A Somber Moment

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.”

26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Mark 13:22-26

This must have been a somber moment for the disciples. Their leader – their master – was saying some hard things. What could it all mean?

Or perhaps this was the Aha! moment for them, the time when everything all came together and just clicked.

This was the moment of truth. In a little while, they’d be on their own, without His guidance, without His wisdom.

But we all know that none of them would be helpless after He was no longer with them.

It’s what we know about ourselves too. We’re not helpless…in the least. We have the Holy Spirit as our guide, comfort, and counselor every step of this journey. Even in the darkest of circumstances, we are not alone.

It’s helpful for us to be reminded of this often because life gets in the way and we sometimes forget.

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They Knew Themselves Well

19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”

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.” Mark 13:17-21

It’s interesting that each of the disciples believed it could be them that would betray Jesus. They probably knew what they were capable of and asked accordingly.

Of course, Judas was the only one who knew for certain in his heart what he was about to do. That he even feigned surprise that it could be him was a lie.

The Bible tells us in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” All twelve disciples knew it to be true.

We know it to be true. We see it daily in the world. Just when you think that mankind can’t stoop lower and commit worse atrocities, another tragedy pops up in the news that dispels that myth. What’s worse is a culture that condones and accepts such behavior.

As Christians we want to believe we’re better, but in reality, we can commit some pretty heinous acts if we’re left unchecked. Of course, that’s not what Jesus intended, but once we begin to go astray in our thoughts, we open ourselves up to incremental acts that could lead us completely astray.

‘”That” (whatever “that” is at the time) would/could never happen to me’ is a dangerous phrase for the Christian. It’s only when we lay it all before God regularly, if not daily, that we see our true need of a Savior. The closer we lean in to Christ, the less likely we are to stray.

We agree with the hymn writer,

“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.

Prone to leave the God I love.”

As a British chaplain used to say quoting James 4:8 after his closing prayer each Sunday, “Come close to God and He will come close to you.”

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The Calm Before the Storm

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?”

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.”

16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. Mark 13:12-16

The Last Supper in the Upper Room has been featured in many tremendous paintings. It was a significant moment in history. Even how they acquired the venue is intriguing, and must have been a huge leap of faith for His disciples. But Jesus was specific with His directions and what they would see when they went to the house.

This was an important time for the disciples because they wouldn’t be together like this on this side of His death. We know it as the Last Supper but they didn’t know how the next few hours would go down. As we read this, we see the gigantic falls they’re about ready to go over, but to them it’s an annual event, the Passover. Whatever they said to Him at the supper might be their last before He was crucified.

They didn’t know what was about to hit them.

Similarly, since we can’t see into the future, we don’t know if this will be our last moment with the friends and family we see. We have an idea that our lives and their lives will continue on and on without end.

Having said that, do you need to make a phone call or write a letter to someone that you’ve wronged or hurt? Are your relationships peaceful and strife-free?

We’re not guaranteed tomorrow, and neither are they.

Make that phone call. Write that letter or email. Make amends quickly.

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A Mess Still

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. Mark 13:10-11

Much has been said about Judas Iscariot, probably too much. What was his motive for wanting to turn Jesus over? Was it money? Was it to be with the “in” crowd, the leaders?

Judas had lived with Jesus for three years.

He heard him speak and teach.

He watched Him heal people and cast out demons.

He saw Jesus’ compassion on the lost and the helpless.

He heard Jesus pray, much more than the few prayers recorded in Scripture.

Judas had to know that Jesus was a good and righteous man.

And yet, Judas Iscariot betrayed the Son of God.

The sheer irony of Judas Iscariot is this: the only person would could have made a difference in Judas’ life was the very man he betrayed.

You never know what’s in the heart of man, do you? You think you know, and quite often you can judge a man by his fruits, but in each heart lies thoughts and aspirations that nobody knows about.

That’s why we need to stay close to Jesus.

When we wander, we have to return again and again and again to the cross.

Left to our own devices, we’re a mess. Our life willingly and often thrown into Jesus’ hands, we’re in much better shape – a mess still, but improving by His grace.

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Daily Acts of Unthinkable Kindness

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.” Mark 13:3-9

I’ve never realized the woman with the alabaster jar of perfume performed her act of kindness at the home of Simon the leper. If that didn’t send a few leaders into a coma, I’m not sure what would have. We all know the story of the perfume woman, but what about this Simon?

As a leper, he would have been ruled unclean by priests until he was healed of the disease. He would have been untouchable and certainly not welcome in most social and religious circles.

But Jesus once again did the unthinkable: He met with him personally at his home. He showed us all the value and worth of a man who society deemed untouchable or even unapproachable.

Even the lowest of the low is significant in God’s eyes. While we focus on the perfume lady, we miss an equally important act Jesus made by going to Simon’s home.

He valued the women in society as well as the abused and afflicted.

It’s certainly a lesson for all of us. Don’t underestimate Jesus’ concern for those people society has dismissed and written off. If you’ve even wondered why there are soup kitchens and homeless shelters, this is that reason. God obviously put the burden on someone’s heart to minister to these people because no one else was doing it already.

What an awesome compassionate God we serve!

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