Red Letter Year: 2/27

Mark 14:53-72

53 They took Jesus to the high priest’s home where the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law had gathered. 54 Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and went right into the high priest’s courtyard. There he sat with the guards, warming himself by the fire.

55 Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find evidence against Jesus, so they could put him to death. But they couldn’t find any. 56 Many false witnesses spoke against him, but they contradicted each other. 57 Finally, some men stood up and gave this false testimony: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this Temple made with human hands, and in three days I will build another, made without human hands.’” 59 But even then they didn’t get their stories straight!

60 Then the high priest stood up before the others and asked Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” 61 But Jesus was silent and made no reply. Then the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

62 Jesus said, “I Am. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

63 Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Why do we need other witnesses? 64 You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?”

“Guilty!” they all cried. “He deserves to die!” 65 Then some of them began to spit at him, and they blindfolded him and beat him with their fists. “Prophesy to us,” they jeered. And the guards slapped him as they took him away.

66 Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard below. One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by 67 and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, “You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth.”

68 But Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, and he went out into the entryway. Just then, a rooster crowed.

69 When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!” 70 But Peter denied it again. A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, “You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.”

71 Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.

Comments

Not a lot of red letters today. Not a lot of truth telling in this passage. As is too often the case, the “trial” features leaders looking for something to give them an excuse to do what they want, something to support a decision they have already made. When you are only looking and listening for what you want to see and hear, you are blind and deaf to the truth, even when it is plainly stated to you. All of the secrecy about Jesus’ identity that Mark kept emphasizing pays off here in the most direct statement in all the Gospels. Jesus finally lays all his cards on the table and comes clean with the religious leaders. But they weren’t looking for truth and they didn’t want a Messiah. They aren’t the only ones short on truth here. Their falsehood is mirrored by Peter’s, who seems to be the only one of the twelve who didn’t completely desert Jesus, but whose courage fails under the ‘harsh interrogation’ of a servant girl. We can so easily wind up in one of these untruth traps, where our own thinking blinds us to truth or our own fear leads us to deny or disclaim what we know is true. When we are plainly told and can’t see it. When we are plainly asked and can’t say it. It takes a lot of courage to accept truth (especially uncomfortable truth, but it always takes some measure of courage) and even more to share it. I hope we are brave enough for both.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Red Letter Year: 2/26

Mark 14:32-52

32 They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.”33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. 34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

35 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 36 “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

37 Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 38 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

39 Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. 40 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say.

41 When he returned to them the third time, he said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

43 And immediately, even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders. 44 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss. Then you can take him away under guard.” 45 As soon as they arrived, Judas walked up to Jesus. “Rabbi!” he exclaimed, and gave him the kiss.

46 Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 47 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.

48 Jesus asked them, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? 49 Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there among you teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me.”

50 Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away. 51 One young man following behind was clothed only in a long linen shirt. When the mob tried to grab him, 52 he slipped out of his shirt and ran away naked.

Comments

Has your soul ever felt crushed with grief to the point of death? Mine has. And you know, once you feel something, you always know what it feels like. You can go back to that emotional place without too much effort, especially if it was a strong emotion. Oh God, please make the pain stop. That’s what Jesus is praying in the garden. I’ve prayed the same thing. You may have too. And you know, it helps to talk to someone who has been through it, someone who can sit in that emotional place with you because they’ve been there, they know the terrain. Jesus knows what’s it like to beg God for something only to have God not answer. Deserted by sleepy-headed friends and left alone to face the worst. Suffer the irony of an affectionate betrayal. That emotional place, the Gethsemane of your soul, Jesus will sit there with you for an hour or as long as you need. Without falling asleep. Without condescending or judging you. Without betraying you. Never deserting you. Gethsemane wasn’t a one time deal for Jesus. He will walk through it with you. He knows the way.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.