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questioning Jesus, Mark 14 ‘..are you asleep?’

10 Sep

Jesus on earth was intensely emotional. He felt love and joy; anger and disappointment. As he is walking to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, he feels grief. Overwhelming, overpowering grief. A grief that is a death. Why?
Because all his disciples will betray him. All will fall asleep at their Master’s hour of need. After washing their feet, after teaching and serving, Jesus will be alone in a beautiful garden. He is being passed over, unseen, separated from all. Alone. He knows they will leave him,

“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.

28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” 29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” 30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” 31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the

pause here. peter insists with emotions, with all his feelings, I will never …I will die…I will not fall away…

In the Greek ‘empathy’ is used to describe someone who is acting whilst driven by passion, and thus not objectively or calmly. Pieter here is not at peace. In the English version ‘empathy’ just means that someone is just getting to feel deeply (“more inside”) the other and his/her situation.

Peter is not ‘feeling’ Jesus at this moment as they walk together. He is not receiving, listening to what Jesus is saying. He is only into himself, his feelings. The other disciples could not even be there as Peter speaks. Still, Jesus sits at foot of the Mount of Olives this night. He will not climb to the top but will sit in the garden. 

Jesus is processing his emotions, his sorrow beyond dreams, through prayer.

He prays not once ‘Thy will’, to his Father, not twice, but thrice. Thy will. Three times he processes his sorrow. And his closest friends sleep through all. They have fallen away,

32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour( might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. 41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

‘They did not know what to say to him.’

Without words, no more questions, they rise to face Judas.

Judas has not been sleeping. Evil awakes and pursues. Even to Jesus’ heart. But Jesus has prayed his heart, his self, to the Father’s hands and will.

Jesus rises to face Judas.

He rises.

questioning Jesus, Mark 14, ‘“Where is their God?” Psalm 115:2a

9 Sep

26 ‘When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

What hymn would they have sung on this night of darkness and betrayal? What song would have been the last sung by our Savior prior to his arrest, torture, and crucifixion?

In the Jewish tradition, the “Passover Psalms” were sung during and after the meal. These were Psalms 113-118. Typically, Psalms 113-114 were sung during the meal and Psalms 115-118 were sung at the close of the meal. In Greek, the word “hymn” isn’t limited to the singular, which makes it likely that Jesus and his disciples followed tradition and together sang Psalms 115-118.

This is, these are, the one song they, Jesus and his disciples, all sang together. Consider these verses,

115:9,11 – O Israel, trust the Lord!
He is your helper and your shield.
All you who fear the Lord, trust the Lord!
He is your helper and your shield.

Psalm 116:1-8 – I love the Lord because he hears my voice
and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
I will pray as long as I have breath!
Death wrapped its ropes around me;
the terrors of the grave overtook me.
I saw only trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“Please, Lord, save me!”
How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
So merciful, this God of ours!
The Lord protects those of childlike faith;
I was facing death, and he saved me.
Let my soul be at rest again,
for the Lord has been good to me.

He has saved me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.

Psalm 118:1 – Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

Psalm 118:5-7 – In my distress I prayed to the Lord,
and the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear.
What can mere people do to me?
Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me.
I will look in triumph at those who hate me.

Psalm 118:13-14 – My enemies did their best to kill me,
but the Lord rescued me.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has given me victory.

Psalm 118:22-26 – The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing,
and it is wonderful to see.
This is the day the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Please, Lord, please save us.
Please, Lord, please give us success.
Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord.

Their song? These Psalms. The house of the Lord? Where they ate, spoke, broke bread and washed together.

And now where they are walking to: the garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives.

Where? He is travelling to us; our hearts. He sings. So do I.


questioning Jesus, Mark 14, a last meal

8 Sep
one by one, they ask

Preparations for this Passover meal, this important time of teaching and serving, begins with the disciples question,

12 ‘On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”’

Where do you want us to go…?

Jesus wants them, us, to go with him. To be alongside him.

13 So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

Jesus gives the disciples their ‘where’ question back and tells them how to use this ‘where.’

16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. 17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.” 19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”

‘…and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”’

Pause, reader please pause here. Each of them, one by one, ask Jesus if they were to be his betrayer.

They didn’t know their own hearts. Except that they were capable of betraying Jesus. And their question reveals their hearts’ actions: each one will betray Jesus.

They all left him. These betrayals are from their falling to sleep; to their leaving him in Roman and Sanhedrin hands and a Pilate’s hands. In a mob’s voice that had called ‘Hallelujah’ a week previous and now called for ‘Barabas.’

20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” 22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” 23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

“Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.”

All of them took the cup from Jesus’ hand, one by one, and they all, all drank. All.

All are with Jesus. Even as they question themselves this night, Jesus is with all betrayers. He drinks, eats, loves, forgives all. 

Where are they, where we? With Jesus. Drinking the cup with Jesus.

questioning Jesus, Mark 14, anointing ‘why’

7 Sep

‘Why’ is the hardest of questions. It is a hard question to ask and even harder question to frame and design.
In studying Jesus’ questions and his questioning I have ‘slowed down to speed up.’ How?
By asking the basic four W’s questions always, all ways, before I even think of a ‘why.’

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where 

At Bethany, Jesus is anointed by a  woman with love, with nard perfume. People around him also desire to ‘anoint’ Jesus: their oil, though, is ‘why’ questions, doubting why,

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

14 Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”

3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. 4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. 6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Angry people, indignant of what they perceive as waste, ‘…they rebuked her harshly.’

How do they rebuke? They ask ‘why’. – ‘Why this waste?’

These people speak directly, harshly, to this anointer. They rush to a judgemental why. they do not pause to ask who she is, see what she is doing. They do not desire to deeply understand where they are with Jesus. Their words purpose to was away her anointing love.

Jesus turns their ‘why’ back onto them, “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.

She sees.

Who does she see? Jesus, beautiful Jrsus

Where is she? She is in Simon, the Leper’s house. A healed leper. A restored leper. And she is here, now, with us, ‘wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world ‘ She is here.

What is happening? Jesus is being anointed, blessed by lepers: by me; by us.

When is this anointing? Right before Judas goes to the ‘delighted‘ chief priests to betray Jesus. Judas is promised money, probably temple offerings. Maybe, in part, the Widow’s mite.

She anoints Jesus do i will anoint him with my most precious gift: my words, my acts, my questions. My life.


questioning Jesus, Mark 13 ‘but’

6 Sep

today, 6 September we will look again at Mark 13, and ‘watching’: what are we, am I, watching for?

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

watch for men, people, who hate; endure, watch and endure

14 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

what am I, what is Jesus’ close disciples seeing as they sit together facing the temple from the Mont of Olives? … an ‘abomination of desolation’ by, within, the temple…stones are not just upturned and shattered, but they are ‘solo’ alone, shamed, isolated and impure… watch.., these stones will be dust

and.. the end times, end time? When?

But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father. So keep a sharp lookout, for you don’t know the timetable. It’s like a man who takes a trip, leaving home and putting his servants in charge, each assigned a task, and commanding the gatekeeper to stand watch. So, stay at your post, watching. You have no idea when the homeowner is returning, whether evening, midnight, cockcrow, or morning. You don’t want him showing up unannounced, with you asleep on the job. I say it to you, and I’m saying it to all: Stay at your post. Keep watch.”

and …where is my heart as I watch?

Proverbs 3, The Message, speaks on where all hearts, my heart, should rest,

‘No need to panic over alarms or surprises,
or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner,
Because God will be right there with you;
he’ll keep you safe and sound.’

Nothing, no thing, will harm me, us, no matter how anxious I am… he is right there with me.

Right…, I am right m, for he is there.

He is here.

questioning Jesus, Mark 13, ‘when‘

5 Sep

on this Mount, Jesus speaks to his closest disciples

When I first arrived in Jerusalem from London on a early spring Saturday, our hotel was not ready to house us. Too early,
Outside the American Colony was a queue of cabs. Taking the first, I asked the cab driver my ‘go to question:’
“Where would you go? What would you do, where would you go if you were visiting Jerusalem this early?”
As always, from restaurants to theatre shows and places to see, people I asked who managed these moments, said ‘well what would you prefer, like?’ They always responded this way. I say,
No. I want to know what you would do ( or eat; or go ) this day- not yesterday or tomorrow. Today.
Then they tell me the truth. What they would eat. Do. See. Their truth. And their truth becomes mine. Mine.
Jesus’ disciples I think are like me in those moments. Leaving the temple after his follower marvelled at stone temple, Jesus walks the long narrow and hilly path up Mount of Olives.
This where my Arab cab driver took us. At the top of the Mount of Olives he left and said, Okay, this is what I would do today, this day. Walk on down to the Mount’s bottom. No money now. I will meet you in two hours, two and half hours, at the the bottom, the Garden of Gethsemane.

the garden
the Mount is behind the garden church

And this is where Jesus de briefs his comments concerning the temple’s coming destruction,

“As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately,4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains. 9 “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.(13 Everyone will hate you because of me, I am the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out.16 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 17 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter,19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. 20 “If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. 21 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

24 “But in those days, following that distress, the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. 28 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.’

The disciples desire clarity, tell us, when, Lord. When? When will the end times come? When?

And in over a half dozen ‘when’ signal words, ( ‘now’; ‘at that time’ )Jesus tells his closest disciples, as they face the temple from the Mount’s heights, how to know:

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert You do not know when that time will come….

37 Watch!”

We will know when by watching. As the Wise and Foolish Bridesmaids, ( Matthew 25: 1 – 13 ) we must always, all ways, watch.


questioning Jesus, Mark 13, ‘seeing’

4 Sep

Jerusalem is a city of stones: corners; building blocks; pebbles and white washed ones on the hillside facing the temple…stones

“As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

“Do you see all these great buildings?”replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”’

I love it when others tell you what to look for, to see. One of Jesus’ followers asks Jesus to ‘look’, to see again the temple stones.

He is seeing poorly.

Jesus asks him, “Do you see all these great buildings?”

He asks his follower, his disciple who has said ‘look’, to see. Why?

Because nothing earthly will last. Nothing can leave this world with us. Not a possession; not a loved one, even in a marriage; not even a memory. What is Jesus questioning request: to see. Jesus wants us to see what lasts.

What will last? The word; our relationship with Jesus, The Word made flesh.

He is our Temple. Look; see.

questioning Jesus, Mark 12, the widow‘s answer to Jesus’ question

3 Sep

This is Jesus’ final week. In the temple. With his disciples. With peoples. In Jerusalem. And alone, alone with himself.

He is sitting. And, in all probability, he has finished his day of temple instructions,

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

Jesus is sitting. He chooses a place to rest that is opposite where people place their offerings, the temple treasury. Why here?

Jesus’ week of temple teaching is ending. In the coming and very near next week, he will be crucified.

Knowing this, Jesus last earthly moments in his Father’s house must have many resonates for him.

When he was a baby, he was dedicated by Mary and Joesph here. Anna prophesies and Simon prayers over Jesus. Mary had to have told Jesus about these moments. As a young boy, he stayed over in one of his family’s yearly trips to Jerusalem days and nights teaching in the temple. This week, the days before his death, he instructs the crowd and law teachers; elders and Pharisees; Sadducees and priests; disciples and haters, with all his heart, all his love.

He holds back nothing and he gives to everyone. Exhausted he sits. And he sits where he can watch his worship. He sees offerings of worship.

Some offerings are presented to God in order to confess guilt and to ask for forgiveness of sins (Lev 4:1—6:7; 6:24-30; 7:1-6; 8:14-17; 16:3-22). Other offerings are presented as a way of worshiping God, giving thanks to God, and showing commitment to God (Lev 1–3; 6:8-23; 7:11-34).

Offerings can come in the form of food or coin. Song or word. In his home, all gifts are welcomed, are good.

A widow’s gift gives deeply to Jesus in his home. Anna was such a widow. She gave her gift of prophecy at his birth. It was all she had, all that was given to her.

Now, another widow gives her coin mite. Verses 43 and 44 tells us, quotes Jesus’ description of this widow’s gift as ‘all’,

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

The word ‘all’ is used three times in these verses. Jesus sees her as giving all and it touches him, resonates with him deeply. Soon he will give all. He will give his flesh, his blood. Pain and torture. His life.

Her gift calls to Jesus’ heart and mind the gift he will soon give. And it is a gift for all. Out of his earthly shell, he gives his spirit, his heavenly spirit.

He gives all.

The New Living Translation Luke 21, has the same basic translation as the NIV of Mark 12, except with one acute emphasis,

her mite

The Widow’s Offering

21: 3 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4 For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

As Jesus experiences his last moments in the temple, he shares with them truth’ – not a truth, but the truth,- of all his teachings and questions. This is worship, this is truth: give all.

Love him with all our hearts, minds, soul.

In answer to this essential question, how much should I give, forgive, love? Jesus says in these last temple moments to his disciples, give all.

Give all.

questioning Jesus, Mark 12, an open question

1 Sep

Jesus has asked questions; he has explained his responses, his teachings and narrative, to his disciples; he has answered questions with a questions and has refused to answer, or has given quite explicit directive answers.

Today Jesus asks a question and leaves it open for the listeners to respond,

While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, “Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David?36 David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared:

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.”’

37 David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”

The large crowd listened to him with delight.’

They listened with delight. Their answer and mine.

questioning Jesus, Mark 12 – the kingdom questioned

31 Aug

We are half thru Mark 12 and today I would like to answer the question: what is Jesus’ kingdom, temple teaching?

Mark 12 describes a day of Jesus’ Temple teaching, perhaps the first day after he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, after he emptied the Temple of the money changers.

Jesus is approached by first the people; ( including the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders ) then, the Pharisees and Herodians; and now, the Sadducees,

Then the Sadducees,who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question.19 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. 21 The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. 22 In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. 23 At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

24 Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25 When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 26 Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’ 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”

Jesus is teaching all this, -his first full day in the Temple,-he is teaching on the kingdom of God.

It is a kingdom of the living, not the dead. It is a kingdom that gives to the authorities , to Caesars, the coins they imprint, not our hearts and souls. It is a vineyard, a loved card for land,

It is not a place we bring our earthly life, our marriage. It is not a government that divides and enriches the poor from the rich. It is not a land we own, but talents and treasures we are stewards over.

Jesus this first day teaches on eternal days. His answer to all: love the kingdom as our Lord lives you. With all.