Opening the Word this morning we continue our journey through Jesus’ last days here on earth and move to the gospel of Mark. Immediately, Satan wants to take our focus off of the power of focusing our attention on preparing our hearts for Easter as he confronts us with the question: “Does the Bible contradict itself? At first it appears that the writers of the gospel of Matthew and Mark disagree regarding to when the temple was cleansed and how the incident with the cursing of the fig tree appeared. In addition, we will find out tomorrow and on Friday that Luke’s gospel only records the cleansing of the temple and John’s gospel does not include either. So whose word do we take as the truth? Matthew, Mark, Luke or John’s? The answer is we do not take either of their word for truth. We take GOD’s WORD for truth. Believing that the Bible was written under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit, there can be no errors or contradictions. Not that we have to give an explanation or have a viable reason before we can take God at His word, one of the better explanations I have heard regarding this issue is the following.
Pretend there was a car wreck that happened in the middle of an intersection. The witnesses from all four corners of the intersection give their report of how and when the wreck occurred to the police officer. Do all four witnesses give the same report? No. Why not? Each individual witnessed the wreck from a different side of the road. Therefore their vantage point was different. Taking this and applying it to the situation at hand with the gospels and the information recorded in each, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each at a separate and distinct vantage point to the events leading up to Christ’s death. As believer’s we must step out in faith and trust God at His word and be willing to continue to open up our hearts to the message He wants us to hear as we walk this road to Calvary.
So we begin. Please take a moment to read Mark’s account and reflect on what the Holy Spirit wants to teach you today as we draw nearer to the day of Christ’s death. While we are reading in Mark today, I have also included the correlating passages found in Matthew’s gospel for you to note that everything that is recorded in Mark is recorded in Matthew with one exception. We will camp out there when we get to it in our reading.
Barren Fig Tree is Cursed and Withered (Mark 11:12-14,20-26; Matthew 21:18-22)
Again, I am so thankful for Christ coming in the form of man in order to know He can relate to my humanness because He has experienced it Himself. I also take comfort in knowing Jesus told the disciples many things and even though they didn’t understand everything every time, the disciples did remember later the events and words of Jesus. So many times I read the Bible and don’t understand what it says, yet when I ask God, He is faithful to provide and answer. “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6)
Cleansing the Temple Complex (Mark 11:15-19; Matthew 21:12-13)
Messiah’s Authority challenged (Mark 11:27-33; Matthew 21:23-26)
Parable of the Vineyard Owner (Mark 12:1-12; Matthew 21:33-46)
God and Caesar (Mark 12:13-17; Matthew 22:15-22)
Sadducees and the Resurrection (Mark 12:18-27; Matthew 22:23-33)
Primary Commandments (Mark 12:28-34; Matthew 22:34-40)
Question about the Messiah (Mark 12:35-37; Matthew 22:41-46)
Warning against the scribes (Mark 12:38-40; Matthew 23:5-7, 14)
Just as in the gospel of Matthew, Mark records several encounters with the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians in front of the crowds at the temple. If Jesus knew they were intent on killing Him, why did Jesus insist on continuing to put His life at greater risk? Why didn’t He stay on the outskirts of Jerusalem and let the crowds come to Him to hear Him speak? I think Jesus wanted the crowds to hear the questions of the religious leaders of Jerusalem. By allowing the leaders to present the question, the crowds were able to decide and make a distinction for themselves between the old law, that followed by the religious leaders and the new law, that which Christ came to fulfill and to give to those who would believe. Christ was not forcing His power of the crowds, but revealing the true hearts of the Jewish leaders.
The Widow’s Gift (Mark12:41-44)
It is in this passage Mark makes a distinction between his account and Matthew’s. My first reaction to this passage is it reminds me of the scene in Matthew when the children are shouting `Hosanna to the Son of David!’ and the scribes trying to get Jesus to hush them. I believe Jesus cherished the seemingly, small insignificant acts that were going on around Him during his last days. Jesus loves the little children and the widow who approached the temple treasury did not go unnoticed by Him either. Sometimes we may feel that even God doesn’t hear or see us, but He does. We cannot escape His presence. “The Lord looks down from heaven; He observes everyone” (Psalm 33:13).
Secondly, Jesus wanted to make sure His disciples did not miss this seemingly small sacrifice. Jesus knew after He was resurrected and the disciples began the ministry of sharing the gospel, it would be easy to get so busy they would not notice the small acts of kindness, sacrifices, and love demonstrated by so many around them. Jesus took the time to disciple His followers and teaches them what was truly important.
Destruction of the Temple Predicted (Mark 13:1-2; Matthew 24:1-8)
Signs of the End of the Age (Mark 13:3-8; Matthew 24:3-8)
Persecutions Predicted (Mark 13:9-13; Matthew 24:9-14)
The Great Tribulation (Mark 13:14-23; Matthew 24:15-28)
The Coming of the Son of Man (Mark 13:24-27; Matthew 24:29-31)
The Parable of the Fig Tree (Mark 13:28-31; Matthew 24:32-35)
No One Knows the Day or Hour (Mark 13:32-37; Matthew 24:36-44)
The last accounts written in Mark correspond to the same ones recorded in Matthew. As readers and believers in Christ, one must acknowledge the importance of knowing for sure Jesus will return! Whereas, Jesus’ words first give pause to fear of the end times, we take comfort in knowing Jesus cares so much for us, He gave us the warning signs and what to do about it. “And you must watch! I have told you in advance” (Mark 13:23).
Still not sure about losing control of your life and handing it over to a God who loves you? Just as the widow gave all she could give, God gave us even more. He gave us His one and only Son. Take a step of faith and give Him your life, no matter how great or small. No matter how rich or poor. No matter how knowledgeable or ignorant. God is waiting for you to cry out to Him and accept His gift this Easter.
My Heart’s Prayer: "God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You. I thirst for You; my body faints for You in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water. So I gaze on You in the sanctuary to see Your strength and Your glory. (Psalm 63:1-2). Lord, help me to seek you throughout the day today. Help me to see You, Your strength, and Your glory in the day to day activities today. Help me not to miss the seemingly small and insignificant details of the day. I love you Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen.