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: “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.

In Jesus’ Words: The Judas Kiss and Jesus’ Reaction (Matthew 26:50-56)

“Friend,” Jesus asked Judas, “why have you come?”

The Greek word used here for friend means “comrade” – a person who shares your activities, occupation or political group, such as a work associate.  Jesus did not call Judas a close friend.

Jesus always addresses our heart:  Why have you come?

“The chief priests and elders arrested Jesus, and then one of those with Jesus drew his sword and struck the high priest’s slave and cut off his ear.”

The writings of John identify this person as Peter and the slave as Malchus.  The writings of Luke also mention that Jesus heals the slaves ear.  These were specific, eye-witness accounts.

Then Jesus told him, “Put your sword back in place because all who take up a sword will perish by a sword. Or do you think that I cannot call on My Father, and He will provide Me at once with more than 12 legions of angels? How, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”

Jesus shows he was still in control of the situation.  He did not panic.  A false preacher would have lacked control.

One legion is 6,000 soldiers, and 12 legions would be 72,000 angels.  2 Kings 19:35 tells of a single angel who killed more than 185,000 men in one night.  Can you imagine the impact 72,000 angels would have?

At that time Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs, as if I were a criminal, to capture Me? Every day I used to sit, teaching in the temple complex, and you didn’t arrest Me. But all this has happened so that the prophetic Scriptures would be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted Him and ran away.


One of the best defenses for Christ is that none of the disciples or writers of the gospels painted a rosy picture of themselves.  Instead, they told that they were cowards and ran away.  Yet, after Jesus’ resurrection, these same young men became the most brave of men to tell the truth, even to the point of their own tortured deaths. Our own actions as human beings can be very telling.  A fake or lying person would not admit in writing that they had run away from the one they were claiming to be Messiah.  No, only one telling the truth would admit to that.