Reading the Gospels: Mark, Chapters 13-16

Chapter 13 begins with an innocent comment by the disciples at how awesome the temple building is. Jesus tells them there won’t be a stone left. They head over to the Mount of Olives across from the temple, and the disciples ask for the sign when all the terrible things will happen.

Jesus tells them that many will come in His name trying to lead others astray. Nation will rise against nation, and earthquakes and famine will abound. But that’s just the beginning. He tells them that they will be delivered up to councils and beaten in synagogues. Families will rise up against each other and “cause them to be put to death.” But watch out when the “abomination of desolation” occurs, spoken of by the prophet Daniel. Then people should flee to the mountains (without going back to get their cloaks or anything from their houses).

That’s when the real oppression will hit. And after that, the sun and moon will go dark, and the stars will fall from the sky. That’s when they “will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”

As for when exactly, Jesus says He doesn’t know:

“But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Watch, keep alert, and pray; for you don’t know when the time is.”

Chapter 14

It’s now two days before Passover and the chief priests and scribes are trying to figure out how to seize and kill Jesus before the feast (“because there might be a riot of the people.”) Jesus, meanwhile, is in Bethany at Simon the leper’s house. A woman comes in with a jar of extremely expensive, pure nard. She breaks the jar and pours the oil over Jesus’ head. Some watchers grumbled that the oil could have been sold and the proceeds used to help the poor. Jesus replies:

“Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want to, you can do them good; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could. She has anointed my body beforehand for the burying.”

Judas Iscariot slips out and tells the chiefs he will deliver Jesus to them. They’re delighted and promise Judas money as payment.

The disciples, at Jesus’ command, go into the city, meet a man carrying a pitcher of water, follow him into a house and ask the master of the house where the Teacher and his disciples may eat the Passover. The master shows them a large room upstairs with everything furnished and ready. That evening, Jesus arrives for the meal. As they’re calmly eating, Jesus drops the bombshell:

“Most certainly I tell you, one of you will betray me–he who eats with me.”

They all say “Surely not I?” but Jesus just says it would have been better for the betrayer never to have been born. He then blesses some bread, breaks it and hands it to the 12:

“Take, eat. This is my body.”

He then gives them the cup from which to drink:

“This is my blood of the new covenant, with is poured out for many.”

After they sing a hymn, they head out to the Mount of Olives and Jesus tells them:

“All of you will be made to stumble because of me tonight, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ However, after I am raised up, I will go before you into Galilee.”

Peter says he will remain loyal, but Jesus says that before the rooster crows twice, Peter will deny Him three times. He takes Peter, James and John with Him and asks the to keep a lookout while He prays:

“Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Please remove this cup from me. However, not what I desire, but what you desire.”

Jesus finds the disciples who were supposed to be watching, asleep. He wakes them and returns to his prayer. Again, he finds them asleep. The third time he says,

“Sleep on now, and take your rest. It is enough. The hour has come. Behold, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Arise, let us be going. Behold, he who betrays me is at hand.”

Sure enough, Judas appears with a bunch of chief priests, scribes, and elders all carrying swords and clubs. Judas gives the “Judas Kiss” and Jesus is seized and taken to the court of the high priest. Peter follows from a distance and then mixes in with the officers “in the light of the fire.”

The council calls for witnesses against Jesus to put him to death, but all they get is a bunch of false testimonies that contradict each other. The high priest asks Him what he has to say about all this testimony, but Jesus stays quiet. Then the high priest asks him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus answers:

“I am. You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of the sky.”

This makes the high priest go berserk. He tears his clothes and says, “What further need have we of witnesses?” It’s blasphemy they all say and condemn Jesus to death. Some people start spitting on Him and beating Him with their fists.

Peter is down in the courtyard where he is spotted by a maid of the high priest. She recognizes him as one of Jesus’ followers. Peter denies it, the rooster crows. She then points him out to others nearby, “This is one of them.” Again, he denies it. Finally, some others say Peter’s speech shows he is a Galilean and that he is one of them. This time, Peter curses and swears “I don’t know this man of whom you speak.” The rooster crows a second time.

Chapter 15

The next morning, the chief priests bind Jesus and take him to Pontius Pilate. They accuse Him of many things, but when Pilate asks Jesus about the claims, He remains silent. At the feast, Pilate always releases a prisoner to the multitudes. Knowing that jealousy is behind the chief priests’ actions, Pilate asks the crowd, “Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” No, the crowd wants Barabbas (as they were persuaded to do by the priests). When Pilate asks what he should do with Jesus, the throng bellows “Crucify him!” Pilate answers:

“Why, what evil has he done?”

But the crowd will not be turned, so Pilate hands over Jesus. Soldiers flog Him, dress Him in purple, and put a crown of thorns on His head. “Hail, King of the Jews!” This sarcasm is followed by spitting and beating. They then remove the purple clothes, and put His old clothes back on Him.

They take Him to Golgotha (“the place of a skull”) to be crucified. They offer him wine mixed with myrrh, but Jesus declines to drink. In the third hour, they crucified Him along with two others, a robber on His left and another on His right. While on the cross, Jesus is subjected to more mockery from passersby:

“Ha! You who would destroy the temple, and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!”

By the sixth hour, darkness had come and stayed until the ninth hour. At that ninth hour, Jesus cries out in a loud voice:

“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? [My god, my God, why have you forsaken me?]“

Somebody fills a sponge with vinegar and puts it on a reed for Jesus to drink. Jesus cries out once more and dies. Immediately the veil of the temple is torn in two from top to bottom. The centurion standing opposite Jesus’ cross said:

“Truly this man was the Son of God!”

A number of women watched from a distance, including Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses. Evening comes and Joseph of Arimathaea boldly goes to Pilate and asks for Jesus’ body. Pilate agrees and has the centurion grant the body to Joseph. Joseph wraps the body in a linen cloth and places it in a stone tomb. He rolls a large rock against the door of the tomb while two Marys watch.

Chapter 16

Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Salome, buy some spices with which to anoint Jesus’ body. They wonder how they will move the rock in front of the tomb, but find it has already been rolled away. Heading inside, they see a young man dressed in a white robe. He says that Jesus has risen and to tell his disciples that Jesus will be in Galilee. They flee and are too afraid to tell anyone anything.

Jesus then appears to Mary Magdalene and she finally tells those who had been with Him, but they don’t believer her. Jesus then reveals Himself “in another form” to two others who again tell the group. They still don’t believe. Finally, he reveals Himself to the remaining 11 disciples and rebukes them for their “unbelief and hardness of heart.” He tells them:

“Go into all the world, and preach the Good News to the whole creation.”

He says some other stuff too, like those who believe will be able to cast out demons, speak with new languages, be able to drink “any deadly thing” and be fine. After He finishes speaking, Jesus is received up into heaven and sits down at the right hand of God. The disciples disperse and preach everywhere.

Note: We’ll take a little time off before we tackle Luke. I’ll let you know when to start.

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