Welcome to Week 3 of the Higher Hope Church 2018 New Testament Reading Plan! If you haven’t already, go pick up your 5x5x5 Reading Plan and join our private Facebook group for daily interaction and discussion. In today’s post, I will share a brief recap of chapters 11-15 from the Gospel of Mark, but I would love to hear how the Lord spoke to you in this week’s readings! Please leave a comment below or in the Facebook group!
Our week began with the crowd shouting “Praise God!” as Jesus rode into town on a donkey. The people recognized that Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy outlined in Zechariah 9:9. However, just a few days later they would be demanding Jesus’ death and shouting “Crucify Him!”.
Why the dramatic shift in public opinion?
The Israelites had an idea in their minds of who their Messiah King would be and what he would do. He would be a political leader, defeating the Romans and planting a physical earthly kingdom. The king would restore power to the nation of Israel. When Jesus rode the donkey into the city, He was declaring His authority over Jerusalem. Then He cleared the temple, declaring authority over religious life which angered the religious leaders. They “began planning how to kill him” (11:18); however, “they were afraid of him because the people were so amazed at his teaching” (11:18).
The religious leaders begin to challenge Jesus’ authority by trying to trick him with questions so they could arrest Him (11:27-33, 12:13-34). Jesus responds with His own questions and points out their doctrinal errors, showing that the Pharisees and Sadducees were not sincerely seeking the truth but only looking out for their own self-interest. Jesus also blatantly spoke out against the religious leaders in 12:38-40 while teaching about the future (13:1-23), His return (13:24-31), and remaining watchful (13:32-36). The disciples and the people had a difficult time grasping that Jesus was not there to establish an earthly kingdom; His kingdom was to be established in each of their hearts.
Due to the Passover celebration, there was a significant increase in the number of people in Jerusalem. Jews were traveling to Jerusalem from all over the Roman world to remember the great exodus from Egypt. The leading priests and teachers of religious law continued to look for opportunities to capture and kill Jesus. However, many in the crowd had seen or heard of this Jesus and the religious leaders feared that the crowd would riot (14:1).
But then they found an ally in Judas.
Judas, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, betrayed Him to the leading priests. Why? Scripture tells us that he was promised money in exchange for handing Jesus over (14:10-11). He then shared in the Passover meal with Jesus and the rest of the disciples. This gives me pause to think about my own life. As a professed follower of Christ, do my words and my actions reflect this truth? Do I say one thing and do another? We will all mess up and by the grace of God we can ask forgiveness and move forward. The point is that we continue to move toward Christlikeness.
As we move along through Scripture, Jesus predicts Peter’s denial of Him and prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. We then come to the point of critical mass.
Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders.
Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him.
The disciples deserted Jesus and ran away. Peter followed at a distance. Inside the high priest’s house, the high council was trying to find evidence against Jesus so they could kill Him but they could not find any. The high priest asked Him, “are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” (14:61)
Jesus said: “I AM.” And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven. (14:62)
The high priest found this claim to be blasphemous and the high council delivered their guilty verdict. They then took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. In order for Jesus to be condemned, he had to be sentenced by a Roman leader. The leading priests continued to accuse Him of many crimes but Jesus refused to answer. The crowd asked for the release of Barabbas and demanded the death of Jesus. It’s important to note that Scripture says “the leading priests stirred up the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus” (15:11). The leading priests were spreading false information about Jesus. A note in my study Bible regarding the crowd says:
This crowd was most likely a group of people loyal to the Jewish leaders. But where were the disciples and the crowds who days earlier had shouted, “Praise God in highest heaven”? Jesus’ sympathizers were afraid of the Jewish leaders, so they went into hiding. Another possibility is that the multitude included many people who were in the Palm Sunday parade but who turned against Jesus when they saw that he was not going to be an earthly conqueror and their deliverer from Rome.
So Pilate ordered the death of Jesus on a cross.
Our week ended with the death of Jesus and Joseph of Arimathea placing Him in the tomb. Jesus, our sacrificial lamb, who died so we could live.
Praise be to God.
Questions for Reflection
- Do you think the same crowd that yelled “Praise God!” also yelled “Crucify Him!” later?
- As a professed follower of Christ, do your words and actions reflect His residence in your heart?
- What is ONE THING you learned about God this week?
Next week we will finish up Mark and launch into Acts!