this body, this blood, that day


November 2015 (28)Mark 14:22-26

22 While they were eating, he took a portion of bread, and after blessing it he broke it up, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. 24 He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 I guarantee you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” 26 After hymn singing, they went out to the Mount of Olive trees.

this body, this blood, that day

The special meal the Lord shared with the apostles was intended as a promise. It was a promise that his body would be the one broken to make them whole. It was a promise that his blood would be poured out to make it possible for them to have full eternal, immortal life. And it was a promise that he would rise from the dead, and come again to be with us in his future kingdom – the kingdom that God intended.

Every time we believers look at the broken bread and shimmering cup, we remember what he did for us – something that only he could do because only he was qualified to be the sacrifice for our sins. We can also remember that promise which is yet unfulfilled. It is a promise of a celebration which cannot take place because the groom is not here yet. But he’s coming.

Will you be there for him on that day? He was there for you – paying the price for you even before you were born. Wait for him.

LORD, come quickly. We long for the eternal life and joy you promised.

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one of us


November 2015 (27)Mark 14:17-21

17 When evening happened, he came with the twelve. 18 And when they were reclining and were eating, Jesus said, “I guarantee you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be offended and to say to him one after another, “You know it is not me?” 20 He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. 21 Because the Son of Man is going as it is written of him, but tragedy will come to that man by whom the Son of Man is given over! It would have been better for that man not to have been born.”

one of us

Judas was one of us. Eve was one of us. Hitler was one of us. The seeds of rebellion and betrayal are within our DNA. Apostasy is in the gene pool. It is very important that each new generation learns this lesson. We cannot afford to believe that we have arrived at a more noble time, or that the human species has outlived its capacity for divorce from its creator.

All at the same time, each of the twelve men showed their absolute distaste for the idea that he could be a betrayer. But Judas had already conspired to do the deed. He had preached the excellent message and had seen people turn to Christ. Now he was turning against him. He had appeared to be sold out for Jesus. Now he was ready to sell him out for a handful of coins.

If the betrayer can come from among the twelve, he can reside in me or you. He can be waiting for an opportune time to come out and reveal a heart darkened by greed or hate or fear. Each of us must learn not to take our loyalty to Christ for granted. We have to cling to that cross like a lifeline. Trust only in him. Trust not in ourselves.

LORD, make us loyal and faithful to you.

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following the jar man


November 2015 (26)Mark 14:12-16

12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 13 So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a water jar will meet you; follow him, 14 and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my dining 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 So the disciples left and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

following the jar man

For some time now, I have been thinking about how we tend to be hands on kind of people, and the Lord wants us to trust him and be more hands off. Reality means that we will have to take the initiative sometimes, but we dare not do so until we get instructions from the Lord. These disciples were ready to take charge and get things done, but when they ask Jesus where they should prepare Passover, they discover that he already has a plan. He has already made a way, they need only discover that way, and do what their master wants.

LORD, give us the wisdom to pray before we plan, so that we can discover your plan.

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unity and joy


November 2015 (25)Mark 14:10-11

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to give him over to them. 11 When they heard it, they rejoiced, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to give him up.

unity and joy

Mark contrasts the discord and criticism over the woman’s expensive gift in the previous passage with the unity and joy the priests felt when they discovered the betrayal of Judas. Unity and joy are two prized attributes for the believer, but they can never be bought at this expense. When we buy unity and joy at the expense of integrity and the real Jesus, we have gone too far.

LORD, show us how to be together without defecting from you, and to find our joy in your presence, not your betrayal.

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the worship priority


November 2015 (24)Mark 14:3-9

3 While he was staying at Bethany in the house of Simon the leprous, as he reclined at the table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of very costly myrrh of nard, and she broke open the flask and poured it out on his head. 4 But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the myrrh destroyed like this? 5 Because this myrrh could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they severely criticized her. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone; why are you bothering her? She has worked a good work as far as I am concerned. 7 Because you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you want to; but you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has put myrrh on my body beforehand for the burial. 9 I guarantee you, wherever the excellent message is proclaimed in the whole world, her work will be spoken of in remembrance of her.”

the worship priority

Jesus rebuked the critics of this woman and her expensive gift. They were right about the perfumed oil. It could have been sold and invested in a number of worthy causes. But she had done a good thing for the Lord himself. She was engaging in worship, and that will always take priority for believers. It touches our eternal purpose, and honours our eternal king.

Let the world ridicule our worship practices and criticize our devotion to him. They can only do this for a short while, because that is all they have. But when we worship Jesus, we are reaching into our own destiny. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

LORD, show us how to worship you extravagantly, like your daughter did that day.

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religiously blind


November 2015 (23)Mark 14:1-2

1 It would be the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread in just two days, and the chief priests and the scribes were trying to find a way to covertly arrest Jesus and kill him. 2 Because they said, “Not during the festival, or the people might riot.

religiously blind

The chief priests and scribes had every opportunity to see the significance of Jesus. Even at the point at which we see them in the story, they should have been preparing spiritually for two great religious feasts – both of which pointed to Jesus. Yet their hatred of him and their fear of him kept them blind.

Those of us who are deeply religious are not immune to blindness. We should be looking for God to speak to us in all the circumstances of our lives. Too often, we only react as we would in the flesh, and miss his message, and miss opportunities to help others in his name.

LORD, open our eyes to the reality that you bring to our lives every day. Do not allow us to overlook you.

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suddenly, not soon


November 2015 (22)Mark 13:32-37

32 “But as for that day or hour no one knows it–neither the angels in the sky, nor the Son–except the Father. 33 See to it that you keep watch, because you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey. He left his house and put his slaves in charge, assigning to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to stay alert. 35 You stay alert, then, because you do not know when the owner of the house will return–whether during evening, at midnight, when the rooster crows, or at dawn– 36 or else he might find you asleep when he returns suddenly. 37 But I am telling you what I tell everyone: Stay alert!”

suddenly, not soon

The referent has changed again. Now Jesus is answering the question about his coming. He makes a point that he will be gone a long time, describing the interval time like a house owner who goes away, and puts his servants in charge until he comes back. If the house owner were coming back soon, he would not have to do that. But the warning has to do with the way in which the house owner returns. He will return suddenly, with no letters or signs or messengers to announce himself.

Our message to a world who keeps trying to forget Jesus is that his is coming back. We will get no forewarning. He will appear suddenly to take back what is rightfully his. His servants must stay alert, and keep serving in spite of the apparent delay.

LORD, make us wise in the way we serve your coming king.

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fig tree generation


November 2015 (21)Mark 13:28-31

28 “Take this illustration from the fig tree: Whenever its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also you, when you see these things happening, you know that he is near, right at the door. 30 I guarantee you, this same generation will not pass away until all these things happen. 31 The sky and the land will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

fig tree generation

This passage requires that we really stay tuned to the context or we can go astray from its intended meaning. We have to keep in mind that the disciples had asked some open ended questions, and that Jesus chose to answer all of them. For interpretation of this passage, we have to look for clues as to which question he is answering. The clues are:

  • · the fig tree illustration
  • · “when you see”
  • · “this same generation”

The fig tree symbolizes first century Israel, full of promising leaves, but no fruit. It was ripe for the judgment that would destroy its temple.

Jesus predicted that the disciples themselves would see this happen. None of the disciples have lived for 2000 years. He must be talking about an event that would take place in their lifetime.

“This same generation” refers to the generation they were living in. Every other use of the word in Mark (8:12, 38) bears this interpretation out. Thus, Jesus was predicting that within the generation in which they were now living, the events he was referring to will happen.

But Jesus had talked about a long age in which wars and disasters would come and go. Was that part of the discourse included in the promise? Apparently not. Jesus had made it clear that the labour pain signs were not signs of an impending event (9-13; 21-23), but the fig tree signs were. In this section, he is only referring to the fig tree signs, and is predicting the siege and destruction of Herod’s temple.

Most of the fig tree generation was not ready when the Roman soldiers surrounded Jerusalem. They died in the battles, or starved in the siege. That great and terrible event stands as a testimony of God’s judgment upon a people who would not listen to his Son. His words will not pass away. Are we listening?

LORD, thank you for giving us guidance about the future. We choose to trust your words, and be ready for your return.

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everyone will see


November 2015 (20)Mark 13:24-27

24 “But in those days, after that time of suffering, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the sky will be shaken. 26 Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds, displaying great power and glory. 27 Then he will send angels and they will gather [his] chosen ones together from the four winds, from the tip of the land to the tip of the sky.

everyone will see

Jesus had just warned his disciples that false Messiahs would appear all through the interval age between his first and second advents. Now, he contrasts that with a message about his second coming – the appearance of the true messiah. No one will have to alert us when Jesus really returns. The sky itself will shake and unravel. Darkness will fall, making the dazzling brilliance of Christ’s glorious return even more spectacular. Everyone will see him, making the “secret rapture” the universe’s worst kept secret. Angels will flood the earth, harvesting believers from every continent, and every elevation.

When exactly will this happen. We do not know. If anyone tries to tell you that he knows, it is a lie. It could be today, or a thousand years from today. The only clue our Lord gave us is that it would happen after the suffering time he had previously mentioned. That time of suffering ended in the first century. Twenty centuries later, we still await his return.

LORD, prepare us for your return, whenever it happens. We long to see you, bursting through the clouds.

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to lead wrongly


November 2015 (19)Mark 13:21-23

21 And if anyone says to you at that time, ‘Watch! Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘Watch! There he is!’– do not believe it. 22 False messiahs and false prophets will appear and they will give signs and wonders, to lead wrongly, if possible, the chosen ones. 23 But be looking for this; I have told everything to you in advance.

to lead wrongly

Jesus was answering questions about the interval between his first and second advents. He warned his disciples that the church during this age would be subject to misleading prophets and false messiahs. They would attempt to lead the church wrongly.

Consequently, false teachings and misplaced emphases will occur which – if not challenged – could potentially spell disaster in people’s lives. So, Jesus warned his disciples to be looking for this kind of improper leadership. Any “new” theology or “new” display of signs and wonders should be suspect.

Unfortunately, the church throughout history has been too quick to adopt the latest theological or charismatic fad simply in an attempt to be relevant. We have not been diligent to obey Jesus here. Instead of caution about new teachings and experiences, we have developed a strong thirst for them. We have become intoxicated with them. Now, many professing Christians are addicted to the new, the flashy, and the experience.

God’s true chosen ones will not allow themselves to be led astray. They will not seek the new; they will cling to the true.

LORD, give us caution; forgive our flirting with addiction to “new” things.

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