Matthew 7:13-14 Life Over Death.

Matthew 7:13-14 Life Over Death.

Jesus taught that there were two ways to walk in life, a narrow one that few find or take, and a wide one found and traveled by many. This would certainly seem to suggest something similar to Robert Frost’s famous poem, where he took the road less travelled by, and that made all the difference. What is the narrow gate? Whatever it is, it also opens up to a difficult way. The other gate is wide, and the way beyond it is broad, but it ultimately leads to destruction. Another word for destruction might be perdition. So the choices are, a way that is difficult but which leads to life. Or, a way that is broad and spacious, but ultimately leads to perdition. The former is the Christian way. Yes it is challenging, but ultimately it is life over death. Matthew will proceed to relate Jesus’ teaching concerning false prophets, and no doubt they preached the broad and easy way, which end is destruction (vv. 15ff.).

Matthew 6:1-4 Charitable Deeds.

Matthew 6:1-4 Charitable Deeds.

Why do people do charitable deeds? There are those who believe that this will get them to heaven. Some have less loftier goals – they simply want to be admired. Many like the feeling it gives them to help another human being. There is usually some goal or goals in a person’s mind before they part with time or money – the two great commodities of life. Here Jesus gives us the highest motivation of all – to be rewarded of the Father. All who do charitable deeds will be rewarded, the question really is what is that reward? Though the true child of the Father does their work in secret, as it were, the promise attached to the reward of the Father is that he will reward openly. It won’t be held in a secret mystery (Cf. Lk. 14:12-14).

Mark 16:1-13 The Risen Lord.

Mark 16:1-13 The Risen Lord.

Jesus rested on the Sabbath in the sleep of death. It was not yet the third day till the first day of the week. On this day, the two Marys and Salome “bought spices, that they might anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen” (vv. 1b-2 Cf. Jn. 20:1-8; Lk. 24:1ff.). However, on this morning they would find the greater Son risen! Before they got to the tomb they discussed who they might get to roll the stone away from the door (v. 3), but when they got there they found the stone rolled away (v. 4). “And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed” (v. 5). In fact, Luke records that there were two men who “stood by them in shining garments” (24:4). John records that these men were in fact angels, one who sat where Jesus’ head would have been and the other at his feet (20:12).

Mark records that one of the angels told them not to be alarmed, that in fact Jesus had risen, and that they were to go and tell his disciples, including Peter, and they all would see him again in Galilee, just as he had said he would (vv. 6-7). “So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (v. 8). However, John records that when Mary Magdalene turned around she saw Jesus standing there, but “did not know that it was Jesus” (20:14). It was only when Jesus said her name, that Mary finally recognize that it was Jesus who was speaking to her (vv. 15-16). This we can imagine was not unlike the same kind of revelation which occurred later to two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus (vv. 12-13; Lk. 24:13ff.). Luke records that the angels reminded them that Jesus had said that “the son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again” (24:7).

Upon remembering the words spoken by Jesus the women were no longer afraid, for they could testify to the very act which Jesus said would come to pass, of which they were witnesses (Lk. 24:8-10). Most of the disciples were incredulous at what they heard, but Luke records that “Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened” (11-12). John gives us more detail of this series of events, mentioning another disciple, believed to be a reference to himself, who also went to the tomb. John got to the tomb first, but Peter was the first of the two of them to enter. John claims to have believed when he saw everything in the tomb (20:8). By this time the angels appear to have departed, and Peter and John would make their way back to Galilee. However, Mark makes very clear, and John concurs (20:18), that it was Mary Magdalene who saw Jesus first (vv. 9-11).

Mark 15:42-47 Jesus’ Death And Burial Is Confirmed.

Mark 15:42-47 Jesus Death And Burial Is Confirmed.

The Preparation Day was the day before the Sabbath, and it ended at sunset. Joseph would have to make the arrangements for Jesus body in the dying hours of the day (v. 42 Cf. Jn. 19:38-42). He is described as “a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God” (v. 43a). Luke also describes him as being “a good and just man,” who had not consented to the decision and deed of the council, to have Jesus crucified (23:51). It is interesting that Mark and Luke used these descriptives, because John also described him as being “a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews” (v. 38). But here he was, a Jew himself, and John notes that he was also joined by another Jew and Pharisee no less, Nicodemus, who also came to Jesus secretly “by night” (19:39a), to whom Jesus had previously preached that he must be born again (Jn. 3:1ff). Nicodemus already had some courage to come to Jesus’ defence when he was falsely accused earlier by the council (Jn. 7:51). At the time of Jesus burial, Nicodemus now assists Joseph and brings with him “a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.

Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury” (Jn. 19:39b-40). However, before they are permitted to take the body, Mark records that they needed to get permission from Pilate (v. 43b). “Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time” (vv. 44-45a). Apparently the centurion answered in the affirmative, because only then were they allowed to take Jesus’ body (v. 45b). Then Joseph, with Nicodemus, two Jews and members of the council, took Jesus down, wrapped him in the fine linen, and laid him “in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb” (v. 46). “And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid” (v. 47). Matthew indicates that the tomb was Joseph’s (Mt. 27:59-60), with John indicating how it was new, wherein no one ever was laid, and within a garden in the vicinity of Golgotha, so that they had the time to complete their task (19:41-42).

From all the gospel accounts we have a very interesting picture of what took place at Jesus’ death. Firstly, Jesus yielded up his spirit, suggesting that it was ultimately his choice of when to die (Mt. 27:50; Mk. 15:37). Secondly, this only happened when he said “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). Thirdly, not wanting to have dead bodies on the crosses on the Sabbath, “the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken” (Jn. 19:31). However, the soldiers did not break Jesus’ legs because they confirmed that he was already dead (v. 33), but they did pierce his side (v. 34). They thus not only confirmed Jesus was dead, but in these acts they also fulfilled the scriptures (vv. 36-37; Ex. 12:46; Nu. 9:12; Ps. 34:20; Zech. 12:10; 13:6). Fourthly, we then read that the veil guarding the holy of holies “was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mk. 15:38; Mt. 27:51a Cf. Ex. 26:31-33). Fifthly, Matthew records that the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many” (27:51b-53).

Therefore, even before the resurrection of Jesus, the resurrection of these saints was witnessed to by many, as they entered the holy city on the Preparation Day. Sixth, we have a confession from the centurion who said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God” (Mt. 27:54; Mk. 15:39). Seventh, before they could take down Jesus body, Pilate himself needed confirmation that he was dead, which he got from the centurion (Mk. 15:44-45). Eighth, Joseph and Nicodemus rolled a stone in front of the door of the tomb, which Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses witnessed (Mt. 27:60-61; Mk. 15:46-47; Lk. 23:55). Ninth, on the next day, that is the Sabbath, the chief priests and Pharisees asked to have the tomb secured, lest his disciples should deceive people into thinking he had in fact risen. (Mt. 27:62-64). Pilate then gave them permission to make it as secure as they desired, which they did with a seal and a guard (vv. 65-66). All of this demonstrates how, over and over again, Jesus death and burial were confirmed by so many – friend, foe, and the public. There is perhaps no death and burial that has received as much confirmation as his.

Mark 15:33-41 A Sacrifice Complete.

Mark 15:33-41 A Sacrifice Complete.

The sacrifice of Jesus was not complete until the following took place. Firstly, because he bore the sins of many, and then the Father forsook him (vv. 33-34). Secondly, he himself gave up his life when the first occurred (v. 37). Those watching were mistaken in thinking he was calling for help from Elijah (vv. 35-36). Perhaps they thought of Elijah since the common notion about Jesus was that he was simply a prophet. It was no accident that the veil in the temple was torn in two, because the old sacrificial system had now come to an end, and Jesus opened up the way for all who the Father has given to him to approach the throne of grace in the Most Holy Place directly through him (v. 38 Cf. Ex. 26:31-33). The tricolour veil was symbolic of Jesus threefold office as Mediator (https://ministeriumverbidivini.com/2014/10/21/thoughts-on-the-person-and-work-of-christ-2/.) There may have been a conversion of one of the centurions at this time as well (v. 39). Mark also highlights the place occupied by the women who travelled with Jesus (vv. 40-41).

Mark 15:16-32 The King Is Crucified.

Mark 15:16-32 The King Is Crucified.

The soldiers clothed Jesus in purple, a symbolic colour for a king, to mock the claim, also putting on him a crown of thorns (vv. 16-18 Cf. Mt. 27:27-31). In the minds of most, this death was a king’s ultimate defeat (Cf. https://ministeriumverbidivini.com/2014/10/21/thoughts-on-the-person-and-work-of-christ-2/). However, biblically speaking, the Christ or anointed One, would occupy all three anointed mediatorial offices in His one person as the Prophet-Priest-King. As the Prophet he had preached the word, now as Priest he would offer himself up as the sacrifice for sin. When he arose and ascended to the right hand of the Father he would then reign as the Prophet-Priest-King, with each office helping to define the other two. A threefold office based on the word, redemptive in nature, and ruling from heaven, but on earth.

They also offered mock worship, after striking him and spitting on him, which since they believed that he was only a man, was idolatry on their part (v. 19). This also fulfilled the prophetic word concerning Isaiah’s Servant, something which could not apply to any other (50:6; 52:14; 53:5). The last ignominy was to rip of the kingly robe as a final testimony to their mock confession (v. 20). Jesus’ cross was transported by another to Golgotha, the place of the scull or death (vv. 21-22 Cf. Mt. 27:32; Jn. 19:17-24). They offered him wine mingled with myrrh, a primitive painkiller, but he refused it (v. 23). Apparently there were four solders because they divided his clothing in four parts, but his tunic was seamless, so as scripture had also predicted, they cast lots for it (v. 24; Jn. 19:24; Ps. 22:18). He was then crucified at the third hour, or 9 am.

As John notes, the Jewish religious leadership did not want the inscription to read ‘The King of the Jews’, but that he said he was (vv. 25-26 Cf. Mt. 27:37; Jn. 19:14, 21). They saw how the pagans had mocked their own religious commitment. He was crucified with two robbers, also fulfilling scripture, that “He was numbered with the transgressors” (vv. 27-28; Is. 53:12 Cf. Lk. 22:37). Those who walked by and blasphemed him, reverted to his claim to destroy the temple, but got it wrong when they said he claimed to raise that temple again in three days (v. 29). These did not understand the transition to the new temple of his body rising. They commanded him to save himself and come down immediately from the cross, but redemption was not yet complete (v. 30), lead by the apostate leadership (vv. 31-32). Although both robbers initially joined in, Luke records one robber’s repentance and faith (23:40-43; Cf. Mt. 27:44).

Mark 15:1-15 A Covenantal Curse.

Mark 15:1-15 A Covenantal Curse.

The apostate Jewish leadership, represented by their council, bound Jesus so that he could be delivered to the Gentile authorities for execution, in the person of Pilate. Pilate had no interest in the charge laid against Jesus, that he claimed to be Deity, Pilates only concern was whether he posed a direct threat to the political order. Jesus was indeed the King of the Jews, but not as a king in the way Pilate would have imagined. The fact that Jesus refused to answer his accusers, caused Pilate to marvel since he did not commit any such political or violent crime. Barabbas, on the other hand, was a rebel who did commit murder during a recent rebellion. Pilate knew that the chief priests were leading their charge out of envy, and being astute politicians, they worked up the crowd in their favour.

When they were repeatedly asked by Pilate what Jesus had done to be deserving of death, the crowd only called out for him to be crucified. Pilate, himself also primarily a politician, “wanting the gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified” (v. 15). Pilate released a man who was guilty of murder, and posed a real threat to his reign, in favour of short-term appeasement of the crowd. In taking the place of a murderer, we see Jesus taking the place of all for whom he died – likewise murderers of the Son of Man. “As Paul notes, the crucifixion of Jesus brought Him publicly under the curse of God (Gal. 3:13; cf. Deut. 21:23)” (NGSB 1595). Those not covered by his blood, suffer the covenantal curse themselves.

Mark 14:66-72 Peter’s Denial, And True Witness Bearing.

Mark 14:66-72 Peter’s Denial, And True Witness Bearing.

Peter appears to have gone farther than any of the twelve to follow Jesus as he was taken away. However, a servant girl approached him claiming she saw him with Jesus, and this was the beginning of his threefold denial, and a rooster crowed (vv. 66-68 Cf. v. 30). She was in fact witness bearing – first one on one, then with others (vv. 69-70a), then others joined in the same testimony (v. 70b). With his third denial “he began to curse and swear” (v. 71). He had been convicted in the very fashion in which Jesus gave as a pattern for dealing with controversies, including a sinning believer (Mt. 18:15-20). “A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.’ And when he thought about it, he wept” (v. 72). Here even the creation itself bore witness, through a crow, just as Jesus had predicted. Peter could but weep at the confirmation of his firm and complete denial of his Lord. It so often happens that in the midst of such trying times, it may be hard to tell a Judas from a Peter, for we know that Esau also wept at the knowledge of his selling of his birthright (Gen. 27:38; Heb. 12:17). There is weeping of repentance, and weeping only of regret.

Mark 14:51-65 Jesus Condemned By The Council.

Mark 14:51-65 Jesus Condemned By The Council.

Mark is the only gospel record which records a certain young man following Jesus who was clothed only in a linen cloth, which was torn off him by those who took Jesus, so that he fled away naked (vv. 51-52). “Some interpreters have suggested that in this cryptic detail, as in the mention of the linen garment (a sign of wealth), there might be a veiled reference to Mark himself, since he was from a well-to-do family in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12)” (NGSB 1593). The fact that he was alone, surrounded only by adversaries, would suggest that only Mark would have this information. If so, it is a self-effacing confession, at least to those who knew to whom he was referring. However, the real focus is on the apprehension and deliverance to the high priest, and the assembled “chief priests, the elders, and the scribes” (v. 53).

Clearly they had everything planned for this mock trial. However, Mark also makes note of Peter, whom it is believed he wrote for. Peter also followed Jesus, presumably farther than Mark had gotten, all the way to sitting with the servants in the courtyard, warming himself at the fire (v. 54). The council’s planning did however lack any credible witnesses to support charging Jesus with a capital crime (v. 55). The problem with employing false witnesses is the fact that they still must agree with each other, something these geniuses did account for (v. 56). The witnesses could not even agree on the charge that Jesus was going to destroy the temple and build another made without hands (vv. 57-59). Nevertheless, the high priest berated Jesus on why he would not answer this charge (v. 60).

“But He kept silent and answered nothing” (v. 61a). Instead the high priest got to the crux of the matter, “saying to Him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed’” (v. 61b)? This was ultimately why they would crucify Jesus, because He claimed to be God Himself – the “I am.” Furthermore, Jesus would refer back to the previous charge, when he said, “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (v. 62). This described, in apocalyptic form, what Mark had recorded regarding the destruction of the temple and the city, and the last days of the old covenant administration, with the inauguration of the new (Ch. 13). The claim to Deity was blasphemy for the high priest, and if it were not true it would have been (vv. 63-64a).

However, the unbelieving high priest, was the bearer of false witness here, and having heard the testimony and verdict of the high priest, those gathered condemned Jesus as the one deserving of death (v. 64b). Couched in the shameful activity which ensued, of spitting on the one who once used his own spit as a healing balm, and blindfolding him while they beat him, is the real crux of what was transpiring here. Jesus, as the Anointed One, was indeed regarded as a true prophet by many. The tests of a prophet were applied to him. His message was in harmony with the prophets of old, often referring to these prophets as witness to his own message of fulfillment and judgment to come. However, here they declare him to be false, because of his unique prophetic claim to Deity, for which he would be crucified.

Mark 14:43-50 Apprehended As Predicted.

Mark 14:43-50 Apprehended As Predicted.

This passage (Cf. Mt. 26:47-56; Lk. 22:47-53; Jn. 18:3-11) begins with some puzzling verses (vv. 43-44). Surely those who sought Jesus death knew who he was. Perhaps the servants sent did not. In any case, Judas betrayed the Lord Jesus with a kiss (v. 45), and as they were taking Jesus away one of the disciples cut off the ear of one of these servants (vv. 46-47). John informs us that this disciple was Peter (18:10), and the incident became an occasion for Jesus to point out that he could have easily called angels to his own defence, but he was allowing what happened to fulfill the will of the Father, even as the Scriptures predicted (vv. 48-49). To that end Luke records that Jesus in fact healed the servant (22:51). Jesus made the point that he could have been taken many times before that point, but the Scriptures indicated that he would be apprehended like a criminal (Cf. Mt. 26:55; Ps. 22:6; Is. 53:7; Lam. 4:20). In any case, all his disciples “forsook Him and fled” (v. 50).