In the light of the Bible's use of the "reaper" metaphor for Death, Christians understand that there is good news even in the midst of a pandemic.
Human hands held the hammers that drove the nails through Jesus' body. Human governors authorized the crucifixion of Jesus. However, in the light of the cross, we can see that this was a decisive battle in the war of the ages. God's enemies thought they dealt the final blow to defeat God's plan of redemption. They were wrong.
At certain times in the history of God's plan of redemption, God has spoken his promises through the mouths of angels. In Luke's account of Gabriel's message to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, we are reminded that God's promises never fail.
Eventually, everyone is ready to get back home. But the joy of coming home does not last beyond the reminders of so much work to do once we are there. Disciples of Jesus learn to recognize in these things the promise of a homecoming someday that will finally and forever fulfill all of these longings without any disappointment.
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.
When the disciples ask Jesus a worried question about the destruction of the Jerusalem temple, Jesus teaches much more than they asked for. He warns them that as bad as that event will be it is not yet the end of the world. Yet, it is almost the time for Jesus to return. In light of Jesus' comments, Christians should comfort one another that as times seem to get ever darker, take heart, it is almost the end of the world!
Some Sadducees present Jesus with a "gotcha" question about belief in the resurrection of the dead. If God's word to Moses is true, and if the resurrection is true, then there is a problem. The Sadducees present a scenario in which these two things seem to contradict each other.
That is the way of skepticism. Skeptics and those determined to doubt everything can never be convinced beyond any doubt that they should become faithful.
Jesus shows that these kinds of apparent contradictions disappear when looking at the question in faith and hope. That is, knowing the power of God and believing his word, we can rest assured that God's promises answer all question.
In response to religious leaders who challenged his authority, Jesus tells a story identifying them as rebellious vineyard workers. The vineyard is fruitful, but these managers refuse to offer the "owner" his rightful share. In other words, God's people want to worship him, but the established religious leaders garner the glory for themselves.
This also motivated their rejection of Jesus and his obvious divine authority. So, Jesus lets them know that he is the promised deliverer of God's people. He is the appointed leader of the Kingdom of God. Though the ones with positions of authority reject Jesus, he is God's choice, and God will soon make it clear that Jesus is the "cornerstone" for the entire Kingdom of God project that is underway.
When the cornerstone of a building is laid, the dimensions for the whole thing are determined. It is only a matter of the process of building. When the building is ready to be finished, the last thing is to set the capstone, locking everything else in place. As disciples in the Kingdom of God, we rejoice that the cornerstone is laid and the capstone is coming soon.
Mark gives us two, compelling case studies in faith that saves. In short, from Jesus himself we are told to - like the woman whose hemorrhage was healed, and like Jairus whose daughter was about to be raised back to life - just keep believing in the awesome power and infinite goodness of God, our savior.
Recent, violent riots combine with the recent pandemic to raise questions about just what kind of moment we are living in. There is a temptation to fear, because the times are unfamiliar to us, and many things that seemed secure are now in question. In this message, we consider how the once-and-for-all hope in Christ gives Christians hope for this time and for all others.