Tuesday 21 March 2023

Mark 15:16-20

16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

How awful to think how Jesus was treated by these soldiers, who were in positions of authority by the Governor of Judea.  They taunted, humiliated and mocked Jesus before crucifying Him.

It reminds me that no matter what position of authority we hold, as a parent, a husband, a wife, a leader, a worker, a manager, a friend, etc; how we treat people is so important.  Jesus taught us to be kind to those who were blind in their sin, He taught us to love, He taught to believe the best of other people, He taught to have eyes for those who are broken and downtrodden, He taught us to care…

Jesus in this moment could have spoken one word and all those soldiers would be dead.  These soldiers were blind to who He was, they abused the authority they had and have been written into the history book of the Bible forever.

He could have demonstrated His power and authority, but He came for a purpose, to die for You and Me.  To lay His life down.

Lord Jesus, help to always love, care, and be merciful to those who are blind.  Help me Lord to speak and respond like you.  In your name, Amen.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

Want to join the discussion?

Monday 20 March 2023

Mark 15:1-15

1 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

6 Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

13 “Crucify him!” they shouted.

14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

What an amazing story – power plays everywhere.  Pilate not comfortable with Jesus not responding, the Chief Priests working from a base of envy – ah such a normal human context.  All the time, Jesus could stand with a sense of security, surety, that God was with Him, and no matter the outcome(s) God could be trusted.

What happens when people have it in for us.  What happens when we are unjustly accused, when lies are told about us to others and it is affecting our livelihoods even threatening our life.  It is all too easy to think Jesus, the divine Jesus, had it all in control.  But we should be thinking here of Jesus, the human Jesus, not the superhuman Jesus, the human Jesus.  The One who walks through this situation as we are to walk, modelling to us His ways.

Father – when others do what they can to destroy us, in reputation or even physically – give us the grace to stand as Jesus did – secure in You, safe in You!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

Want to join the discussion?

Sunday 19 March 2023

Mark 14:66-72

66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.

“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.

68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.

69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”

71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”

72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

This is a heartbreaking story. Peter’s famous angry denial that he did not know his beloved friend Jesus is a grim reminder of what fear can do to the human heart. When confronted with his fear of what might happen if he was known as a friend of Jesus, Peter chose to lie to save his own skin.

Additionally, only days before this event, Peter had vehemently denied Jesus’s prediction that all of His disciples (including Peter) would ultimately disown Him. How humbling for Peter.

Before I get too down on Peter, I need to recognize that I am often unaware of what my heart is capable of when confronted by my own fears.

Denial of the truth to save our own skin is a common human response, and I have certainly fallen into that trap at times. Just think of how quickly a child is prepared to lie when they think they are going to ‘get in trouble’.

Spiritual maturity not that we have moved beyond the capability of sinful thoughts and actions. Spiritual maturity is recognizing just how capable of sin we still are and owning the truth, no matter how painful it may feel to admit our weaknesses.

Lord, I thank you for your acceptance and forgiveness in the midst of our failings. May I have the courage to own the truth of my own weaknesses and allow Your grace to meet me there.

Written by Shelley Witt

3 replies

Want to join the discussion?

Saturday 18 March 2023

Mark 14:53-65

53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.

55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.

57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’ ” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree.

60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.

The darkest and cruellest event in history since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. Here we have a man, who has come to bring restoration to the world, who lived a perfect life, demonstrating for all how to live life. This passage recounts the way he was put on trial and condemned to death.

On my reading of this passage this morning, I am struck by verse 62. Jesus may have generally been silent like a lamb led to the slaughter, but here he plainly and undeniably spells out who he claims to be, and it is this claim that they grab on to – for someone to claim to be equal to God was completely unacceptable to the people presiding over this trial.

We might see Jesus’ death as a tragic death of a good man, but here he spells out why he was so good – because he was and is the messiah – the one who brought the kingdom of God to Earth and enable access to heaven for all people. This was more than a tragedy, but a complete abomination of all justice.

But the good news is that it was always God’s plan to allow him to die, because after this dark night, on the 3rd day he rose again, conquering sin and death, proving that he was who he claimed, appearing to hundreds of eyewitnesses, many of whom laid down their own life while holding to their testimony of his resurrection!!

Lord Jesus, you are the one we worship, your death was horrid, but we will praise you eternally, because it was not in vain.

Written by Ps Justin Ware

1 (reply)

Want to join the discussion?

Friday 17 March 2023

Mark 14:43-52

43 Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled.

51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.

Jesus was betrayed by one of his disciples. One who had walked with him for nearly 3 years. By one who had shared meals, stories, laughs and tears. Judas calls him Rabbi (teacher) and identifies him with a kiss. A greeting of brothers.

His response to this and to those coming after him with clubs and swords is interesting. He says he hasn’t come to lead a rebellion and that this is all happening to fulfil scripture.

Jesus appears to be incredibly focused in the midst of such a sad and scary situation. It is a scary situation, Mark the writer, tells us that an on looking man ran off so scared that he left his clothing behind (Mark 14:53).

Jesus is focused on his purpose and calling, on the crucifixion and his role as Saviour. He is not focused on his offence, on getting his own back, in his rightness or his rights. He knows what he has to do and how that has to come about. He’s certain of His Father’s way.

Jesus, help me be more like you. Give me greater clarity of my purpose and calling. Help me to fix my eyes on you. To be less concerned with my rights and more concerned with what you would have me do. Help me to trust and obey as you did.

Written by Ps. Zoe Stewart

2 replies
  1. Sam S says:

    “Am I leading a rebellion,” – I’ve always wondered whether and where Jesus tells any jokes? You’ve highlighted the first one I’ve ever seen! And on the eve of his crucifixion! Very dark humour in indeed!


Want to join the discussion?

Thursday 16 March 2023

Mark 14:32-42

32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.

41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

I am struck Jesus’ attitude to his mission: ‘your will be done, not mine’. Even when he fully knows that God can do anything, Jesus is still committed to God’s plan. It indicates to me that whilst God could remove every challenge and pain in my life, he doesn’t. When it comes to God’s grand plan for our lives, there are some things more important than only safety, comfort and convenience. God has a path set for Jesus to walk and there are challenges on that path. God could remove those challenges (anything is possible for God) but God doesn’t because there is something more important just around the corner. Jesus is feeling the pressure, but he is also focused and conscious of what might happen. Jesus knows it will involve suffering and has committed himself to a time of prayer as he waits for ‘the time to come’. The disciples are either misunderstanding what is going to happen or are distracted or aren’t very motivated – they keep falling asleep! Read the room guys: Jesus could do with some support and encouragement!

Jesus, help me to build my prayer habits – so that I can be prepared for tough times, so that I can follow your path faithfully, so that I can encourage others in their times of challenge, and so that I can better resist temptation when it crosses my path. Thank you that you care for me. Thank you that you restore me and heal me. I also acknowledge that your ways aren’t always easy. I want to be strong to walk your paths and live in your plan. Amen.

Written by Sam Stewart

1 (reply)

Want to join the discussion?

Wednesday 15 March 2023

Mark 14:26-31

26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:

“ ‘I will strike the shepherd,

and the sheep will be scattered.’

28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

I can understand and empathise with Peter here. It’s one thing to proclaim your relationship with Jesus when you’re surrounded by others who believe and when you’re engaged in church activities. I think it’s pertinent that the disciples have engaged in what would become the act of communion and have then sung a hymn with Jesus just before He tells them that they will deny Him. In that context, it seems crazy to think that they would do such a thing. They were already living for Him, most of the disciples had given up their livelihood, lifestyles and everything they knew to follow Jesus. How could they not be willing to claim their closeness to Him? Yet when push comes to shove and the context becomes much more serious, Peter denies he has been close to Jesus at all. I wonder how many of us also feel this tension. We might be willing to truly live for Jesus in a myriad of ways – sacrificial giving of our time, energy or finances, following His call when it doesn’t make sense to us, or making decisions that are counter cultural yet honour God. Yet sometimes it can feel that the safest or easiest choice in our own lives is to downplay our affiliation to Christianity, the church or God himself. Maybe this is because we don’t know what the consequences will be if we proclaim our faith, even though we are so blessed to live in a nation where our life is not on the line for what we believe. I’m sure each of us has been in a situation where proclaiming our faith would cost us in some way. Peter knew who Jesus was, yet still faltered in the face of serious danger. How amazing that Jesus did not give up on Peter! In fact, He used Peter mightily to build the early church. How grateful Peter must have been that Jesus did not count him out! 

God, even though I love you and want to live for you, I can think of times where I have not been outspoken or have been quiet for fear of how I would be perceived because of my faith in you. I am so grateful that you do not count me out. Thank you that you are a kind and gracious God, and that you continue to use all of us for your purpose. Help us Lord to live as you have called us to, as people who live for you in every way. Amen.

Written by Madelaine Tarasenko

3 replies

Want to join the discussion?

Tuesday 14 March 2023

Mark 14:22-25

22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

Mark is a non-stop action book! So much is reported in the first 7 chapters alone. So far, we have discovered that Jesus is the Son of God (Mark 1:11), the Messiah (Mark 1:8). He teaches with authority (Mark 1:22, 1:38) and he performs miracles of every kind – healing (Mark 1:32-34; 1:41-42, 3:5, 7:31-37, 8:22-26), delivering people from evil spirits (Mark 2:23-27, 5:1-18), calming the raging seas (4:41), walking on water (6:45-56), multiplying food (Mark 6:30-44, 8:1-13), and even raising people from the dead (Mark 5:21-34). Moreover, Jesus has come for the sinners, and he has the authority to forgive sins (Mark 2).  

In Mark 8 Jesus asks Peter a question, “who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” From Mark 8 onwards Jesus describes and shows what it means for him to be the Messiah. He reveals that the Messiah, the rescuer, is the ultimate suffering servant. He predicts his own death (8:31, 9:31, 10:32-34), and speaks of true discipleship as self-denial (8:34-38). In Mark 14 as the disciples share Jesus’ last Passover meal with him in Jerusalem, he makes his final teaching about his death. He makes it plain. He says to them about the bread “Take it; This is my body” and about the wine “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many …I will not drink again from the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (14:25). Jesus is going to die soon, and his death and resurrection will usher in the new kingdom of God on earth. 

Jesus the Messiah was able to do the impossible, yet he chose to die for us. To rescue us. The Kingdom of Heaven has been ushered in, on earth, through Christ. And it is an upside-down place where the last shall be first and the first shall be last.  

Jesus, please help me today to die to self and to follow you with all that I am and all that I have because you have paid the ultimate sacrifice for me. Thank you.  Amen 

Written by Ps Zoe Stewart

2 replies
  1. Sam S says:

    So much ‘action’ behind and leading up to this moment of the bread and wine! Help me to die to myself, Amen!

[comments closed]

Monday 13 March 2023

Mark 14:10-21

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

13 So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”

19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”

20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

This passage reminds me that Jesus is in control. He knows what the disciples will face when they enter the city to prepare a room for the Passover. He knows that one of His disciples will betray him. In this passage, Jesus demonstrates that He is in control of all things. We can be reassured that no matter our situation, we can trust that God is in control.

God, thank you that you are in control of all things. Thank you that you go before me and are with me in all things. Please help me to trust in you, to rely on your words and promises, and to follow you even in times of uncertainty. Amen.

Written by Ps. Andie Molteno

3 replies
  1. Sam S says:

    Jesus is in control, 100% – this passage is a real mind melter: Jesus hurtling towards betrayal and the cross, all things coming together for the staging of the ultimate tragedy… and then unstoppable triumph that follows – Jesus in control…

[comments closed]

Sunday 12 March 2023

Mark 14:1-9

1 Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”

3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

The woman in this passage of Scripture shows how much she loves and wants to honour Jesus, her saviour, by pouring out expensive perfume on Jesus.  It is estimated that the perfume was worth one year’s salary so it was a very extravagant thing to do and Jesus did not stop her.  No, despite what the disciples thought, Jesus said that this woman would be remembered for all time because she had done something wonderfully significant for him.

I am struck by how incredibly brave this woman must have been to anoint Jesus in this manner surrounded by his disciples and other guests.  She did not know how Jesus or any of the others would react to her way of worshipping but she pushed through her doubts and feelings and did it anyway.  I love that Jesus allowed her to come close to him and pour the perfume over him.  He knew her motives – pure love and gratitude I’d say. Jesus meant the world to this woman, her actions prove it.  Jesus saw the woman’s act as one of beauty and significance to him personally.  How special is that?  What believer doesn’t want to do something significant for Jesus? And the tip in this passage is that, “She did what she could.”  So my prayer today would be that we would be brave like the woman in this passage and recognise our opportunities to worship and honour Jesus.

Lord, thank you for the example of the woman with the alabaster jar.  Help us to honour and worship you the way she did by putting you first in our lives.  Amen

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

3 replies
  1. Claire Moore says:

    Beautiful. Her precious act was between her and Jesus in worship of him. Such sacrifice while others around them were only interested in the perceived waste.
    Thank you

  2. Elisabeth James says:

    How beautifully courageous this woman was, with such love for Jesus. I love this story. Thanks Ainsley for sharing❤️

[comments closed]