Sanhedrin (Mat. 27:1; Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66-71)

 

The civil trial

  • Before Pilate (Mat. 27:2,11-14; Mark 15:1-5; Luke 23:1-5; John 18:28-38)

  • Before Herod Antipas (Luke 23:6-12)

  • Before Pilate again (Mat. 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:13-25; John 18:39- 19:16)

 

As we can see the ones who plotted against Jesus have convened an assembly. The goal is simple it is to officially find any type of fault that will lead to his condemnation. They are acting as both judges and jury. In many ways the Jewish trial of Jesus was illegal and there are books that explain all of this.

 

Our eyes must also fall on Peter, who has ‘followed him at a distance’. We understand from the gospel of John that Peter followed John and that John went inside the court because he knew people there (John 18:15-17). The ‘other disciple’ is understood to be John because John never names himself in his gospel but speaks of ‘another disciple’. Peter follows Jesus but we understand that it was John who probably led the way because he was known to the high priest and was not afraid to be there. Now once he was inside the courtyard this is what he did:

 

(v.54)…he was sitting with the officers and warming himself at the fire. 

 

He stayed at a distance and did not want to be recognized as a follower of Jesus. How many of us also ‘stay at a distance’ being afraid to openly identify with our Savior? How many desire to be warm by the fire with unbelievers rather than to stand with Christ?

 

2. False testimonies (14:55-59)

 

55 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, and they were not finding any. 56 For many were giving false testimony against Him, but their testimony was not consistent. 57 Some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him, saying, 58 “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.’” 59 Not even in this respect was their testimony consistent. 

 

While Peter kept warm by the fire Jesus was facing the High Priest and the entire Council. The high priest was Caiaphas his full name was Joseph Caiaphas. He was the high priest under Tiberius and it was Velerius Gratus who has appointed him high priest for the time period of 18-36 AD. The ‘whole Council’ was made up of the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Their aim was simple ‘trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death’. You can imagine how this was a mock trial especially when the judges had already condemned Jesus in their minds BEFORE the trial!

 

Even when the trial was ‘rigged’ they could not find a false testimony that stood up!

 

56 For many were giving false testimony against Him, but their testimony was not consistent. 57 Some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him, saying, 58 “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.’” 59 Not even in this respect was their testimony consistent. 

 

False testimonies, inconsistencies, things that were taken out of context - they tried everything but nothing was substantial enough to get Jesus arrested. How foolish can you be when the people you hire to bear false witness can’t even do a ‘good job’! So far their plan is not working, they have nothing to accuse Jesus of. If our story would stop there, they would not have a case against Christ.

 

3. Jesus and the high priest (14:60-65)

 

60 The high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” 61 But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 63 Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? 64 You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. 65 Some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers received Him with slaps in the face.

 

Seeing that the trial is going nowhere Caiaphas takes a stand and interrogates Jesus himself.

 

60 The high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” 

 

So far Jesus has kept silent like a lamb ready to be sacrificed. This silence infuriated Caiaphas who was waiting to catch Jesus by his words. He needed Jesus to say something. He was also amazed that Christ did not defend himself saying ‘Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?’ Again Caiaphas is bewildered.

 

61 But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” 

 

Because of Jesus’ silence before the false accusations Caiaphas speaks up and interrogates Christ by asking a direct question: ‘Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’. The time had come, no more fooling around are you or are you not the Christ? This was a trick question. If Jesus says ‘NO’ then his ministry would fall apart because people thought he might be. If Jesus says ‘YES’ then he would be accused of blasphemy because they did not want to believe him.

 

 62 And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 

 

The answer Jesus gave was a reference to the Messianic prophecies such as:

 

Psalms 110:1

A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my lord: "Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool."

(RSV)

 

Daniel 7:13

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.

(RSV)

 

Notice that as long as the accusations brought against him were false Jesus did not speak a word. But when he was asked a true question: ‘Are you the Christ’ Jesus answer readily with a resounding ‘YES’!

 

63 Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? 64 You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. 

 

This was the moment that the entire Council was waiting for. Declaring oneself the Son of God was blasphemous (unless you truly are). They had finally got the proof that they needed. Making a ‘scene’ the high priest acts as if he was outraged and insulted at Christ’s response and tears his clothes! No further proof is needed – all heard the statement Jesus had made. He called himself the ‘Son of God’! Caiaphas calls upon his fellow Council members to come to a decision which was the following: ‘And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death’. Not a single man had any restraint in condemning Jesus – not one! How do we stand when we are in a crowd? Do we act like them or are we strong enough to stand for Christ?

 

 65 Some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers received Him with slaps in the face.

 

Instantly they began to ‘spit at Him’ and to ‘blindfold Him’ and also ‘to beat Him’. They also gave him ‘slaps in the face’ and mocked him by saying ‘Prophecy’! In other words they literally disdained him which reminds me of the words of Christ:

 

John 15:23-25

(23)He who hates me hates my Father also.

(24)If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.

(25)It is to fulfil the word that is written in their law, 'They hated me without a cause.'

(RSV)

 

4. Peter’s denial of Jesus (14:66-72)

 

While this was going on we have another scene that is brought to us – Peter and his denial of Christ.

 

66 As Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Nazarene.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.” And he went out onto the porch.69 The servant-girl saw him, and began once more to say to the bystanders, “This is one of them!” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders were again saying to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too.” 71 But he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this man you are talking about!” 72 Immediately a rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had made the remark to him, “Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And he began to weep.

 

Peter has kept himself away from Christ and probably thought that he was safe near the fire surrounded by people. But a little ‘servant-girl’ will forever change his life. Quite innocently a young girl comes near the fire and says the following:

 

(v.67)…“You also were with Jesus the Nazarene.” 

 

She accuses Peter of being a follower of Christ. Up to now there had been many benefits of following Jesus which Peter had enjoyed. But this was another story. If Peter says ‘YES’ then there are chances that he also may land up before the tribunal beside Jesus and Peter did not want that. Notice that John had no difficulty being there and was even known by the high priest and others to have followed Jesus. If Peter says ‘NO’ then he thought everything would be alright. So what will he do?

 

68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.”

 

His answer was categorical ‘he denied it’ the word ‘denied’ (ARNEOMAI) means: to contradict, disavow and reject. He rejected her question ‘I neither know nor understand what you are talking about’. He’s telling the young girl that she doesn’t know what she is talking about. This was his first denial of Christ. Notice what Peter does next:

 

(v.68)….and he went out onto the porch.

 

Peter is getting out of there. He has been recognized and is moving away from the fire, away from his accuser of being a follower of Christ. The porch was an entryway unto the court where Jesus was being tried. We see that Peter is slowly trying to leave the premises.

 

69 The servant-girl saw him, and began once more to say to the bystanders, “This is one of them!” 70 But again he denied it.

 

The servant-girl is not accepting Peter’s reply. She knows that she had seen him before along-side of Jesus. Peter might have thought that his answer would suffice, was she not just a servant-girl and he a man! But she persists and this shows me one thing. When God says that something will happen whatever you may do, it will not stop the Lord God from accomplishing his prophecies. This time the servant-girl brings a more assured accusation: ‘This is one of them’. You truly are a follower of Jesus I’m certain of it. For the second time Peter denies knowing Christ.

 

(v.70)… And after a little while the bystanders were again saying to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too.”

 

But the accusation continues, this time by a simple bystander who said: ‘Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too’. Since Jesus was popularly known as a Galilean it was natural that Peter was his follower since we are told in Matthew that ‘your speech betrays you’. Peter could not hide any longer his accent betrayed him!

 

71 But he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this man you are talking about!” 

 

This was the third time that he betrayed Jesus. Now there is something very interesting in this same story that is found in the gospel of Matthew. When Peter first denied Christ it is written that he ‘denied’ Jesus (26:70). Then at the second time it is written that he ‘denied it with an oath’ (26:72). Finally at the third denial (as we see in Mark also) he ‘began to curse and swear saying: I do not know the man’ (26:74). The more Peter denied Christ the deeper into sin he fell, from denying him to cursing and swearing against knowing him.

The idea behind this cursing and swearing is that he made imprecations against himself if this was true. For us it would be something like: ‘May God strike me right now if what I said was not true’.

Friend may this be a lesson for all of us – denying Christ over and over again sinks us deeper into the stronghold of darkness.

 

72 Immediately a rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had made the remark to him, “Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And he began to weep.

 

Right away the ‘rooster crowed a second time’. The time of truth had finally come. Peter may have tried three times to hide his identity of knowing Christ. He had told everyone around him that it was not so. He even called a curse upon him if this was to be found true. But on the inside of Peter we see a different story. Peter’s conscience was troubling him – he could not run away from the truth. The rooster had crowed and Peter had denied Jesus. He could not run away from God. No one can! See what Peter reaped from his denial ‘he began to weep’. This strong, brave and tempestuous man broke into tears – he was so ashamed of himself. Luke adds a piercing detail when this happened.

 

Luke 22:61

And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, "Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.

(RSV)

 

Can you imagine Jesus staring down at Peter for he had heard everything that he had said? We know that all of Christ’s disciples will pass before the ‘judgment seat of Christ’. This is where all of our actions will pass through the judgment of fire”

 

1 Corinthians 3:12-15

(12)Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw--

(13)each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.

(14)If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.

(15)If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

(RSV)

 

How will we feel as we stand before the Lord? Will our actions bring shame unto us? Will we be received with open arms? Or like Peter will we sometimes feel like crying because of our denial of Christ. What we have done in the past can not be changed but what we will do today and everyday after can be for the glory of our Savior.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. May we never be ashamed of Christ.

  2. If asked, may our response be truthful.

  3. May we not prefer being warmed by a fire with unbelievers rather than standing alongside our Savior.

 

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The gospel of Mark
65 – Jesus and Pilate
15:1-15

 

Early in the morning the chief priests with the elders and scribes and the whole Council, immediately held a consultation; and binding Jesus, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate. 2 Pilate questioned Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And He answered him, “It is as you say.” 3 The chief priests began to accuse Him harshly. 4 Then Pilate questioned Him again, saying, “Do You not answer? See how many charges they bring against You!” 5 But Jesus made no further answer; so Pilate was amazed.

6 Now at the feast he used to release for them any one prisoner whom they requested. 7 The man named Barabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the insurrection. 8 The crowd went up and began asking him to do as he had been accustomed to do for them.9 Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he was aware that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead. 12 Answering again, Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify Him!” 14 But Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify Him!” 15 Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.

(NASB)

 

1. The council is convened (15:1)

 

Early in the morning the chief priests with the elders and scribes and the whole Council, immediately held a consultation; and binding Jesus, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate. 

 

Once the three sessions of the Jewish mock trial has been finished and Jesus found guilty of blasphemy because he called himself the Son of God he is taken before the Roman authorities. One must remember that the Jewish authorities had civil power also but were not allowed to put someone to death. Only the Roman authorities could condemn someone to be executed (John 18:31). The religious elite held a ‘consultation’ (SUMBOULOS) meaning: a deliberate body, lay court. After hearing Jesus declare that he was the Son of God they talked together to see what should be done.

They had succeeded in their plan to condemn Jesus. What should they now do with him? So this is what they did ‘they led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate’. Now Pontius Pilate was the sixth Roma Procurator of Judea. His first great mistake was to move his Roman headquarters from Caesarea to Jerusalem – no Procurator had ever done this before. Because of the soldiers who naturally brought with them the emblem of Caesar into Jerusalem, this caused quite an outrage. The Jews took offense of the emperor’s image on their emblems. Although Pilate recanted and brought the emperor’s images back to Caesarea this caused quite an uprising. His reign caused more than once an insurrection among the people. Jesus refers to Pilate’s oppression in Luke 13:1. Pilate was greatly despised by both the Jews and the Roman authorities.

 

2. Pilate questions Jesus (15:2-5)

 

2 Pilate questioned Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And He answered him, “It is as you say.” 3 The chief priests began to accuse Him harshly. 4 Then Pilate questioned Him again, saying, “Do You not answer? See how many charges they bring against You!” 5 But Jesus made no further answer; so Pilate was amazed.

 

Knowing the accusations brought before him by the Jews Pilate directly gets to the point and asks him the following question: ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’. We can understand that Pilate did not simply make this question up by himself – he had been ‘briefed’ by the Jewish Council. Notice that when Christ is asked a question concerning his true identity he answers readily both with the Jewish religious establishment and the Roman Procurator ‘It is as you say’.

 

Once Jesus had given his declaration the ‘Chief priests began to accuse Him harshly’. It seems that the word ‘harshly’ is not in the Greek but rather that they accused him of ‘many things’. What we do see is that the Council took every chance they had to relentlessly accuse Jesus.

 

Pilate once more questions Jesus because he is astounded by his attitude ‘Do You not answer? See how many charges they bring against You!’. The words of Pilate concur with the idea that ‘many things’ (accusations) were brought against him. Jesus is silent before his accusers, after all was he not the Son of God and to say the opposite would be lying. He stood there as a lamb ready to be sacrificed.

 

5 But Jesus made no further answer; so Pilate was amazed.

 

Pilate ‘was amazed’. The word ‘amazed’ (THAUMAZO) means: to wonder, to admire, to marvel. Pilate just could not understand why Jesus stood before him in complete silence. Normally a man would bring a defense against an accusation but not Christ. There was no defense – he was the Son of God.

 

3. Jesus or Barabbas? (15:6-14)

 

6 Now at the feast he used to release for them any one prisoner whom they requested. 7 The man named Barabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the insurrection. 8 The crowd went up and began asking him to do as he had been accustomed to do for them.9 Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he was aware that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead. 12 Answering again, Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify Him!” 14 But Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify Him!” 

 

The ‘feast’ is Passover and it seems that there was a tradition that was held between the Roma Procurator and the Jews ‘he used to release for them any one prisoner whom they requested’. In his commentary on Mark, Dr. Thomas Constable gives us better insight into what is going on:

 

"Two forms of amnesty existed in Roman law, the abolitio or acquittal of a prisoner not yet condemned, and the indulgentia, or pardoning of one already condemned. What Pilate intended in the case of Jesus, who at this stage of the proceedings had not yet been sentenced by the court, was clearly the first form."

 

It seems that Pilate had a scene to allow Jesus to live by bringing him to the crowd. After all if he was the King of the Jews people would naturally want him to be released.

 

 7 The man named Barabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the insurrection. 

 

Two men were brought to the crowd-the first being Jesus and then another man named Barabbas. We know little concerning this man except what this verse tells us. He had participated in an insurrection against Rome.

A group of Jews revolted and desired to cause an uprising against the Romans. During this revolt Barabbas had committed murder. We can understand that it was against a Roman soldier(s). Barabbas was one way or another going to be executed because of his deeds. Surely the crowd would choose Jesus.

It is understandable that Pilate had heard of Jesus and the love that people had for him.. Just a few days ago he was cheered by all as he made his way into Jerusalem. Certainly this was brought to the ears of Pilate.

 

8 The crowd went up and began asking him to do as he had been accustomed to do for them.9 Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he was aware that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. 

 

As the custom dictated the people asked for someone to be released and Pilate offered to release Jesus ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’. We can see the political game Pilate was playing against the religious elite. They wanted Jesus dead and Pilate offered the people to release him. In his mind Pilate was certain to win. Notice that ‘the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy’. He knew that the chief priests had no case, it was not truth that lead this inquiry but rather envy.

 

11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead. 12 Answering again, Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify Him!” 14 But Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify Him!” 

 

But the chief priests had another ‘card up their sleeve’ or a plan ‘B’ if you prefer. Seeing that they might lose they ‘stirred up the crowd to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead’. The word ‘stirred’ (ANASEIO) means: to excite, to stir up. It may have been by shouting the name of Barabbas louder and louder but one thing we know is that the crowd joined in. Once more we see how people are easily enticed to do what we wish. The same thing may be in churches today. People listen to eloquent preachers and are moved and follow them instead of studying the Scriptures as the Bereans did:

 

Acts 17:10,11

(10)The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroea; and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue.

 (11)Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

(RSV)

 

Pilate seeing their trickery once more appealed to the crowd ‘Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?’. In the other gospels we see that Pilate pleads with the people telling that he does not find any fault in Jesus.

 

13 They shouted back, “Crucify Him!” 14 But Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify Him!” 

 

The crowd rejected Jesus – the prophet of God they had welcomed as King a few days ago was now to be crucified. No wonder the Lord God says through the prophet Jeremiah:

 

Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?

(RSV)

 

Does our heart waver from loving Christ to turning our backs on him? Do we also hesitate and follow the crowd instead of remaining faithful to our Savior? Are we easily enticed by others to walk on the ‘broad road’? Is Jesus our King only when we congregate with other Christians? Nothing could stop the crowd, it had been determined before the foundation of the world that Christ would be sacrificed and the time had finally come.

 

4. The final decision (15:15)

 

15 Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.

 

It was not justice that Pilate was looking for but ‘to satisfy the crowd’. As mentioned before Pilate was not liked in Rome as Procurator of Judea for he had politically fumbled many times and his status as Roman Governor had been on the line. Pilate did not want to deal with another insurrection because it would probably be the end of his mandate and all the benefits that came with it. So he went the easy way ‘Pilate released Barabbas for them’.

 

After Barabbas was released and the crowd was appeased the following happened:

 

(v.15)…, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.

 

The word ‘scourged’ means: to whip. This was used as a public punishment. The Roman whips had either small iron balls or pieces of prickly substance attached at the end of every strand of leather. These would tear into the flesh and break even the bones.

It is said that often a criminal would die of the whipping before he was crucified. The one who created us was in the hands of his creatures!

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. The hearts of men are truly twisted.

  2. Envy, if not overcome, may bring you to do terrible things.

  3. Beware not to be persuaded by the crowd or a fine orator – keep your mind on Christ.

  4. Don’t try to be a crowd pleaser.

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The gospel of Mark
66 – The soldiers mock Jesus
15:16-20

 

16 The soldiers took Him away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium), and they called together the whole Roman cohort. 17 They dressed Him up in purple, and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him; 18 and they began to acclaim Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him. 20 After they had mocked Him, they took the purple robe off Him and put His own garments on Him. And they led Him out to crucify Him.

(NASB)

 

1 Jesus in the hands of the soldiers.

 

As we have seen, it was not allowed for a Jewish tribunal to condemn a person to death. That was why the Council went to see Pilate with their cause against Jesus. He has now been trialed and condemned to death. In Mark 15:15 we also have seen that Christ was first flogged by the Roman soldiers. This was not an obligation, flogging before crucifixion was not an automatic sentence. It was rarely expected that a person could stand the flogging. Roman soldiers were exceptionally cruel and were very good at causing pain and death.

 

16 The soldiers took Him away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium), and they called together the whole Roman cohort. 

 

Jesus was taken to the Praetorium. This was where the Roman Magistrate would hear cases and decide the outcome. Mark writes that ‘the whole Roman Court’ had gathered together. One may assume that this was a ‘big’ event for Jesus was to be executed. Remember that Pilate had tried to get Jesus liberated but the crowd had shouted the name of Barabbas instead. All of Jerusalem must have been in turmoil.

 

17 They dressed Him up in purple, and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him; 

 

The soldiers ‘dressed Him up in purple’. The color purple was symbolic, it represented Royalty. Since Jesus called himself the Son of God the soldiers gave him a royal robe to better mock him. The color purple is only used of Christ in the four gospels. After dressing Jesus with a Royal colored robe, the Roman soldiers offered King Jesus a crown: ‘and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him’. Palestine was abundantly covered with a wide variety of thorns from the ‘Rhamnus’ which was strong and hard and had long thorns. This plant, although abundant near Jerusalem, could not have been used for Jesus’ crown because it was very difficult to bend into shape. It is believed that the ‘Capparesspinosae’ was used because of its smaller sized thorns and flexibility to be shaped into a crown. The Roman soldiers were not delicate with the Lord when they placed this crown on him. They made certain that it would not fall off as he would be taken to Calvary. Great pressure would have been used to secure the crown on his head.

 

18 and they began to acclaim Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 

 

The mocking of Jesus continues. First the purple robe, then the crown of thorns and now they verbally insulted Christ. One needs to read the other gospels to understand all the other aspects of this scene. The word ‘acclaim’ (ASPAZOMAI) means: to enfold in the arms, to salute, to welcome. As it was accustomed for the soldiers to salute and hail a high ranking person, here we see that they ridiculed Jesus by both saluting him and praising him. One needs to remember what Christ had once said:

 

Matthew 12:37

for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

(RSV)

 

What terrible judgment awaits these soldiers who enjoyed torturing the Prince of Peace!

 

19 They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him. 

 

The soldiers are not satisfied with their mocking Christ and they continued. First ‘They kept beating His head with a reed’. The word ‘beating’ (TUPTO) means: to thump, a blow with the hand or an instrument. The soldiers were using a ‘reed’, which is the stem of a plant, to hit Jesus in the face. Reeds of certain plants can become very dry and hard and cause great damage when used against a human body, let alone the face of a person. Then the soldiers were ‘spitting on Him’. This was a great sign of disdain and humiliation. Even today being spat on is a great insult, imagine being spat on the face! Finally they were ‘kneeling and bowing before Him’. Again this is because he called himself the ‘Son of God’. They bowed before him and taunted the Lord of life.

 

20 After they had mocked Him, they took the purple robe off Him and put His own garments on Him. And they led Him out to crucify Him.

 

The soldiers actually took pleasure in hurting Jesus like they would with any common criminal. There was no pity, mercy or sympathy in the hearts of these men. Time had come to continue their task with Jesus. Once they tired with ‘playing’ with Jesus, they took off his purple robe and placed his old garments back. The time had come and they led him away to Mount Golgotha to crucify him.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. May we remember that it was because of our transgressions that Jesus suffered.

  2. May our hearts be torn as we witness what Christ endured so we could be forgiven by the Father.

 

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The gospel of Mark
67 – The crucifixion
15:21-32

 

21 They pressed into service a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to bear His cross.

22 Then they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. 23 They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He did not take it.24 And they crucified Him, and divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man should take. 25 It was the third hour when they crucified Him. 26 The inscription of the charge against Him read, “THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

 

27 They crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left.28 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with transgressors.” 29 Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. 32 Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.

(NASB)

 

1. Simon of Cyrene (15:21)

 

Now as the soldiers were taking Jesus to the Skull to be crucified he had to pass through Jerusalem from the Praetorium of the Roman Magistrate to a small hill just outside the gates. Many of the streets were very narrow and there seemed to be a crowd of people following this event. Let us not forget that this is the Passover feast and the normal population of Jerusalem grew tenfold!

 

21 They pressed into service a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to bear His cross.

 

As Jesus passed through the crowd and pushed along by the soldiers there stood a by-stander named Simon of Cyrene. He was a Hellenistic Jew born in Cyrene which is located on the north coast of Africa. Nothing is known of this man except what this verse tells us. He was the father of Alexander and Rufus. Both of these brothers are named in one verse. Alexander is found in Acts 19:33 and Rufus in Rom. 16:13. We are not certain that they are the same ones but chances are they might be. Simon was forced ‘to bear His cross’. This may be because of the feeble state of Jesus. Normally a person did not live through the whipping of the Roman soldiers. Jesus’ back must have been torn apart and his flesh hanging! With the loss of blood Jesus may have been too weak to carry the cross. Seeing that he could no longer bring the instrument of death on which he would be nailed, a soldier forced Simon to carry his cross for him.

 

2. The crucifixion (15:22-26)

 

22 Then they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. 23 They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He did not take it.24 And they crucified Him, and divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man should take. 25 It was the third hour when they crucified Him. 26 The inscription of the charge against Him read, “THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

 

Jesus arrived at his destination which was called Golgotha in Greek (GOLGOTHA) meaning; the skull. There are two reasons why this small hill may have been called Golgotha. The first is that this was the normal place of execution and there may have been many skulls (as well as other bones) that remained there. The second may have been that the small hill looked like a skull from afar. The Romans gave public executions to instill fear in the local population. This kept them quiet and docile not wanting to be the next on the list!

 

23 They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He did not take it.

 

When a person was crucified it happened that a Roman soldier would give a mixture of wine and myrrh. It was given to ‘numb’ the person so that his execution might be slightly easier. But here we see that the Lord ‘did not take it’. Was this not why he had come and lived on earth? Was he not willing to drink of the Father’s cup? Jesus willingly received the punishment of the unjust and was not going to by-pass any part by taking this mixture. He bravely and fully became the Lamb of God which takes away our sins (John 1:29,36). Let us rejoice that the Lamb has been sacrificed on our behalf.

 

24 And they crucified Him, and divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man should take. 

 

The following description can be found in Farrar’s book entitled ‘Life of Christ’.

 

The Assyrians, Scythains, Indians, Germans, and from the earliest times among the Greeks and Romans. Whether this mode of execution was known to the ancient Jews is a matter of dispute. Probably the Jews borrowed it from the Romans. It was unanimously considered the most horrible form of death. Among the Romans the degradation was also a part of the infliction, and the punishment if applied to freemen was only used in the case of the vilest criminals. The one to be crucified was stripped naked of all his clothes, and then followed the most awful moment of all. He was laid down upon the implement of torture. His arms were stretched along the cross-beams, and at the centre of the open palms the point of a huge iron nail was placed, which, by the blow of a mallet, was driven home into the wood. Then through either foot separately, or possibly through both together, as they were placed one over the other, another huge nail tore its way through the quivering flesh. Whether the sufferer was also bound to the cross we do not know; but, to prevent the hands and feet being torn away by the weight of the body, which could not "rest upon nothing but four great wounds," there was, about the centre of the cross, a wooden projection strong enough to support, at least in part, a human body, which soon became a weight of agony. Then the "accursed tree" with its living human burden was slowly heaved up and the end fixed firmly in a hole in the ground. The feet were but a little raised above the earth. The victim was in full reach of every hand that might choose to strike. A death by crucifixion seems to include all that pain and death can have of the horrible and ghastly, --dizziness, cramp, thirst, starvation, sleeplessness, traumatic fever, tetanus, publicity of shame, long continuance of torment, horror of anticipation, mortification of untended wounds, all intensified just up to the point at which they can be endured at all, but all stopping just short of the point which would give to the sufferer the relief of unconsciousness. The unnatural position made every movement painful; the lacerated veins and crushed tendons throbbed with incessant anguish; the wounds, inflamed by exposure, gradually gangrened; the arteries, especially of the head and stomach, became swollen and oppressed with surcharged blood; and, while each variety of misery went on gradually increasing, there was added to them the intolerable pang of a burning and raging thirst. Such was the death to which Christ was doomed. --Farrar's "Life of Christ." The crucified was watched, according to custom, by a party of four soldiers.

 

Any man was cursed if he was hung on a tree (Deut. 21:22,23) and Paul (speaking of Christ) refers to this when he wrote to the Galatians (Gal. 3:10-14). Once he was hanging on the tree (cross) the soldiers ‘divided His garments among themselves’. This was also a prophecy that is found in Ps. 22:18. If Jesus was not naked on the cross (which was the custom) he barely had anything on him. This was to add to the shame to be brought on the crucified.

 

 25 It was the third hour when they crucified Him. 26 The inscription of the charge against Him read, “THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

 

The ‘third hour’ based on the Jewish way of reckoning time is now known as nine in the morning. You will notice that John writes that it was about the sixth hour (John 19:14) – is this an error? Not at all, for Marc was using the Jewish timeframe and John was using the Roman way of telling time. They both point to the same time. So at nine in the morning Jesus was nailed on the cross and the judgment of the Father began. It was a custom to write the crime of the person who was hung on a cross so that passersby understood why this was done. For Jesus his charge (or crime) was ‘THE KING OF THE JEWS’. In his dealings with Jesus, Pilate had asked the following question:

 

Luke 23:3

And Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" And he answered him, "You have said so."

(RSV)

 

Jesus was condemned not because he called himself the Son of God like the Jewish religious Council desired but rather as the King of the Jews because that was an offense before the Roman authorities.

 

3. The two robbers (15:27,28)

 

27 They crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left.28 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with transgressors.” 

 

Another prophecy unfolds before us – Jesus was crucified between two thieves which is found in Isaiah:

 

Isaiah 53:12

Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

(RSV)

 

4. The mockers (15:29-32)

 

29 Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. 

32 Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.

 

As we have seen, this was a public execution and at the feet of Jesus a crowd stood by. In John 19:25,26 we see that as Christ was dying there are four women and the apostle John standing there. There was also the crowd divided into different types of people. The first group is made up of local people who were there to see the execution.

 

29 Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” 

 

Just a few days before the people of Jerusalem were claiming Jesus in a triumphant entrance to the Holy City. They cheered, laid down their tunics and cut branches in his honor. Now they were ‘hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads’. They insulted him and mocked him ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!’ How empty and vile are the hearts of man. How easily are they deterred from the truth! James speaks of our language and how it must be like a pool of fresh water.

 

James 3:10,11

(10)From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, this ought not to be so.

(11)Does a spring pour forth from the same opening fresh water and brackish?

(RSV)

 

But there was another group also standing there – the Jewish Council. They were savoring this moment. It had been a long time that they wanted to take hold of Jesus and do away with him.

 

31 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. 32 Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.

 

They gladly joined the crowd and they were ‘mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself”. Have you noticed that both groups (which easily represents the non-religious and the religious) say the same thing: ‘save Yourself’. Can you see Satan at work until the very last moment? If Jesus would have come down from the cross at that very moment salvation would have been forfeited! Jesus would have failed and never would have been the perfect and holy sacrifice needed for the cleansing of our sins.

 

They also pushed Jesus to come down from the cross as proof that he truly was the Son of God. They said: ‘Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!’ Do you think that even if he did so they would have believed- absolutely not! If after all the miracles Jesus had done in their midst they did not believe, their hearts would still have been closed at the cross. There is a warning given to us in Heb. 3:8,15; 4:7 concerning hardening our hearts. One can harden his heart and block salvation from becoming a reality in one’s life. Dear reader has your heart opened to the truth found in Christ? Or are you like the crowd mocking Jesus who died on the cross for you?

 

The last group of people are the two thieves who ‘were also insulting Him’. Can you imagine dying yourself and still laughing at Christ and mocking who he said he was! But for one thief the story does not end here. In Luke 23:42,43 one of the thieves repents and asks Jesus to remember him and Christ answered:

 

Luke 23:43

And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

(RSV)

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Simon carried the cross of Jesus and Jesus carried ours.

  2. Even at the last moment of your life forgiveness can be found at the cross.

  3. The world is divided in two: the mockers and the believers.

 

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The gospel of Mark
68 – The death of Jesus
15:33-41

 

33 When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 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?” 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, “Behold, He is calling for Elijah.” 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. 38 And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

40 There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome. 41 When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.

(NASB)

 

1. Jesus’ first shout (15:33,34)

 

We left Jesus crucified on the cross and it was the third hour which in our modern time is nine in the morning.

 

33 When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 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?” 

 

We are now at the ‘sixth hour’ which is noon for us. This is the half way point since verse thirty four tells us that Jesus died at the ninth hour. It is written that ‘darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour’. The synoptic Gospels all declare that ‘darkness fell’ but no one describes what it is. We can only imagine that this is the precise time when the Father poured his judgment upon the Son (Isaiah 5:25-30; 59:9,10; Joel 3:14,15, Amos 8:9,10, etc). It is also written that this ‘darkness fell over the whole land’ this might be in reference to the Passover Lamb which brought the forgiveness of sin in all of Israel. Just as the ninth plague in Exodus was darkness just before the lamb was to be sacrificed and the blood applied on the doorposts of the homes so it was with the Lamb of God where darkness appeared before he was also sacrificed!

 

At the end of the ninth hour ’Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?”. This was to be his first final cry on the cross – the Father had abandoned him and for the first (and last) time in eternity the unity between Father and Son had been broken. The guilt of our sins had been placed on the beloved Son (Isaiah 53:5,6; 2 Cor. 5:21). We know why the Father abandoned the Son – it was so that redemption could be offered, so that the guilty could be justified.

 

2. The response of the bystanders (15:35,36)

 

35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, “Behold, He is calling for Elijah.” 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.” 

 

This was a gruesome Roman spectacle specially made to frighten anyone who thought of rebelling against the Empire. It was during the Passover festival and an enormous amount of Jews were in Jerusalem. Bystanders or travelers could see Jesus and the two thieves hanging there. The Romans would often let the bodies rot on the cross which made an even more terrifying statement. Scavengers of all types would feast on the rotting bodies

 

After hearing Jesus cry out ‘the bystanders heard it, they began saying, “Behold, He is calling for Elijah”. Remember that Jesus had explained that Elijah was supposed to come just before the Messiah (Mal. 4:5) but people did not recognize that it was John the Baptist (Mat. 11:14). This may also have been a mockery of Jesus crying out on the cross.

 

 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.” 

 

This ‘Someone’ does not seem to be a Roman soldier but one of the bystanders or spectators of his crucifixion. Someone in the crowd had pity on Jesus and wanted him to drink of the mixture we already have spoken about which might bring some relief. We see that they also wondered if ‘Elijah will come to take Him down’.

 

3. Jesus’ final cry and last breath (15:37)

 

 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last.

 

The word ‘uttered’ (APHIEMI) means: to send forth. So Jesus sent forth ‘a loud cry’. The word ‘loud’ (MEGAS) means: exceedingly great, we can imagine that all the bystanders heard his ‘cry’ (PHONE) meaning: noise, sound, voice.

One last sound and then ‘he breathed His last’. The word ‘breathed’ (EKPNEO) means: to expire, give up the ghost. In other words and as Jesus said it in Luke:

 

Luke 23:46

Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!" And having said this he breathed his last.

(RSV)

 

4. The result of Jesus’ sacrifice (15:38)

 

38 And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 

 

Please note that the evening sacrifice was normally at three in the afternoon about (if not) the same time that Jesus died on the cross! What is the ‘veil of the temple’? This is probably the veil that separated the holy place from the courtyard. Notice that the veil was ‘torn in two from top to bottom’. All three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) mention this. The veil separated the holiness of God from the people and only one priest could come in the holy of holies ONCE A YEAR with the blood of the Pascal Lamb that had just been sacrificed. The blood would purify the sins of Israel but had to be constantly repeated over and over again.

 

The veil was ‘torn in two from top to bottom’. This manifests that God himself destroyed the veil that kept mankind from approaching Him. This symbolized that the entrance unto the presence of God was now open – but why? This is because the Lamb of God (Jesus) had sacrificed himself and this sacrifice had been accepted by the Father. The writer of Hebrews explains this quite clearly (Heb. 6:19,20; 9:1-14; 10:19-22).

 

5. The centurion’s testimony (15:39)

 

39 When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

 

Centurions were no ordinary soldiers. To become a centurion one would need years of faithful service and a proven knowledge of warfare. He would be a man of superior intelligence. It is said that a centurion would be like a captain in our armed forces. Since he was still ‘standing right in front of Him’ it just might be that he had been in charge of the three executions. He remained there to assure the authorities that all would remain calm – since this is Passover and the crowds may become agitated since Jesus was beloved (by some at least!). After seeing all that happened from his whipping to his final cry on the cross this centurion came to only one conclusion ‘Truly this man was the Son of God’. Have you come to the same conclusion? Has the evidence sufficed you? Is Christ really the Son of God and have you called upon him to save you from your sins?

 

6. Looking from afar (15:40,41)

 

40 There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome. 41 When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.

 

Not everyone was at the feet of Christ some ‘women looking on from a distance’. Three are named. First Mary Magdalene from whom Jesus had driven demons. The second was Mary ‘the mother of James the less and Joses’. James the less is to be distinguished from James the elder also known as James the apostle. Salome seems to be the wife of Zebedee. She was the mother of James and John. Some believe her to be the sister of Mary, mother of Jesus.

 

41 When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.

 

Notice that besides John there were only women present at the crucifixion of Jesus. All of the remaining ten apostles were hiding somewhere. Even Peter after denying Jesus did not yet have a change of heart and was absent! The love of these women who had followed Jesus and had ministered unto him was stronger than those of the chosen twelve (except for John). What a testimony for all of us.

 

CONCLUSION

  1. Amen that the sacrifice of the Lamb of God was complete and perfect. Amen that the veil was torn from top to bottom by the Father and that we can now come to Him.

 

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The gospel of Mark
69 – The burial of Jesus
15:42-47

 

42 When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate wondered if He was dead by this time, and summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already dead. 45 And ascertaining this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were looking on to see where He was laid.

(NASB)

 

1. Permission asked (15:42,43)

 

Time passes by for we have seen that Jesus died at the ninth hour and now we are at the very beginning of the evening.

 

42 When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. 

 

The sun is slowly beginning to set and people were getting busy ‘because it was the preparation day’. This was the time when the Jewish people prepared themselves for the Sabbath. Since no work was to be done they prepared ahead of time what needed to be done on the Sabbath.

 

A man called Joseph of Arimathea is the center of this section. It is written that he was ‘a prominent member of the Council’. The Council spoken of is the same one that condemned Jesus and brought him before Pilate. He was ‘a prominent’ (EUSCHEMON) meaning: well-formed, decorous, and honorable. This gives us an insight within the Council and we can see that there were some who secretly admired Jesus. Joseph was ‘waiting for the kingdom of God’. This gives us a clue to Joseph’s hope in life. If the majority of the religious men in the Council were filled with envy and hatred, Joseph was truly a spiritual person who longed for the reign of God and the coming of the Messiah. It is written that he ‘gathered up courage and went in before Pilate’. This is what people of God look like. Joseph was afraid but that did not stop him from doing what he knew he needed to do. He was first afraid of the Council, for they had just handed Jesus over to the Romans. Joseph, by doing this, took a stand against the Council of which he was a member. If they did this to Jesus they can also act against him! I can understand why Joseph was afraid for his entire life might be ‘ruined’ by the Council. He was also afraid of Pilate. Let’s not forget that he was the highest Roman authority and at a whim Pilate can imprison or even have Joseph condemned to death. Good Christians also need courage. We also live in a world where we need to take a stand for Christ and often this is not popular and repercussions are very real.

 

Why would Joseph ask ‘for the body of Jesus’? Because the Sabbath was coming and Joseph did not want this man of God to be hanging on the cursed tree during the holy day of rest. It is very rare that the body of a deceased person would be given to anyone but a member of the family. This was even more true when the person had been condemned to die because of treason, as Jesus did. This is further proof that Pilate did not really believe that Jesus was guilty. Had he not tried over and over again to allow Jesus to be set free? I wonder why the family of Jesus did not come and ask Pilate for his body and why they did not provide a decent place for the body of Christ to rest?

 

2. Permission granted (15:44,45)

 

44 Pilate wondered if He was dead by this time, and summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already dead. 45 And ascertaining this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 

 

Pilate seemed to be surprised that Jesus had already died. We know that it sometimes took days before a crucified person would actually die. So Pilate wanted to be certain and ‘summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already dead.’ I believe that the centurion mentioned here is the same who stood at the cross and declared that ‘surely this was the Son of God’. The centurion assured Pilate that Jesus had truly died. Pilate wanted to be certain since it would be possible that if he was not dead he could be taken care of and come back to health. If this would happen and be known then it would cause Pilate a lot of trouble with Rome. So once he knew he was dead he allowed Joseph to have the body of Christ.

 

3. Jesus is buried (15:46,47)

 

46 Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were looking on to see where He was laid.

 

This was a quick preparation for the body of Christ – the Sabbath was at hand and work was not permitted. So Joseph ‘wrapped Him in the linen cloth’. This was the usual method of embalming. Cloth would be wrapped around the body with all sorts of ointment and myrrh. Jesus was laid in a tomb. We know from the other gospels that this tomb had never been used before. It was ‘hewn out in the rock’. This was to be a tomb for a prominent person. To be certain that no ‘tomb raider’ would come and plunder any valuable item that might accompany the deceased, Joseph ‘rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb’. This way it was sealed and protected. One needs to read the other gospels to have a complete picture of his burial.

 

47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were looking on to see where He was laid.

 

Notice that these two women were present at the crucifixion of Jesus and now they had followed Joseph and witnessed where Jesus had been placed. Where were all the others? Where were the brothers and sisters of Jesus? Where were his disciples? Where were the ones he had cured? Where are you!

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. If you are a disciple of Jesus you need to be brave and bold.

  2. As a disciple of Christ one needs to ‘follow him’ wherever it might bring us.

 

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The gospel of Mark
70 – The resurrection of Jesus
16:1-8

 

1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. 5 Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.6 And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’” 8 They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

(NASB)

 

1. Walking towards the tomb (16:1-3)

 

We left the women looking where Joseph would bring the body of Christ. Since it was very late in the day and the Sabbath was about to begin, they left and they would come back after the Sabbath was over.

 

1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 

 

This time Mark tells us that Salome was with the two Mary’s. He previously had not mentioned that Salome had been with them when they had followed Joseph. But here she is with the others. Why had they come to the burial site? Mark writes: ‘so that they might come and anoint Him’. One must remember that Joseph had hastily placed the body of Christ in the tomb for the Sabbath was at hand. There had not been enough time to fully prepare the body for its rightful rest. The three ladies ‘bought spices’. This tells us that they spent good hard earned money out of respect for Christ. Remember that, in general, normal people did not have much to live by even less to spend for a funeral embalming. Once again we see the deep love these women had for Christ.

Their devotion for him did not seem to have any limits. Is this a reflection of my love and devotion for the Lord? Am I willing to spend my earnings for the cause of Christ? How far does my attachment to Christ lead me?

 

2 Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 

 

They set off ‘very early on the first day of the week’. They were in a hurry to do good to Christ. They did not slumber saying ‘It makes no difference, he has died’. Their love pushed them to get up early and finish the work of Joseph of Arimathea. May we also be busy doing what is right for the Lord and his glory. May we also begin early in the morning when it is needed. The three women could have said ‘Joseph is wealthier than we are, let him buy the spices. After all he began the burial it’s his responsibility to finish it’. They wanted to do their part, like we should also want to do our part.

 

But there was a big question that filled their minds ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?’. These women knew that they were physically not able to roll the stone away and they were concerned that they might not do what they came to do. Not only were these stones heavy but a slant was normally carved in the rock where the stone was rolled into. This slant made the stone (which covered the entrance of the tomb) even more difficult to roll (or push forward). The women would need help to do their work and they did not know how they would get it.

 

2. A great surprise (16:4,5)

 

4 Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. 5 Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.

 

Notice that even though they did not know how the stone would be rolled away they continued forward. How many times can we stop doing what we know should be done because we don’t know where we are going to get the help to do it? What they did not know is that the Lord God was going to give them a hand. ‘They saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large’. Once they arrived at the tomb all of their worries disappeared for the stone had been rolled away! God walked before them and was with them in their quest. We can only imagine that they were filled with joy and wonder!

 

So they entered the tomb and ‘they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed’. They were expecting to see the body of Christ. They had come with spices to finish his embalming. But to their great surprise it was not the body of Christ that they saw but ‘a young man sitting at the right’. We know that this was an angel (Mat. 28:2). It is written that ‘they were amazed’. The word ‘amazed’ (EKTHAMBEO) means: astonished, affright or greatly amazed. In other words they had mixed feelings they were a bit frightened and greatly amazed at what they were seeing.

 

3. A greater surprise (16:6,7,8)

 

6 And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’” 8 They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

 

The angel has a message for the devoted women. He first tells them ‘Do not be amazed’. It is the same word in Greek for both occurrences of ‘amazed’. His first concern was about them and how they felt. They were frightened and he wanted to cast all fear away. Isn’t this heartwarming to see the care that the Lord had for his disciples! He assures them that all is fine through the agent of an angel. Now the Lord might not do this with us today (although he could if he wanted to) but he certainly does this through his written word and our brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

We also see that the angel knows what they were doing there: ‘you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified’. Did he know this because he had witnessed what had been going on or because the Father had told him – we do not know. Both cases are possible. What we do know is that the angel had good news for the women.

 

(v.6)…He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. 

 

I wonder what the faces of the women looked like when they heard ‘He has risen’? Joy, delight and bliss must have filled their hearts! And so should these fill all the hearts of true believers – Jesus has risen! The angel tells them: ‘He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him’. As proof that he was resurrected, he points to the place where he had been laid but now the tomb was empty. The angel was saying: ‘See for yourself, he is not here the tomb is empty’.

 

7 But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’” 

 

Once the confirmation of his resurrection had been given the angel had a mission for them. They needed to go and ‘tell His disciples and Peter’. All Disciples of Christ have the same mission to ‘go and tell’. We also need to spread the good news of the resurrection of Christ. We need to announce salvation in Christ to proclaim to all who have ears to listen that forgiveness and righteousness is found only in the Son of God. But he also told them where they could find Jesus: ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you’. The message for the disciples was to go to Galilee and you will find him just as he had told you. The disciples were not only going to hear about his resurrection but they were going to actually see him alive and well. What an incredible message to bring to them.

 

8 They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

 

Off they went filled with ‘trembling and astonishment’. The word ‘trembling’ (TROMOS) means: shacking with fear and the word ‘astonishment’ (EKSTASIS) means: bewildered, amazed. They just couldn’t believe what they had seen and heard and off they went trembling. They did not say anything to anyone. They just went off to go and tell the others what they had just witnessed.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. Let us not tarry in doing what we know the Lord wants us to do.

  2. Great surprises await those who truly walk close to the Lord and have his interest at heart.

  3. Christ is risen! May we tell all who have ears to listen.

 

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The gospel of Mark
71 – Jesus appears to his disciples
16:9-20

 

9 [Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.

12 After that, He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country. 13 They went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either.

14 Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. 17 These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.]

(NASB)

 

You will notice that in many Bible translations of this last section (as in the NASB) it is in parenthesis. There is a debate concerning the origin of this section and its authenticity as the Word of God. In his commentary on Mark, Dr. Thomas Constable wrote the following to help us better understand the matter in dispute.

 

Many modern interpreters believe Mark ended his Gospel with Mark 16:8. [Note: E.g, Carson and Moo, pp187-90.] This seems unlikely to some others since if he did he ended it with an example of disciples too fearful and amazed to bear witness to the resurrected Jesus. Throughout this Gospel we have noted many unique features that appeal to disciples to serve God by bearing bold witness to Jesus, even in spite of persecution and suffering. They believe the women’s example would hardly be a good example for Mark to close his Gospel with.

 

The ending of Mark’s Gospel is one of the major textual problems in the New Testament. The main reason some interpreters regard Mark 16:9-20 as spurious is this. The two oldest Greek uncial manuscripts of the New Testament (fourth century), Codex Sinaiticus (Aleph) and Codex Vaticanus (B), plus many other old manuscripts, do not contain them. Moreover the writings of some church fathers reflect no knowledge of these verses. On the other hand, Mark 16:9-20 do appear in the majority of the old manuscripts, and other church fathers do refer to them. [Note: For more details, see Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, pp122-26.] Some interpreters believe the vocabulary, style, and content of these verses argue against Mark’s authorship of them. [Note: E.g, Wessel, p792; Bratcher and Nida, pp517-22; et al.] This has led many modern scholars to conclude that Mark 16:9-20 were not part of Mark’s original Gospel. [Note: E.g, Swete, p. cxiii; A. F. Hort, The Gospel According to St. Mark, p199; B. B. Warfield, An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, p203; Joel F. Williams, "Literary Approaches to the End of Mark’s Gospel," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society42:1 (March1999):21-35; The NET Bible note on16:9; Lane, pp591 , 601-5; et al.]

 

If they were not part of Mark’s original Gospel, where did they come from, and are they part of the inspired Word of God or not inspired?

It may be that Mark 16:9-20 were part of Mark’s original Gospel and, for reasons unknown to us today, they were not included in some ancient copies of it. Thus these verses are as fully authoritative as the rest of the Gospel. [Note: John W. Burgon, The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel According to S. Mark; Morison, pp446-49 , 463-70; Lenski, pp750-55; et al.]

Another view is that someone added Mark 16:9-20 to give this Gospel a more positive ending. He could have done so without divine inspiration, in which case these verses lack the divine authority that marks the rest of Scripture.

Alternatively someone could have added Mark 16:9-20 under the superintending influence of the Holy Spirit, in which case these verses have equal authority with the rest of the Gospel. [Note: Grassmick, p194.] There are other passages of Scripture that seem to have been written somewhat later than the body of the book in which they appear but which the Jews and later the Christians regarded as inspired. For example, the record of Moses" death appears at the end of Deuteronomy, which most conservatives believe Moses wrote (cf. Deuteronomy 34:5-12). Another example is the references to the town of Dan in the Book of Genesis, which town did not go by that name until after Moses" time. Evidently someone after Moses" day updated the name of that town. Several other examples of this nature could be cited.

 

The view of many evangelicals, including myself, is that even though we may not be able to prove that Mark 16:9-20 were originally part of Mark’s Gospel, though they could have been, they appear to have been regarded as inspired and therefore authoritative early in the history of the church.

There are two other short endings to Mark’s Gospel that follow Mark 16:8 in some ancient copies, but almost all textual scholars reject these as being spurious.

 

1. His first appearance. (16:9-11)

 

9 [Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.

 

We have seen in our last section that some women came to Jesus’ burial site with spices to finish the hasty preparation of Christ (remember this was done just before the Sabbath began). One of these women was Mary Magdalene and you can read her very short story in Luke 8:2. Some people think that she was a prostitute but there is absolutely no proof of this. Mary rushed to tell the others (apostles and disciples) about what she had seen and heard. We see that these disciples ‘were mourning and weeping’. Their beloved teacher had died and with him all the hopes they had accumulated for the coming of the kingdom of God. It seems that they had so easily forgotten all the times that Jesus had taught them that he would die and be raised from the dead. Are we not also forgetful of the wonderful promises that the Lord God has given us? What is even worse is the following:

 

11 When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.

 

They actually ‘refused to believe it’. Mary comes storming in and tells of the great news of Jesus’ resurrection and they did not believe! Their grieving blinded their hearts. Good news, when a heart is heavy, is often laid aside. We know from the gospel of John that Peter and John did go and see if this was true (John 20:1-10). May we never refuse to listen to good news concerning Christ and his kingdom even when our hearts are heavy.

 

2. His second appearance. (16:12,13)

 

12 After that, He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country. 13 They went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either.

 

Verse twelve speaks about the encounter Jesus had with the disciples who were on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32) which ends with this verse:

 

Luke 24:32

They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?"

(RSV)

 

3. His third appearance. (16:14)

 

14 Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. 

 

The word ‘reproached’ (ONEIDIZO) meaning: to rail, chide, revile. This is very severe and reminds me of when Christ said to his disciples:

 

Matthew 8:26

And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?" Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

(RSV)

 

It seems that the disciples refuse to believe and hardened their hearts to the good news that was presented to them by other disciples. Our hearts will also deceive us if we do not keep them under the rule of the Lord. The following seems to be the order of Jesus appearing to others before his ascension:

  1. Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9, John 20:11-18)

  2. The women walking on the road (Mat. 28:9,10)

  3. The disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32)

  4. To Peter (Luke 24:34)

  5. To the disciples without Thomas (Luke 24:36-43; Mark 16:14; John 20:19-25)

  6. To the disciples with Thomas present (John 20:26-32)

  7. To seven disciples in Galilee (John 21:1-25)

  8. To more than 500 disciples (1 Cor. 15:6)

  9. To James (1 Cor. 15:7)

  10. To the apostles at the ascension (Acts 1:3-11)

 

4. His commission (16:15,16)

 

15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. 

 

There are controversial things written in this section (16:9-20) and we find some of these in these two verses. Here we see what is called the ‘Great Commission’ in Mat. 28:18-20. In Matthew this is given just before Jesus ascends to heaven before the eyes of his disciples while they were on a mountain in Galilee. On the other hand we have what seems to also be the ‘Great Commission’ but this time it is when the eleven were sitting around a table.

 

16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. 

 

Verse sixteen also seems to be controversial because it appears to equate believing AND baptism as the means of salvation UNLESS the baptism that is spoken of is that of the Holy Spirit and not of a water baptism! This could reflect a spiritual truth that is needed to be understood. Believing with ‘head knowledge’ does not save. It is believing with our hearts through the new birth that brings salvation. Paul teaches that only those who have the Holy Spirit are actually saved:

 

Rom. 8:9

But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

(RSV)

 

Notice that the second phrase of verse sixteen adds more confusion: ‘but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned’. Is it only disbelieving that brings condemnation or believing and no baptism that stops you from being saved? We know that it is faith alone in Jesus as your personal Messiah that brings salvation (John 3:36 and so many others).

 

5. The signs (16:17,18)

 

17 These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

 

Here we have a list of signs that will accompany the apostles. I say this because Jesus is speaking to the eleven sitting around a table (Mark 16:14). Is this only for the apostles or is Jesus speaking of all his disciples who are to come? Seeing that some of these signs were accompanying disciples in general I believe that this was for all his disciples. Were these signs to accompany the disciples until the end of time that is another question!

  1. In my name they will cast out demons’. This we see the apostles do in the book of Acts.

  2. They will speak in new tongues’. This we also see with the day of Pentecost in the book of Acts.

  3. They will pick up serpents’. We see this with Paul when he was stranded on the island of Malta (Acts 28).

  4. They will drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them’. This we do not see in the New Testament.

  5. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover’. We also see this in the book of Acts.

  6. The ascension of Christ (16:19,20)

 

19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.]

 

Does this take place while Jesus was speaking to the eleven who were sitting around the table – it seems like it. But the ascension of Christ was in Galilee on a Mountain top (Mat. 28:18-20). Since this section is controversial I tend to believe that it was a section that was later introduced as part of the gospel of Mark.

 

We know that Christ is presently at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33; 5:31; 7:55,56; Rom. 8:34). This is the highest form of glory.

 

20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.]

 

The response of the disciples is that ‘they went out and preached everywhere’. This was their natural reaction and it should be the same for all of Christ’s followers. We hold the very message that truly changes lives for the better but mostly it is a message of reconciliation between God and mankind.

 

2Co 5:18,19

(18)All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;

(19)that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

(RSV)

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. This section of Mark is not unanimously accepted as being penned by Mark and inspired by the Holy Spirit. One must be certain that all teaching from this section vividly concurs with the general teaching found outside this text before believing or teaching it.

 

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