3356.) Ezra 4

February 28, 2022

Ezra 4 (Good News Translation)

Opposition to the Rebuilding of the Temple

“From this point onwards right to the end of Nehemiah there is conflict. Nothing that is attempted for God will now go unchallenged, and scarcely a tactic be unexplored by the opposition.”

–Derek Kidner

1 The enemies of the people of Judah and Benjamin heard that those who had returned from exile were rebuilding the Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel.2 So they went to see Zerubbabel and the heads of the clans and said,  Let us join you in building the Temple. We worship the same God you worship, and we have been offering sacrifices to him ever since Emperor Esarhaddon of Assyria sent us here to live.

Coptic icon of the Good Samaritan

These people are Samaritans, from the area of the former northern kingdom of Israel. After Israel fell to Assyria in 722 BCE, many of the Jews of Israel were deported and scattered throughout the Assyrian Empire, never again to return to their homeland. And the Assyrians settled other deported from their homelands into what had been the northern kingdom. The remaining Jews and these new inhabitants cobbled together a new culture which included the worship of God and reverence for the books of Moses. The newly returned Jews refused their help because the Samaritans were seen as half-breeds, both physically and spiritually. To the Samaritans, Yahweh was one of many powerful gods. This was a dangerous partnership for the returned exiles.

The antagonism between the peoples was openly displayed well into New Testament times. Jesus, of course, treated the Samaritans with his usual respect:  the first person to whom he clearly said, “I am the Christ” was the Samaritan woman at the well, and when a Jewish lawyer asked him to narrow the field by defining just who exactly is my neighbor, Jesus responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan.

3 Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the heads of the clans told them,  We don’t need your help to build a temple for the Lord our God. We will build it ourselves, just as Emperor Cyrus of Persia commanded us.

4 Then the people who had been living in the land tried to discourage and frighten the Jews and keep them from building.5 They also bribed Persian government officials to work against them. They kept on doing this throughout the reign of Emperor Cyrus and into the reign of Emperor Darius.

Construction of the second temple was begun in 536 B.C. on the Solomonic foundations leveled a half century earlier by the Babylonians. Not until 516 B.C., the sixth year of the Persian emperor Darius I, was the construction finally completed at the urging of Haggai and Zechariah (6:13-15).

Of the temple and its construction little is known. Unlike the more famous temple structures razed in 586 B.C. and A.D. 70, respectively, the temple begun by Zerubbabel suffered no major hostile destruction but was gradually repaired and reconstructed over a long period. Eventually, it was replaced entirely by Herod’s magnificent but short-lived edifice.

–from the Archaeological Study Bible

Opposition to the Rebuilding of Jerusalem

6 At the beginning of the reign of Emperor Xerxes, the enemies of the people living in Judah and Jerusalem brought written charges against them.

7 Again in the reign of Emperor Artaxerxes of Persia, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and their associates wrote a letter to the emperor. The letter was written in Aramaic

The Lord’s Prayer, written in Aramaic

From 4:8 to 6:18 this book is not in Hebrew, but Aramaic, the official language of the Persian Empire.

and was to be translated when read.

8 Also Rehum, the governor, and Shimshai, the secretary of the province, wrote the following letter to Emperor Artaxerxes about Jerusalem:

         From Rehum, the governor, from Shimshai, secretary of the province, from their associates, the judges, and from all the other officials, who are originally from Erech, Babylon, and Susa in the land of Elam,10 together with the other peoples whom the great and powerful Ashurbanipal moved from their homes and settled in the city of Samaria and elsewhere in West-of-Euphrates Province.

11 This is the text of the letter:

         To Emperor Artaxerxes from his servants who live in West-of-Euphrates.

 12 We want Your Majesty to know that the Jews who came here from your other territories have settled in Jerusalem and are rebuilding that evil and rebellious city. They have begun to rebuild the walls and will soon finish them.13 Your Majesty, if this city is rebuilt and its walls are completed, the people will stop paying taxes, and your royal revenues will decrease.14 Now, because we are under obligation to Your Majesty, we do not want to see this happen, and so we suggest 15 that you order a search to be made in the records your ancestors kept. If you do, you will discover that this city has always been rebellious and that from ancient times it has given trouble to kings and to rulers of provinces. Its people have always been hard to govern. This is why the city was destroyed.16 We therefore are convinced that if this city is rebuilt and its walls are completed, Your Majesty will no longer be able to control West-of-Euphrates Province.

Their attack by letter was a skillful combination of truth and lies. It was true that Jerusalem had a sinful past; yet with these returned exiles, it truly was the past and not the present. However, that truth was completely irrelevant because of the great lie – the lie that Jews and the builders of Jerusalem had a rebellious intent.

–David Guzik

17 The emperor sent this answer:

         To Rehum, the governor, to Shimshai, secretary of the province, and to their associates who live in Samaria and in the rest of West-of-Euphrates, greetings.

 18 The letter which you sent has been translated and read to me.19 I gave orders for an investigation to be made, and it has indeed been found that from ancient times Jerusalem has revolted against royal authority and that it has been full of rebels and troublemakers.20 Powerful kings have reigned there and have ruled over the entire province of West-of-Euphrates, collecting taxes and revenue.21 Therefore you are to issue orders that those men are to stop rebuilding the city until I give further commands.22 Do this at once, so that no more harm may be done to my interests.

23 As soon as this letter from Emperor Artaxerxes was read to Rehum, Shimshai, and their associates, they hurried to Jerusalem and forced the Jews to stop rebuilding the city.

24 Work on the Temple stopped and remained at a standstill until the second year of the reign of Emperor Darius of Persia.

That is a delay of some 16 years.



What to do, when you cannot do the work you want to do? When the frustration piles up? When the disappointment overwhelms? Scripture suggests singing, and may I add to that suggestion, singing songs of praise and power! Like this one, which has been translated into many languages since it was first composed by Martin Luther in 1529. This is a good hymn to know by heart so you can sing it whenever you need it!  HERE  is “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” sung so wonderfully by the men’s a cappella choir GLAD.


Good News Translation (GNT)   Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
stop sign.   http://www.dimensionsguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Stop-Sign.jpg
Good Samaritan.   https://i0.wp.com/www.dustinlyon.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Good-Samaritan.jpg
Expect delays.   https://randalldsmith.com/second-chances-delay-of-game-ezra-45-51/
Aramaic writing.    https://www.flickr.com/photos/23348879@N00/356375134
coming to stop the building.    http://thebiblerevival.com/clipart/ezra%204%20-%2023%20they%20went%20up%20in%20haste%20to%20jerusalem.jpg

3355.) Ezra 3

February 25, 2022

The foundation of the new Temple is started!

Ezra 3 (Good News Translation)

Worship Begins Again

1 By the seventh month the people of Israel were all settled in their towns.

The seventh month was an important month on the spiritual calendar of Israel:  they celebrated the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Trumpets, and the Feast of Tabernacles.

–David Guzik (and all following comments in green)

Then they all assembled in Jerusalem,

This was an encouraging sign of obedience among the returned exiles. In a time of small resources and great work to be done, they took the time and money to observe the commands to gather in Jerusalem for the major feasts.

2 and Joshua son of Jehozadak,

Jeshua (Joshua) the high priest was the grandson of Seriah, who had been put to death by Nebuchadnezzar’s forces. There being no king in Jerusalem after the exile, the high priest’s office took on great prestige and political power. By the time of the New Testament, priestly involvement in politics had led to great corruption in the priesthood and discontent among the Jews.

–footnote from the Archaeological Study Bible

his fellow priests, and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, together with his relatives, rebuilt the altar of the God of Israel, so that they could burn sacrifices on it according to the instructions written in the Law of Moses, the man of God.

“Thus, we see, the full establishment of religious services precedes the building of the temple. A weighty truth is enshrined in this apparently incongruous fact. The worship itself is felt to be more important than the house in which it is to be celebrated.”

–W. F. Adeney

3 Even though the returning exiles were afraid of the people who were living in the land, they rebuilt the altar where it had stood before. Then they began once again to burn on it the regular morning and evening sacrifices.4 They celebrated the Festival of Shelters according to the regulations; each day they offered the sacrifices required for that day;5 and in addition they offered the regular sacrifices to be burned whole and those to be offered at the New Moon Festival and at all the other regular assemblies at which the Lord is worshiped, as well as all the offerings that were given to the Lord voluntarily.

The Feast of Tabernacles (one of the three major feasts of Israel) celebrated God’s faithfulness to Israel during the wilderness journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. During this feast the families of Israel were commanded to “camp out” in temporary shelters, meant to remind them of how their forefathers lived during the exodus. In this context – when in returning to destroyed cities, they were forced to live this way until they could properly rebuild – the celebration held a special meaning for these returned Jews to Judah.

“During their long stay in Babylon, the Jews were not able to offer any sacrifices, as this could only be done in Jerusalem. Instead they were surrounded by a myriad of pagan temples. About fifty temples are mentioned in Babylonian texts together with 180 open-air shrines for Ishtar, three hundred daises for the Igigi gods, and twelve hundred daises for the Anunnaki gods.”

–Edwin Yamauchi

6Although the people had not yet started to rebuild the Temple, they began on the first day of the seventh month to burn sacrifices to the Lord.

They could not wait for the building! They had to worship God just as soon as they had an altar! (How eager am I, Sunday morning or otherwise, to worship the Lord?)

The Rebuilding of the Temple Begins

7 The people gave money to pay the stonemasons and the carpenters and gave food, drink, and olive oil to be sent to the cities of Tyre and Sidon in exchange for cedar trees from Lebanon, which were to be brought by sea to Joppa.

This is how the first temple was built . . .

1 Chronicles 14:1  (ESV)

And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, also masons and carpenters to build a house for him.

All this was done with the permission of Emperor Cyrus of Persia.8 So in the second month of the year after they came back to the site of the Temple in Jerusalem, they began work. Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the rest of their people, the priests, and the Levites, in fact all the exiles who had come back to Jerusalem, joined in the work. All the Levites twenty years of age or older were put in charge of the work of rebuilding the Temple.9 The Levite Jeshua and his sons and relatives, and Kadmiel and his sons (the clan of Hodaviah) joined together in taking charge of the rebuilding of the Temple. (They were helped by the Levites of the clan of Henadad.)

10 When the builders started to lay the foundation of the Temple, the priests in their robes took their places with trumpets in their hands, and the Levites of the clan of Asaph stood there with cymbals.

They praised the Lord according to the instructions handed down from the time of King David.11 They sang the Lord’s praises, repeating the refrain:

The Lord is good, and his love for Israel is eternal.

Psalm 118:1 (ESV)

   Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
   for his steadfast love endures forever!

In general, the description matches the massive and elaborate dedication ceremony for Solomon’s temple (2 Chronicles 5:13), except this was held in far humbler circumstances.

Everyone shouted with all their might, praising the Lord, because the work on the foundation of the Temple had been started.12 Many of the older priests, Levites, and heads of clans had seen the first Temple, and as they watched the foundation of this Temple being laid, they cried and wailed. But the others who were there shouted for joy.

Some, remembering the richness and grandeur of Solomon’s temple, wept at this lesser model. But others rejoiced in God’s faithfulness to return them to their homeland so they could begin to rebuild the house for the name of the Lord!

13 No one could distinguish between the joyful shouts and the crying, because the noise they made was so loud that it could be heard for miles.



HERE  is a perfect fit for our song and our chapter today!  “You’re Amazing, God”  was written by Brenton Brown  and is sung here by Anthony Evan.

We can hear it growing louder
songs from every nation
rising to your throne
Saints in every generation
singing for your glory
telling what you’ve done
From the north and south, we are crying out
There is hope in Jesus’ name
You’re amazing God, You’re amazing God
You can bear the weight of every heavy heart
You can heal the pain, you can clean the stain
You can turn our tears into songs of praise
You’re amazing God
Beauty rises from the ashes
sorrow turns to gladness
when our God is near
You speak light into our darkness
you heal the broken-hearted
you wipe away our tears
Songs of praise surround us, songs of praise surround us
Hear it growing louder, we are growing louder


Good News Translation (GNT)   Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
Temple foundation started.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/2nd_temple_stone_gallery.jpg
Feast of Tabernacles.  https://toriavey.com/what-is-sukkot/
priests with trumpets and cymbals.    http://thebiblerevival.com/clipart/ezra%203%20-%2010%20they%20set%20the%20priests%20with%20trumpets.jpg
Zechariah 4:10.   https://www.pinterest.com/pin/385831893060652321/

3354.) Ezra 2

February 24, 2022

Ezra 2 (Good News Translation)

The List of Those Who Returned from Exile

1 Many of the exiles left the province of Babylon and returned to Jerusalem and Judah, all to their own hometowns.

The caravan would have followed the “Fertile Crescent” — north along the Euphrates River up to point east of Aleppo, crossing west to the Orontes River valley and then south, perhaps through Damascus, until they came to Jerusalem.

Their families had been living in exile in Babylonia ever since King Nebuchadnezzar had taken them there as prisoners. Their leaders were Zerubbabel,

Zerubbabel was the son of Shealtiel and the grandson of Jehoiachin (1 Chronicles 3:17), the next-to-the-last king of Judah. With this leadership position given to him from Cyrus, he is the last one of David’s line to have political authority among the Israelites. He is also listed as an ancestor of Christ in Matthew 1.

Joshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah.



HERE  is “We’re Marching to Zion” — quite literally, for these pilgrims! Listen as you breeze through the many names listed below . . .


This is the list of the clans of Israel, with the number of those from each clan who returned from exile:
3-20Parosh – 2,172
Shephatiah – 372
Arah – 775
Pahath Moab (descendants of Jeshua and Joab) – 2,812
Elam – 1,254
Zattu – 945
Zaccai – 760
Bani – 642
Bebai – 623
Azgad – 1,222
Adonikam – 666
Bigvai – 2,056
Adin – 454
Ater (also called Hezekiah) – 98
Bezai – 323
Jorah – 112
Hashum – 223
Gibbar – 95

“The thousands of homecomers are not lumped together, but (in characteristic biblical fashion) related to those local and family circles which humanize a society and orientate an individual. Such is God’s way, who ‘setteth the solitary in families’ (Psalm 68:6).” 

–Derek Kidner

21-35People whose ancestors had lived in the following towns also returned:
Bethlehem – 123
Netophah – 56
Anathoth – 128
Azmaveth – 42
Kiriath Jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth – 743
Ramah and Geba – 621
Michmash – 122
Bethel and Ai – 223
Nebo – 52
Magbish – 156
The other Elam – 1,254
Harim – 320
Lod, Hadid, and Ono – 725
Jericho – 345
Senaah – 3,630

36-39This is the list of the priestly clans that returned from exile:
Jedaiah (descendants of Jeshua) – 973
Immer – 1,052
Pashhur – 1,247
Harim – 1,017

These families represent only four of the twenty-four divisions of the priesthood established by King David in 1 Chronicles 24:8. Most of the priests stayed behind in Babylon.

40-42Clans of Levites who returned from exile:
Jeshua and Kadmiel (descendants of Hodaviah) – 74
Temple musicians (descendants of Asaph) – 128
Temple guards (descendants of Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita, and Shobai) – 139

43-54Clans of Temple workers who returned from exile:
Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth,
Keros, Siaha, Padon,
Lebanah, Hagabah, Akkub,
Hagab, Shamlai, Hanan,
Giddel, Gahar, Reaiah,
Rezin, Nekoda, Gazzam,
Uzza, Paseah, Besai,
Asnah, Meunim, Nephisim,
Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur,
Bazluth, Mehida, Harsha,
Barkos, Sisera, Temah,
Neziah, and Hatipha

55-57Clans of Solomon’s servants who returned from exile:
Sotai, Hassophereth, Peruda,
Jaalah, Darkon, Giddel,
Shephatiah, Hattil, Pochereth-Hazzebaim,
and Ami

58 The total number of descendants of the Temple workers and of Solomon’s servants who returned from exile was 392.

59-60There were 652 belonging to the clans of Delaiah, Tobiah, and Nekoda who returned from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer; but they could not prove that they were descendants of Israelites.

61-62The following priestly clans could find no record to prove their ancestry: Habaiah, Hakkoz, and Barzillai. (The ancestor of the priestly clan of Barzillai had married a woman from the clan of Barzillai of Gilead and had taken the name of his father-in-law’s clan.) Since they were unable to prove who their ancestors were, they were not accepted as priests.63 The Jewish governor told them that they could not eat the food offered to God

until there was a priest who could use the Urim and Thummim (that is, a priest who could make the final decision).

The Urim and Thummim are also among the precious Jewish treasures that were never recovered.

64-67Total number of exiles who returned – 42,360
Their male and female servants – 7,337
Male and female musicians – 200
Horses – 736
Mules – 245
Camels – 435
Donkeys – 6,720

The size of this entire group is here stated to be about 50,000. However, this was only the first wave of repatriation to Israel from the Babylonian captivity and includes only the heads of families. The approximate total of the returned exiles was probably somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000. This was only a small percentage of those who had been exiled and their descendants; the great majority stayed behind in Babylon.

Indeed, Josephus wrote, “many remained in Babylon, being unwilling to leave their possessions.” 

One should not think that there was no spiritual life among the Jewish exiles; Ezekiel (who went into exile after 597 or 586 b.c.) describes what we might call a “home Bible study” at his home with the elders of Judah (Ezekiel 8:1). “Deprived of the temple, the exiles laid great stress on the observation of the Sabbath, on the laws of purity, and on prayer and fasting. It has often been suggested that the development of synagogues began in Mesopotamia during the Exile.” (Yamauchi) Indeed, “In the Talmud it is said that only the chaff returned, while the wheat remained behind.” (Adeney)

–David Guzik

68 When the exiles arrived at the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem, some of the leaders of the clans gave freewill offerings to help rebuild the Temple on its old site.69 They gave as much as they could for this work, and the total came to 1,030 pounds of gold, 5,740 pounds of silver, and 100 robes for priests.

70 The priests, the Levites, and some of the people settled in or near Jerusalem; the musicians, the Temple guards, and the Temple workers settled in nearby towns; and the rest of the Israelites settled in the towns where their ancestors had lived.


Good News Translation (GNT)   Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
from Babylon to Jerusalem.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/scenes20from20the20return20from20exile.jpg
No soup for you!   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/no_soup_for_you1.png

3353.) Ezra 1

February 23, 2022

Cyrus the Great (ruler 559-530 BCE) founded the Persian Empire, reigning from the Aegean Sea to the Indus River. He was a beneficent king, allowing his subject peoples to return to their homelands and restore their places of worship.

Ezra 1 (Good News Translation)

Cyrus Commands the Jews to Return

First the Lord stirred the Spirit of Cyrus–

1 In the first year that Cyrus of Persia was emperor,

King Cyrus of Persia took the city of Babylon without a battle in 539 BCE and began to reign as the emperor of Babylonia.

the Lord made what he had said through the prophet Jeremiah come true. He prompted Cyrus to issue the following command and send it out in writing to be read aloud everywhere in his empire:

2 This is the command of Cyrus, Emperor of Persia. The Lord, the God of Heaven, has made me ruler over the whole world and has given me the responsibility of building a temple for him in Jerusalem in Judah.3 May God be with all of you who are his people. 

God gave the Persian king a sense of urgency about this, and the relief from exile was granted the very first year of his reign as the LORD stirred up his spirit. Cyrus made a decree giving the Jewish exiles in his empire the right to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple in 538 BCE. The first six chapters of this book tell of the pioneers who came back from exile to Jerusalem a whole lifetime before Ezra. In fact, we do not meet Ezra till chapter 7.

It is quite possible that the Prophet Daniel was instrumental in this stirring of Cyrus. He may have showed the king the prophecies of Jeremiah 25:8-13 and Jeremiah 29:10-14, which refer to the punishment of Babylon and the end of Israel’s exile. And if he showed Cyrus such prophecies, he almost certainly would have included Isaiah 44:48-45:5, which mentions Cyrus by name some 150 years before he was born.

–David Guzik

You are to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is worshiped in Jerusalem. 

The command of Cyrus not only allowed the return of the exiled people, but also a rebuilding of the destroyed temple.

If any of his people in exile need help to return, their neighbors are to give them this help. They are to provide them with silver and gold, supplies and pack animals, as well as offerings to present in the Temple of God in Jerusalem.

Remember how the Egyptians gave items of clothing and articles of gold and silver to the Israelites as the people of God left Egypt?

–Then the Lord awakened the spirit of the people.

5 Then the heads of the clans of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, the priests and Levites, and everyone else whose heart God had moved got ready to go and rebuild the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem.

 It was essential that God move the spirits of these returning exiles, because they faced many difficulties.

· The journey itself was long, dangerous, and expensive.

· They returned to a city in ruins with no proper homes, roads, or city institutions.

· They didn’t have all the material resources they needed.

· They didn’t all return to Jerusalem but spread out over the province of Judea.

· They had many enemies.

· Their land was actually the possession of another empire.

–David Guzik

Psalm 127:1 (NIV)

Unless the LORD builds the house,
   the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
   the guards stand watch in vain.

6 All their neighbors helped them by giving them many things: silver utensils, gold, supplies, pack animals, other valuables, and offerings for the Temple.

7 Emperor Cyrus gave them back the bowls and cups that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem and had put in the temple of his gods.8 He handed them over to Mithredath, chief of the royal treasury, who made an inventory of them for Sheshbazzar, the governor of Judah,

Sheshbazzar’s name is Babylonian, but he was likely a Jewish official; some scholars believe Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel were the same person.

9-10 as follows:

gold bowls for offerings    30
silver bowls for offerings    1,000
other bowls    29
small gold bowls    30
small silver bowls    410
other utensils    1,000

silver bowl with gold inlay, from Iran, 6th century BCE, now in the Miho Museum in Japan

11 In all there were 5,400 gold and silver bowls and other articles which Sheshbazzar took with him when he and the other exiles went from Babylon to Jerusalem.

The careful reckoning of the returned articles shows how valued they were and how carefully they were treated.

What is conspicuously missing from the list is any mention of the more significant articles of the temple – the altar of incense, the table of showbread, the brazen altar, the golden lampstand, and especially the ark of the covenant. These articles were presumably lost to history at the destruction of the temple by the Babylonians.



HERE  is “He Is Lord” sung in Farsi, the most widely spoken Persian language. Christianity has a long history in present-day Iran, although the situation presently is very difficult, as Christians are closely monitored, Bibles are confiscated, and Christian religious education is restricted (even within the churches).  Pray for the believers in Iran!


Good News Translation (GNT)   Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
Cyrus the Great.    http://listverse.com/2008/10/11/top-10-most-successful-military-commanders/
rebuilding the temple.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/nehemiah_rebuilding_jerusalem.jpg
silver bowl.    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3384/4638121772_ae46ae484c.jpg

3352.) Psalm 90

February 22, 2022

Psalm 90   (English Standard Version)

From Everlasting to Everlasting

“Psalm 90 is one of the most magisterial of the psalms.”
–Walter Brueggemann

A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.

Moses taught the people of Israel to pray, and put words into their mouths which they might make use of in turning to the Lord. Moses is here called the man of God, because he was a prophet, the father of prophets, and an eminent type of the great prophet.

–Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, 1710

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You return man to dust
    and say, “Return, O children of man!”
For a thousand years in your sight
    are but as yesterday when it is past,
    or as a watch in the night.

2 Peter 3:8-9 (ESV)

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
    like grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
    in the evening it fades and withers.

Psalm 90 has long been used at funerals and burials.

There was a young lady from Guam,
Who said, “Now the sea is so calm,
I will swim, for a lark.”
But she met with a shark —
Let us now sing the ninetieth psalm.

For we are brought to an end by your anger;
    by your wrath we are dismayed.
You have set our iniquities before you,
    our secret sins in the light of your presence.

9 For all our days pass away under your wrath;
    we bring our years to an end like a sigh.

Verse 9 in the King James Version —  For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.

“A tale that is told.” That rings a bell. I wonder if Shakespeare didn’t have Psalm 90 in front of him as he wrote Macbeth’s soliloquy (Act V, scene v):

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

10 The years of our life are seventy,
    or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
    they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11 Who considers the power of your anger,
    and your wrath according to the fear of you?

12 So teach us to number our days
    that we may get a heart of wisdom.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Some time ago I was given two big pieces of soap, and I use both every day. For a while I saw very little difference in either, but gradually I saw that both were just a little less. Of course one can’t at the same time both give and keep, and soap is always giving. Every time you use it, it gives you something of itself, so naturally it becomes less and less.

Did you ever think of life as a piece of soap? Every day, hour, minute, it is giving you something of itself. Soon it will have given all, and then there won’t be any more of it here. When we are young we think things will go on just as they are forever. But they don’t.

Next time you use your soap, will you think of the little prayer in Psalm 90:12?

13 Return, O Lord! How long?
    Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    and for as many years as we have seen evil.

My father taught me to say, as soon as I awakened in the morning, “This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.” And my mother often said, “Today is the best day of my life.” When I questioned her once for saying it so often, she explained, “But today is the only day I have. Yesterday is gone, and who knows about tomorrow?” My parents were both children of the Depression. They had to be terribly frugal most of their lives. Death and disappointment were frequent visitors in their experiences. But they lived out the verses above, in that they were glad even in the days that included affliction.

If you are basing your joy on your circumstances, on your present situation, on sunny breezes and the comfortable situation you inhabit, then following this command day in and day out will not be easy. But if you are satisfied with God’s mercy, if you do not forget the joy of Christ risen! — then you will find, even in the dark days, the glory of the Lord present in your heart.

May God help us to put our confidence and our joy in Christ, who alone is worthy of all our praise!

16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
    and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
    and establish the work of our hands upon us;
    yes, establish the work of our hands!

So our situation is not finally defined by dust and grass, but by the One who brings us and keeps us home safely.



The hymn “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” a paraphrase of Psalm 90, was written by Isaac Watts in 1719. It is sung  HERE  by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. The choral piece is sandwiched between two partial keyboard pieces using the tune, St. Anne. If you feel cheated at the end and want to hear all of J. S. Bach’s beautiful Fugue in E-Flat (St. Anne) BWV 552, go to YouTube and you can listen to a wide variety of renditions; I recommend it!


English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Psalm 90:1-2.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/psalm-90-1-2.jpg
clock.  https://onceuponarhyme.org/2020/09/20/midnight/
burial.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/funeral-pictures.jpg
Macbeth.   http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/shakespeare/60secondshakespeare/images/star/macbeth.jpg
washing with soap.  http://www.heartlandscience.org/future-horizons
Fruit of the Spirit.   http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u62/ParkcrestHSM/blogg/FruitoftheSpirit02JoyTitle.jpg

3351.) Mark 16

February 21, 2022
"Women Arriving at the Tomb” by contemporary Chinese artist He Qi

“Women Arriving at the Tomb” by contemporary Chinese artist He Qi

Mark 16 (New Living Translation)

The Resurrection

1 Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. 3 On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. 5 When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, 6 but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!

There are several examples in the Bible of people being resuscitated before this, such as the widow’s son in the days of Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-24) and Lazarus (John 11:38-44). Each of these was resuscitated from death, but none of them were resurrected. Each of them was raised in the same body they died in, and raised from the dead to eventually die again. Resurrection isn’t just living again; it is living again in a new body, based on our old body, perfectly suited for life in eternity. Jesus was not the first one brought back from the dead, but He was the first one resurrected.

–David Guzik

Look, this is where they laid his body. 7 Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”

Easter Creed

This is the good news which we received,

in which we stand, and by which we are saved;

that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures,

that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day;

and that He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve,

and to so many faithful witnesses.

We believe He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

He is our Lord and our God. Amen.

8 The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened.

The most reliable early manuscripts conclude the Gospel of Mark  at verse 8.

–footnote from my New Living Bible

To end the gospel on such a resounding note of failure is very upsetting from a modern perspective.  After observing Jesus’ continual struggles to make his disciples understand his teachings and seeing their ultimate failure, readers want so much for someone in the story to prove faithful to Jesus. It is devastating to watch those who have already demonstrated more faithfulness than the Twelve fail as well! 

But from an ancient perspective the very point of the Gospel of Mark may rest with this painful ending. Ancient writing was intended to do things, to make people act or believe or change their behavior, not just to entertain them with a suitably concluded literary experience. Certainly the Gospel of Mark was not written simply to entertain its audience, for a Gospel that argues so ardently about the imminent coming of the end of the world has no time for mere aesthetic pleasure. The expectations raised and then crushed by the end of the Gospel are intended to move the hearers of the Gospel to action. If the women do not carry the message, is there anyone else who can? Is there anyone else who has heard Jesus’ preaching, seen his healings, watched his crucifixion and burial, and listened to the wondrous announcement of the resurrection? 

Well, yes! The audience of the Gospel has heard all of this. At the end and indeed by means of the end itself, the audience of the Gospel of Mark, both women and men, are challenged to become themselves faithful disciples, carrying the message to the world, doing what some of characters in the Gospel have not . . .

The ending of Mark intends to arouse the emotions of its hearers and readers into faithful disciples and followers, for very little time remains until this present evil world is wiped away and God’s fruitful kingdom is established.

–from “Mark” by Mary Ann Tolbert, in The Women’s Bible Commentary


(During Mark, portions of this book will be presented to help us understand our faith more deeply than perhaps we have before. I hope you enjoy learning more about Jesus as a Jewish man — and through these passages, see and appreciate more clearly the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.)


What would you say if someone were to ask you to identify the single most important event in the New Testament? Like most of us you would probably respond that it was the death and resurrection of Christ. But what would you say if someone were to ask the same question about the Old Testament? How could you pick from all the possibilities? The creation? The flood? The covenant with Abraham? Entering the Promised Land? Building the temple? Though we might find the question perplexing, the answer would seem obvious to most Jewish people. Their miraculous delivery from Egypt is the event mentioned over and over in the Old Testament — almost every book refers to it. It is the one event they mention in nearly every worship service.

Whenever God wanted to emphasize why his people should obey him, he reminded them of how he had rescued them and forged them into his own people. “I am the God who brought you up out of Egypt,” he kept repeating . . .

Similarly, as followers of Christ, we can continually remind ourselves of how Jesus, the Passover Lamb has redeemed us from death. We can forgive because we have been forgiven. We can serve, because Christ humbled himself for us. We can love, because we have experienced the extravagant love of God in our own lives. We have a new life and a new hope, because Jesus fulfilled the ancient feast of Passover.

(pp. 109-110)

[Shorter Ending of Mark]

Then they briefly reported all this to Peter and his companions. Afterward Jesus himself sent them out from east to west with the sacred and unfailing message of salvation that gives eternal life. Amen.

“Upon a life I did not live,
upon a death I did not die;
another’s life, another’s death,
I stake my whole eternity.”

– Horatius Bonar

[Longer Ending of Mark]

9 After Jesus rose from the dead early on Sunday morning, the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went to the disciples, who were grieving and weeping, and told them what had happened. 11 But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen him, they didn’t believe her. 12 Afterward he appeared in a different form to two of his followers who were walking from Jerusalem into the country. 13 They rushed back to tell the others, but no one believed them.

14 Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead.

Take with you the joy of Easter to the home, and make that home bright with more unselfish love, more hearty service; take it into your work, and do all in the name of the Lord Jesus; take it to your heart, and let that heart rise anew on Easter wings to a higher, a gladder, a fuller life; take it to the dear grave-side and say there the two words “Jesus lives!” and find in them the secret of calm expectation, the hope of eternal reunion.

–John Ellerton

15 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. 17 These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. 18 They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

19 When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 20 And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.



HERE  is Keith Green and that joyfully wonderful “Easter Song.”


The end of Mark. I have so enjoyed going through his gospel and seeing again Jesus serving the people around him without reservation, even to dying for them! Have you heard something new from Mark? Has the Holy Spirit been whispering into your ear as you have been going through these gospel chapters? Please share your thoughts!

DWELLING with you,



New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
He Qi.    https://www.heqiart.com/store/p81/35_Women-Arriving-at-the-Tomb_Artist_Proof_.html
Easter lily painted by Marni Maree.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/easterlilymarnimaree1.jpg
The End.    http://hadassahsabo.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/the-end-3.jpg
nail-scarred hands.    https://jgrayh.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/17115.jpg
empty tomb.    https://purechristianity.blogs.com/.a/6a00d83451e7a169e20240a456b6a3200c-popup

3350.) Mark 15:21-47

February 18, 2022
“Crucifix” by Gizella Domotor, 1925 (Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest)

“Crucifix” by Gizella Domotor, 1925 (Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest)

Mark 15:21-47 (New Living Translation)

The Crucifixion

21 A passerby named Simon, who was from Cyrene, was coming in from the countryside just then, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.)

“Simon from Cyrene and Christ” by Titian, 1565 (Museo del Prado, Madrid)

“Simon from Cyrene and Christ” by Titian, 1565 (Museo del Prado, Madrid)

Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve:
To give and not count the cost;
To fight and not heed the wounds;
To toil and not seek for rest;
To labor and not ask for reward,
save that of knowing that we do your will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–a prayer of Ignatius Loyola

22 And they brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). 23 They offered him wine drugged with myrrh, but he refused it. 24 Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross. They divided his clothes and threw dice to decide who would get each piece. 25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26 A sign was fastened to the cross, announcing the charge against him. It read, “The King of the Jews.”

Signs were placed on crosses as a warning to others with wrong-doing in mind. Since Christ was never convicted of a “crime,” his sign simply pointed to the truth, that he was God’s Son, the King of the Jews. John’s gospel tells us the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek.

And Jesus is not “King of the Jews” only:

Revelation 19:11-16 (NIV)

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:


27Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.29 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. 30 Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!”

31 The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him.

The Death of Jesus

“Golgotha” by Jean-Leon Gerome, 1867 (Musee d”Orsay, Paris)

33 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 34 Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” 35 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 36 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down!”

37 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

39 When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

40 Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph), and Salome. 41 They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for him while he was in Galilee. Many other women who had come with him to Jerusalem were also there.


–G. A. Studdert-Kennedy
(a British Anglican priest and a chaplain in World War I)

When Jesus came to Golgotha, they hanged Him on a tree,
They drove great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep,
For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.

When Jesus came to Birmingham, they simply passed Him by.
They would not hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die;
For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,
They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain.

Still Jesus cried, ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do, ‘
And still it rained the winter rain that drenched Him through and through;
The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,
And Jesus crouched against a wall, and cried for Calvary.

The Burial of Jesus

42 This all happened on Friday, the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath. As evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea took a risk and went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. (Joseph was an honored member of the high council, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come.) 44 Pilate couldn’t believe that Jesus was already dead, so he called for the Roman officer and asked if he had died yet. 45 The officer confirmed that Jesus was dead, so Pilate told Joseph he could have the body. 46 Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus’ body was laid.


Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward
by John Donne

(This poem moves me every time I read it, and I have read it every Good Friday for more than forty years.)

Let man’s soul be a sphere, and then, in this,
Th’ intelligence that moves, devotion is ;
And as the other spheres, by being grown
Subject to foreign motion, lose their own,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a year their natural form obey ;
Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit
For their first mover, and are whirl’d by it.
Hence is’t, that I am carried towards the west,
This day, when my soul’s form bends to the East.
There I should see a Sun by rising set,
And by that setting endless day beget.
But that Christ on His cross did rise and fall,
Sin had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for me.
Who sees Gods face, that is self-life, must die ;
What a death were it then to see God die ?
It made His own lieutenant, Nature, shrink,
It made His footstool crack, and the sun wink.
Could I behold those hands, which span the poles
And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes ?
Could I behold that endless height, which is
Zenith to us and our antipodes,
Humbled below us ? or that blood, which is
The seat of all our soul’s, if not of His,
Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn
By God for His apparel, ragg’d and torn ?
If on these things I durst not look, durst I
On His distressed Mother cast mine eye,
Who was God’s partner here, and furnish’d thus
Half of that sacrifice which ransom’d us ?
Though these things as I ride be from mine eye,
They’re present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them ; and Thou look’st towards me,
O Saviour, as Thou hang’st upon the tree.
I turn my back to thee but to receive
Corrections till Thy mercies bid Thee leave.
O think me worth Thine anger, punish me,
Burn off my rust, and my deformity ;
Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace,
That Thou mayst know me, and I’ll turn my face.



HERE  is “Sing to Jesus”  by Fernando Ortega.


New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Domotor.     http://www.oceansbridge.com/oil-paintings/product/59735/crucifix1925
Titian.    http://cache2.artprintimages.com/p/LRG/14/1453/VJSR000Z/art-print/titian-tiziano-vecelli-christ-and-simon-the-cyrenian.jpg
sign on the cross.    http://bibleencyclopedia.com/picturesjpeg/Sign_above_cross_1216-259.jpg
Gerome.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/gerome1.jpg
cross with nail.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/cross-with-nail1.jpg
drawing of Christ on the cross.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/good-friday.jpg

3349.) Mark 15:1-20

February 17, 2022

Mark 15:1-20 (New Living Translation)

Jesus’ Trial before Pilate

1 Very early in the morning the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law—the entire high council—met to discuss their next step. They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.

Why did the Jewish leaders take Jesus to Pilate at all? First, they did not have the legal right to execute their own criminals because Rome revoked that right in A.D. 7. At the time, the Jews regarded this loss as a national disaster because to them it was the final proof that they no longer had the basic right of self-government-–to punish their own criminals–-and it demonstrated that they were totally under the boot of Rome. There were times when the Jews disregarded this prohibition of the Romans and executed those they considered criminals, such as at the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:57-60). Why didn’t they take things into their own hands regarding Jesus? Because they knew multitudes had a favorable opinion of Jesus and if Pilate executed Him, they could distance themselves from the political fallout.

–David Guzik

2 Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

Tiberius, the Roman emperor A.D. 14-37 (in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

The Jewish religious leaders carefully selected that particular accusation against Jesus to present to the governor. If they had said to Pilate that Jesus claimed to be God, Pilate would not have cared, since the Romans worshiped many and various gods and they were believed to appear in human form on occasion. But calling Jesus a king of any kind was a political statement, and the Romans were strict about that:  there was no king but Caesar. 

3 Then the leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, 4 and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” 5 But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise.

6 Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner—anyone the people requested. 7 One of the prisoners at that time was Barabbas, a revolutionary who had committed murder in an uprising. 8 The crowd went to Pilate and asked him to release a prisoner as usual.

9 “Would you like me to release to you this ‘King of the Jews’?” Pilate asked. 10 (For he realized by now that the leading priests had arrested Jesus out of envy.) 11 But at this point the leading priests stirred up the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus. 12 Pilate asked them, “Then what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?”

13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!”

14 “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”

But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”

15 So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them.

Mark 15 John 14.6

from Peculiar Treasures:  A Biblical Who’s Who
by Frederick Buechner


Pilate told the people that they could choose to spare the life of either a murderer named Barabbas or Jesus of Nazareth, and they chose Barabbas. Given the same choice, Jesus, of course, would have chosen to spare Barabbas too.

To understand the reason in each case would be to understand much of what the New Testament means by saying that Jesus is the Savior, and much of what it means too by saying that, by and large, people are in bad need of being saved.

He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

16 The soldiers took Jesus into the courtyard of the governor’s headquarters (called the Praetorium) and called out the entire regiment. 17 They dressed him in a purple robe, and they wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head. 18 Then they saluted him and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” 19 And they struck him on the head with a reed stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship. 20 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.

1 Peter 1:18-19 (NIV)

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors,  but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.



HERE  Fernando Ortega sings “O Sacred Head Now Wounded.”

Lord, let me never, never outlive my love for thee.


New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Jesus with a crown of thorns.   http://thegreengrandma.blogspot.com/2013/03/
Tiberius.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/db/Tiberius_enamel_bust.JPG
I am the way . . .  https://www.teahub.io/viewwp/ihmbxoJ_christ-alone-john-still-image-john14-6/
Christ beaten (from the movie The Passion of Christ).    http://filipinoscribbles.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/passion_scourge.jpg

3348.) Mark 14:53-72

February 16, 2022
Mark14 Church Gallicantu

The Church of St. Peter of Gallicantu, lower level. Built over the deep pit, the crypt occupies a large space cut out of the rock. This place may be the courtyard where Peter was when he denied Jesus, sitting around a campfire with the guards. The mosaic depicts Peter weeping.

Mark 14:53-72 (New Living Translation)

Jesus before the Council

53 They took Jesus to the high priest’s home where the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law had gathered. 54 Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and went right into the high priest’s courtyard. There he sat with the guards, warming himself by the fire.

55 Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find evidence against Jesus, so they could put him to death. But they couldn’t find any. 56 Many false witnesses spoke against him, but they contradicted each other. 57 Finally, some men stood up and gave this false testimony: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this Temple made with human hands, and in three days I will build another, made without human hands.’” 59 But even then they didn’t get their stories straight!

In ancient Greece and Rome, the destruction or desecration of a holy place was considered a capital offense.

60 Then the high priest stood up before the others and asked Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” 61 But Jesus was silent and made no reply. Then the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

62 Jesus said, “I Am. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

63 Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Why do we need other witnesses? 64 You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?”

“Guilty!” they all cried. “He deserves to die!”

65 Then some of them began to spit at him, and they blindfolded him and beat him with their fists. “Prophesy to us,” they jeered. And the guards slapped him as they took him away.

Even as the guards slap him and mock him for being a false prophet (“Prophesy!”), his prophecy of Peter’s denial is coming true in the courtyard outside.

Peter Denies Jesus

66 Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard below. One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by 67 and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, “You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth.”

68 But Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, and he went out into the entryway. Just then, a rooster crowed.

Jesus stands up before the High Council’s accusations and tauntings and remains strong. Peter falls apart because a little servant girl is curious. Jesus had prepared himself in fervent prayer that showed his trust in the Father and his submission to God’s will. Peter had thought he was strong enough to manage this on his own.

Note to self:  DO NOT MISS the lesson here for my own life!

69 When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!” 70 But Peter denied it again.

(During Mark, portions of this book will be presented to help us understand our faith more deeply than perhaps we have before. I hope you enjoy learning more about Jesus as a Jewish man — and through these passages, see and appreciate more clearly the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.)


A rabbi and his disciple were expected to form a close personal bond-–hardly surprising given the amount of time they spent together and the important life issues they were constantly discussing. This closeness between rabbi and disciple was considered essential to the learning process. It has been said, just as one candle lights another only if it is brought close, so a rabbi only teaches well when he is close to his disciples.

During the time of Jesus, one’s rabbi was considered to be as dear as one’s own father, and it was traditional for disciples to show the same reverence for their rabbi as their father, or even more. It was said, “Your father brought you into this world, but your rabbi brings you into the life of the world to come!”

We find statements like, “If a man’s father and his rabbi are both taken captive, a disciple should ransom his rabbi first,” and “If his father and his master are carrying heavy burdens, he removes that of his master, and afterward removes that of his father.” The point of such sayings was to highlight the utter devotion a disciple should display to his rabbi. Rabbis were also deeply committed to their disciples, as evidenced by such saying as this:  “If a disciple is sent into exile, his rabbi should go with him.” A famous sage by the name of Rabbi Akiva once cared for a sick disciple, coming to his home and even performing housework until he returned to health.

No wonder Peter told Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you!” (Mark 10:28), and later, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (Mark 14:13). He was reflecting the deep devotion that disciples felt for their rabbis at that time. Peter’s devotion stands in direct contrast to Judas’s disloyalty, highlighting how unthinkable it would have been for a disciple to betray his rabbi with a kiss! By understanding the traditional bond between rabbi and disciple we can also sense the depth of Peter’s anguish after denying Jesus three times, and then his overwhelming gratitude on the shore of the Sea of Galilee when the risen Christ made him breakfast and reinstated him (John 21:17).

(pp. 58-59)

A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, “You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.”

71 Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed the second time.

“Peter’s Betrayal” by Carl Heinrich Bloch

Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.



The hymn “Ah, Holy Jesus” will soon be 400 years old, yet it continues to challenge its readers/singers (= us) to recognize our own sins and our culpability:  ‘Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee, I crucified thee.  HERE  it is.


New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Church of St. Peter of Gallicantu.     http://www.galenfrysinger.com/jerusalem_sanhedrin.htm
Jesus praying.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/jesusatprayer.jpg
Bloch.    https://www.carlbloch.org/Peters-Betrayal.html

3347.) Mark 14:27-52

February 15, 2022

The Garden of Gethsemane (the name means “oil press”) is located at the foot of the Mount of Olives.  Ancient trees in the garden are said to be 900 years old.

Mark 14:27-52 (New Living Translation)

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

27 On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say,

‘God will strike the Shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’

28 But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”

29 Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.”

1 Corinthians 10:12 (Amplified Bible)

Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands [who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm], take heed lest he fall [into sin].

30 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.”

31 “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same.

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

32 They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. 34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

A miniature from the Rosenwald Book of Hours, 1533, now in the Library of Congress.

from Whispers of his Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Mary Mozley of Central Africa wrote in a letter:  “Somebody suggested this thought to me, and it came home to me the other day in reading about Christ in Gethsemane—that the way to show true sympathy is not to pity, but to stand by and strengthen the sufferer to do God’s will. And in Gethsemane, when Christ turned to the three for sympathy, it was with the words, ‘Watch with Me,’ ‘Stand by Me.’ He asked for no pity, but for the strengthening which might seem a feeble help, just that they might let their presence and prayer tell there for Him, to strengthen Him to do the will of God.”

The Lord help each one of us to “stand by” one another with just this kind of bracing sympathy.

35 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 36 “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”



HERE  is “Gethsemane”  by Keith (piano) and Kristyn (voice) Getty, modern-day hymn writers.


37 Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 38 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

Jesus found victory at the cross by succeeding in the struggle in Gethsemane. Peter – just like us – failed in later temptation because he failed to watch and pray. The spiritual battle is often won or lost before the crisis comes.

–David Guzik

Let it never be said that we could not watch with Him one hour.

39 Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. 40 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say.

“Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping,
that awake we may watch with Christ,
and asleep we may rest in peace.”

–from the liturgy for Compline, Book of Common Prayer

41 When he returned to them the third time, he said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested

“The Taking of Christ”  by Caravaggio, c. 1602 (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin)

43 And immediately, even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders. 44 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss. Then you can take him away under guard.” 45 As soon as they arrived, Judas walked up to Jesus. “Rabbi!” he exclaimed, and gave him the kiss.

46 Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 47 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.

48 Jesus asked them, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? 49 Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there among you teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me.”

50 Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away. 51 One young man following behind was clothed only in a long linen shirt. When the mob tried to grab him, 52 he slipped out of his shirt and ran away naked.

Long tradition has assumed that this young man is Mark, the writer of this gospel. In this quiet way he says, “I was there.”

(During Mark, portions of this book will be presented to help us understand our faith more deeply than perhaps we have before. I hope you enjoy learning more about Jesus as a Jewish man — and through these passages, see and appreciate more clearly the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.)

ANOINTING  (cont.)

It seems likely that the smell of the perfume with which Mary anointed Jesus would have lingered for days. God may have used Mary’s act of devotion to telegraph a subtle but powerful message. Everywhere Jesus went during the final days of his life he had the fragrance of royalty. Jesus smelled like a king.

Imagine, in the garden of Gethsemane, as Judas and the guards approached Jesus to arrest him, the guards must have sniffed the air and wondered who stood before them. When Jesus was on trial, mocked, whipped, and stripped naked, even then the aroma may have clung to him. What an amazing God we have!

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ [the Anointed One] among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.  (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).

As Jesus’ followers, we spread the fragrance of our anointed Messiah everywhere we go.

(p. 18)


New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Garden of Gethsemane.    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabiti-anyabwile/six-reasons-the-father-silently-said-no-to-the-son-in-gethsemane/
rooster crowing.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/rooster1.jpg
Book of Hours, Gethsemane.     http://www.fromoldbooks.org/Rosenwald-BookOfHours/017-garden-of-gethsemane-q75-500×380.jpg
sun and moon.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/celestiallogo.jpg
Caravaggio.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Taking_of_Christ_(Caravaggio)#/media/File:The_Taking_of_Christ-Caravaggio_(c.1602).jpg