The final third of the Gospel of Mark recounts the last week of Jesus' earthly life. Jesus enters the city with great fanfare; he "cleanses" the temple, debates the religious leaders, and foretells of the destruction of the temple and his return at the end of days.
This finally the moment when Jesus appears to be coming into his own. He is too wise and too powerful for his enemies. Yet his friends still plot his betrayal. After the first celebration of the Lord's Supper, Judas betrays him, the disciples abandon him, and Peter denies him. After his death on the cross, it is a Roman centurion, one of his executors, who alone proclaims , "Truly this man was God's Son!"
Jesus' vindication comes in the final chapter, as we discover that the tomb is empty; Jesus lives! We are entrusted with the full story of the gospel. At the original end of Mark (16:8), the disciples have fled, Peter has denied Jesus, and even the women who saw the empty tomb have fled, saying "nothing to anyone, for they were afraid." The responsibility of imparting the greatest story ever told therefore falls upon us, as the readers.
How are we passing on the gospel of Jesus Christ? What kind of witnesses are we to his life, death, and resurrection? Mark's Gospel intends to challenge us with continuing Jesus' mission; to share the good news of Christ and the kingdom of God that he began and will return to complete.
We begin a new book on Monday, October 3rd - Paul's Letter to the Romans. Romans, addressed to the church in Rome, is written by Paul to a congregation he has never visited; therefore, it serves as an introduction to Paul's theology, rather than a practical response to specific problems. Because of this, Romans presents the story of faith in a linear, direct fashion unlike any other book in the New Testament.
Notice the progression of Paul's argument. What is sin? Who sins? How can we be saved from sin? Is there a different method for Jews and non-Jews? Are we saved by doing good, or by trusting in Jesus?
Notice as well how Paul wrestles with the ongoing sin in his life, and the lives of believers. How does Paul's conversation in 7:14-25, and 8:31-39, affect how you think about your sin?
Don't forget to drop a rock in our jar in celebration for finishing Mark! See you Sunday.
Grace and Peace,