In his book, Soul Keeping, John Ortberg explains, “The soul is not a theological and abstract subject. The soul is the coolest, eeriest, most mysterious, evocative, crucial, sacred, eternal, life-directing, fragile, indestructible, controversial, expensive dimension of your existence.
I am not naturally inclined to lead a still life. I feel a strong sense of responsibility for my family, work, friends, and the calling God has placed on my life. I am also an education junkie! I love to learn and grow, so I am always taking on a new challenge. This keeps me always thinking, doing, striving…
Yesterday we thought about our tendency to “otherize” people who don’t fit into our acceptable categories. We studied Jesus’ example of reaching out beyond his normal groups to interact and love those who are on the margins of life. This mandate to love those who don’t fit neatly into our categories of friend groups, is one of the basic teachings of Jesus.
Many decades of research and thousands of years of recorded history demonstrate how critical groups are to human life. Groups help us organize and conserve resources like food and shelter and give meaning to our emotional selves. We have a deep need to belong.
Before this day, when Mary and the other Mary went to Jesus’ tomb to grieve, death had always been bigger than anything or anyone. Death was the biggest fear, the biggest struggle and the biggest sorrow. But on that first Easter, death was not so big anymore. God was bigger.
After Jesus’ death on a cross, there was much fear among the disciples. They were confused and doubting the last three years of their lives. Had they been fooled? Was Jesus, the one who was just beaten and killed in such a humiliatingly public manner, truly the Messiah?
If you have a good Bible or have carefully studied Scripture you may have learned that Mark has two endings, one short and the other long. The earliest manuscripts end at verse eight
If Christ has been raised, then the whole world is different. He has, and it is. After Jesus was placed in the tomb three women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, make their way there before sunrise on Sunday, the first day of the week. They go with burial spices to anoint the body.
Jesus’ death is accompanied by many strange signs. At noon, darkness falls over the land, lasting until mid-afternoon. While hanging on the cross Jesus quotes Psalm 22:1, “My God, my god, why have you forsaken me?” Some thought Jesus was calling Elijah, God’s prophet, to come from heaven and rescue him. Jesus cries out in a loud voice, and Mark tells us that the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
After Jesus is condemned to die, he is led to Praetorium, home to the Roman guard. The soldiers gather to humiliate and mock their prisoner, this backwoods Galilean whose followers had believed would displace Caesar.
The Jewish leaders lacked the power and authority to kill Jesus, so they asked for help. As the occupying power, only the Romans could order an execution. The high priest, chief priests, teachers of the law and the elders sent Jesus to a man named Pontius Pilate, the Roman Prefect, or governor, who ruled in Judea from A. D. 26 to 37.
As a community we have drawn near to the cross, we have walked with Jesus, and his end is now in view. We know the story. But we tell it again. We must.
One of the greatest dangers, as well as the most imperceptible of sins, is that of pride. Pride is sneaky, and its manifestations often remain hidden to ourselves while remaining more apparent to others. No one thinks they are proud in a vicious way until they are either humbled or suddenly struck by how their words or actions have caused another harm.
I once heard a story about one of my heroes in ministry who, at the conclusion of a staff meeting, rose from his chair and announced, “All of you are doing a great job, except one.” He then took his things and left the room.
Lamar Williamson, Jr. writes, “The thirteenth chapter of Mark is happy hunting ground for persons fascinated by the end of the world” (Williamson, Interpretation: Mark, 235). This passage is commonly called the “Little Apocalypse,” and similar words are found in Matthew 24 and Luke 21.