Forty Days with Christ – November 30

I have invited our congregation to read the Gospel of Mark and Luke one chapter a day.  We began on November 15 and will conclude on Christmas Eve.  I invite you to read along with us. Please feel free to share comments, questions and insights.  I look forward to the interaction and the blessing of reading with you!

Introduction to Mark 16

Did you know there are two alternative endings to Mark?  The first is so brief it includes no depiction of the resurrected Christ.  Later, Christian communities felt there was too much missing. so additional endings were written to include what we have in this alternative second ending.  Biblical scholars point to the fact that this alternative ending does not appear in the earliest manuscripts of Mark.  When we compare the endings of Mark to those of the other Gospels, we can see that there are common themes that are shared and other traditions unique to each.  Which conclusion do you prefer?  

We have finished the Gospel of Mark.  Tomorrow we being the Gospel of Luke.  I know you will enjoy how Luke makes us aware of so much more about the life of Jesus.  Congratulations on finishing Mark!  On to Luke tomorrow.

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Forty Days with Christ – November 29

I have invited our congregation to read the Gospel of Mark and Luke one chapter a day.  We began on November 15 and will conclude on Christmas Eve.  I invite you to read along with us. Please feel free to share comments, questions and insights.  I look forward to the interaction and the blessing of reading with you!

Introduction to Mark 15

The central character here is of course Jesus.  But take time to consider how the crucifixion of Jesus impacts three men who are introduced to us at this juncture of the story.  Barabbas  seems to be the most unlikely of candidates to become entangled in this story.  Yet not even prison or our unworthiness can keep us excluded from the impact of the life of Jesus.  Simon of Cyrene literally gets dragged into the story.  We know very little about him.  But we know his name.  So there is more to the story than he was just some guy.  If he has been forced to do something that didn’t matter to him, we probably never would know anything about him. Why do you think we do?

Finally, we meet Joseph of Arimathea.  He willing wanted to expose himself to public ridicule or worse.  He offered himself and his future to make sure Jesus was given respect.

Does it matter to know that all three men played a role in making Resurrection possible and that the author of Mark wanted us to make sure we knew their names?  I think so.

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Forty Days with Christ – November 28

I have invited our congregation to read the Gospel of Mark and Luke one chapter a day.  We began on November 15 and will conclude on Christmas Eve.  I invite you to read along with us. Please feel free to share comments, questions and insights.  I look forward to the interaction and the blessing of reading with you!

Introduction to Mark 14

Mark 14 seems so foreign to this time of year.  We are beginning to focus on the birth of Christ. This scripture takes us into the time of the final horrific days of his life.  However the contrast serves a purpose.  The Peace and Joy of this season comes with a cost.  Resurrection can only be celebrated after death.  This section of Mark reveals the extent that Jesus was willing to go so we could hold on to a Hope and Love that never ends.

Mark 14

It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; for they said, ‘Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.’

While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head.But some were there who said to one another in anger, ‘Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.’ And they scolded her. But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.’

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, “The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’ So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.’ They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, ‘Surely, not I?’ He said to them, ‘It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.’

While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.’

When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.And Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters; for it is written,
“I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.”
But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though all become deserters, I will not.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ But he said vehemently, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And all of them said the same.

They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’ He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.’

Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.’ So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.’ All of them deserted him and fled.

A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.

They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, ‘We heard him say, “I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.”’ But even on this point their testimony did not agree. Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, ‘Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?’ But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ Jesus said, ‘I am; and
“you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power”,
and “coming with the clouds of heaven.” ’
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?’ All of them condemned him as deserving death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, ‘Prophesy!’ The guards also took him over and beat him.

While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, ‘You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘I do not know or understand what you are talking about.’ And he went out into the forecourt. Then the cock crowed. And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, ‘This man is one of them.’ But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.’ But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, ‘I do not know this man you are talking about.’ At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.  Amen.

Forty Days with Christ – November 27

I have invited our congregation to read the Gospel of Mark and Luke one chapter a day.  We began on November 15 and will conclude on Christmas Eve.  I invite you to read along with us. Please feel free to share comments, questions and insights.  I look forward to the interaction and the blessing of reading with you!

Introduction to Mark 13

As we leave Thanksgiving, we immediately enter the season of Advent where we turn our attention to the arrival of Christ into the world.  The scripture often used at the beginning of Advent comes from passages like Mark 13.  This is apocalyptic literature, looking to the arrival of the Messiah and the end of the world it was believed to bring.  

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Forty Days with Christ – November 26

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!

I have invited our congregation to read the Gospel of Mark and Luke one chapter a day.  We began on November 15 and will conclude on Christmas Eve.  I invite you to read along with us. Please feel free to share comments, questions and insights.  I look forward to the interaction and the blessing of reading with you!

Introduction to Mark 12

Jesus is in full battle with the rigidness of religion.  His message to those who felt their history was enough to be declared faithful were reminded that part of their history also included times of rejection of God and the prophets.  Yet, God continued to send prophets and now had come in human form in the person of Christ.  (Son of God).  

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Forty Days with Christ November 25

I have invited our congregation to read the Gospel of Mark and Luke one chapter a day.  We began on November 15 and will conclude on Christmas Eve.  I invite you to read along with us. Please feel free to share comments, questions and insights.  I look forward to the interaction and the blessing of reading with you!

Introduction to Mark 11

The scripture we use for Palm Sunday is shared earlier in the ministry of Jesus than the other Gospels.  Jesus would have gone to Jerusalem many times in his life on pilgrimage to the Holy City.  This journey is unlike any other.  This is a declaration of  his prophetic ministry.  It is a line in the sand the would bring greater focus to everything he said and did.

His harsh treatment of the fig tree reflects two truths.  One, Jesus was both fully divine and fully human.  There are times his humanity comes through and can either serve to make us uncomfortable or comfortable knowing Jesus understands our human moments.  The second is that Jesus expects fruitfulness from trees, disciples, churches, etc.

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Forty Days with Christ -November 24

I have invited our congregation to read the Gospel of Mark and Luke one chapter a day.  We began on November 15 and will conclude on Christmas Eve.  I invite you to read along with us. Please feel free to share comments, questions and insights.  I look forward to the interaction and the blessing of reading with you!

Introduction to Mark 10

So what are we do to with this chapter?  It begins with Jesus taking a very hard stance against divorce.  This comes not out of his lesson plan.  It comes after another hostile interrogation by those who were already making plans to destroy him.  Jesus is angry over the shallowness of his questioners and carries through to his refuting of Mosiac Law which allowed for divorce if the man desired it.  Too often this passage has been used to induce guilt more than shed light.  Divorce is never the intended plan for God nor in my experience in the expectations of the couples I have married.  Jesus is also scandalously rejecting a law that demeaned women and put their lives in peril.  It is Jesus’ teaching that marriage is to be holy, healthy and lasting.  Jesus is setting the bar high as he does in most areas of our life.  If there is discomfort about this teaching, perhaps it is intended to not allow us to make light of this covenant.  It would do well for us to remember Jesus does not say those who are divorced are to be banished or treated as lesser people.  Instead, the worst that can be said is that Jesus treats the divorced as he does the rest of us sinners.  Thanks be to God!

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