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Day 256 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue Mark.
Mark 13 – Jesus concludes His instructions with a look to the future, and warns His disciples to be alert to God’s will and ways. Jesus points to imminent (regional) and future (cosmic) disastrous events. Disciples today need not speculate unnecessarily about specific future events. What is instead crucial is alertness regarding the essential mission of God, readiness to suffer, and trust in God’s power to overcome all evil.
Mark 14 – Jesus has displayed His power in multiple ways. He now faces the ultimate test of His claims and actions. The Old Testament themes of the “suffering of the righteous one” and the betrayal by friends (Psalm 34:19; 37:12); the rejection of the messenger of God (12:1–12); and the necessity that the Messiah of God must suffer (Isaiah 53:1–12) and give Himself as a substitutionary atonement for rebellious human beings (Isaiah 53:12) all converge in the event of Jesus’ betrayal and death.
The follower of Jesus will benefit from pondering the question of why Jesus had to pursue this painful path of suffering (8:31). Jesus goes alone to accomplish that which His followers could not accomplish (10:45). Here we see the great value of the scandal of the grace of God. God sent His Son to do what we never could do, and to suffer what we deserved to suffer.
The Messiah must be “cut off” (Daniel 9:26; Isaiah 53:8). While this is the intent of the opponents of Jesus, they inadvertently play into the hand of God, the Father, who called His eternal Son to atone for human sinfulness. Ultimately, God’s will and purpose is accomplished, for it was through even the wickedness of Jesus’ enemies that God’s great plan of redemption came to its climax and fulfillment.
We can trust in God’s sovereign and overriding wisdom and power (Romans 8:28), even though we must be careful not to be simplistic in applying this truth mechanically to our lives. God’s ways, especially in our suffering, are often inexplicable. But we can trust that He is always good. Nothing can come to God’s children out of divine wrath, for God’s wrath has been exhausted on the cross. All that happens to Believers is from God’s great heart of love for His own. We do not trust Him because of what we can prove from our circumstances, but from what is revealed about His character at the cross. There we learn that even when circumstances are awful and inexplicable, God will ultimately bring about the good He intends.
The setting of a Passover meal indicates that Jesus intends His disciples to view the impending event of deliverance from sin, Satan, and judgment against the background of the Passover Feast which marks Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery. Both deliverances are accomplished by means of God’s judgment (then of Egypt, and now of His eternal Son, who provides a substitutionary atonement). In the Passover, God’s people are protected from judgment by the shedding of animal blood; now they are “passed over” because of the blood of Jesus (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22). The eating of unleavened bread is now echoed by eating the bread to which Jesus extends the significance of His body, which is to be broken. While drinking of the Passover cup, Jews anticipate the coming of the Messiah; Jesus now pronounces the following words over the cup: “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”
The Passover Feast in Egypt (together with the Day of Atonement) serves as a blueprint for this ultimate Passover and exodus of liberation from the slavery of sin, Satan, and judgment (Luke 9:31), as well as the entry into the ultimate Canaan, namely the “kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13), which Jesus came preaching (Mark 1:14–15).
When Believers celebrate the Lord’s Supper, they come into the particular presence of the triune God. By eating the bread and drinking the wine, Jesus reaffirms His followers in the redemptive efficacy of the once-and-for-all, covenantal shedding of His blood. The gospel is tangibly remembered. Believers are spiritually nourished. The disciples of Jesus can trust in His real, spiritual presence, in His complete forgiveness, and in His purifying love. Jesus has given His body and His blood for us.
As Jesus proceeds to give His life for “many” (10:45; Isaiah 53:11), He prays in the garden of Gethsemane. Readers of Mark’s Gospel are given a unique window into the nature of Jesus’ suffering and His heart. In utter loneliness and exposed to the full judgment of His Father for the rebellion of humankind, Jesus begins to feel the full weight of what it will mean to be forsaken by the Father. Jesus cries out that He might be delivered from this cup of wrath, if that would be His Father’s will (Hebrews 5:7). Jesus knows that only the Father can effect ultimate deliverance from the cup of judgment. But He also knows that His heavenly Father knows what is best, and our Savior submits Himself to that redemptive design.
The cup is not removed from Jesus. He intentionally goes to the place where we belong. There the Father exacts judgment on the utterly alone Jesus on behalf of His still largely clueless disciples, whom He loves. Indeed, the atoning work of that weekend long ago was the decisive moment of all of human history. There the wrath of God over all the sin of all of His people came crashing down on His only Son. There sin was forgiven, heaven was secured, joy was restored, and peace was won for sinners who trust in Jesus.
The brutal reality of Jesus’ abandonment by God, His Father, means that He is handed into the violent and ungodly hands of men for our sake. Jesus endured the hands of evil men so that the hand of the Evil One himself, Satan, might never have authority over us.
Jesus stands before the council and is accused. In this moment we are reminded of the accusation which we ourselves justly deserve. Yet Jesus remained silent before the religious leaders here so that ever after He might speak for us. We deserve the judgment He received, yet He did not defend Himself, even though He rightfully could have. As the hymn says, “In our place condemned He stood.” The heart of the gospel is being exposed here: substitution. God in Jesus took our place of condemnation, and we receive freely the gift of acquittal. Reflecting on the magnanimous love of God shown in the gospel, our hearts are moved with fresh wonder.
Peter denies Jesus because he fears for his life. Later, Peter is graciously restored in his relationship with Jesus and affirmed in his calling as a shepherd (John 21:15–19). The mercy of Jesus toward Peter is an encouragement to other followers: while we may stumble, deny, and sin, Jesus gives the gift of repentance, restores with reconciliation, and provides affirmation (1 Peter 5:10). When such grace is truly and deeply apprehended, we are moved to love and honor our Savior (Romans 5:20–6:1; 1 John 4:19). His grace compels us toward godliness, not licentiousness (2 Corinthians 6:1). His grace transforms us (Titus 2:11–12).
As you take time to ponder the cross today, remembering all that has been done for by Jesus, how will that transform how you interact with others today?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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