Day 257 – Thru the Bible
Today we complete Mark. Well done!
Mark 15 – Having been accused before the religious authorities, Jesus is now brought before the irreligious authorities. Both Jew and Greek alike condemn Him. In the presence of Pilate, Jesus does not defend Himself; He is like an innocent lamb being slaughtered (Isaiah 53:7; Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 1:19). The crowd demands that the criminal Barabbas be released, instead of Jesus. In Barabbas we see a sobering depiction of ourselves: guilty, released from judgment as Jesus is judged in our place.
Yet pain was not only the path for Jesus; it is also the path for His disciples. While at the ultimate level Jesus’ suffering was in our place, at another level Jesus’ suffering blazes a trail that we follow. With what attitudes should we then endure suffering?
First, we become more grateful for our salvation, by being reminded that Jesus’ sacrificial atonement on our behalf is unique and secures a reconciled relationship with God. Second, as forgiven followers, we learn that purity of heart, which is the fruit of Jesus’ love for us, is crucial to enduring such suffering with godliness. Third, we humbly acknowledge that God’s people are being purified in suffering, so that they may better know and reflect their Savior (Mark 10:39). Finally, we trust God amid suffering, knowing that He who gave up His own Son for us will only do what is best for our and others’ eternities (Romans 8:32).
The crucifixion and death of Jesus are told in very terse terms. The death of Jesus and the tearing of the temple curtain are narrated in unison to indicate that the atoning death of Jesus gives His followers direct access to the Most Holy Place—that is, into the very presence of God (Hebrews 9:24). Jesus is indeed the temple that is not made with human hands (Mark 14:58), for in Him people of all nations are welcomed into restored fellowship with God—the very thing the temple was meant to facilitate.
Believers ponder Jesus’ substitutionary death as divine judgment for their sin. We are humbled. For the severity of sin—nothing less than the torture and murder of God’s own divine Son—exposes the seriousness of our intellectual, moral, and emotional sickness and the depth of our human rebellion against God. Reflecting on what this all means, we are changed from the inside out; we become once again the humanity God first intended, approaching our responsibilities in life in trusting dependence on Him and faithful devotion to Him.
As is so often the case in the Gospels, it is those who are socially marginalized—in this case, women—who prove to be most acutely aware of who Jesus is and the supreme worth of following Him.
Jesus is buried. Though at one level this seems like a mundane fact of the narrative, it is a crucial part of the gospel and the salvation that is ours by grace. Jesus was not simply mocked or insulted or wounded on our behalf; He was killed. Jesus underwent the death that is unavoidable for every one of us since Adam’s fall. Though each of us must pass through the awful experience of death, Jesus’ own death, with His subsequent resurrection, means that our death, while awful, is no longer a dead end. It is a new beginning. Death for the Believer is an entrance ramp, not an exit.
How well do you endure suffering? How do today’s thoughts help you gain a better perspective regarding suffering?
Mark 16 – While none of the actual resurrection appearances (Matthew 28:9–10, 16–20; Luke 24:15–31; John 21:14–22; 1 Corinthians 15:4–8) are recorded in Mark, the messenger of God speaks unmistakably of Jesus’ physical resurrection to the women who had followed Him (“. . . Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen . . .”). The empty tomb is part of the fulfillment of Jesus’ prediction of His resurrection.
He who was punished and died on our behalf overcame judgment and death by divine vindication and physical resurrection. Discipleship now takes on a new dimension: Jesus, as the living Master, will no longer be challenged by any satanic, human, or physical power (Colossians 1:15–17). The Believer can be assured of what Paul says: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, . . . nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39). For Jesus has been raised. In Him, the final age, the new creation, has dawned. Joy is invincibly washing over this fallen world, for Jesus has been raised.
This “longer ending” of Mark (verses 9-20), missing from many of the earliest Greek manuscripts and unlikely a part of the original Gospel account, contains reports of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances. It also narrates His Great Commission and speaks of faith, miracles, and evangelism. Though these verses were likely added to Scripture, the underlying message fits with what we see elsewhere in Scripture: our God will enable the followers of Jesus to fulfill His purposes in their lives.
How does the resurrection of Jesus from the dead lengthen your perspective on life (there’s more to come after our physical death)?
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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