Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 240

1 Peter 3:8-17

Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Of first importance Christians are to have unity of mind that is evidenced in empathy, compassion, and humbleness — this in the face of persecution.
  8. Christians are not to be vengeful or retaliatory, which would only provoke like behavior, but rather we are to bless those who persecute us. (see Matthew 5:10)
  9. Peter finds support in Psalm 34:12-16 for his counsel to the followers of Jesus as seen in verses 10 to 12.
  10. Peter, experiencing persecution under Rome’s Nero, knows that making Rome the enemy is not an acceptable Christian response.
  11. There will be persecution, it is probable not just possible, thus should be expected. Christians are right then in defending themselves, being ready to give an answer for their trusting in Jesus. And this “apologetic” must be prepared in advance.
  12. The Christian defense must be made with gentleness and respect. How few of us are able to do this? is a question that comes to mind. Here is the test of genuine Christ likeness and empowering by the Holy Spirit.
  13. Christians will be slandered, and who of us have not done this to Christians in our pre-Christian lives?
  14. Good, Christ-like living, will be reviled, made fun of, and the way we receive this may be a witness for Christ.
  15. Being slandered and persecuted for standing by our confession may be God’s will for us then after all.

The Long Endings of Mark

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 239

The Gospel of Mark 16:9-20

The Long Endings of Mark

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer

4     Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.

  1. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  2. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  3. Does Mark’s Gospel end at verse 8? The preponderance of manuscript evidence suggests that it did. Was a page lost? — Some say yes, others think one or more endings were added later on. There is no firm answer here.
  4. There is a long history that verses 9-20 describe some of the thinking of the early church. We turn now to these.
  5. Verses 9-11 have Mary Magdalene meeting Jesus and John 20:11 says outside the tomb. Mary then goes to the eleven, or more, to tell them and finds them mourning and weeping, only to have them not believe her. These verses have a “ring of truth” despite the lack of manuscript credential.
  6. Verses 12-13 describes Jesus appearing to two other disciples who have left Jerusalem, who then turn back and report they had seen Jesus. Again, the disciples reject it. This is likely Jesus meeting two disciple on the road to Emmaus, see Luke 24:13-35. Here again is the “ring of truth” despite the lack of manuscript credential.
  7. Verses 14-20 reports on the appearance of Jesus to the eleven who have recovered enough to be having a meal. He launches into a sharp rebuke of them for their lack of faith.
  8. Verse 15 has a version of the Great Commission and is vintage Jesus. Follows then is a list of signs and wonders that accompany the mission work–some of which seem incredible. Yet, there is that “ring of truth.”
  9. Last the ascension, standard, and a report of what followed.

 

Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost-part 1

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 6

Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost-part 1

Acts 2:14-28

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Peter is the first to preach a real Christian sermon. He stands with the “eleven” though there were now twelve; Peter does not stand alone.
  8. After a proper greeting he makes the first Christian “apology” or defense, which in this case was that the men speaking in tongues were not drunk—too early in the morning for that.
  9. He quotes Joel 2:28-32, where the prophet Joel tells of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit—even poured out on slaves so it is not surprising that even Galilean fishermen should experience it.
  10. The second part of Joel’s prophecy has to do with the Day of Yahweh (see Isaiah 13:9-11)—judgment day, thus what Peter is about to declare is of upmost importance.
  11. Next Peter proceeds with an outline of the person and work of Jesus the Messiah, a pattern preachers have followed ever since. Jesus, attested by God with powerful signs and wonders, and which the hearers knew about.
  12. Then the core of the sermon—the killing of Jesus, His actual and real death, brought about by the hands of sinners (the religious leaders as well as the Romans)—and yet has been raised by God. Implied then is that Jesus is alive.
  13. Peter shows from Psalm 16:1-11 that this resurrection was foretold by David. It cannot then be denied.
  14. What an impact, due to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, must have come

upon the hearers. The Messiah of God had been killed but is yet alive.

The Resurrection, Mark 16:1-8

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 238

Mark 16:1-8

The Resurrection

(Also see: Matthew 27:62–66, 28:1–10; Luke 24:1–11)

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Jesus had already stated He would be crucified and be raised from the dead. (see Luke 24:6-7)
  7. Monday morning, 3 women set off to anoint Jesus’ body with spices, unaware that Nicodemus had already done so. (see John 19:39) This was commonly practiced among the Jews.
  8. The women did not expect or anticipate the resurrection.
  9. The sun had just risen when the women arrived and they were worried about the stone sealing the tomb; it was very heavy.
  10. It is not stated in Scripture exactly when Jesus was raised from the dead. Was it that very Sunday morning or earlier—this is not known. “Was raised” is an aorist passive indicative verb, meaning that Jesus did not raise Himself but was raised.
  11. The stone had been rolled away and the 3 women entered the tomb. On the “right” side, not sure what “right side” might indicate, but there on the dais, where the body would have been, sat a “young man.” All four Gospel writers say something different— one young man, two young men, one angel, two angels—likely the angels looked like men and one spoke so one only mentioned, but there were two.
  12. The angel(s) invites the women to see for themselves; there is not body at all to be found. (Only the burial shroud would be there.)

The disciples, and Peter is specially mentioned, are to be told that Jesus would see them in Galilee. All the disciples had fled, with the exception of young John, yet they were all still His disciples. And the women are afraid. And on that note, that preposition, the Gospel of Mark ends.

Jesus is Buried Mark 15:42-47

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 237

Mark 15:42-47

Jesus is Buried

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Friday evening, observant Jews were now busy making preparations for the Sabbath and this one, a high holy Sabbath day because of the Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread, was about to begin.
  7. Joseph of Arimathea, a town the location of which is unknown but likely near modern Tel Aviv, goes to Pilate and asks for the body of Jesus. (Roman practice was to let the body decay on the cross.)
  8. He was a disciple of Jesus (John 19:38) in addition to being a member of the Sanhedrin. Without that status it is doubtful he would have had access to Pilate.
  9. Joseph might well have been one who saw in John the Baptist to be the one prophesied in Malachi who would come to announce the arrival of the Messiah.
  10. Pilate was surprised to hear Jesus was already dead and so asked the centurion, who had been in charge of the execution detail, to make sure Jesus was actually dead.
  11. John 11:31–37 tells us of the certainty that Jesus was dead; His legs did not need to be broken to expedite His death, per Psalm 34:20.
  12. Joseph buys a linen shroud to bury Jesus in —Is this the Shroud of Turin? Jesus is buried in the tomb of a rich man though Himself is judged a criminal. (see Isaiah 53:9)
  13. Buried in Joseph’s tomb, sealed, secured, and night falls, which marks the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Our attention is called now to Romans 6:1-11.
  14. The burial is observed however, which sets the stage for something unheard of.

 

The Crucifixion Mark 15:21-32

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 235

The Crucifixion

Mark 15:21–32

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Simon of Cyrene (Libya) arrived for Passover just as Jesus is being lead away to be executed. (His son Rufus became well known in the early church, see Romans 16:13.)
  7. Golgotha (Aramaic)—means skull. The Greek version is cavalaria from which we get Calvary.
  8. The “women of Jerusalem” had empathy for those about to be executed and provided them with a mixture of wine and myrrh, which deadened the mind to pain. Jesus refused it and thus experienced the full measure of suffering.
  9. Psalm 22, written 1000 years before the event, in detail describes the death of a person crucified. Crucifixion learned by the Greeks from the Persians and the Romans from the Greeks.
  10. The third hour—Jewish time, our 9 am. John 19:14 has the sixth hour—Roman time, our 9 am.
  11. The inscription, a normal practice, was written in Aramaic, Greek, and Latin, and stated why Jesus was being crucified – Jesus is a revolutionary, an insurrectionist against Rome.
  12. Two robbers or insurrectionists are on either side. Was the center cross meant for Barabbas? Mark does not tell us that one of these would be in paradise with Jesus that very day. (see Luke 23:43)
  13. Verse 28, in some versions, is not original to Mark.
  14. Passersby accused Jesus of being a liar and a loser. The ‘near-dead’ revile the Word of Life.
  15. A miracle was what they wanted, what we always want; had there been one, then no substitutionary atonement.
  16. Salvation is never by proof, but only by the Holy Spirit.

 

Introduction to the Book of Acts

Gospel Meditation on Acts #1

An Introduction

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Part 2 of a two volume work is the Book of Acts.
  7. Lucas, or Luke, (name meaning ‘Light Giving’), a Gentile perhaps from Antioch of Syria; as a physician, likely having graduated from one of the universities of that day, maybe of Alexandria, Rome, or Tarsus, his home town.
  8. He may have been a proselyte of Judaism or a “God-fearer’. Less is known of him than any other Gospel writer.
  9. Acts is the longest book in the New Testament, 1007 verses. It has the best Greek in the N.T. Luke was a careful researcher, a reliable historian, having talked with a number of the Twelve including Mary the mother of Jesus. Luke is correct in his times, places, and persons.
  10. The “we” passages of Acts, like in 16:10, indicate he was a companion of Paul on at least two missionary trips.
  11. Luke was faithful to Paul—“Luke alone is with me” Paul tells Timothy, 2 Timothy 4:11.
  12. Luke abruptly ends his narrative of the early church probably about A.D. 62 or 63 while Paul was under house arrest in Rome. The book covers part of the history of the church from A.D. 30 to 63.
  13. “Acts”—the question is, Whose acts? The Apostles, the Holy Spirit, the early church, or the working of the early church to fulfill Acts 1:8?
  14. Acts 1:8 may be the key verse in all of the Book of Acts.
  15. There was no title or name of author on the book; these became attached to Acts after the middle of the 2nd How much we owe Brother Luke!

 

The Promise of the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:1-5

GOSPEL MEDITATION on Acts # 2

Acts 1:1-5

(Also see Jer. 31:31-34, Ez. 36:22-26; & Joel 2:28-29)

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Volume 2 from Luke. First the account of Jesus’ words and deeds then the record or how part of the Church covered by Luke began to carry out the charge He gave that Church.
  8. After the ascension Jesus appeared to the apostles, and a host of others for forty days from Passover, proving that He was indeed alive. The Greek word for “alive” in verse 3 is from zoe meaning life in its complete, fullest sense.
  9. The chosen, hand picked, received His words. Today we are the chosen, and we still hear His words.
  10. Jesus talked to His disciples about “the kingdom of God” during those forty days. What was He saying to them? is a question not easily answered. A best guess is that it is what we have Jesus saying as recorded in the Gospels.
  11. Jesus gave orders, (verse 4) and so He will since He is Lord. Knowing this makes so much difference while living in such a confused world. The order was to wait for the “promise of the Father.” This promise is spoken of in the prophetic passages, among others, listed above.
  12. Jesus had affirmed the empowering event of the Holy Spirit in Matthew 3:1-12. Soon (it would be in10 days) this promise would be made real—the Holy Spirit’s baptism.
  13. Indeed, the apostles, and by extension we as well, will be baptized IN (not with as found in many translations), that is, plunged into and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

 

Pilate Delivers Jesus to be Crucified & Jesus is Mocked

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 234

Pilate Delivers Jesus to be Crucified & Jesus is Mocked

Mark 15:6-20

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. At the feast of Passover Pilate had begun a tradition of releasing one prisoner selected by the people. There was a notorious “rebel” not robber as in most English translations, named Barabbas (Aramaic for “son of the father”).
  7. At this time Pilate hopes the crowd/mob will select Jesus to be released. Pilate asks if they want the “King of the Jews” set free. But it was not to be and we are not privy to the machinations beyond the scenes.
  8. Pilate goes so far as to ask what the crowd what they wanted to do with Jesus, perhaps trying to find a way out of the mess he was in.
  9. “Crucify him” is the single shout; Pilate wants to know what evil he has done. Just more, “Crucify him.”
  10. Pilate plays every inch the politician, and for unknown reasons orders Jesus to be scourged, which kills many.
  11. This event takes place in the open air, but now the soldiers take Jesus out of view, into the governor’s palace, to be mocked by the whole garrison of Roman soldiers, and this after He had been scourged.
  12. What evil lies within us that we, and we must say—“we”— could do such a thing. We do not understand neither the depths of our own depravity nor the influence of that “hideous strength”.
  13. A purple cloak or gown, the color of royalty as a king would wear, is placed on Jesus. The soldiers knelt down before Him, as they will do again one day and that on the judgment day. Little did they know. Will they will recall that day? I suspect so.

Now Jesus is taken away, bloody and bruised, but not humiliated or defeated.

Jesus Before Pilate Mark 15:1-15

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 233

Mark 15:1-15

Jesus before Pilate

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Friday morning early, the Sanhedrin is ready to proceed with the killing of Jesus. Bound once more, Jesus is taken to Pilate.
  7. Mark cuts right to the critical question. Pilate asks: “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus quickly and assertively answers “yes.”
  8. Why the chief priestly faction continued to accuse Jesus is not plain. But Pilate must have seen something so he asks Jesus if He has anything to say. Jesus, to Pilate’s surprise, remains silent.
  9. It so happened that a tradition had developed, which Pilate may have initiated, that a prisoner would be released at the Feast of Passover—perhaps a good will gesture to appease the Jewish population.
  10. Barabbas, meaning ‘son of the father,’ a notorious revolutionary who had failed in a murderous attempt to revolt against Rome, was a possible candidate to be freed.
  11. Pilate saw a chance to escape having to hand Jesus over to be crucified, so in desperation because he did not want to see Jesus dead (see Matthew 27:19) wanted to grant the release of Jesus. The crowd would not have it and all the more demanded that Jesus be put to death.
  12. The Mob mentality had taken hold and there might have been some of Barabbas’ followers amongst those shouting to have Jesus crucified, not mentioned in the text, and Pilate the politician gave in. We must wonder what we might have done.
  13. The stage is now completely set—Jesus would die.