Mark 14:53-65 – Fake Trial

Read Mark 14:53-72

Jesus is on trial, but what a laughable trial.  No preparation, only jealous rage. So much perjury. But, I suppose you can’t lie under oath if you don’t swear an oath in the first place. Where did all these witnesses come from? And, when truth was spoken by Jesus, it was deemed blasphemy. Jesus was in no way insulting God, his Father!

How does it make you feel to knowing how our Lord spent his final hours on earth? He warned us, as the prophets had, it wouldn’t be pretty. Despite the heads up, it’s still hard to imagine.

Meanwhile, the text says, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard of the very house where Jesus was being assaulted. It sounds like he just sort of cozy-ed up to the guards to keep warm by the fire. Did he think he’d go unnoticed? What was he thinking? That could be the topic for a whole devotion in itself.

Then it happened. Jesus’ prophetic words came true. Peter must have had an evil spirit overtake his words on his final, very strong, denial of being associated with Jesus. Almost like a dream where you see yourself saying or doing something, but you’re only watching from a distance. But it wasn’t a dream. Jesus was right. Peter denied him and the despair at the thought left him sobbing.

Have you ever had a moment like Peter just did? Have you said or done something for which you would give anything to take back? Maybe you’ve wished for a do-over? We’ve all done those things. And, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. It happens, yet we don’t like it.

God doesn’t either, and that’s exactly why he sent Jesus to die for us. Jesus is the bridge that brings us back to the father when we are separated by our sin. It’s better to focus on what God is doing for us, loving and forgiving us, then to dwell on the bad stuff. Ask for forgiveness, and be done. Forgive others, and be done. Simple but not easy.

Do you feel separated from God right now, or are you on fire and burning bright? Maybe somewhere in between? Doesn’t matter. God’s got your back. Relish this true with a grateful heart.

Let’s pray. Lord I don’t like when I feel apart from you but I know that you are always there to reel me back in. Forgive my heart when it is selfish and self-serving. I don’t want to be caught up in the world’s trap. Restore my servant heart. May it beat along with yours. Guide my steps this day, and I thank you for your protection. I am safe in your arms, and safe as I fall at your feet. What peace you give. May I spread your peace in this world for you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Mark 14:43-52 – Noooooo!

Read Mark 14:43-52

Each time I read the account of Jesus’ arrest I feel so helpless. I know in my heart that it HAD TO happen this way. But in my head, I know it is truly God’s hand at work to blind the chief priests and scribes, and all those “churchy” folks. It is also God to scatter Jesus’ closest friends when he needs them the most. After all, they gave Jesus their word.

Was there something in today’s passage that stood out in some way? I know for me it’s the naked man. (Gotcha – if you haven’t read the  passage yet, now you must!) What is his significance here? Who is he? Those are the questions that have made many curious over the years. Speculation exists, of course, and one interesting idea (not necessarily the one I resonate most with) is that it’s the scribe for Mark, putting his/her own “signature” on this gospel.

Don’t let that cloud what the message we take from today’s passage. It starts, “And immediately” which would suggest that it flows right from what we read in the last post, Jesus had been in the garden praying, very distraught, and then finds his disciples have already fallen  away because they fell asleep when he asked them to remain awake and in prayer with him. And immediately, he looks up and he’s surrounded.

Close your eyes and picture that moment. Breathe in and out slowly. The Savior of the world. Loves you. You.

Jesus has been deserted three times. By his sleepy friends, by Judas, and then by all of them as they flee for the hills. His steadfastness reflects a God who holds to his saving purpose despite all that humankind does to the contrary. Do we flee like the disciples from Jesus’ saving grace? God is faithful. How do we respond?

Let’s pray. Father forgive me when I fall short of your perfect will for me. Thank you for the opportunities you give us each day to serve others. Today the kiddos at the children’s home showed me such grace and love. I pray that my giving to them also blessed them in return. Help me to be the light in this world that you want me to be. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Mark 14:32-42 – Wake Up!

Read Mark 14:32-42

None of us can begin to imagine the agony Jesus was feeling in the garden. A different kind of desperation than we’d ever seen. His life on earth was coming to an end, he knew it, and he longed to be close to his Father in  those final moments. A bargain, a pleading, a comfort. The plan was set, yet Jesus laments.

Jesus own words are a good model for us when we cry out in prayer. “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” We shouldn’t want the easy way out, but God’s way for us. We should be on our knees, like Jesus, in our times of trial.

Here’s a beautiful song to listen to to get your heart into this moment.  Realize the beauty that is unfolding here for Jesus and for us.

Listen HERE.

God is in the business of healing broken souls. He does bring hope for this fallen world. He never leaves us. Jesus’ own  disciples, after vowing they would stand by him, could not keep their eyes open. One simple request. Jesus’ last request of them.
He wanted them close. He knew that history was being made and they needed to know how important their lives had become. Their witness would have to be enough. If only they could stay awake!
Are we asleep? Are we not listening to Jesus’ words to us? His request that we love him first, and tell others about him! Our faith needs to rise up like ivy. We need to acknowledge the stirring deep inside.
Our fears are crushed, because Jesus overcame. We are redeemed, because Jesus overcame. We are who we are, because Jesus overcame.
Are we going to stay sleeping?
Let’s pray. Father God, thank you for the wake up  call. Thank you for the reminder that we come to you at all times, in times of torment, in times of struggle and in times or rejoicing. You are there. May it be my heart’s desire to  want your will for me and not mine. Your will is perfect. May I not cling to my old life but reach for the new life you are preparing for  me. So much lies ahead, and I want to dream with God-size dreams. Lord, enlarge my reach so that I can serve who you want for me to serve. I ask these things in Jesus name. Amen.

Mark 14:27-31 – Not Me, Lord!

Read Mark 14:27-31

Sometimes our readings are short, and today’s is a good example. We should really dig in to this message. Maybe read it through several times. You might find that a new message comes to you each time you read it, or perhaps the same message surfaces each time, as if to bop you over the head!

Denial. It’s all around us. Here Jesus warns the disciples of what is to come. What does Peter do? Deny it could ever happen. The others agreed. Denial is stating something is untrue or a refusing to accept something offered (as in insurance). In recovery ministry, I remember hearing a quote, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”

Funny that what Peter actually does, after being warned, is “deny” he even knows Jesus, THREE times!

Have you ever been confronted about your faith or belief in Jesus? How did that go? Did you boldly proclaim your faith, or did you try to downplay the importance of the relationship you have with God? I have done both, quite honestly. What holds us back?

A lot of times, it’s our feelings of inadequacy. We’re not Bible experts, so we feel unprepared and want to avoid looking bad. After all, we want to reflect God and not embarrass him.  We’re in denial because we believe we are not good enough to defend our faith.

Here’s the shocking truth – we are totally prepared. We have a story of how Jesus has touched us. Our stories won’t look the same as the next guy (or gal) but that’s okay. It’s our story. People are looking for genuine truth. If they ask you about your faith, they want to hear your honest answer, not something you make up to sound good. We don’t need to look like Bible scholars for people to pay attention. We need to be us. We will struggle, and we will  falter. But at the end of the day, we have victory if we have believed and trusted that Jesus has walked with us. Jesus will guide us if we let him.

What does Peter’s example show us? That we are human and not God. God knew Peter’s heart better than Peter did. What does that say for us?

If you’re like me, whether I would like the message or not (Peter obviously didn’t), it would be nice for Jesus to tell me what is going to happen. When decisions need to be made, wouldn’t it be nice if we’d receive a note from above telling us to choose this path? Maybe we don’t receive a physical note, but we do have God’s word to direct us, and prayer to keep lines of communication open.

Instead of being quick to respond, as Peter was here, we need to truly listen to what Jesus is telling us. The intended message may be totally different from what we hear or think we hear. Jesus was telling his disciples that after he was raised from the dead he would go on ahead to Galilee to meet them there. That was a HUGE message, right? Yet the disciples focused on the scatter part. The bigger picture was the promise to be with them again.

Are we missing the message God has for us? Are we focusing on the wrong thing, the short term fix as opposed to the long term goal? We certainly don’t want to be separated from God. Ever. Are we behaving in a manner that reflect this desire?

Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, I come to you today with a new appreciation for Peter and the other disciples. They were so focused on the here and now that they failed to see the bigger picture. I don’t want to be like that. I want to have the end game in mind and be sure that my words and actions truly reflect that. My life in eternity with you is too precious to mess up. Thank you for the clarity you have given me that I am good enough, that I am worthy to be yours. Thank you for the gifts that you have given me to share with the world. I won’t focus on the failures of yesterday because that will cripple me from soaring today to the heights you have destined for me. Thank you for your great love for me. I love you, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Mark 14:10-16 – In Remembrance

Read Mark 14:10-16

Jesus’ last supper with his friends. Bittersweet indeed. I titled this “In Remembrance,” but did you notice this telling of that special night did not use those words. I injected flavor from another account. If you have never read the accounts of this momentous occasion in any of the other gospels, Matthew 26, Luke 22, and even 1 Corinthians 11.

This passage is the foundation for what we do in churches all over the world. We celebrate Holy Communion. In the church I grew up in it was a “sacrament,” an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual divine grace, in particular. We remember this moment, the covenant come true, in our times of worship.

Different traditions view the bread and wine differently. Again, I grew up believing the bread and wine were Jesus body and blood. This text would totally support that. In Jesus’ own words, “Take it, for this is my body.” and “This is my blood,” Other traditions would say it’s a symbol. I try not to get legalistic with it, but I believe that what Jesus said then is also true for us today, and the important thing is to remember him.

Celebrating Holy Communion has always been special for me. My earliest memories include people filing up to the front of our church and my mom’s “wine breath” after her time at the communion  rail. I  was always intrigued and couldn’t wait for my turn. Our tradition was that preparation and understanding came before taking part. Having an understanding and appreciation for what Jesus did for us makes the celebration all the more special.

Today’s passage helps us to see that what happened to Jesus was for us. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many. More recently, we attended a church service here in Mexico where neighborhood children attended Sunday School during the church service, except during communion. It was at this time they were brought in, going first before the congregation. None of them spoke English, despite the service being in English. Tears rolled down my face as I watched these darling children, with such innocence and joy, approaching the altar for their gift from Jesus. Their celebration and remembrance of what Jesus had done for them was inspiring. We should approach the throne of grace with that attitude of gratitude.

Take a moment today for a reality check. On a scale of 1-10, what is your devotion meter saying? Remember what Jesus has done for you – the suffering, the crucifixion, a trip to hell, and finally coming alive again. All for you. What is your response?

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, my heart is overflowing with gratitude and joy for what you have done for me. I thank you for your great love for me. May I not take it for granted. Ever.  Forgive my heart when doubt creeps in. Forgive me for my distractions from you. Thank you for making me the confident, strong and smart woman you have made me. May my words and actions be to your glory and pleasing to you. Continue to move in the hearts of my children to bring them closer to you.  That is my prayer today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.