Friday, October 31, 2008

Peter's Denials

At the end of chapter 14, we follow Peter as Peter follows Jesus through his last night on earth before crucifixion.

When Jesus says you're going to fail, don't bother fighting it.

Have I ever sensed Jesus telling me I'd fail? I'm not sure. I don't think so.

But I have gotten into situations where it was clear that things weren't going according to plan. Rather than fighting through the situation, it might sometimes be better to acknowledge that things aren't going well and ask to try again.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


In verses 53-65, we follow Jesus' accusers to the Sanhedrin.

Even a batch of false witnesses couldn't provide the "two or three witnesses" required by Old Testament law to condemn a criminal.

But when pressed by the religious leaders, Jesus repeated back their own words and acknowledged his divinity.

At this point, they all cried out that because of blasphemy, Jesus should be executed.

They would have been right if it were anyone but Jesus. Problem is, to be guilty of blasphemy, you need to be lying.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Kiss of Death

How creepy and evil that Judas identified Jesus' identity with a kiss.

First off, didn't everyone know who Jesus was already? Second, why use a kiss? How about a hearty handshake? Or a simple, courtroom-style, "That's the man I sold out for 30 pieces of silver!"

These verses, 43-52, make me consider when and how I betray people in my life with a kiss.

Anytime I talk behind someone's back, I'm guilty.

Anytime I laugh at someone else's mean-spirited joke, I'm guilty.

Anytime I feel embarrassed by my faith in Christ, I'm guilty.

All I'm left with is the opportunity to respond with sincere repentance.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More Old Testament Fulfillment

In verse 27, Jesus quotes Zechariah 13:7.

Jesus makes it clear that the reason his disciples will fall away is because that's what the written scriptures say. The written Word of God has real power and influence over events.

Peter insists that he'll be different, but Jesus knows better. Peter means well, but as usual, he is impulsive and can't follow through on his initial commitment.

Peter, James and John go with Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane. While Jesus pours out his heart to his father in prayer, the others fall asleep three times. Jesus is particularly critical of Peter, and advises him to pray that he'd stay out of temptation.

Praying to stay out of temptation is always a good idea!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Maundy Thursday

As Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, he did not come to abolish the OT scriptures, but to fulfill it. We see this truth illustrated in verses 12-26.

Jesus sent some of his disciples ahead into Jerusalem to prepare for the Passover. They didn't have to make reservations; Jesus gave them directions to find a fully-furnished room. The disciples still had to prepare the meal. Not everything was handed to them. I think this is how God works sometimes. He gives us just enough support for us to complete the tasks laid out before us, but we're expected to finish the job.

It must have torn Jesus apart when he announced that one of the Twelve would betray him. "For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him" (verse 21a). This is a fulfillment of the Old Testament scriptures, not a replacement.

In the midst of the Passover supper, Jesus relabels some of the traditional elements. The unleavened bread becomes his body, and one cup of wine becomes his blood. Again, Jesus is a fulfillment of the Old Testament, not a replacement.

Surprisingly, right after the meal Jesus and his disciples leave for the Mount of Olives. If they'd stayed inside, Jesus would have been protected. But once he stepped over the threshold, he became like one of the Egyptian firstborn sons. And like an Egyptian son, he paid with his life. Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament, he didn't replace it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Intrigue and Annointing

In verses 1-11, we learn about the chief priests' and scribes' desire to have Jesus killed.

Then Jesus is annointed with tears and expensive perfume.

Both events begin to prepare us for Jesus' impending death.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Outline of Mark 14

  1. Temple Intrigue
  2. Jesus Annointed with Perfume and Tears
  3. The Disciples Celebrate the Passover with Jesus for the Last Time
  4. Gethsemane
  5. Betrayal
  6. False Testimony before the High Priest
  7. Peter's Denials

This is a jam-packed chapter. I expect it will take two weeks to analyze.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Haggai 2:10-23

  1. It's easier to become unclean than clean
  2. Take the Lord's hint when you're spinning your wheels
  3. Go Zerubbabel!

I'm so excited about...

I'm so excited about the new message series at Church. Our pastor is preaching this Sunday on the book of Haggai. listen

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Haggai 2:1-9

At the beginning of chapter 2, Haggai reminds the leaders that the temple looks cruddy compared to its former glory.

However, God reassures the leaders--through Haggai--that the temple repaired will look even better than the original.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Haggai 1

I'll take a brief foray into the OT book of Haggai for the next couple of days.

Haggai makes the people aware that they have sinned by neglecting the temple at the expense of their own possessions.

A consequence is that no matter how hard the people work, they struggle to make ends meet.

When do I struggle to succeed, no matter how hard I try?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jesus' Return

At the end of chapter 13, Jesus explains the uncertainty of the time of his return in a different way.

Keep alert. You never know the exact time of Christ's return.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fig Tree

In verses 24-33, Jesus gives us parameters for his return:

  1. heavenly signs
  2. stars falling
  3. the Son of Man coming in the clouds
  4. gather the elect
  5. parable of the fig tree
  6. humanity will not pass away before Jesus returns
  7. no one knows the precise time except God the Father

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Telling the Future

In the first 23 verses, we learn a great deal about how to determine when Jesus will return.

There are a few elements that we've already experienced, but many things that haven't.

Until claiming that Jesus is returning, check out these verses for a checklist of prerequisite warning signs:

  1. false Christs
  2. wars and rumors of wars
  3. political turmoil
  4. earthquakes
  5. famines (this is just the beginning)
  6. Christians sent to court
  7. Christians flogged in synagogues
  8. Christians stand before political leaders
  9. gospel must be preached to every nation (this is a tough standard to meet)
  10. Holy Spirit will give Christians the words to testify, without preparation
  11. families will be divided and betray one another, even to death
  12. be hated because of following Christ
  13. Abomination of Desolation
    • don't return home
    • don't return to your field
    • woe to pregnant and nursing mothers
    • pray it won't be winter
    • worst time in the history of humanity
    • even the elect wouldn't survive if God didn't "shorten" this awful time
    • don't believe rumors of Christ's return
    • false Christs will appear
    • false prophets will appear
  14. relax, because Jesus has already given us his game plan and historical outline

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Outline of Mark 13

The Very End of Time

  • Look at the amazing Temple!
  • Someday, this Temple will be utterly destroyed
  • Peter, James, John and Andrew ask for insider information about the end of the world
  • Jesus gives insider information about the end of the world, including signs that it's coming
  • The signs are like leaves on a fig tree in spring

Friday, October 17, 2008

Winning the Crowd

In verses 35-37, Jesus wins over the crowd with his simple, cutting analysis of the temple scribes.

It's similar to why people enjoy Jon Stewart on the Daily Show.

How amazing that Jesus could appeal to the crowds so effectively.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


In verses 41-44, Jesus teaches that generosity is proportional.

In other words, the less we have, the greater our sacrifice when we give to the Lord.

I have too much to be like the widow. All I can do is give generously to God's work and pray for the right attitude of sacrifice.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


In verses 38-40, Jesus warns against being swayed by the long, flowing robes and flamboyant manner of the temple leaders.

How often does this happen in contemporary politics?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wise Scribe

In verses 28-34, we learn that not all of the scribes were against Jesus.

When your opponent answers wisely, give him the honor due such a response!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Jesus 1,000,000; Opponents, Zero

In verses 18-27, Jesus easily manages the Sadducees' parable challenge.

It's foolish to correlate marriages on earth to relationships in heaven.

We will all be one family, devoted to God, not separated by geography or time or race or any other artificial dividing line.

How does this apply to life on earth in the here and now? How can Christians achieve a heavenly level of unity and love? We sure don't have it now, with dozens of denominations and petty bickering among clergy and lay people.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Render to Caesar

What is Jesus saying in this object lesson, verses 13-17?

  1. Pharisees and Herodians step in to set up Jesus in a trap
  2. They try to butter Jesus up in verse 14
  3. Next, they set their trap, with no time in between
  4. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, to representatives of the non-Jewish government?
  5. Jesus immediately calls out his opponents in their set-up
  6. Don't bother answering a trap question directly, but call out your opponent
  7. Jesus quickly follows up with a question of his own, one that puts his opponents on the defensive
  8. Jesus builds upon the answer to his question to humble his opponents
  9. Paying taxes is not disloyal to God, but holding back my heart from Jesus is disloyal!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ungrateful Employees

In verses 1-12, Jesus tells a story which describes the Jewish religious leaders' historical treatment of God's prophets.

  1. People who build businesses care for their organizations
  2. Owners expect a share of the profits
  3. Owners have a right to a share of the profits
  4. Renters are stewards
  5. Renters perform a service to the owner
  6. Therefore, renters deserve a share of the profits
  7. Owner:Boss::Renter:Employee
  8. This story may have contemporary application to the workplace, not just to spiritual matters
  9. My boss hired me to perform a service
  10. My boss deserves honor and a fair day's work
  11. If Jesus worked for his father in the carpenter's shop, then he was a model employee
  12. Sometimes employees beat up the very people who hire and pay them
  13. This attitude is sinful
  14. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men (Colossians 3:23, NIV)
  15. Does "work at it with all your heart" mean be a workaholic, at the expense of your family?
  16. Of course not. But my attitude toward my employer must be one of humble service, not entitlement and bitterness.
  17. Why would the vineyard owner continue to send people to collect his dues if the renters were untrustworthy to the point of beating and killing the owner's people?
  18. This parallels OT reality, but does not appear to be wise advice for a boss
  19. How does this relate to the concept of "turn the other cheek?"
  20. A boss can turn the other cheek without giving up his ownership stake
  21. A boss can give wayward employees multiple chances to do the right thing
  22. A boss ought to feel pain when his employees don't do the right thing
  23. The evil renters escalated their rebellion to the point of killing the owner's son
  24. The renters' goal was not just to avoid paying the owner, but also to claim the entire estate for themselves
  25. This is a new level of sin and evil, trying to oust your boss and take his or her estate
  26. When and how do I steal from God in this way?
  27. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord (Romans 12:19, NIV).
  28. The verse above quotes Deuteronomy 32:35
  29. The very next verse in Deuteronomy says: The LORD will judge his people / and have compassion on his servants / when he sees their strength is gone / and no one is left, slave or free.
  30. The Lord's judgment and compassion on his servants are simultaneous
  31. My parental judgment and compassion on my children must be simultaneous
  32. The stone which the builders rejected / Has become the chief corner stone (Psalm 118:22, NASB).
  33. There is no escaping the Truth value of the Bible, Old and New Testaments
  34. No matter what I attempt to do in my sin, God's will is going to be accomplished
  35. So why rebel? God will get his way in the end!
  36. If I trust God, and I believe the Bible, then it is in my best interests to obey him completely
  37. Is it in my children's best interests to obey me completely?
  38. If I am doing my job as a parent, then the answer ought to be yes
  39. Why don't I obey God completely?
  40. For the same reasons my children don't obey me completely
  41. Why don't my children obey me completely?
  42. Their selfishness
  43. Because I'm a idiot sometimes
  44. Because they think they know better than me
  45. As I reflect upon challenging interactions with my kids (and my wife and my students and etc.) I ought to reflect upon how this parallels my own rebellion toward God
Lord, I pray that you'll help me learn how to obey you more fully through faith in your Truth and obedience to your Word. Remind me to reflect upon my own sinfulness when I feel wronged!

Outline of Mark 12

  1. Parable of the Ungrateful Vineyard Employees
  2. Give to Caesar What Is Caesar's, and to God What Is God's
  3. Parable of the Black Widow (used to trap Jesus, not teach Truth)
  4. Discussion of the Greatest Commandment
  5. David Prophetically Called the Messiah Lord
  6. Beware Religious Leaders in Flashy Clothing
  7. Poor Widow's Generous Offering

Friday, October 10, 2008


It's incredible how fickle crowds are.  Sometimes I get the feeling that American pop culture is a contemporary phenomenon and influenced by technology and our increasing appetite for more and more dirt.

The Romans had fights to the death in their colosseum.

Early Americans watched public hangings.

Pulp culture is as old as society.

So it's not surprising, but completely consistent with human nature, that the same crowds which praised Jesus on Palm Sunday shouted "Crucify!" on Good Friday,

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Learning By Following Around

In education and business, one management technique is called MBWA, managing by walking around.

The best education in history was learning by walking around with Jesus!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Gotcha, Jesus!

Why bother trying to trap Jesus?  He's too smart, too well-spoken, too quick on his feet.

In verses 27-33, the religious leaders tried to trap Jesus in his own words.

Game.  Set.  Match.

Jesus wins again!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fig Tree Withered

Poor fig tree.  What did it ever do to deserve a rebuke from Jesus?

The key warning is in verses 25-26, wheree Jesus reminds us that our forgiveness is contingent upon our forgiving others.

As I consider what Jesus and the Father have done for me, there is no excuse for unforgiveness in my heart toward anyone else.

I struggle with the sin of unforgiveness.  More precisely, I want to make sure that people who hurt me and those around me experience suffering themselves.  This is exactly the opposite attitude from what Jesus commands.

It is up to the Lord to avenge.

I must learn to trust God in this important matter.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Triumphal Entry

In verses 8-11, we see Jesus treated the way he should be, as a hero and a savior.

How often do I treat Jesus the way he ought to be treated?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Greatest Donkey

In verses 1-7, we meet the greatest donkey in all of human history.

Jesus uses the meek and humble for his purposes.

Am I as humble as a donkey? Can Jesus tell in the future that Iwill serve him faithfully?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Outline of Mark 11

  1. Palm Sunday
  2. Bad Fig Tree, Bad! (Part I)
  3. Den of Robbers, or Jesus Kicks Butt
  4. Bad Fig Tree (Part II)
  5. By Whose Authority?

Friday, October 3, 2008


It was Bartimaeus's faith, not his persistence, that led to his healing.

How much faith do I have today?

Thursday, October 2, 2008


In verses 32-45, we are reminded that Jesus came to serve, not to be served.

Whom do I serve?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


James and John asked to be given special places of honor in the Kingdom of Heaven.

The other ten apostles got really mad about their request.

Rather than taking sides, Jesus wisely got to the core of the issue and shared that the Kingdom of Heaven is not based upon the same values and procedures and worldly kingdoms.

Do I follow the values of God or the values of the world?  How about you, dear Reader?