We are all a work in progress--God's work! This concluding section in the Gospel of Mark challenges disciples of Jesus to obey to the best of their understanding; to trust Lord Jesus (who loved them with his very life) to correct them and to help them grow in his way.
Mark's story about Jesus' resurrection ends with the primary witnesses of his death, burial, and resurrection scared speechless. Yet, when we think about it, Mark's story calls each of us to live fearlessly in the light of Jesus' authority over all things.
Joseph of Arimathea proves to be a disciple of Jesus by the way he treats Jesus' body. In three ways, Joseph teaches all of us about faithfully following Jesus, the Lord.
Jesus gave his life on the cross as the sacrifice that we needed to free us from the curse of sin and death. Thank God!
Pilate's palace guard soldiers mocked Jesus by "worshiping" him. They crowned him, robed him like a king, gave him a scepter, bowed to him, and hailed him as king. But they did not mean it. These things give disciples of Jesus pause: is it possible that our own worship of Jesus in fact mocks him?
Mark describes a scene in which Jesus' fate of crucifixion is determined. But there is a problem. Pilate, the Roman governor, still sees Jesus as innocent. Why, then, are the crowds, the chief priests of the Jews, and Pilate himself so determined to commit such a great injustice? To execute an innocent man? Though Jesus remains silent and passive throughout this scene, the answer to this question comes by understanding what Jesus knew was happening behind the scene. Jesus' example teaches us to rely on God's strength to stand against the invisible powers motivating injustices in our time.
Human intuition often suspects that if we only had the right leader we could finally be secure in our hope for peace and well-being. That intuition is answered in this passage by Mark who sets a scene that says, "Behold, the King!"
Jesus was arrested and given an initial "trial" at the house of the high priest. It was a kangaroo court. They had a verdict and were searching for evidence to back it up. There was no evidence available until Jesus provided it for them with his confession: "I am" the Christ, the Son of God.
That would not be the last time that the ungodly world system would condemn a Christian for the good confession of the Christian faith. Today, we can feel the pulse of a new time of trouble for Christians in America. Marxism has suddenly emerged in a variety of forms, all with a common spirit: the destruction of American society, traditions, and values--especially the destruction of Christianity.
On trial for his life, because of his faithful service to the Father, Jesus provides an example of how we--his disciples--should respond in our own approaching crisis. He teaches us how to fight like The Lamb.
Peter failed miserably when it came time to maintain his confession of Jesus Christ. A little social pressure in the courtyard of the high priest, and Peter opted to save his own skin by denying any knowledge of Jesus. In his failure, though, all disciples of Jesus can learn a powerful lesson about "godly sorrow," and the grace of guilt leading to repentance. There is always hope in Jesus Christ.
It is ironic that Judas betrayed Jesus with a friend's kiss. It is more ironic that Judas' love of money served God's purposes for the redemption of the world. Still, reflection on the case of Judas reminds us of the need to love God and the things that God loves.