RISEN (Naked Runner/ Conclusion #27)

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Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church (Gospel of Mark/ Naked Runner Series #27 End) Note: to hear this series and others go to THEGATHERINGHG.COM

Three Women?

Mark 16:1-8, Matthew 28:1-10, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-18 

Mark tells us that three women, 1.) Mary Magdalene, 2.) Mary, the mother of James and  3.) Salome, brought spices to anoint Jesus body (just after sunrise on the first day of the week).   They arrive at the tomb and see the stone rolled away and meet a young man in a white robe. The women fled from that place “trembling and bewildered” and “said nothing to anyone.”

Matthew tells us that only the two Mary’s went to look at the tomb (he leaves out Salome). He also tells of an earthquake and how an angel rolled away the stone. Matthew tells us that the women were afraid but filled with joy and upon running to tell the disciples they ran into Jesus and they fell at his feet and worshiped him.

Luke gives the same story but there are more women (1.) Mary Magdalene, 2.) Joanna, 3.)  Mary the mother of James, “and the  4+.) others.”  They are greeted by “two men in robes that gleamed like lightning”. He also says the women came back from the tomb and told the eleven and others. Luke adds that the disciples did not believe them because “their words seemed like nonsense.”  Peter; however ran to the tomb and saw the strips of linen laying by themselves.

John mentions only Mary Magdalene going to the tomb on the first day of the week while it was still dark.  After seeing the stone rolled away she came running to Simon Peter and John (the disciple whom Jesus loved) and told them that someone had taken the Lord out of the tomb and she didn’t know where they had taken him. John says that Peter and he ran to the tomb, went into it and believed.  Then they returned to the place where they were staying.  Mary   remained outside crying and then looked into the tomb and saw two “Angels in white” who asked her why she was crying.  Then she turned and saw Jesus.  John tells us that Mary thought that Jesus was the gardener until he called her name. She cried out and held him but he ask her to let go and tell the others.  Mary then went and told the disciples what happened.

Nonsense  

A legal expert would say that four stories perfectly matched would be a    conspiracy.  Believe it or not these gospel accounts actually do fit together:  

John and Peter were together and witnessed Mary Magdalene leaving to go to the tomb before daylight.  Not being gentlemen they allowed Mary to go alone.  On the way to the tomb, Mary Magdalene met the other Mary, as Matthew (another fine gentleman) witnessed. They in turn joined Salome and the other women mentioned in the gospel accounts.  They all went to the tomb to prepare Jesus’ body properly according to burial customs.  None knew how they would remove the stone since no men went along to help.

When the women arrived they saw the stone rolled away.  Mary Magdalene flipped out and ran off to tell John and Peter that someone had moved the body; meanwhile, the other women entered the tomb and saw two angels yet only one spoke and told them to go tell the disciples that Jesus had risen.  Mary, the mother of James and Salome were bewildered and fled, saying nothing to anyone because they were afraid. Other women were filled with joy and fled to tell the disciples as they were told.  Salome likely ran off with the band of others while Mary, the mother of James looked for the lost Mary Magdalene.

The women were running away while John, Peter and Mary Magdalene (trailing behind) ran towards the tomb.  Peter went in first, then John —while Mary stayed outside crying.  In their excitement, John and Peter ran out of the tomb leaving Mary in the dust!  Finally, Mary got up the nerve to look into the tomb and saw the two angels and then Jesus!  At this time Mary, the Mother of James, also saw Jesus and they both fell down to worship him as Matthew said.  When all the women finally came together speaking excitedly to the eleven nine of them did not believe because “their words seemed like nonsense”—but Peter and John had seen the stone rolled away and the linen strips of cloth.

The Conspiracy Matthew 28:11-15

The conspiracy was not in what the eyewitnesses and the gospel writers wrote but in what the guards reported. Any guard who left his watch would have be mercilessly tortured and killed by the Romans, but these guards were exonerated and paid to keep quiet.

Conclusion and Beginning Mark 16:9-20, John 14:27, Hebrews 12:1

The earliest and most reliable manuscripts of the Bible do not include verses 9-20 in Mark; however, the other gospels testify to the events listed:  John’s account of Mary Magdalene’s deliverance from seven demons (Luke 8:2) and her encounter with Jesus (John 20:1-18), Luke’s account that the disciples didn’t believe (Luke 24:9-11), Jesus appearance on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-16), Jesus appearance to the eleven (Luke 24:36-37), The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), The declaration of salvation and condemnation (John 3:18), Accompanying signs of those who believe: Drive out demons (Acts 16:18), Speak in new tongues (1 Corinthians 12:8-11),  Unaffected by poison (Luke 10:19), The sick will be healed (James 5:15), Jesus’ Ascension (Luke 24:50-51), Jesus at the right hand of God (Ephesians 1:20-21), The disciples preaching everywhere in power (Acts 1:8), with signs (John 14:11-12). It is likely that these verses were added later by some overzealous scribe to make for a more conclusive ending.  I am not advocating such a deed, in fact Revelation 22:18-19 forbids such additions or subtractions from scriptures, but that remains an issue between the scribe and God.  The additional verses were included in the Cannon of scripture (regarded as authoritative by the early church).  The scribe probably didn’t like Mark’s ending:”They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” Verse 20 is a much better ending: “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”   

Where that “naked runner” (“Mark” Mark 14:51-52) concludes we must begin our proclamation of that same gospel.  Jesus said “fear not!” Let us strip off all that holds us back from that task and run the race before us:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)

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Death Rising (Naked Runner #26)

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Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church         The Gospel of Mark (Naked Runner Series #26)

Darkness Mark 15:33, Matthew 27:45

Mark, Matthew and Luke all write that while Jesus was on the cross darkness covered the land.  This was a supernatural darkness that God provided to intensify his sorrow and    displeasure with mankind.  Despite the bad translation of The New American Bible (of Luke 23:45) it was not a “solar eclipse” that darkened the land.  Passover is always celebrated during a full moon in spring, but a new moon is needed for a solar eclipse to occur, making it the wrong phase of the moon.  A solar eclipse also only darkens the land for a few minutes.  The gospel accounts say that darkness covered the land for three hours!

Scripture tells us that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).  It was God’s Spirit that created the earth’s first light (Genesis 1:1-3) and the promise of Heaven is that God’s will be its forever light (Revelation 21:23) while Hell is partially described as outer darkness (2 Peter 2:17).  Is there any doubt that this darkness illustrated both God’s sorrow and displeasure with man?

Last Words Mark 15:34-37, Matthew 27:46-50, Psalm 22:1

The Gospel of both Mark and Matthew lead us to believe that the last prophetic words of Christ were “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  They also agree that people gathered at the cross incorrectly thought they heard Jesus call on the prophet Elijah.  Of course he did not. The crowd was at a distance from the cross so they could not hear Jesus clearly. Thus when Jesus said “Eloi” (as Mark correctly spells the Aramaic word in his gospel) they heard “Eli” (as Matthew spells it in Hebrew in his gospel) which they interpreted as “Elias” (=Elijah).   Matthew 16:14 and Matthew 17:10 also show us that it was a common expectation during Jesus’ time that Elijah would return at the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5). In Matthew 11:14 Jesus said that John the Baptist was who the prophet Malachi referred to (the reference being to John’s characteristics and not the actual person of Elijah, thus fulfilling the prophecy).  

The “why have you forsaken me” phrase was not so much a question to God but the chilling exclamation that Jesus had become the scapegoat for all the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Jesus’ last phrase was one of resolve: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46) which he said after he concluded “It is finished” (John 19:30). The totality of the gospel accounts below show all the words that Jesus spoke on the cross in their likely chronology:

The Last Seven Phrases of Jesus on the cross: 

1.) “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

2.) “Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43 (to the thief)

3.) “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple: “Here is your mother.” John 19:26-27 (introducing Mary to John: From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.)

4.) “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34

5.) “I am thirsty.” John 19:28

6.) When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

7.) Jesus called with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:46 

Of the last sayings of Christ on the cross, none is more important or more poignant than, “It is finished.” Found only in the Gospel of John, the Greek word translated “it is finished” is tetelestai (tet-el-es-tye,)  an accounting term that means “paid in full.” When Jesus uttered those words, He was declaring our debt for sin was “paid in full” by him. “Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” “To the end” in the Greek text is eis telos, meaning, literally, that He loved us to perfection.    (John 13:1b)

Torn, Shaken, Split and Raised! Mark 15:38-39, Matthew 27:51-54

The curtain (veil) of the Temple represented the separation of a Holy God from sinful man( Isaiah 59:2).  Only the fully consecrated high priest could go beyond that curtain once a year to offer a blood sacrifice to God on behalf of his people. That curtain was 30 feet high and upon the death of Jesus it was supernaturally torn from top to bottom exposing what was called the most holy place.  In essence God was saying to man “We are no longer separated by your sin!” 

Matthew’s gospel goes beyond the torn curtain and explains why the guard exclaimed “surely this man was the son of God!”  The earth shook, rocks split, and tombs broke open in that earthquake.  (After Jesus’ resurrection the bodies “of many holy people” in those tombs were raised to life and appeared to many people. Mark 15:52b-53)  

Death Rising Mark 15:40-47, John 19:38-42, Philippians 2:1-11

Jesus died.  John tells us that the soldiers thrust a spear into his side, but as the scriptures prophesied, “Not one of his bones were broken” (John 19:32-37).  Jesus died but his death would bring a great rising.  It began with the proclamation of the centurion who killed him…”Surely this man was the son of God!”  Then, the women who watched from a distance would prepare their spices and later proclaim him raised! (Matthew 28:8) Joseph of Armathea, would stand and approach even Pilate to ask for Jesus’ body, unafraid of what Rome might do to him. John’s gospel tells us that even Nicodemus, the Pharisee who once hid in the darkness of night to talk to Jesus, rose up as a believer and helped Joseph     entomb the body of Christ.  Jesus death brought believers to life even before his resurrection. Amazing love does that.  In reflection of this love what rises up in you?

CRUCIFIED (Naked Runner #25)

Pastor Barry Bruce/ The Gathering                    Gospel of Mark/ Naked Runner Series #25

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Sharing the Cross Mark 15:21-23

Jesus was so weakened by his lack of sleep, continual beatings, and Roman flogging that he fell under the weight of his cross so the Roman guards grabbed a man from the crowd (Simon) and forced him to carry the cross for him.  Notice that Simon did not offer to carry the cross out of mercy for Jesus.  He was forced!  He must have been in close proximity so he was an on looker.  Mark identifies him as “the father of Alexander and Rufus”, obviously two men of faith that Mark knew at the time of his writing.  Later, in one of the Apostle Paul’s letters he greets Rufus and his mother as “chosen in the Lord” (Roman 16:13).  Apparently the experience of carrying that cross with Jesus made an impact on Simon and his whole family.  They had likely come from far away to celebrate Passover and became caught up in the crucifixion crowd. Later Simon would come to know of the amazing honor that was   bestowed upon him to walk with Jesus, to be covered in his holy blood, and to share in his suffering.  He would marvel at the strength and love of the one who would even refuse pain relief (wine mixed with myrrh) to pay the price for his sin. Do we see the honor in walking with Jesus?  If there comes a point in your life where you are forced to carry your cross and walk with Jesus or hold onto the comforts of this life—which will you choose?

 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:27

 Naked! Mark 15:24-26, Matthew 26:63-68, Hebrews 7:23-28, John 19:23-24, Psalm 22:16-18, 1 Peter 2:9-10

In the last lesson you read in Mark15:15 :  Wanting to satisfy the crowd, (to exalt himself) Pilate released Barabbas to them and had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified .  Jesus carried the cross of Barabbas, but  he carried the cross of Simon too! He also carried your cross and mine!  His stripes became our healing (Isaiah 53:5),  His nakedness became our covering and His death became our life!  

 The Roman tradition of flogging was to publicly strip the prisoner naked and tie him to a post where he would be lashed repeatedly by two guards. Roman scourging was 40 lashes with a short whip fashioned with metal balls and pieces of broken bone. Depending on the fury of the lashings a prisoner could be almost dead at the end of such an ordeal.

After that scourging Matthew tells us that they put a scarlet robe and a crown of thorns on him and after mocking him put his own clothes back on him to lead him away to crucifixion (Matthew 27:28,31). Traditionally a Roman crucifixion would have the prisoner carry his cross nude, but this was not the case for Jesus. It must have been agonizing for him to have the guards pull his seamless undergarment (John 19:23) over his lacerated flesh. Jesus hung naked on the cross, for the Bible says: “soldiers divided up his clothes and cast lots.” They took special interest in his seamless undergarment (John 19:24). And so should we!

The Greek word used for what has mistakenly been translated as a seamless robe in some Bible versions is chiton  and defines a sleeveless undergarment. The rare seamless weave originated from the Coptic area in Egypt where Mary and Joseph fled from King Herod after Jesus was born. This gives some credence to the traditionally held belief that Mary lovingly made the undergarment for Jesus.  What is more interesting about the seamless undergarment is its spiritual implications to us who are Christians. 

The undergarment that Jesus wore was a priestly garment, not sewn, like other clothes (Exodus 28:2-3). The garment was woven, seamless and of one piece. Each year at Passover the high priest, wearing such an undergarment, was to make a blood sacrifice to atone for the people’s sin. Among the consecration rules for that priest was that he could never tear his priestly clothes (Leviticus 10:6, 21:10-12), but the high priest at this     Passover did tear his clothing. Caiaphas disqualified himself as High Priest by tearing his clothes at Jesus’ trial (Matthew 26:63-68). At that moment Jesus officially became both the High Priest and the blood sacrifice for any who would believe on him!  He become a “permanent priesthood” (Hebrews 7:23-28).  That Seamless Garment that Jesus was    paraded to the cross in was God’s way of showing the people then and now that He has provided a permanent priest and a sacrifice for sin once for all!  (Romans 6:10) 

When Jesus was stripped naked and nailed to the cross the Gospel of John tells us that the four soldiers divided his clothing up among themselves (sandals, turban, belt and outer garment) but “not wanting to tear” his undergarment cast lots (gambled) for it (John 19:23-24).  Unwittingly these guards fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 22:18 and honored the law of the priesthood that qualified Jesus in every detail to be our permanent priest and sacrifice!

Jesus willingly stripped off his righteousness to cover our nakedness and shame. 

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 

When we accept (acknowledge, recognize, own) Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin He removes our nakedness and promises us a garment of righteousness (Revelation 7:9-11).  He makes us who come to him into a “royal priesthood” so that we can declare his good news to others (1 Peter 2:9-10).  Are we doing it? 

Justification (just as if I never Sinned) Mark 15:27-32, Luke 23:39-43

Our brand of justice would have made the murderous Barabbas carry his cross, but for Simon, you and me…well; what hypocrites we are!  God’s verdict is all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus!  The penitent thief on the cross shows us that even in the last moments of life we may cry out in faith and be saved, but we must cry out!  Cry out and declare the good news!  

SUBSTITUTION (Naked Runner #24)

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Ryan Bruce/ The Gathering                  The Gospel of Mark (Naked Runner Series) #24

The Characteristics of Sin Mark 15:1-20, Galatians 5:19-21, James 1:13-15,                           2 Timothy 3:1-5

Let me begin with a parallel comparison of the accusers and the accused. As we read the text in Mark’s gospel, we see a physical depiction of the spiritual world and it’s characteristics.  We see the divine Holy God in the presence of direct evil and oppression.  I want to look at how evil approaches the believer, and how holiness should respond according to the example set by Jesus here.

Evil acts quickly; acts violently, is aggressive; and accuses.  Evil lies, and it is harsh.  Evil promotes more evil.  Evil is a mocker of truth; it ignores justice and hates discipline.  It    is a lover of pride, is hypocritical and is never satisfied. It denies truth as obvious as it may be.

When we read through all the gospel accounts, we see the accusers lied and accused Jesus of withholding taxes and encouraging rebellion.  These “religious” men would not enter the Praetorium (gentile roman headquarters), because they were too committed to their spiritual Passover customs.  They had a form of godliness, but their “fruit” said otherwise. We read a warning about these types of people in 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

James 1:13-15- We also must understand that each and every one of us is guilty of evil; although it entices each of us differently. The Bible tells us that the teachers were lead by envy, Pilate was lead to sin by the approval and praise of men, and Peter by fear of        persecution.  What is it that grips you?  What of sin entices you?  Do you let it lead you?

The Result of Sin  Isaiah 59: 2, Proverbs 14: 12

Sin has its due penalties.  It should not surprise or offend us when we see the results of sin in this world.  Death should not surprise us; pain should be expected. We should understand that punishment is deserved, because there is no one righteous, not one. You are guilty; I am guilty!  People and our wicked hearts are all we have to blame for any pain, death and sickness.

The Characteristics of Righteousness  John 18: 19-23, 33-37, Mark 15: 2-5

Now let’s breakdown the reaction of righteousness as we examine Jesus, God in the flesh, the “perfector of our faith”. We can see what holiness is in its most vulnerable position.  Jesus was lied about, mocked, abandoned, beat, awaiting crucifixion and death, but what was His response?

We read the details in John 18: 19-23, 33-37. His was a response of truth in the midst of lies.  He spoke with humility and peace in the midst of pride and chaos.  Jesus had eternal perspective.  He did not let the temptation of his flesh govern his behavior and actions;  instead, he responds by stating that his perspective and purpose are not the same as the world’s, His kingdom is not as the world’s.

We see in Mark 15: 2-5 that Pilate stood in amazement at Jesus’ silence.  While sin spoke with haste, Jesus allowed his actions to speak on his behalf.  Pilate said that he saw no wrong in Jesus and   desired to release him, but he moved in his own desire to please men and had Jesus condemned.

We must notice one other major part of Jesus’ response because our livelihood depends on it.  As Barabbas, a man guilty of murder, is released; Jesus, the innocent, is carried away to his death. Jesus responds willingly.  He Substituted His life for ours.  Our God, all powerful and mighty, laid down his life for murderers, liars, people- pleasers, gossips, rebels, and justice hating mockers.  This is unfathomable; yet, he displayed perfect love by laying down his life willingly.

The Result of Righteousness  2 Corinthians 5: 17-21

In 2 Corinthians 5: 17-21  we see that by the willingness and righteousness of God that we now have been saved! Those who believe in him and his work on the cross will never perish but live eternally with him in heaven.  Christ paid our penalty for sin and did away with death once and for all!  Christ died on our behalf with the purpose that we too will be righteous.  We as believers in the sacrifice of Jesus are made a new creation! The old self controlled and influenced by sin is gone. The new has come!

Are you righteous, made new, and lead by the Spirit of God? Are you fulfilling the purpose of Christ’s sacrifice?  What a shame to waste such a righteousness sacrifice if not.

Suffering for Righteousness  1 Peter 5:10, 1 Peter 3: 14, John 16: 33, John 15: 18-25

Jesus was no stranger to suffering.  We must, as Children of God expect trial, hatred and sufferings of many kinds.  It was Jesus who said, “If they hated me, they will hate you. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” Christians, we must not grow weary of being  righteousness in the presence of wickedness.  We must look at our example of Christ’s behavior in the midst of evil.  We must share truth and be patient with the lost.  We must practice humility and righteousness always.

We are encouraged by Jesus himself in John 16:33 to take heart and not fear the world  because He has overcome!  Allow me to close this lesson with the encouraging words of the apostle Peter “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled.”  1 Peter 3:14

SIFTED (Naked Runner #23)

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The Gathering/ Pastor Barry Bruce     The Gospel of Mark (Naked Runner Series #23)

Betrayed Mark 14:24-26, John 13:21-30,1 Corinthians 11:27

Jesus and his disciples had finished eating the Passover together and Judas, the betrayer, had left just as soon as he ate the bread and wine in the most unworthy manner (John 13:21-30, 1 Corinthians 11:27). Most of the disciples thought that Judas had left the table early to take care of some financial business since he was in charge of the money (only John knew for sure and maybe Peter according to John’s account), but Judas was well on his way to the authorities by the time the others had sung a hymn and went out of the Upper Room to walk to The Mount of Olives where Jesus would later be arrested.

Sifted Mark 14:27-31, Luke 22:31-34, 1 Corinthians 10:12-13, Romans 12:2-3

On the walk to The Mount of Olives Jesus told his disciples that they would all fall away and thus fulfill a prophecy by Zechariah (Zechariah 13:7). Peter denied that truth, “even if all fall away, I will not”, he said. Jesus prophesied to Peter that before a rooster crowed twice that he would disown him three times.  The gospel of Luke tells us more about the story.  Jesus called out to Peter the name that was his before he left all to follow him: “Simon, Simon”, Jesus called twice; like the rooster that would later crow and remind him of his failure (Mark 14:72), but Jesus showed compassion. He informed Peter that although Satan had asked to “sift” all of the disciples “as wheat” that Jesus had prayed especially for him.  Although all the disciples and especially Peter were indeed “sifted like wheat” (put through immense trial and tribulation) Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail and when he would turn back he would strengthen his brothers.

We can learn much through Peter’s denial of his own weakness. We must be careful in our living and thinking or we too may fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). The Apostle Paul continued this teaching to the Corinthian and Roman church by reminding them that all people are tempted by the devil but God is always faithful to provide a way out as we keep our focus on him (1 Corinthians 10:13). We must not ever think more of ourselves than we ought, but we must think of ourselves with “sound judgment”(Romans 12:3). Sound judgment does not come from our own head or “self confidence” as the world teaches.  It comes from God’s word to us and births faith (Romans 10:17) lived out in action (James 2:17).  Peter thought more of himself than he should have. All the disciples did for that matter (Mark 14:31). Do we?

Watch and Pray Mark 14:32-42, Hebrews 12:1-2, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

The remedy to thinking to highly of ourselves is to continually watch and pray. That is to watch out for sin that so easily entangles us and keep our eyes on Jesus, “the pioneer (author) and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2) and to pray continually: Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians  5:16-18 

In other words we need to stop being so inclined to earthly things and look continually at the spiritual.  The spiritual is eternal and the earthly is temporal (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). It is only by looking at life this way that we can get through all the “sifting” that temptations, troubles and afflictions bring.  Even in our greatest failures there is hope when we contemplate the spiritual view of things. 

Peter and the other disciples did not watch and pray as Jesus asked them to on the night that he was arrested.  They all fell asleep as Jesus fought within himself to purchase man’s adoption as God’s children with his own blood. “Simon”, he said to Peter, “are  you asleep?”

He and the others could not keep watch for one hour and so they fell into temptation.  Their spirit (desire) was willing but they gave into their earthly weaknesses. We will too if we do not get into the habit of watching and praying.  

The great betrayer is not Judas as we thought… it is our own lack of willingness to watch and pray! 

Willfully Arrested/ Naked and Afraid Mark 14:43-72, Isaiah 61:10

The lack of watching and praying always leads to an awful surprise!  While Jesus willfully allowed himself to be arrested so that the scriptures would be fulfilled      everyone deserted him and fled! Didn’t Peter and they all say “I will never disown you (Mark 14:31)? Surprise!  Have you ever experienced an awful surprise due to your own lack of watching and praying?

Only Mark‘s gospel includes the story of the “naked runner” because it is likely him!  He would have been a sleepy young tag along who likely woke to swords and torches wearing only a bed sheet. Running for his life he lost his covering and ran naked to freedom. Our freedom is why Jesus didn’t run or wipe out the mob.  According to the gospel of John when Jesus answered his captors call they all fell to the ground (John 18:6) and when Peter drew his sword and cut off a guards ear Jesus healed it and told his defender to put away his sword (Luke 22:50-51, John 18:10). Before the lying Sanhedrin (Jewish court) Jesus remained silent except to say that he was the Messiah and they would see him one day in judgment (Mark 14:62). Meanwhile, Peter fulfilled the prophecy of Jesus about his three time denial and the rooster crowed twice…”Simon, Simon” echoed the words of Jesus in his mind and he wept!  But Jesus had compassion on Peter and all of us betrayers.  That is why he was willfully arrested.  So that in the forgiveness of his blood we would never need to be naked and afraid, but clothed forever in his righteousness!

IN MEMORIAM (Naked Runner #22)

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The Gathering Church/ Pastor Barry Bruce Gospel of Mark/ Naked Runner Series #22

In Memoriam Mark 14:1-2, Romans 6:10-23

In Memoriam means “in memory of”.  It is what we share in an Obituary or Epitaph at a funeral or what we do to remember something or someone loved or admired at a special dedication, memorial or reoccurring event.

The Passover and The Festival of Unleavened Bread were memorials that God told his people to recognize every year (Exodus 12).  The Passover memorializes Israel’s deliverance from slavery and recalls the Passover lamb sacrifice.  The blood from that lamb sprinkled on the doorposts of the believers home caused the Angel of Death to pass over that house and spare the occupants from the fate of the Egyptians. The Feast of Unleavened Bread commemorates the day after Passover where God instructed the Hebrew people not to allow their bread to rise, but to grab everything and leave Egypt immediately. In this seven day period (Exodus 34:18) no bread or leavening was to be eaten.  In fact, God commanded that leaven be removed completely from where a person lived (Exodus 12:15). Leven was a symbol to Jews of sin likely because it was introduced for baking bread by the Egyptians and “a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough”(Galatians 5:9), in other words sin grows and spreads.

As we now know, both Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread point to Jesus.  It is only by the sacrificial blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus (John 1:29), “who takes away the sin of the world” that we can be saved from the wages of sin (Romans 6:23) which is death. He stands at the “door” of our heart and “knocks” (Revelation 3:20). We also understand that only Christ is sinless and the remedy for sin and our slavery to it.

It is ironic that as these days of Memoriam were coming upon Israel that her religious leaders were plotting the death of the very one to whom they pointed to. They were afraid of the people but not afraid of the one who made them (John 1:1-4).  How about you?  Do you elevate yourself and others above the one who made you? Do you live your life as a living memorial to him or do you simply keep religious traditions and live as a slave to sin like those who plotted Jesus’ death?  We must remember that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and without that holy fear we are capable of ever growing, ever spreading sin that leads us and others to separation from God and eternal death! (Proverbs 9:10, Romans 6:23)

Extravagant for Christ  Mark 14:3-10, Matthew 6:19-24

On the day before his Last Supper and arrest, Jesus didn’t go back into Jerusalem, but spent the day in Bethany with friends. “As Jesus reclined at the table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of imported, expensive perfume made from pure nard and poured it over his head.  There were some who were verbally upset by this extravagant act. The perfume was worth a year’s wage and could have been used for the poor, but Jesus rebuked those who spoke against her and saw what she had done as a beautiful thing. How could such an  extravagant act be honored by the Lord?  This was not the only time such a thing occurred.

 Theological Views on the Anointing (s) of Jesus:

Although some theologians try and fit all of the gospel accounts into one story, based on my study of the accounts, Jesus was anointed three times by three different women in two  different geographical locations. Matthew (26:6-13) and Mark (14:1-9) state that Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the Leper. This account happened after the Triumphal Entry and two days before the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread (Mark 14:1).

The account in Luke’s gospel (7:36-50) speaks of a completely different time and place in Nain, at the house of Simon a Pharisee, when “A woman who had lived a sinful life” wept and anointed his feet with her tears and a “jar of perfume.”  This account happened long before the Triumphal Entry.

The account in the Gospel of John (12:1-13) talks about a supper made with Lazarus and his sister Martha served in Bethany (same location at the supper with Simon the Leper) when Mary took a pound of Nard (Spikenard KJV) and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped them with her hair. She did not cry. This account was six days before Passover and the day before the Triumphal Entry. Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed Jesus, objected to the act in this   account saying that the money could have been used for the poor, but in reality he said this not for the sake of the poor but because he was a thief and use to help himself to the money he kept for the ministry of Jesus.  The last two accounts of such extravagance occurred in the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. According to Mark’s gospel the third time could have been the rationale behind Judas’ reason to betray Jesus, but then where was his treasure then?

The act was absolutely selfless, all three acts were! Pouring out such an expensive perfume profited the givers nothing. As a matter of fact it brought ridicule. The perfume was a thoughtful gift of love that said “you are more valuable than anything and I love you!”  When you think of Jesus’ amazing love for you are you stingy or extravagant with your time, treasure and talent (devotion) ? “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”

Betrayal and Devotion Mark 14:12-26, Revelation 19:6-9

Jesus celebrated the traditional Passover meal with his disciples (including Judas) but he made the bread and cup symbolic of his own body and blood. The betrayer would depart after super once Jesus had washed even his feet (John 13:2-5) as the servant of all.  Jesus’ devotion to die for sins was extended even to Judas, although God foreknew that he would choose to depart. He desires no man to perish (2 Peter 3:9).

We are called to memorialize Jesus’ extravagant gift to us not only through communion (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) but through our living. Jesus promises another extravagant gift to all whose names are written in the Book of Life (Revelation 19:9), but what shall be our gift to him? Shall we be extravagant or stingy, devoted or detached, selfish or servants like Him?       

WATCH! (Naked Runner #21)

EarthEye

The Gathering Church/ Pastor Barry Bruce     Gospel of Mark/ Naked Runner Series #21

The Destruction of the Temple Mark 13:1-2, Luke 19:41-44

As Jesus and his disciples were leaving the Temple to go back to Bethany, the disciples made a comment about the beauty of that Temple and its massive stones.  People of that day were so impressed with the Temple structure that king Herod had built that he had become more an object of worship than God. Jesus was unimpressed.  In fact, he prophesied about the Temple’s destruction. “Not one stone here will be left on another”, he said. He also said this earlier just before his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey.

We must remember “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”. (Hebrews 13:8). Looking back to God’s destruction of the Tower of Babel we can see the same story–men had become so impressed with their tower and accumulated accomplishments that they began to worship self rather than God. That is why God destroyed that tower and confused their languages. God forbid that we should ever worship the creation over the Creator!

The fist Temple had been built by King Solomon in 950 BC and only took 7 years to build.  It was attacked and rebuilt several times throughout history until the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, utterly destroyed it in 586 BC. The second Temple was built on the same site in 515 BC by Zerubbabel who was appointed governor of the Province of Judah by King Darius I of Persia . It was that Temple that the Greek king, Antiochus Epiphanies, desecrated with pigs blood (the “abomination that causes desolation”) in 170 BC and was later cleansed in the Maccabean revolt in 164 BC which fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel 8:9-14 and birthed the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah. 

 In 63 BC Jerusalem was captured by Rome. It was later taken by Herod the Great in 38 BC and according to the historian Josephus, he began reconstructing and rebuilding the second    Temple in 19 BC, in the 18th year of his reign. Herod’s Temple (sometimes incorrectly  referred to as the third Temple)  was rebuilt as rapidly as possible, being finished in a year and a half, although work was in progress on the out-buildings and courts for over eighty years. The Temple was under construction throughout Jesus’ entire life on earth. The gospel of John tells us that at the onset of Jesus ministry it was already 46 years into its construction (John 2:20). The temple was completed in 63AD.  Herod the Great, however, died in 4 BC when Jesus was just a child (Matthew 2:14-15).

 About 40 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection (and only seven years after its completion) Herod’s Temple was utterly destroyed just as Jesus prophesied.  In 70 AD Titus built an embankment on all sides of the city, slaughtered everyone within its walls and burned the  Temple and city to the ground. The gold melted into the cracks of the massive stones and every one of them was toppled over in order to recover it.    

 The “When” and “What” Mark 13:3-4, Matthew 24:3

The fact that Jesus had mentioned the destruction of the Temple and its city twice got the disciples thinking, so when Jesus stopped on the Mount of Olives, which offered a great view of Jerusalem and the Temple, the disciples asked him to tell them “when” the Temple and city would be destroyed and “what” would be the sign of “your coming and of the end of the age” (Matthew’s gospel gives clarity on the question: Matthew 24:3). Jesus did not give the “when”(Mark 13:32) , but he did say “what” to look for.  Just as in all prophetic scripture his discourse speaks not only to the disciples present at that time but also to future readers like you and me as well.  Jesus answers their question thoroughly.

“Watch Out” Mark 13:5-13, Ephesians 6:12, 1 Peter 5:8, Philippians 1:27-28

Jesus begins by telling his disciples and all those who will follow him to “watch out” that no one deceives you.  We must be on our guard in the faith and realize that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, and that our enemy is the Devil!  Jesus told his disciples that many would come in His name and deceive many. You can see that this is a true statement just by checking out Wikipedia’s list of messiah claimants; however, the deception goes far deeper than this. The greatest deception lurks in deviating from God’s word and the persecution that comes for those Christians who hold firm to the truth.  Jesus told his disciples that they would be persecuted.  All of the Apostles were and so will all Christians to varying degrees.  In fact we now live in an age that the persecution of the church worldwide is greater than it has ever been in history, but take heed, Jesus said “the one who stands firm to the end will be saved”.  The end of what you may ask? The end of your earthly life I would say!  As the apostle Paul said: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ”. Jesus also points out that the gospel will be preached in the “whole world” before the end comes. This has become possible only through the internet, television and radio.

The Fig Tree Mark 13:14-31, Luke 21:20-21

Jesus speaks to his disciples again about Israel (symbolic “Fig tree”) and a future Temple.  We know it’s a future Temple (Revelation 11:1-2) because Jesus proclaimed the destruction of the one that existed in his time. He also spoke of an “abomination that causes desolation”(referencing the prophet Daniel in Matthew). Jesus speaks of Daniel’s prophecy (partially fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanies) as having a future fulfillment (Matthew 24:15) when Jerusalem is surrounded by armies (Luke 21:20–21).  The future Antichrist, that leader of the Ten final nations (“ten toes of iron mixed with clay”) envisioned in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2:41-44)  will pridefully repeat the wicked actions of Antiochus, but God will also take this satanic madman down supernaturally as “he returns in the clouds with great power and glory.” and cast him into hell forever (Revelation 19:20).

 The lesson from the “Fig Tree” is a reminder to keep our eyes on Israel.  The “abomination that causes desolation” cannot occur without a third Temple being built.  For that term is a reference to defiling the Temple. The generation that sees the Temple will not pass away until all of these things has happened!

Be Alert! Mark 13:32-37, Luke 21:34-36, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Isaiah 5:20-21

Jesus reminds believers that we will not know the day he returns but we can clearly see the signs. Look at Israel, the world, technology, Christian persecution and the spread of wickedness.  Let’s not fall asleep in sinfulness, but stay alert and watch!  He is coming again!