Mark 15:33-41 – Jesus Died for You

Read Mark 15:33-41

Sit with this text for a while today. Jesus has died. While we weren’t there, there were plenty of bystanders and Roman soldiers looking on. What did they see?

Our last reading gave us the time stamp of 9:00 a.m. for when Jesus was nailed to the cross. Three hours pass full of mocking and taunts. Then darkness falls for three more hours. That just doesn’t happen every day! “In that day,” says the Sovereign Lord, ‘I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth while it is still day.’” (Amos 8:9)

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Mark 12:35-37 – Whose Son?

Read Mark 12:35-37

This is an interesting little passage, didn’t you think? Nestled away between all the teachings Jesus is sharing with the people and with his disciples on his final journey toward the cross. This time, Mark tells us the message was proclaimed to the people. We have the honor to be able to hear Jesus’ teaching whether it’s to the “people” or to his closest disciples.

The crowd is delighted. I wondered about that word. Were they delighted just to be in Jesus’ presence? Perhaps they were honored that Jesus had asked them a question. Jesus wanted to know what they thought about a certain teaching of the religious leaders. A teaching about the Messiah, about Jesus himself. It’s always good to know your audience and how they understand such important matters.

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Zechariah 9:1-8 – Safety

Read Zechariah 9:1-8

You probably noticed the style change in today’s reading. The remainder of the book of Zechariah is regarded by Bible scholars as “separate works.” While hard to pinpoint exactly, it’s likely these messages from God came after the temple was completed from prophets who were not necessarily returnees from exile.

This reading tells how God is going to level the playing field and destroy Israel’s oppressors. Foreign nations would likely try and revolt against Israel again, sensing Israel’s potential weakness. We know God allowed the punishment his people endured in exile. But those days were past. As God said, “I am watching closely to ensure that no more foreign oppressors overrun my people’s land.”

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Zephaniah 1:14-18 – This Day

Read Zephaniah 1:14-18

Zephaniah’s oracle now shifts focus to “all” people, not just rebellious Judah. Churches today have coupled this passage with New Testament passages speaking of the final judgment. You may even recognize some of these images have become the lyrics in hymns and worship songs.

This day will be a day of bitter tears, men crying out, all while the Lord’s anger is poured out on all people. It’s not a pleasant picture at all. Yet, it is destruction we can anticipate will happen when the Lord’s Day finally arrives. Will we see it in our lifetime? Only God knows.

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1 Peter 4:12-19 – Doom and Bloom

Read 1 Peter 4:12-19

I assume Peter is talking about Jesus’ glorious return and our everlasting life with him when he describes, “seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” But I got a little glimpse of that “glory” this week. Anytime we see God move in our midst or help us in our struggles, we get a peek into the glory of God.

We know the joy that bubbles up inside us when we see God’s hand at work in our lives or community. Peter encourages us to persevere despite the unpleasant situations we face in life. It really resonated with me in a fresh way when I read Peter’s words, “for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering.” Take a moment to let that truth sink in. Partners with Christ. Partners.

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