1546.) Mark 16

April 6, 2015
"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.)

REMEMBERING OUR REDEMPTION

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.

_________________________

Music:

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,

Rebecca

_________________________

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.    http://www.artbible.net/3JC/-Mat-28,01_Women_Resurrection_Femmes/17th_21th_Siecle/21%20HE%20QI%20NATIVITY%20WOMEN%20ARRIVING%20AT%20THE%20TOMB.jpg
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.    http://www.wordjourney.com/images/nail-scarred-hands.jpg
empty tomb.    http://www.urbanchristiannews.com/ucn/empty_tomb23456.jpg

1545.) Mark 15:21-47

April 3, 2015
“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:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

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.

Indifference

–G. A. Studdert-Kennedy
(a British Anglican priest and a chaplain in World War 1)

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.

_________________________

Music:

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

1544.) Mark 15:1-20

April 2, 2015

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.

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

BARABBAS

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.

_________________________

Music:

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://www.credomag.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/crown-of-thorns.jpg
Tiberius.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/db/Tiberius_enamel_bust.JPG
I am the way . . .   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/john_14_6.jpg?w=450
Christ beaten (from the movie The Passion of Christ).    http://filipinoscribbles.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/passion_scourge.jpg

1543.) Mark 14:53-72

April 1, 2015

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.)

THE RABBI-DISCIPLE BOND

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.

_________________________

Music:

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://images.cdn.fotopedia.com/jeans-mzkKm2o_jRc-image.jpg
Jesus praying.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/jesusatprayer.jpg
Bloch.     http://www.painting-palace.com/files/173/17208_Peters_Betrayal_f.jpg

1542.) Mark 14:27-52

March 31, 2015

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.”

_________________________

Music:

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.    http://igoogledisrael.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/GardenofGethsemane.jpg
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.    http://www.bible-people.info/kiss-of-judas-caravaggio.jpg

1541.) Mark 14:1-26

March 30, 2015

The Last Supper, by Leonardo daVinci, measures 15 feet by 29 feet and covers an end wall of the dining hall at the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy.

Mark 14:1-26 (New Living Translation)

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

1 It was now two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law were still looking for an opportunity to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the Passover celebration,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.”

3 Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.

NARD.

This hardy herb, a member of the Valerianaceae family, grows in the foothills of the Himalayas. The part of the plant growing underground has the appearance of a fibrous spindle, and is rich in the precious essential oil.

From India, nard traveled, in the form of a dry rhizome or oil phase extract, via Persia, under the name nardin.

Horace offered to send Virgil a whole barrel of his best wine in exchange for a phial of nard. Though nard is now rare on the shelves of the western perfumer, its name stood for centuries as an evocation of the perfume of the lost Garden of Eden, and in literature, nard came to refer to any perfume, as long as it was exquisite.

By relating that it was contained in an alabaster flask, Mark (14:3) and Matthew (26:7) further underline the precious nature of the nard given to Christ.

–from  http://www.biblefragrances.net/nard.html

4 Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked. 5 “It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly.

6 But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me?

from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CARRIED AWAY FOR HIM?

“She hath wrought a good work on Me.” — Mark 14:6

If human love does not carry a man beyond himself, it is not love. If love is always discreet, always wise, always sensible and calculating, never carried beyond itself, it is not love at all. It may be affection, it may be warmth of feeling, but it has not the true nature of love in it.

Have I ever been carried away to do something for God not because it was my duty, nor because it was useful, nor because there was anything in it at all beyond the fact that I love Him? Have I ever realized that I can bring to God things which are of value to Him, or am I mooning round the magnitude of His Redemption whilst there are any number of things I might be doing? Not Divine, colossal things which could be recorded as marvellous, but ordinary, simple human things which will give evidence to God that I am abandoned to Him? Have I ever produced in the heart of the Lord Jesus what Mary of Bethany produced?

There are times when it seems as if God watches to see if we will give Him the abandoned tokens of how genuinely we do love Him. Abandon to God is of more value than personal holiness. Personal holiness focuses the eye on our own whiteness; we are greatly concerned about the way we walk and talk and look, fearful lest we offend Him. Perfect love casts out all that when once we are abandoned to God. We have to get rid of this notion – “Am I of any use?” and make up our minds that we are not, and we may be near the truth. It is never a question of being of use, but of being of value to God Himself. When we are abandoned to God, He works through us all the time.

7 You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. 9 I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”

(Here is an interesting point of the text for telling aloud.  For a reader, the verse is clear enough — the woman’s deed will be “remembered and discussed.”  But when someone says that phrase aloud, the listener may hear “remembered in disgust.”  So I tell that verse as it is found in the Contemporary English Version:  “people will remember what she has done. And they will tell others.”  No confusion!)

(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

Without understanding the cultural background in which this anointing took place, it’s easy to miss the full significance of the dramatic gesture of this woman (John says it was Mary, John 12:3).  What exactly was she trying to communicate?  Jesus himself clarified one aspect of the story by commenting that she was preparing him for the day of his burial.  We understand that her act of devotion pointed toward Christ’s death at the end of the week.  But we miss something else that the disciples would have immediately realized, something so obvious that Jesus didn’t even need to mention it.  By anointing him with expensive fragrances, Mary may well have been making a statement about who she believed Jesus was, proclaiming him as Messiah.  In fact, the Hebrew word for Messiah is Mashiach, which literally means “the Anointed One.”  Christos, or “Christ,” is the Greek equivalent.

But why “the Anointed One”?  The word “Messiah” alludes to the ceremony used to set apart someone chosen by God, like a king or a priest.  Instead of being crowned during a coronation, Hebrew kings were anointed with sacred oil perfumed with extremely expensive spices.  Only used for consecrating objects in the temple and for anointing priests and kings, the sacred anointing oil would have been more valuable than diamonds.  The marvelous scent that it left behind acted like an invisible “crown,” conferring an aura of holiness on its recipients.  Everything and everyone with that unique fragrance was recognized as belonging to God in a special way.

In the ancient Middle East, the majesty of a king was expressed not only by what he wore—his jewelry and robes—but by his royal “aroma.”  Even after a king was first anointed, he would perfume his robes with precious oils for special occasions.  Listen to a line from King David’s wedding song:

You love righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God,
has set you above your companions

by anointing you with the oil of joy.
All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
(Psalm 45:7-8)

(pp. 16-17)

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests to arrange to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted when they heard why he had come, and they promised to give him money. So he began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

The Last Supper

12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go to prepare the Passover meal for you?”

13 So Jesus sent two of them into Jerusalem with these instructions: “As you go into the city, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him.

A man carrying a pitcher was an unusual sight. Women usually carried liquids in pitchers and men normally carried liquids in animal skin containers. Therefore, a man carrying a pitcher would be a distinctive sign to the disciples.

–David Guzik

14 At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ 15 He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” 16 So the two disciples went into the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.

17 In the evening Jesus arrived with the twelve disciples. 18 As they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.”

19 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one?”

20 He replied, “It is one of you twelve who is eating from this bowl with me. 21 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”

22 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it, for this is my body.”

23 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many. 25 I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.”

Revelation 19:9 (English Standard Version)

And the angel said to me, “Write this:  Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

26 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

“In Communion we look in at ourselves and confess the things that have gone wrong.  We look back to Calvary and praise Jesus for his death for us.  We look up to his risen presence, longing to nourish us through the bread and the cup which he said were his body and blood.  We look around in love and fellowship with other guests at God’s table.  We look forward to his return at the end of all history, the marriage supper of the Lamb, of which every Communion service is a foretaste.  And then we look out to a needy world; Communion is battle rations for Christian soldiers.”

–from the Manuel for the Free Methodist Church in Canada

_________________________

Music:

From the 4th century Liturgy of St. James, a lovely Eucharistic hymn:  “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.”  My favorite lines:  He will give to all the faithful His own self for heavenly food. 

Fernando Ortega is a peaceful soul and his music reflects that.  As we come to the final chapters of Mark,  we will have three songs sung  by Fernando Ortega.  HERE is the one for today.

_________________________

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:
daVinci.    http://www.sonofman.org/images/ROM37.JPG
nard.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/nard.jpg?w=450
stained glass of Jesus being anointed, from a chapel dedicated to Mary Magdalene in Provence.     http://www.mythicjourneys.org/images/Mary%20Magdalene%20Anointing%20Jesus%20stained%20glass.jpg
Timenes.    http://chrishubbs.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/1-brdogvin.jpg
invitation.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/youre-invited.jpg

1540.) Mark 13

March 27, 2015

Several of these billboards predicting Jesus’ return were up around Orlando some years ago. Actually, this is the same group that predicted the return of Christ in 1994 . . . oops!  (But see verse 32 below!)

Mark 13 (New Living Translation)

Jesus Foretells the Future

1 As Jesus was leaving the Temple that day, one of his disciples said, “Teacher, look at these magnificent buildings! Look at the impressive stones in the walls.”

2 Jesus replied, “Yes, look at these great buildings. But they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”

This temple was originally rebuilt by Zerubbabel and Ezra (Ezra 6:15), but greatly expanded and improved by Herod. It was the center of Jewish life for almost a thousand years — so much so, that it was customary to swear by the temple (Matthew 23:16), and speaking against the temple could be considered blasphemy (Acts 6:13).

After Herod’s work, the temple was huge — nearly 500 yards long and 400 yards wide. Herod’s rebuilding started in 19 B.C., and was not completed until A.D. 63, taking more than eighty years. The magnificent temple compound was finished only seven years before it was destroyed.

The beauty of the ancient temple is well documented. The Jewish historian Josephus says that the temple was covered on the outside with gold plates that were so brilliant that when the sun shone on them it blinded any observer. Where there wasn’t gold, there were blocks of marble of such a pure white that strangers, from a distance, thought there was snow on the temple.

The comment of the disciples – see what manner of stones and what buildings are here – is especially appropriate given the massive stones Herod used in building the temple. Today, tourists can see some of these massive stones, at least the ones used to build merely the retaining wall for the temple compound. These cut, quarried blocks of limestone are so big – some are 50 feet wide, 25 feet high, and 15 feet deep – that modern construction cranes could not lift them. Archaeologists are still not completely certain how these stones were cut, transported, and placed with such precision that they don’t even need mortar.

As great as the temple was, Jesus never hesitated to claim that He was greater than the temple (Matthew 12:5). For many Jews of that day, the temple had become an idol — it subtly began to mean more to the people than God Himself meant. The temple was a good thing, but good things can become the worst idols; and sometimes God sours even good things that we allow to become our idols. God is in the habit of destroying our idols.

–David Guzik

3 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives across the valley from the Temple. Peter, James, John, and Andrew came to him privately and asked him, 4 “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to be fulfilled?”

5 Jesus replied, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, 6 for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. 7 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. 8 Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in many parts of the world, as well as famines. But this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

9 “When these things begin to happen, watch out! You will be handed over to the local councils and beaten in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. 10 For the Good News must first be preached to all nations. 11 But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

This last verse, sad to say, has been so mis-used in the church!  The right words to speak will be given in an emergency or a difficult situation, Jesus says.  It is not an excuse for our own poor preparation.

12 “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. 13 And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Galatians 6:9 (English Standard Version)

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

14 “The day is coming when you will see the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing where he should not be.” (Reader, pay attention!) “Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. 15 A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. 16 A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat. 17 How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. 18 And pray that your flight will not be in winter. 19 For there will be greater anguish in those days than at any time since God created the world. And it will never be so great again. 20 In fact, unless the Lord shortens that time of calamity, not a single person will survive. But for the sake of his chosen ones he has shortened those days.

21 “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. 23 Watch out! I have warned you about this ahead of time!

24 “At that time, after the anguish of those days,

the sun will be darkened,
the moon will give no light,
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

26 Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.

(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.)

THE SON OF MAN

One of the most enigmatic phrases that ever came from Jesus’ lips is his unique name for himself, the “Son of Man.”  Over eighty times in the Gospels, Jesus uses this phrase in the third-person to refer to himself.  What does he mean?

Many Christians have assumed that Jesus is showing great humility by using this phrase.  Though divine, Jesus relates to our human condition.  Indeed, “son of man” in Hebrew and Aramaic can both be used in an idiomatic way to refer to a human being in general.  When associated with Jesus, the phrase could also have pointed to the fact that he is the true fulfillment of what a human being was supposed to be.

Jesus sometimes uses “Son of Man” in an ordinary way.  But more often he uses it in a very special sense, making bold claims about his messianic mission.  To catch what he is saying, we need to understand how the Jewish people of Jesus’ time interpreted a key messianic prophecy from the book of Daniel about an enigmatic figure called the “Son of Man.”  One night Daniel had a vivid dream in which he saw a great, heavenly court in session.  Suddenly, he saw “one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.”  Immediately this exalted figure approached the Ancient of Days and was “given authority, glory and sovereign power.”  Daniel goes on to say that “all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).

In the first century, this passage was universally understood as a reference to the coming Messiah.  The book of Daniel predicted the rise of great kingdoms, which would eventually fall to the authority of one supreme king, a king who would rule forever.  The pinnacle of Daniel’s prophecy was this scene in which a humanlike figure enters God’s throne room, is crowned, and then sits down on the throne to reign.

Jesus also speaks of himself as the Son of Man who will come in glory on the clouds, a clear reference to this passage from Daniel.  His audience would know exactly what he is saying . . .

Once we begin to hear Jesus’ words as though we are his contemporaries, steeped in an understanding of the Scriptures and the cultural context in which they were spoken, the power of his claims becomes both obvious and striking.  The enigmatic phrase “Son of Man” becomes a multifaceted summary of Christ’s entire redemptive mission, speaking of his humanity, his coming glory, and his role as Judge and Savior of all the earth.  No wonder so many of his listeners responded with either awe or anger at his words!

(pp. 47-49)

28 “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. 29 In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that his return is very near, right at the door. 30 I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene before all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.

32 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. 33 And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!

34 “The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. When he left home, he gave each of his slaves instructions about the work they were to do, and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return. 35 You, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return—in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak. 36 Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. 37 I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for him!”

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is one of my favorites from Hillsong — “Hosanna.”   Christ is coming, and won’t that be a glorious day!

_________________________

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:
billboard.     http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Wolves/harold_camping_nutcase.jpg
The end is near.     http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/Ten-Notable-Apocalypses-That-Obviously-Didnt-Happen.html
hand holding growing plant.    http://www.ubcfayetteville.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/05/renew.gif
Bible.     http://ivarfjeld.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/bible-blue14.jpg