Friday, April 6, 2012

Mark 15:1 – 41

By Amy Whiting

Good...if you look up that adjective in our dictionary it has 28 different meanings! 28 ways of describing what good is...yet on the surface none of them seem to fit the events of the day we call Good Friday. Why do we call it good?

“Friday is the day that:

He who was celebrated becomes despised

He who was innocent was punished like the guilty

He who was the Lion was slaughtered like a Lamb

A day of unexpected reversals:

Where the Pharisees thought they got away with premeditated murder

But actually it was a predestined sacrifice

They thought they were taking His life

But in fact He was surrendering it

Death was their goal,

Yet life was the outcome

How is this day good?

Because on this day God had other plans:

He made one day affect all of eternity

He turned the wounds of One into healing for many

He transformed our worst acts of hate into the greatest expression of love

How is this day good?

Because at the cross:

We can hand over our sin in exchange for righteousness

We can lay down our burdens and pick up freedom

We can come broken and yet leave restored

And though seemingly it was the end –

It was actually just the beginning

The enemy had it planned as a bad day...

And we now call it good.”*

We call it Good Friday because today we remember and celebrate afresh that we have the privilege of knowing and experiencing that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

*Text taken from the video clip “Good Friday” by Igniter Media

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mark 14:12-26

By Josh Taylor

Reading this passage is like being a fly on a wall at a very important occasion. The disciples gather to share a meal with Jesus. Why is this passover meal significant?

Here Jesus connects Israel’s past with his mission. He is the one who came to fulfill God’s plans for his world. So the meal that Jesus invites his followers to partake in is a meal that celebrates an ‘exodus’ of sorts (The passover meal celebrates God delivering his people from slavery in Egypt).This ‘exodus’ is a delivery from the slavery of sin and death that in Jesus’ death and resurrection is made possible. The meal that Jesus invites his disciples to take helps explain his death. Jesus breaks the bread saying “This is my body given for you”. Jesus takes the cup saying: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” So this meal that Jesus had with his disciples was all about God’s gift of grace to a broken world.

We celebrate this meal in church when we take communion. When we do this we are reminded that following Jesus is not about mental assent to an abstract theory or belief. Rather we follow Jesus together as a community and this is intimately entwined in everything we do: as we do such a down to earth real thing as eating together we are reminded that we participate in God's grace.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mark 14:53-65

By Josh Taylor

What struck me most about this passage were the opening lines. Jesus has been arrested and is being taken to see the high priest.

In verse 50 the "disciples cut and run" (as the Message puts it). Here in verse 54 we see that "Peter followed at a safe distance".

Remember that these are the people who are closest to Jesus. They have spent years with him, eating with him, praying with him and following him. But when it comes to the crunch, when things start to get risky they cut and run.

The challenge for me was this: how many of us "follow Jesus at a safe distance". This Lent we are reminded of the call to follow Jesus with our whole lives, to give over everything to him.

A prayer:
"Lord Jesus, help us not to be those who follow you at a safe distance. As we approach Easter we are reminded of your life given for us. May we learn to follow you even where it is risky and in doing so may we encounter your grace and love."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mark 14:32-52

A prayer by Walter Brueggemann from Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth.

This day of dread and betrayal and denial

cause a pause in our busyness

Who would of thought that you would take

the eighth son of Jesse

to become the pivot of hope in our ancient memory?

Who would have thought that you would take

this uncredentialed

Galilean rabbi

to become the pivot of newness in the world?

Who would have thought that you –

God of gods and Lord of lords –

would fasten on such small, innocuous agents

whom the world scorns

to turn creation toward your newness?

As we are dazzled,

give us the freedom to resituate our lives in modest,

uncredentialed, vulnerable places.

We ask for freedom and courage to move out from our nicely

arranged patterns of security

into dangerous places of newness where we fear to go.

Cross us by the cross, that we may be Easter marked. Amen.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mark 14-15:47

by Monique

Wow…. The more and more I look into this passage the more my heart is changed and I become more and more thankful for the beauty of the sacrifice of God’s love for us, but on the other hand I know I will never grasp the true extent of the selfless sacrifice that Jesus made when he came to Earth as one of us, I don’t think anyone could truly grasp how it would have been to endure the agony, suffering, betrayal and loneliness and the mocking chants of the crowds. Sometimes I neglect to remember that Jesus was divine yes, but he was also human, he was perfectly human.

I wonder how he must’ve felt when he knew Peter would disown him, I bet Peter was shocked, he loved Jesus and he was deeply devoted to him (he definitely wasn’t just a fan). But when the time came for Peter to proclaim the name of Jesus and to declare his love for him to this woman, he failed, he denied it in a way that you couldn’t take as a misunderstanding but he clearly said “I don’t know what you are talking about” (14:68) Then the Rooster crowed as Jesus had spoken of earlier and our friend Peter broke down and wept. I wonder how Peter must have felt when he realised what he had done. To have so much determination to never let Jesus down and having been pre warned about it but to still deny him.

This raises up such a challenge in my life, my heart aches when I think of the many times I as a follower of Christ have denied him, when people have talked about me being religious I haven’t jumped up and said “ I am a follower of Christ” and continued to talk about my Jesus, I simply shrugged it off. So reading of the agony and suffering of Jesus on the cross I sit here and ponder about what it cost him so I could live. I think of the painful sacrifice he made for us, and I find it hard to wonder why I would ever not boast about my Jesus? Why I would not be excited to explain why I’m not simply religious, but a Follower of Christ, a follower of a divine human who loved us so deeply he gave his life on the Cross so we could be rescued, so the world could be rescued. For I know that although I deny him he will never relent, he will never give up on me, he is unconditional on all matters regarding the heart.

So I guess the challenge for myself and anyone else who’s the same is will we sacrifice popularity and what the world thinks of us “religious folks” and speak up when given the opportunity, speak of the Love God has for the people we encounter and try not to deny Gods voice but listen and respond in love as Jesus did? It seems a small sacrifice when I sit here and think about it and I suddenly realise it seems insane to not do it when compared to the sacrifice that was made for us the day the veil was torn.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mark 11:1-11

By Leigh Page

Did you notice all the ‘ones’? Five of them? Five, the number of grace … amazing grace. Here, in this passage we see an amazing out flowing of God’s grace at work … the revealing of God’s big picture of salvation established from the beginning, the fulfilment of prophecy, the nature of the character of God Himself … all coming together … if only the people had had the eyes and ears to receive it at the time.

As Eugene O’Neill noted, ‘The grace of God is glue.’ The glue of HisStory, the glue that mends the broken hearted, the glue that binds together communities … grace.

Jesus comes to Jerusalem, the city that he had wept over, the city that ‘was to be the radiating heart of a world of completeness and wholeness’ … of peace … of grace …

Zechariah, the prophet, wrote these words some 480 years before the events unfolding before us …

“Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!

See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Jesus, aware of all that is about to unfold in this week of His passion, comes in the grace and favour of God, fulfilling the Word of the Lord bought by the prophets generations before.

In a lowly manner, on a borrowed colt, over the people’s cloaks and on branches spread out on the road as they did when celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles (the feast remembering God’s provision, the deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt and the wandering in the desert).

Compare this approach with the earthly kings of the day who rode into cities upon horses with pomp and all the trappings of human power. Then come the cries of the people, “Hosanna” (“save now”), “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” they shout, welcoming his person. “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” and “Hosanna in the highest! Here are prophetic words echoing loudly in the air, to the great consternation of the chief priest and scribes. Why? Because this greeting and prayer was to be reserved only for the coming of the Messiah, as declared on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. How could this Nazarene be the messiah we are expecting? ‘This makes the event of Jesus entering the city in what is called the ‘Triumphant Entry” (on Palm Sunday) come alive for us as we now better understand its significance.’

Jesus went through the city to the Temple, the ‘epitome of the aspirations of Israel and the symbol of its national hopes’ and looks around at everything … the Temple, designed to be the place of meeting …man with God …designated to be a house of prayer for all nations (all people groups) … What does He find? A place of peace where the rivers of life flow from the house of God to all nations?

What does He see? The corrupted fruit the outcome of religious rules, ritual and reckonings? What does He think? Grief for the people? Remember the zeal ( to earnestly desire something in a protective sense -- a fierce protectiveness.) for his Father’s house? But since it was already late … He went out to Bethany with the twelve. Bethany the home of Lazarus, the one Jesus raised from the dead just a few days ago, of Simon the leper, of Mary Magdalene and of Martha … Bethany, a centre for caring for the sick and aiding the destitute and pilgrims to Jerusalem …


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mark 13: 1-23

By Sam Wilkinson

This is a pasage sbout sacrifice, and prepardness in our faith. As much as Jesus shares on signs of end times we could easily miss the point due to the fascinating content.

Through the beginning of chapter 13 we are reminded of how fickle our material can be, a temple built to honour the Lord, celarly a magnificent structure in its day. Jesus warns of a fate for the whole city that as residents in Christchurch we probably have a genuinely unique perspective on. “not one stone here will be left on another, every one will be thrown down”.

Prophecies of war, famine, and disasters follow. I am struck by the most improbable section as being the nucleus of what the passage is about, there is certain prophecy that Jesus tells us to pray does not happen in the winter, why? Because he does not know exacly how this end of days will play out. Attempting to disect a time line over these uncertain events is the most challenging puzzle you could ever face, and some love it. But is it the main point to this scripture?

I remember sitting in class in year 6, terrified listening to these prophecies, convinced they began tomorrow. Why I am not sure but I missed the point back then, doesn't surprise me know I think about it, it seemed like a Christian baseball bat keeping me in line through fear.

However the many different ways you study or hear this and other end times passages, it is important to remember this, if you study out of devotion and not human imposed fear and you will find the content encouraging.

We are to remember that our Lord requires not the magnificence of buildings and other material, he requires the magnificence of Christ dwelling in us to spread his goodness. If we sacrifice the material and are prepared for all eventualities in our faith, a specific time frame is irrelevant, the journey will be difficult but the outcome will be stunning.