The Suffering Servant

This Sunday we’ll be reading about the trial of Jesus before Pontius Pilate as we continue our study in Mark. We’ll be reading Mark 15:1-20.

This is the moment when Jesus is confronted by the combined forces of broken religion, politics and social behavior. In a sort of perfect storm, as religion and politics vie for superior power and control, Jesus is caught in the middle of the machinations – suffering injustice, prejudice, accusation and condemnation, which will lead to his death on the cross.

Here, is radiant contrasts, we see the distinction between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of humanity.

As you read through this section, what do you notice about Jesus? What does he do, and what is done to him?

Consider the accusations, the prisoner exchange and torture piled up on Jesus; what picture might it give you about what it is that God was accomplishing through Christ on our behalf? Think about that crown of thorns laid on his head. It was a parody of Caesar’s wreath crown. It was intended as ironic mockery. I believe God was communicating something else. Read Gen 3:17-19. What else might that crown symbolize, and what can it tell us about the purpose of Jesus’ suffering this way as our substitute?

I don’t understand the mechanics of all of this. I still find it fascinating that for 2,000 plus years people of faith have found something powerful and life-changing in this scene of brutality. I’m one of those. I can’t explain exactly what happened that terrible Friday, but I believe it changed the world, and I know it changed me.

We’ll contemplate the implications of this on Sunday – hope to see you then!

The Perfect Storm

“Why is this happening!? I determined to serve the Lord and live the way he calls me to…and then WHAMO! I get hit with these terrible circumstances! Am I out of God’s will somehow? What is this supposed to teach me? Why am I not being blessed?”

Ever think those thoughts whilst going through a rough patch in life? I know I have. I think its pretty much a human thing to equate being in God’s will and knowing his blessing with smooth sailing and calm seas. But what we have to come to grips with, and fast, is that sometimes God’s will includes stormy seas.

We’ll be reading about that in our current study in the book of Acts, as we read Acts 27:1-26 this Sunday.

There’s a lot of action in this section – which is a nice change from the multiple trial accounts we previously were reading. I really enjoy this section, not just because it’s an interesting and exciting story, nor just because its a fascinating look into ancient maritime practices – but because it reads like such a true analogy for life.

Read through the story and imagine all the accounts are mirroring the events we experience in our daily lives.

In v 13 the sailors and crew are feeling pretty good about life – the breeze is gentile and moving them in the right direction. That’s what we all want, isn’t it? We naturally assume that’s what God wants for us as well.

But things suddenly change – the weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed….and you know the rest.

The reactions of the sailors act out our own responses to times of trouble. As you read through the verses, specifically v15-20, notice the various attempts that are made to secure their situation. How do these attempts mirror the way we try to handle life’s difficulties?

V25 informs us of Paul’s response after getting an encouraging message from God. “…take heart men, for I have faith in God….”. Where does Paul make that bold statement of trust? What does that tell us about the necessity of storms when it comes to the development of patterns of trust in our lives?

I’m really looking forward to this section – hope to see you this Sunday!