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Trusting Long-term and Obeying Short-term

Mark 13:32-34

Jesus had been preparing His disciples for His departure: first dying then ascending (John 16:17).  But the departure through death was less than three days; and leaving for heaven would be only for a while until He comes back (John 14:2-3).  In the meantime, the disciples would become apostles 'in charge of His house', with the responsibility of having everything prepared for His return, whenever that should be.  These verses sum up Jesus' teaching about the need to be prepared for God's future timetable - including persecutions and the judgement to come.  As with every undefined event, th

Stay Alert for Christ's Return

Mark 13:35-37

Calculating the date of the return of Christ may be theologically intriguing, but it is practically irrelevant.  If Jesus Himself chose not to know and said that nobody else knows (Matthew 24:36), why has there been a succession of 'end of the world' frenzies?  The greatest religious delusion (apart from assuming to be God) is the desire to be in control of the future.  It is not only occultists who specialise in prediction; religionists of all flavours do this as well.  Interestingly all such 'prophetic revelations' have proved false although lots of people's lives have been cultishly cont

The Lord's Plans Always Succeed

Mark 14:1-2

This episode takes place on the Wednesday of the first Holy Week.  The cross is just two days away, and the religious conspirators still have no plan despite their intense hatred of Jesus and their ambition to kill Him.  Like all worldlings, they are people-pleasers ... more concerned with how others will respond to their fantasies than with what is true.  They even admitted between themselves that the arrest and death of Jesus would have to be a sly trick.

The Cost and Value of Devotion

Mark 14:3-5

In 24 hours Jesus would be having His Last Supper; but this night was spent relaxing with friends in the home of a healed leper (Mark 14:1-3).  What composure, in the face of agony to come!  It was not unusual at a special dinner for honoured guests to be anointed with fragrant spices by the host: but at some point, it was Mary (sister of Martha and Lazarus) who came in and spilled out all her precious ointment in an act of extravagant devotion.

Give All You Have to Honour the Lord

Mark 14:6-9

When Mary was being harassed by jealous religious materialists, including some of Jesus' closest friends (John 12:4-5), Jesus had the last word!  What a relief it must have been to her.  His explanation also provided her with a previously unknown reason for the spontaneous outpouring of love.  Jesus described the action as beautiful and very timely.  Never again would she be able to express her adoration in this way.  As Jesus explained, her action had anticipated His burial, and He warmly received the outpouring of costly love (Mark 14:3-5).

Seizing the Moment for Good or Ill

Mark 14:10-11

Yesterday's passage of extravagant devotion (Mark 14:3-9), and today's of extravagant greed, are intentionally linked by the word 'then'.  The contrast is so stark: one who loved Jesus so much that she gave him the best, and the other loved himself so much that he got the best he could out of Jesus.  The worship of self must inevitably exclude the worship of Jesus, although we can cleverly disguise our self-centeredness in a nice-looking religious way.

A Sacrifice Sufficient For All My Sin

Mark 14:12

Special meals are still a way in which we mark the beginning of new relationships (like weddings) or celebrate anniversaries (like birthdays).  The Feast of Unleavened Bread was a week long holiday (our word derives from 'holy-day') to celebrate God's provision for the Israelites as they fled from Egypt through the Red Sea - eating only the specially prepared unleavened bread - a dense bread made without yeast that would not 'go bad' on the hot journey (Exodus 12:17-20).  Before they had crossed the Red Sea, God commanded that they must recall God’s deliverance every year by eating unleaven

All In His Plan

Mark 14:13-16

Jesus had reserved a suitable room for the Passover meal (Last Supper).  He had already made the arrangements with the necessary security built in.  All the details of this covert operation for two unnamed disciples had been worked out: the silent street encounter with the water carrier leading to the rendezvous; the password and the final instructions.  All they had to do was to do as they were told.

Who Will Betray Jesus?

Mark 14:17-19

The Passover Supper was ready. The two disciples who were sent ahead of the group had completed their preparations (Mark 14:13-16) and Jesus came in with the other ten men.  The tradition of reclining on mats around a low table led to informality and relaxation, despite the formal rehearsal of the usual words recalling the first Passover.

Many Decisions but One Sovereign Plan

Mark 14:20-21

During the Last Supper, Jesus identifies His betrayer.