THE IRONY

Mark – The Facts.

Read this next passage and see the pure irony! The phrase that leaps from the page for me this morning is, “after tying Jesus securely”… You cannot bind up the Son of God! Jesus is in complete control of the situation. They can chain Him like an animal, tie His hands behind him, spit on him, mock him and push him around and then nail him to a cross, but Jesus, Son of God, is in control. Without all the restraints, Jesus still would have laid down His life for us. Irony.

We are created with gifts and abilities to lead and to follow. When we use those gifts and talents with the motivation to love others and glorify God then they are used for all the right reasons. When they are used for personal power and position then those gifts become tainted and stained by world thinking and behaving. Irony.

The behavior of those who want what is best for them continue to try to bind up Jesus. But you cannot secure Jesus with chains, straps of leather or anything else. Jesus cannot be bound up unwillingly. He will not bind us up, either. He gave us free will and a choice. Irony.

He will invite those who are willing to follow Him, whose hearts are completely His, to join Him in His work, His plan and purpose, His mission, and His will for each one of us. He is always in control of the when, what, where, and how. He is God and we are not. Where He guides, He provides. His ways are higher, nobler and a lot more adventurous and exciting that we can imagine. But…we go our own way at times. Irony.

Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus is part of God. Jesus is God come down to rescue us, redeem us and to bring us back to God in an intimate, personal, relational way. The religious leaders and scholars of the day, who think they are in charge, do not know they are intricate players in the final act of Jesus’ mission to pay the debt for our sin in full, forever. Irony.

Mark 15 tie Jesus

Mark 15, The Message
Standing Before Pilate
15 At dawn’s first light, the high priests, with the religious leaders and scholars, arranged a conference with the entire Jewish Council.             After tying Jesus securely, they took him out and presented him to Pilate.

2-3 Pilate asked him, “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”

He answered, “If you say so.” The high priests let loose a barrage of accusations.

4-5 Pilate asked again, “Aren’t you going to answer anything? That’s quite a list of accusations.” Still, he said nothing. Pilate was impressed, really impressed.

6-10 It was a custom at the Feast to release a prisoner, anyone the people asked for. There was one prisoner called Barabbas, locked up with the insurrectionists who had committed murder during the uprising against Rome. As the crowd came up and began to present its petition for him to release a prisoner, Pilate anticipated them: “Do you want me to release the King of the Jews to you?” Pilate knew by this time that it was through sheer spite that the high priests had turned Jesus over to him.

11-12 But the high priests by then had worked up the crowd to ask for the release of Barabbas. Pilate came back, “So what do I do with this man you call King of the Jews?”

13 They yelled, “Nail him to a cross!”

14 Pilate objected, “But for what crime?”

But they yelled all the louder, “Nail him to a cross!”

15 Pilate gave the crowd what it wanted, set Barabbas free and turned Jesus over for whipping and crucifixion.

16-20 The soldiers took Jesus into the palace (called Praetorium) and called together the entire brigade. They dressed him up in purple and put a crown plaited from a thornbush on his head. Then they began their mockery: “Bravo, King of the Jews!” They banged on his head with a club, spit on him, and knelt down in mock worship. After they had had their fun, they took off the purple cape and put his own clothes back on him. Then they marched out to nail him to the cross.

Irony.

Do we still try to “tie Jesus securely” in our own lives, compartmentalizing our relationship with Him? Do we only bring Jesus out for organized worship days and celebrations? Do we talk to Him flippantly with words we’ve heard others say at functions were we know we should “say a prayer”? Do as pray for success, then do things our own way, hoping for His blessings? Do we “leave all on the altar” then get up and worry about…everything? Do we crave the gift of peace but don’t give to the One who wants to give it to us? Irony.

I fall to my knees this morning, weep and remember that no one can tie Him down for He is God. Death could not hold Him. The grave could not keep Him. God created all and is in all. Jesus Christ, King of all kings, Lord of all lords is in charge and in control of every situation! His Holy Spirit’s Presence lives in us to help us. So who are we to doubt and not trust Him? Who are we to attempt to “tie Jesus securely”? His power cannot not be harnessed! What irony to think we can!

Dear Heavenly Father,
I repent. I give it all to You. Thank you. Just thank you.
In Jesus Name, Amen

And I’m singing..
Glorious Day – Casting Crowns

One day
One day when Heaven was filled with His praises
One day when sin was as black as could be
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin
And dwelt among men, my example is He

The word became flesh
And the light shined among us
His glory revealed

And living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away

Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh, glorious day, oh, glorious day

One day
One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He

The hands that healed nations
Stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me

And living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away

Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh, glorious day, oh, glorious day

Thank you, Lord
Sing it ‘loud

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore

Death could not hold Him
The grave could not keep Him
From rising again

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away

Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh, glorious day, oh, glorious day
Glorious day

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming
One day the skies with His glories will shine
Wonderful day, my Beloved One, bringing
My Savior, Jesus, is mine

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away

Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh, glorious day, oh, glorious day
Glorious day, oh, glorious day

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I TOLD YOU SO

Mark – The Facts.

There is phrase going around that says, “If at first you don’t succeed, then do it the way your mother told you to do it.” I smile every time I see it, because it is mostly true if you had a meticulous, detailed mom like mine. Knowing God’s Word well, she gave us warnings of what might happen if we live certain ways. She knew the consequences that some behaviors would lead to because she had lived life ahead of me. She also had a hard time refraining from saying, “I told you so…” but it was followed up with a better plan and a way out of the situation in which I had fallen into at the time. So, was she a magician or a prophet because things would turn out exactly like she said it would? No, she was a mom who knew Christ and knew the benefits of living for Him. She also knew the consequences if we did not.

Jesus tells passionate, bold Peter he will deny Him when three times. Jesus is specific. Jesus knows Peter from the inside out.
Jesus loves Peter. Peter thinks he won’t but he does deny Him.
When placed in a terrifying situation of seeing his Friend and Master taken away to be slapped around, chained and belittled with false accusations, he cannot look away. He must get as close as possible without being taken and hurt himself. When they begin to recognize him by his clothing and speech, he is terrified and declares, “I don’t know Him, I don’t know what you’re talking about!”, with the same passion and boldness that is Peter, but said with fear. Peter denies Christ three times just as Jesus said he would. Peter immediately remembers. Jesus does not have say, “I told you so…” Peter collapses in tears.

Let’s jump ahead a bit. Peter is not mentioned again until news of the resurrection is discovered by the women who have come to tend to his body. The body isn’t there. An angel gives the women the good news of Jesus resurrection. He also tells them, specifically, “Tell his disciples AND PETER that he is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You’ll see him there, exactly as he said.”

Peter is mentioned specifically. Peter is already forgiven, but Peter needs to know that. We don’t read, “I told you so”…we read only of forgiveness and the command to tell others they can be forgiven. Wow. Let us refrain from saying, I told you so. Instead, point to Christ who forgives and restores.

Mark 14 rooster 2Mark 14, The Message
The Rooster Crowed
66-67 While all this was going on, Peter was down in the courtyard. One of the Chief Priest’s servant girls came in and, seeing Peter warming himself there, looked hard at him and said, “You were with the Nazarene, Jesus.”

68 He denied it: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He went out on the porch. A rooster crowed.

69-70 The girl spotted him and began telling the people standing around, “He’s one of them.” He denied it again.

After a little while, the bystanders brought it up again. “You’ve got to be one of them. You’ve got ‘Galilean’ written all over you.”

71-72 Now Peter got really nervous and swore, “I never laid eyes on this man you’re talking about.” Just then the rooster crowed a second time. Peter remembered how Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows twice, you’ll deny me three times.” He collapsed in tears.

Mark 14 forgiveness 2.jpg

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for forgiving us. Thank you for forgetting our sin when we repent. Thank you for restoring us, healing us and sending us back into the world to tell others.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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WHEN SILENCE SPEAKS VOLUMES

Mark – The Facts.

 

Maturity is seen when we do not strike back with equal harshness in our actions along with hateful words trying to “best” our opponent, especially when a conversation becomes so emotional it is irrational. At these times our silence speaks volumes. This silence is not natural, it is spirit-led by the example of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Have you ever been in a disagreeable conversation where the other person begins to throw out inevitable words “never” and “always” while getting more emotional with every sentence? This is a sign the conversation is getting irrational and we must back down, back up and put an end to it with our silence. Silence, as shown by Jesus, is not weakness or defeat.

In our next passage, Jesus is now in front of the high priests and other religious leaders who are fearful of losing their power and positions. They have been plotting all along for get rid of Him but they can’t even agree on their accusations. It is sadly comical that their false charges by “witnesses” they have brought it keep canceling each other out. So they resort to lying.
They have become irrational. Jesus knows His teaching is over. Jesus, the Person of Truth, goes silent.

Mark 14 truth

Mark 14, The Message
53-54 They led Jesus to the Chief Priest, where the high priests, religious leaders, and scholars had gathered together. Peter followed at a safe distance until they got to the Chief Priest’s courtyard, where he mingled with the servants and warmed himself at the fire.

55-59 The high priests conspiring with the Jewish Council looked high and low for evidence against Jesus by which they could sentence him to death. They found nothing. Plenty of people were willing to bring in false charges, but nothing added up, and they ended up canceling each other out. Then a few of them stood up and lied: “We heard him say, ‘I am going to tear down this Temple, built by hard labor, and in three days build another without lifting a hand.’” But even they couldn’t agree exactly.

60-61 In the middle of this, the Chief Priest stood up and asked Jesus, “What do you have to say to the accusation?” Jesus was silent. He said nothing.

WHEN ASKED, Jesus delivers Truth by quoting Scripture. Truth is painful to the messenger.

The Chief Priest tried again, this time asking, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed?”

62 Jesus said, “Yes, I am, and you’ll see it yourself:

The Son of Man seated
At the right hand of the Mighty One,
Arriving on the clouds of heaven.”

63-64 The Chief Priest lost his temper. Ripping his clothes, he yelled, “Did you hear that? After that do we need witnesses? You heard the blasphemy. Are you going to stand for it?”

They condemned him, one and all. The sentence: death.

65 Some of them started spitting at him. They blindfolded his eyes, then hit him, saying, “Who hit you? Prophesy!” The guards, punching and slapping, took him away.

What do we learn?

–Silence is not a weakness or a sign of defeat.
–Truth will win out. Truth is painful to the messenger. Still we must stand for Truth.
–Pray for the Holy Spirit to show us when to speak and when to be silent. He will answer that prayer. That prayer will transform us to be and do what pleases God.
–Sometimes when we feel God is silent with us, maybe it is time to stop the flow of emotional feelings, the irrational demands in our prayers, stop talking, listen and be still and know God. Then He will answer with the Truth we need.

Dear Heavenly Father, When we are baited into rough, irrational conversations that accuse us, judge us and belittle us, you are there helping us and you understand better than anyone. Thank you for helping us with words of Truth or with the strength of silence. We need you every hour in this world. Every hour we need you. 
In Jesus Name, Amen

My favorite song lately…by Matt Maher

Lord, I Need You

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

To teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
When I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus,…

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FOLLOWING THE SCRIPT

Mark – The Facts.

When I am handed a script, I rarely follow it exactly as written. It is for two reasons. I have a bad memory for exactness and I have a tendency to put myself in the story so my own personality comes through. I can’t help it. For those reasons, I am not the best actor, but people laugh anyway.

In teaching, I “act” with another fellow teacher, telling a story of chemical change, or engineering, etc. We always have a story because stories invite the students into the topic and engage them. I occasionally go off script that causes my fellow “actor” in teaching to think fast on his feet. He does it well then throws me a unscripted line in exchange. We have a lot of fun teaching this way that engages students. Students talk about the “stories” long after they leave. When I see them later in public places, they always say, “Remember when you and Beaker…”

The Old Testament scripted the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus quoted the Scripture and then lived it daily, exactly the way it was prophesied and written ages before His coming to earth as a baby. The entire Bible is the script of God. The entire Word of God explains Who He is, What He does, How He works, How He loves and foretold How He would make a way for His sinful, selfish creation to come back to Him.

Jesus is now coming to the end of the beginning for all of us. “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8) Jesus does not go off script. Praise God! His Son follows the script to the end. People around him follow the “script” exactly, without knowing or thinking about the Scripture.

Mark 14, The Message
A Gang of Ruffians
43-47 No sooner were the words out of his mouth when Judas, the one out of the Twelve, showed up, and with him a gang of ruffians, sent by the high priests, religion scholars, and leaders, brandishing swords and clubs. The betrayer had worked out a signal with them: “The one I kiss, that’s the one—seize him. Make sure he doesn’t get away.” He went straight to Jesus and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. The others then grabbed him and roughed him up. One of the men standing there unsheathed his sword, swung, and came down on the Chief Priest’s servant, lopping off the man’s ear.

48-50 Jesus said to them, “What is this, coming after me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? Day after day I’ve been sitting in the Temple teaching, and you never so much as lifted a hand against me. What you in fact have done is confirm the prophetic writings.” All the disciples cut and ran.

Mark 14 fulfilled

What do we learn?
–Scripture foretold this event: “Awake, sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!” declares the LORD Almighty. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones.” Zechariah 13:7 NIV
–Jesus did not leave the script, His mission to seek and to save the lost (us).
–Live gratefully for the One who loves us most and died to save us from ourselves.
–Follow the Script of Life to the full!

In Jesus Name, Amen! I believe!

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WHAT DO YOU WANT?

Mark – The Facts.

Even when you know the road will get bumpy, you must keep moving ahead to get to the destination, trying to dodge construction signs and known potholes. You try to think of another way to get there but the road is worse than the first. Traffic, don’t you love it? We do that with our lives. When the way gets rough, we try to avoid it, think of ways around it, or deny it. We want to be in charge and control it…but we cannot.

The bigger question is this, “What does God want?” Jesus knew the road was going to go from bad to worse in his final days on earth so He goes to prayer, his lifeline to God the Father. Jesus asks for a different way but follows immediately with the profound question for us, “What do YOU want?” God answers that prayer among the lethargic disciples with a betrayer and ultimately the Cross. Oh, what a Savior!

Yes, our journeys will take some scary curves with pits along the way but if our prayer is consistently, “what do YOU want, Father?”, then we can bear whatever comes along on our own journeys to our final destinations. Jesus has redeemed us. God has made The Way, the only Way, back to Him. Is the road easy? Nope. But necessary for our growth, maturity and intimacy with God, our Father.

Mark 14, The Message
32-34 They came to an area called Gethsemane. Jesus told his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him. He plunged into a sinkhole of dreadful agony. He told them, “I feel bad enough right now to die. Stay here and keep vigil with me.”

35-36 Going a little ahead, he fell to the ground and prayed for a way out: “Papa, Father, you can—can’t you?—get me out of this. Take this cup away from me. But please, not what I want—what do you want?”

37-38 He came back and found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, you went to sleep on me? Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert, be in prayer, so you don’t enter the danger zone without even knowing it. Don’t be naive. Part of you is eager, ready for anything in God; but another part is as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.”

39-40 He then went back and prayed the same prayer. Returning, he again found them sound asleep. They simply couldn’t keep their eyes open, and they didn’t have a plausible excuse.

41-42 He came back a third time and said, “Are you going to sleep all night? No—you’ve slept long enough. Time’s up. The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up. Let’s get going. My betrayer has arrived.”

Mark 14 agony

Jesus’ agonizing prayer was sealed with a kiss from his betrayer.
Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Jesus set the example for what we should ask each morning, “Father, what do YOU want?” Then get ready for the answer. Where God guides, He does provide.

Dear Heavenly Father, 
In tough times and good times, You are there. Thank you. When we doubt or wonder, You are there. Thank you. When we need guidance, Your Holy Spirit whispers direction. Thank you. When we were lost, You saved us. Thank you.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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NEVER SAY NEVER

Mark – The Facts.

Never say never is an old saying that means anything is possible. When our best efforts are applied to life it doesn’t mean we will be successful every time. We think we will do the right thing, then when pushed into a scary situation we do the opposite of what our minds thought we would do. “I will never deny you!”, Peter says to Jesus. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you.”

How many times have we been in a similar situation where we deny our Lord by our behavior, doing exactly the opposite of what we wanted to do? We desire to be gracious, loving and kind. We see ourselves having those characteristics and then it happens. We are pushed into a harmful situation and things are said from that place of hurt and fear which leads to anger. When it happens, and it will, ask for forgiveness immediately. God knows. God loves. God forgives because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross who paid our debt of sin and our selfish missteps in judgement.

To say “I will never…” is not realistic. Jesus said, “Don’t be so sure…”. He knew. Peter who loved Jesus deeply and profoundly denied Christ. Peter was full of remorse when he did. Then he was forgiven by Christ who then gave him the responsibility to be the rock upon which the church of Jesus Christ was built. Wow.

We are human. We judge each other rather severely at times. We sin. But we are forgiven. We will mess up so that’s why we pray each morning for focus and clarity upon the One who is our everything. Apart from Him we are nothing.

We would like to say, “I never…” but I can’t. Forgive yourself. You and I must forgive ourselves as God forgave us and realize the profound love He has for us that causes that complete forgiveness. When we do we will more easily and quickly forgive others who have hurt and offended us.

Mark 14 intention

Mark 14, The Message
27-28 Jesus told them, “You’re all going to feel that your world is falling apart and that it’s my fault. There’s a Scripture that says,

I will strike the shepherd;
The sheep will go helter-skelter.
“But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you, leading the way to Galilee.”

29 Peter blurted out, “Even if everyone else is ashamed of you when things fall to pieces, I won’t be.”

30 Jesus said, “Don’t be so sure. Today, this very night in fact, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.”

31 He blustered in protest, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you.” All the others said the same thing.

Dear Lord and Savior,
When we feel like our world is falling apart, You are there. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for forgiving us. Thank you for teaching us. I will never say never. But I will rely on You. I need you every hour. Every hour I need you.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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NOT ME, IS IT?

Mark – The Facts.

In teaching, sometimes you have to give a speech to the whole group for a wrong someone did and explain why it is wrong in detail. This happens when you don’t know exactly who did it but you generally know who is suspected. Every time, the “good ones” will come to me after the speech and ask timidly, “Was it me?” or “I will do better.” This generally weeds out who the culprit really is. Our sin nature causes our guilt to be hidden as long as possible. Typically the one who is silent is the guilty one. You see it in their eyes.

Jesus gave his disciples a similar speech, weeding out his betrayer to the rest of his group. However, Jesus knew who the culprit was before Judas committed the act. Jesus always knows. Listen to the response of the other disciples…

Mark 14 denal of betrayal

Mark 14, The Message

12 On the first of the Days of Unleavened Bread, the day they prepare the Passover sacrifice, his disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations so you can eat the Passover meal?”

13-15 He directed two of his disciples, “Go into the city. A man carrying a water jug will meet you. Follow him. Ask the owner of whichever house he enters, ‘The Teacher wants to know, Where is my guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ He will show you a spacious second-story room, swept and ready. Prepare for us there.”

16 The disciples left, came to the city, found everything just as he had told them, and prepared the Passover meal.

17-18 After sunset he came with the Twelve. As they were at the supper table eating, Jesus said, “I have something hard but important to say to you: One of you is going to hand me over to the conspirators, one who at this moment is eating with me.”

19 Stunned, they started asking, one after another, “It isn’t me, is it?”

20-21 He said, “It’s one of the Twelve, one who eats with me out of the same bowl. In one sense, it turns out that the Son of Man is entering into a way of treachery well-marked by the Scriptures—no surprises here. In another sense, the man who turns him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man—better never to have been born than do this!”

Despite this verdict from Jesus, Judas continues to eat with the Master, sharing the same bowl! Think about it. Our betrayers are seldom our enemies, they are close friends or family. Judas is also served by the Master when he washed the disciples feet before the meal! (See John 13) What is going through the mind of Judas as he is served by Jesus, eats with Jesus and then is finally sent out by Jesus to do the deed of betrayal that was planned?

AND isn’t it interesting that the other disciples didn’t say, “It’s Judas!” but rather, “Not me, is it?”

What goes through our minds when we deny Christ in a crowd with our silence, betray him with our arrogance, pride and selfishness thinking we know better how to control our lives? Why do we sing songs of praise, love and adoration to God, then don’t love those around us? Is this a form of betrayal of all that is Christ in us? Not me…is it?

Dear Heavenly Father,
You remind us of our own sins and we repent. Forgive us for not speaking up when wrong is blatantly committed against Your Word’s commands. Forgive us for not being more gracious and merciful to others. I love You with all my heart, mind and soul. Help me to see and love others like You love me. Continue to transform me to be all you intended me to be. I’m yours. It’s not me. I am redeemed and I love to proclaim it!
In Jesus Name, Amen

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