Mark 15 recounts the events of Jesus’s crucifixion. In verses 24-26, Jesus is nailed to the cross, with a sign identifying him, ironically, as “The King of the Jews.” Then, “at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (Which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) (15:34).
One of the great “discoveries” in recent times, made by many biblically grounded Christians, is that work can be worship. This insight is based, in part, on the fact that one of the key Old Testament words for worship, avodah, also means “work” or “service.” Moreover, Scripture teaches in many places that when we offer our work to the Lord for his purposes and pleasure, we are worshiping him, every bit as much as we do when we praise him in church gatherings.
There’s no doubt that Peter truly believed he would never, ever deny Jesus. He and his fellow disciples were sure that they would die for Jesus rather than deny him. But, of course, before long all the disciples did what they felt to be impossible, and Peter most of all.
But if Jesus was not using God’s own name in reference to himself, why was he accused of blasphemy (14:63-64)? What did he say that deserved punishment, even death, in the eyes of the Jewish officials?
After Jesus was arrested, he was taken to the home of the high priest, where he was interrogated by Jewish leaders from Jerusalem. Many witnesses offered testimony against Jesus, but their stories were not sufficient to condemn him. As he was being accused, Jesus remained silent.
Today’s text describes the seed falling into good soil. So, what makes the soil good? As our last set of reflections suggested, part of the answer lies in our giving conscious, sustained and disciplined attention to Jesus’ way of life and leadership. However, this is not merely an exercise in acquiring leadership knowledge or technique. Jesus’ teaching challenges us at the core of our being as leaders.
The prayer of Jesus in the Garden not only reveals the mystery of the Incarnation, but also invites us to pray without limit, hesitation, or fear. Most of us have learned not to tell the Lord what is truly in our hearts, at least not when we’re desperate, sad, angry, or doubting. We might give God a hint about what we’re really thinking and feeling. But, usually we couch this in safe and well-rehearsed spiritual language.
Jesus’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is, in my opinion, the most astounding prayer . . . ever. There is no prayer in Scripture that surprises us more than this one. And there is no prayer in Scripture that more passionately invites us into the very heart of Jesus and the mystery of God’s nature.
If you’re familiar with the story of Jesus praying in Gethsemane, you know that the three disciples whom he selected to come along with him did not “keep watch.” The Greek verb used here can also mean, “stay awake.” In fact, Peter, James, and John fell asleep while Jesus was praying, much to his chagrin (14:37-38).
Almost all Christians remember the events of the Last Supper and reenact those events on a regular basis. Some of us call this “Communion.” Others call it the “Eucharist” or the “Lord’s Supper” or the “Mass.” But, no matter the differences in name or theological nuance, all Christians understand that the sharing of bread and the cup in a worship service is an occasion to remember what Jesus did for us on the cross. It is a time to look back so that we might be renewed and refreshed in the present.