Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday, November 18th Mark 14:1-16

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Peter 3, Ezekiel 35-36
Today's scripture focus is Mark 14:1-16

Mark 14:1-16English Standard Version (ESV)

The Plot to Kill Jesus

14 It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Judas to Betray Jesus

10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11 And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.

The Passover with the Disciples

12 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, 14 and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” 16 And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
I appreciated Rayburn's summary of v1-11
We have noted before Mark’s technique of the literary “sandwich” in which he inserts into the middle of one account another narrative and uses the relationship between the outer pieces and the center to make a point without having to spell it out. In this case the account of Jesus’ betrayal by the religious leaders and by one of his inner circle of disciples forms the two pieces of bread. Between them is inserted an account of another disciple’s devotion. Once again, as often in Mark and the other Gospels, the emphasis falls on this account of true discipleship and that emphasis is strengthened by contrast with the lack of loyalty on the part of people we might most have expected to be loyal to Jesus. The theologians should have understood best who Jesus was and what he had come to do. Judas had heard all of Jesus’ sermons and witnessed many of his miracles. He had firsthand acquaintance with the proof that Jesus was no one less than the Son of God. But they rejected Jesus while this dear woman declared her love and loyalty to him in the most impressive way....

what Mark seems to be making clear with his sandwich technique is that the fundamental contrast between these two groups of people, those who hated and betrayed Jesus and those who loved and worshipped him is the sense of debt and obligation and the corresponding gratitude that filled the hearts of some but not of others. Real followers of Christ love the Lord and they love him because they are so grateful to him.

Do you remember that the Heidelberg Catechism that we recite often in our worship here is organized according to a three-fold division? The Catechism divides the great subjects of Christian belief – all the teaching covered by the catechism which is, of course, meant to teach a new or young believer the basics of the faith – I say, it is summed up in three general assertions. In other words, there are three things that you must know to understand the Christian faith and the teaching of the Bible....

Question 1, you remember, asks “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” And you remember the beautiful answer to that question. “That I am not my own, but belong – body and soul – to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ,” and so on.” 

But then comes question 2: “What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?”And the answer is as follows:  “Three things: first, how great my sin and misery are; second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery; third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.”

The third section of the Catechism is entitled “Gratitude” and its entire presentation of the Christian life is expounded as the way we give thanks to God for his delivering us from our sin and misery. What motivates a Christian in his daily living? Thanksgiving to God. What is the Christian attempting to do with his or her thoughts, words, and deeds? Demonstrate his or her gratitude to God. Sometimes thanksgiving to God will be expressed by selling the perfume and giving the money to the poor. Sometimes it will be expressed by breaking the bottle and pouring it over the Lord himself. But it is thanksgiving in the one case as surely as it is in the other. Mary, the disciple, was impossibly grateful to Jesus for what he had done for her and her family; gratitude and love were compact together in her heart. The priests and the scribes were not grateful to Jesus for anything. They had no understanding of his gifts and no appreciation for what he would suffer for man’s sake.

You can divide the world into two classes: those who are deeply grateful to God for what he has done for them and those who are not. The difference will not always demonstrate itself so starkly as here: with the ingratitude of one group leading them to plot Jesus’ death and the gratitude of Mary leading her to pour out a year’s worth of a man’s salary in an act of devotion to the Lord....

And here is the final lesson of Mark’s way of presenting this narrative, in a sandwich with her devotion between two acts of perfidy and betrayal: If you abandon yourself to the Lord, you will not abandon the Lord and he will never abandon you!

There is reason enough for great gratitude and great love! More than enough!

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Mark 14:17-26
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ezekiel 37-38, 1 John 1

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