In Jesus’ Words: The Gospel of Mark

Over a year ago, I started on a journey to tune out the needless noise, the constant back-and-forth of our society, the politics and debates, and go directly to the source – Jesus’ words – to see what He really has to say about all of this.  For if Jesus really is who he said he was, then his spoken words should mean everything to us and how we live our lives.

There is a book called “Five Seconds After You Die”, in which Mike Connell writes, “In the first five seconds after we die, we will know how we should have lived.”  That’s a startling thought.  Jesus talks a lot about the after-life and how we should be living now.  His advice is wise and timeless.  We get no do-overs in this life.  It is worth a few minutes of our time now to think about those five seconds later.  What if Jesus’ words are true?

In this journey of going directly to the source, I have just finished Matthew’s historical account of Jesus’ words.  Matthew was an outcast, a sinner, a deceiver and a thief.  Yet Jesus chose him, called him out of his lifestyle and he repented.  Matthew was so happy over this that he invited all of his rowdy friends to dinner at his house to meet his new friend, Jesus!  It certainly caused attention.  Matthew was also a Jew who wrote primarily to the Jewish audience to show them that Jesus was in fact the long-awaited Messiah and King of the Jews they were looking for in their prophecies.

Mark writes with a different purpose.  Where Matthew had been one of Jesus’ original disciples, Mark was a contemporary of Peter and Paul.  He wrote to a Roman audience and focused on the servanthood of Jesus.  Matthew showed us who Jesus is, Mark will show us what Jesus does.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life – a ransom for many. 
Mark 10:45

There were many different types of witnesses, many different accounts of Jesus’ life, but the message in all the gospels is always the same and remains the same today.  Jesus did not engage in political rhetoric or protests.  He did not challenge the Roman government.  He did not waste time on fruitless arguments.  He looked at each person individually, and he looked at their heart.  No one was a “less” sinner than another.  Not a single one.  All of Jesus’ words lead to one thing – repentance – and to believe in the One who can and will forgive.  It will be your five seconds.  Between you and Jesus only.  I hope you will join me as we begin to look at the words Jesus spoke to us as recorded by the Apostle Mark.

In Jesus’ Words: Final Words – The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20)

The book of Matthew has taken us on quite a journey.  It is filled with Jesus’ words from his sermons, the stories and parables he told to the crowds, teaching for his disciples, arguments with the Pharisees over the meaning of the law, and many dinner conversations with sinners and tax collectors (Matthew being the most famous tax collector).

From Jesus’ humble beginning in Bethlehem, he taught in the temple, he healed many – a man with leprosy, a paralyzed man, a woman who was bleeding, blind men –  he casts out demons, miraculously turns water into wine, calms the storm, walks on water, clears out the temple from the sellers and money-changers, proclaims to be the Messiah and is crucified on the cross for making this claim, is resurrected and witnessed by many. Jesus was constantly on the move during his ministry, and everywhere he went, crowds followed him. This was not an isolated event in history.

Now we come to the last statement from Jesus before he ascends back into heaven.

~ The Great Commission  Matthew 28:16-20 ~

The 11 disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted.

Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Most likely there were more than just the 11 disciples with Jesus, since crowds always followed him. The fact that Matthew says some doubted gives the most credibility and transparency to his writing. Matthew is not trying to cover up facts or push some fake story to us. There will always be people who doubt, but a story like Matthew’s cannot be told in such detail, and during the time these events happened, if it were not true.

Jesus, in his final words to us, confirms the gospel message:

Jesus’ authority:  His humility on earth has ended and He has now been exalted and given all authority in heaven and earth.

Trinity:  He mentions the Trinity as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I am with you:  Just as it was announced in the beginning that the baby Jesus should be named Immanuel, “God with us”, Jesus is still with us to the very end.

If you would like to see how Jesus is shown throughout the entire Bible, go to my menu series on “Christmas Story from Genesis to John“. It has 31 entries, one for each day of the month, showing how Jesus was present with God from the beginning as the promised Savior, and how his life is accurately prophesied throughout the Bible.  I will soon have a downloadable version too.  God Bless!

In Jesus’ Words: “Good Morning!” (Matthew 28:1-10)

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his robe was as white as snow. “Don’t be afraid,” the angel told Mary, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here! For He has been resurrected, just as He said.”

Just then Jesus met the women and said, “Good morning! Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see Me there.”

Good Morning! Do not be afraid.

These are two of the best phrases we can remember from Jesus.  He will joyfully greet us in the morning at the beginning of our day, and He starts by telling us “Do not be afraid.”  Even the angel of the Lord began his greeting in the same way, from the announcement of Jesus’ birth to the announcement of His resurrection, “Don’t be afraid!”  This phrase is mentioned 365 times throughout the Bible, once for each day of the year.  It goes well with Jesus’ greeting of Good Morning!  Jesus knows our fears, He knows what we face in this world, and He knows what is to come.  So if we are to believe what Jesus says, then these are greetings we should really take to heart every day.  Jesus’ words of comfort are not just some empty, nice-sounding cliché telling us to “try harder” or “be more positive”.  No, Jesus simply greets us with what we need to hear most in this world, “Do not be afraid.”

When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of our life, He promises to be with us from morning till night, in the dark and light, the good and the bad, fighting our spiritual battles for us, and we are mercifully forgiven. What else do have we to fear?

So remember this every morning, and wake up with these two phrases in mind.  They are the first words Jesus spoke after His resurrection and victory over death.

“Good Morning!  Do not be afraid.” – Jesus

In Jesus’ Words: Forsaken and the Gift (Matthew 27:45-51)

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land.  About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice. Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?  My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit.
Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split.
~ from Matthew 27:45-51

Forsaken.  At this moment, Jesus was abandoned by God. Jesus had been with God from the very beginning, and now he was alone, abandoned, and in despair. Jesus became the sin-bearer for us, carrying all of our sins and those of the entire world, while God poured out his wrath and punishment on sin.  It was far worse than any physical pain and torture he had received – it was the moment Jesus feared the most.  God could not look at his son.  He was forsaken, shamed, and separated from God.  It was the ultimate sacrifice, and for no other reason than the love for his creation.

There is so much to think about from this event and Jesus’ final words before his death:

Jesus has already paid the price for our sins (past, past and future). For those who accept this sacrificial gift, we will not be punished again for any of our sins.  God does not punish twice for the same crime.  Here, Jesus represents the loving, compassionate, and merciful side of God.

But God also hates sin.  It goes against His holy nature.  For those who do not accept Jesus’ sacrifice, God’s wrath will still be on their sins.  People often have difficulty imagining God sending people to hell, especially with the images of devils and fire and torture.  But the reality is, hell is a place where there is complete abandonment of God.  A place where you can no longer call out to God and have any hope of Him responding. It is a place where there are no good characteristics of God available anywhere – of love, compassion, mercy, sacrifice.  Hell is permanent abandonment and separation from God. People sometimes doubt there is any evidence that God is even in our world today, but imagine if you took out all references to God and love and good in our world, what would be the effects then?  Complete lawlessness and chaos and evil without any hope of goodness or love.  And definitely no self-sacrifice.

But why is Jesus the only way?  I would rather ask the question like this… Why would God promise a Savior and then punish and sacrifice his son so much, only to turn around and say, “Well, it doesn’t really matter, there are many ways.”  No other way or religion offers a sacrifice for you.  But just like when someone gives you a gift, you have to accept that gift.  It cannot be forced on you or it is no longer a gift.

Finally, I always get asked this question… What about those before Jesus, or those who have not heard, or places where their culture prevents it?  Jesus came for past, present and future.  He is not time-bound.  Let Jesus deal with those things.  He is the gate-keeper, and His gift is for everyone and He gives everyone a chance to accept.  We should be more concerned about those of us who know better, who have knowledge, and yet have openly rejected his gift.  Once you have been offered a gift and refuse, you may not have another chance to accept.  Others may not have been offered yet.  We are to accept Jesus’ gift of eternal life and fellowship with God, and pass the good news on to others.  This is what Jesus died for, so that we may never have to experience separation from God.

 

In Jesus’ Words: “You have said it.” (Matthew 26-27)

A common discrepancy I hear a lot is that Jesus never said he was the Son of God, the Messiah, and that this claim only came from what others said about him.  Yet, when looking through Jesus’ words in the New Testament, he did in fact make this claim several times.  Why else would they be trying to kill him?

~ Jesus faces the Sanhedrin and Governor ~
Matthew 26:62-65, 27:11

The high priest then stood up and said to Jesus, “Don’t You have an answer to what these men are testifying against You?” But Jesus kept silent. Then the high priest said to Him, “By the living God I place you under oath: tell us if You are the Messiah, the Son of God!”

“You have said it,” Jesus told him. “But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? Look, now you’ve heard the blasphemy!

Now Jesus stood before the governor. “Are You the King of the Jews?” the governor asked Him.

Jesus answered, “You have said it.”

The phrase “You have said it.” is an affirmation of oath, meaning “That is true.”

I have heard two testimonies this week from ordinary people – one local and one from the other side of the world. Both witnessed seeing Jesus in a dream or vision confirming to them that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. “You have said it,” they said.