Wrapping up Mark: Denying Christ

Yay, I have a bit of time to write again! Also, I’ve decided to begin studying my way through Isaiah. My habit in reading tends to be something old, something new, then something old again, and of course after reading a couple of (or even just one) gospels, Isaiah pops up so very often it seems to make sense to read that next. But I wanted to blather on about Mark just a bit more.

Open Followers, Hidden Followers

In Mark 15:40-41, we learn that though the disciples had fled—out of fear, anger, frustration, disappointment, or all of the above—the women remained with Jesus, through all of His horrific sufferings.

There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.

Of course, these ladies were hardly “hidden” followers, but then again, considering the status of women in the culture at the time, they sort of were (making their discovery of Jesus’ resurrection all the more incredible; therefore, the Bible’s citing of that fact making it more reliable). Yet while the men had fled, the women remained, even if at a distance. Quite a few people like to rip on the Bible for being anti-woman, yet here they are looking much more faithful than the men (not that you ladies should get on your high horse—not at all!). It’s just interesting.

However, we do have two men who, having hidden their belief in Christ, finally stepped into the light after His death, at what appeared to be His lowest hour.

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Railroading Jesus; Gutless guides; Opening the eyes of a thief and a centurion

Today I at last wrapped up the Gospel of Mark. An injury from three weeks ago means that much of my time has been taken up with doctor visits, so I’ll just share my thoughts and questions from the final few chapters.

We all know that Pilate was not very happy to have been railroaded into having Jesus executed, having proclaimed Christ innocent. Reading about Jesus’ arrest, “trial”, and conviction…well, it is reminded me of an old mobster movie where a good guy is railroaded by the mob for getting in their way. They buy off and intimidate everybody into convicting and tossing into the clink an innocent man (granted, he’s not innocent anywhere near the sense Christ is, but you no doubt get my drift). The good guy makes the bad guys really, really uncomfortable and is thus railroaded into prison.

It seems to me Jesus was absolutely railroaded, kinda-sorta-tried and killed for a crime He did not commit…but even so, it was all part of God’s plan. Remember that the next time you are unjustly treated; once again, we see that Jesus is the High Priest who understands all, yet lived through it without responding in sin (something else we should all remember—even as we watch Hobby Lobby defend its right not to violate its owner’s consciences this morning). Reading about Christ’s mockery of a trial, about Pilate trying to let Him go, about His being tortured and reviled and executed—oh, it is so angering, isn’t it? We are angry for Him even as that sickening feeling in our stomach reminds us that He went through this, that God planned it this way because of us. Because I have sinned and do sin and will sin, and so will you. Jesus was (for all intents and purposes) railroaded, unjustly accused and punished, because of me.

Reading the Bible certainly churns up a lot of deep emotions and painful thoughts, doesn’t it?

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Mark 13:1-13: How to be on your guard and see that no one leads you astray

So much is said in just these few verses, but per usual (and because of a time crunch) I’ll just look at some of the questions they raised in my mind.

And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray.     Mark 13:3-6

(emphasis added)

Here is but one of many warnings we receive about false teachers and, more specifically, false Christs; this one comes from Christ Himself (in active tense, no less). So…why are Christians so incautious, especially when as early as Paul and John we were getting warnings about false teachers—and OT prophets had the same message.

Just a brief glance at some of the fads that have swept through evangelicalism in the past decade suggests that Christians, living up to their status as thoughtless, easily-led sheep, are exactly that. This distresses me, not least because I was one of those led astray by a false gospel—and having been deceived by a false teacher or prophet is no excuse (if I’m reading that correctly). Continue reading

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants

I suddenly realized yesterday’s post had reached the 2,225-word mark and decided to split it in half. ;)

Did Israel’s Leaders Know Jesus was The Messiah?

Finally, today I was reading the parable of the tenants, who beat, humiliate, and even kill the servants sent by their landlord. First of all, Jesus told this story right in front of the priests, scribes, and other spiritual leaders of Israel—the very men he spoke of, for they are the tenants—and at the end, we are told that they knew He spoke of them. How furious they must have been (not that Jesus cared—He was telling the truth and possibly issuing a warning)!

In the parable, we read this shocking bit:

 But those tenants said to one another,‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.

This probably shocks you as much as it did me, for its evil and for its illogic. John 11:47-48 clarifies it:

So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”

(emphasis added)

They feared losing their position and power. How sad.

At the same time, though, we read in Jesus’ parable that the wicked tenants said, “This is the heir”. Is He suggesting that Israel’s leaders suspected or even knew He truly was the Son of God? The Redeemer? Is that possible? Oh, if that is true…goodness.

Expect To Be Mocked

That the scribes, elders, and company may have known Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah aside, there’s something else we read here that as followers, we must remember: Those God sends to teach His word, to warn people, to turn them back to Himself, will be mocked, despised, scoffed at, and even killed—just as Jesus, our Master, has been. Moreover, these things will quite possibly (even probably, maybe?) be done by church leaders and those proclaiming they follow Christ. Continue reading