Monday February 29- Judas: Odd Man Out 

Gratitude

Spend five minutes focusing on a couple of things you appreciate and thank God for them.

Word

Mark 14:10-11

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Him to them. When they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him silver. So he looked for how he might conveniently betray Him.

Who is Judas?

Judas was the only disciple not from Galilee. He was from Kerioth. This was a village outside of Hebron, 19 miles south of Jerusalem. Hebron is the second holiest city in Judaism. It is purported to be where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob and families are buried.

So, if you are from Kerioth, you would follow very closely the traditions and rules. The Temple and what it represented would have been honored and cherished by Judas, and he would fit perfectly with the whole Jerusalem vibe.

Jesus and the other 11 disciples are all Galileans. They couldn’t be more different. They are from out of the way Galilee, considered a bunch of hillbilly’s by the Jerusalem/ Hebron crowd. They didn’t mind.

Far from the corporate headquarters of Jerusalem, the branch office of Galilee could do what they want. This shows with the loosey goosey way they kept the traditions. Jesus and the disciples are always getting criticized for not following the correct rules.

So, Judas didn’t think like the Galileans. He didn’t even have their accent. He was the odd man out when it comes to Galilee, where they spent most of their time. Tradition-bound Judas was out of his element.

But in Jerusalem it is different. Judas is on home court. He is the one who can easily fit in. It’s not surprising he would get to talk to the chief priests because Kerioth is considered somewhat of a royal town. And so he does. He has a plan.

Me

What are traditions you have in your faith life? What does it feel like when others don’t follow your traditions?

Thursday February 25- What does God have for you to do?

Gratitude

Spend five minutes focusing on a couple of things you appreciate and thank God for them.

Word

Mark 14:6-9

6‘ Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. ‘Why make trouble for her? She has done a wonderful thing for me. 7 You have the poor with you always; you can help them whenever you want to. But you won’t always have me. 8‘ She has played her part. She has anointed my body for its burial, ahead of time. 9 I’m telling you the truth: wherever the message is announced in all the world, the story of what she has just done will be told. That will be her memorial.’

Content- Perceiving God at work

Jesus gives insight into what is really happening with the precious ointment. Mary is getting him ready for his burial. She doesn’t consciously know this, but Jesus does. This is confirmation for Jesus that God really is behind the events that are happening to him during Holy Week. 

We have to realize Jesus is a human being, as well as divine. Paul gives us the best statement on this with his song from Philippians 2.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 

Jesus emptied himself of his divinity when he is on earth. The miracles and such are as a human perfectly in tune with the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t know Mary is going to do this anointing. Such an amazing act of worship must have been very encouraging. His confidence in what is coming is built up and he declares that for such a case, Mary is fulfilling a destiny God has in store for her and it will be known eternally. 

Me

God has a purpose for you in his plan. He has something in mind for you to accomplish which is one reason why you are still alive on earth. What is God preparing you for? 

Wednesday February 24- Extravagant Worship

Gratitude

Spend five minutes focusing on a couple of things you appreciate and thank God for them.

Word

Mark 14:4-5

4 Some of the people there grumbled to one another. ‘What’s the point of wasting the ointment?’ they asked. 5‘ That ointment could have been sold for a year’s wages, and given to the poor.’ And they were angry with her.

 

Content- Worship is personal

We enjoy criticizing other people when it comes to the money they spend. If they are going into debt, of course it is a concern. But, we criticize people for spending what they do have? When did that all of a sudden become our concern?

In the case of criticizing Mary for anointing Jesus, if you are so concerned about the poor, why not give more of your own money to that cause?

On another level, let’s get beyond the money theme here and realize Mary is anointing Jesus as an act of declaring his worthiness. Worthy enough to warrant a 30-50k dollar gift. It is an act of devotion and gratitude to the one who brings new life into her life. Mary is giving an example of extravagant worship and she is being criticized for it.

What about today? What do we criticize about others when it comes to worshiping Jesus?

Stop it.

We are always going to be wrong.

 

We are trying to tell someone else how they are supposed to show their gratitude to Jesus. We do not have a say about someone else’s heart.  Only God does.

Me

If you attend a worship service this week, imagine Jesus is there in front of you. Imagine he knows what you are thinking. He is and he does. Now, what is he thinking about your worship personally? 

Tuesday February 23- Mary Magdalene

Gratitude

Spend five minutes focusing on a couple of things you appreciate and thank God for them.

Word

Mark 14:3-5

Jesus was in Bethany, at the house of Simon the leper. While he was at table, a woman came up with an alabaster pot containing extremely valuable ointment made of pure spikenard. She broke the pot and poured the ointment on Jesus’ head. 

Content- Quit making stuff up

What do you think of when I say two words?

“Mary Magdalene.”

If you immediately think of a former prostitute who is now Jesus’ friend- “BZZZZZZZZZ” Wrong!

Nowhere in the Bible does it say anything about Mary being a prostitute. She had demons attached to her until Jesus released her from them. That’s it. Not a hooker or a “loose woman” in sight.

Now, Mary Magdalene is an important person in Jesus’ life. She is mentioned about as much as anyone in the New Testament. She also is the first person to announce the resurrection of Jesus. The first evangelist, if you like. But, there still is this “image” problem…

You can thank the over sexualized imaginations of Christians in the Middle Ages for going all “Pretty Woman” on us.

Now, with the woman anointing Jesus with expensive ointment, this is a different Mary anyway. This story is recorded in all four Gospels. In John, we see this is Mary the sister of Lazarus and Martha, a dear friend  of Jesus, as well. 

Me

Pray for our society every time you see a sexualized advertisement today.

Monday February 22- Jesus and the Temple

Gratitude

Spend five minutes focusing on a couple of things you appreciate and thank God for them.

Mark 14:1-2

Passover – the feast of unleavened bread – was due in two days. The chief priests and the lawyers were plotting how to seize Jesus by a trick, and kill him. ‘We can’t do it at the feast,’ they said. ‘The people might riot.’

Content- Jesus and the Temple

Jesus has predicted the destruction of the Temple by pagan enemies. Jesus has acted this out his own disruption of the Temple operations. He drives out the moneychangers.

Jesus vs. Temple is the main event. A key charge against him. This false Messiah is set on disrupting the whole Jewish sacrificial system. From the slaughter of the lambs at the original Exodus to the slaughter of lambs for the coming Passover, who is he to mess with over 1000 years of history? 

Well, he must be someone who is being listened to by someone. A potential riot with a city full of people? Why isn’t everyone backing the establishment? For the status quo to remain, this rebel must go. 

The dark clouds are gathering.

The Romans will get rid of the Temple some day, but what’s the rush? They will get rid Jesus first, very soon. 

Me

Ever notice how all the “false messiahs” who are going to save the world eventually get to violence as one of their tools of choice? Bring a sense of peace into someone’s life today.

There’s Always Pain

Friday February 19

Gratitude

Spend five minutes focusing on a couple of things you appreciate and thank God for them.

Word

Mark 13:8

But this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

Content 

There’s always pain

The key to Jesus talking about the end of the world, the Apocalypse, the end times and all the rest is this: It’s exactly the opposite of what you think.

Whenever Jesus is speaking about being prepared it is not for the end. It is the beginning. The new creation. Jesus set everything in motion with his death and resurrection and God’s new Kingdom has begun. Yes, there will be wars and famines and even earthquakes. Families will be torn apart. People will die because they trust in Jesus. 

Oh, wait, all this has been going on since the time of Jesus and still goes on today. So, when is the end coming?

It isn’t.

The pain and struggle of the world are real. God uses us to do something about it. We love and bring joy and hope in spite of the pain because we know a new life is coming. Like a mother going through birth pains, we don’t panic. She knows what is coming. She waits for amazing new life to begin.

We wait and we love, and we bless, and we share. We are prepared.

Me

Who do you know who is pregnant or who has just recently given birth? Do something kind for her. 

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Our sister, Helene Halter, died peacefully early this morning, February 18. We trust God’s comfort, strength and assurance to be with Jeff, family and friends as we mourn the death of Helene.

Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.

Daniel 12:3

We continue to lift Jeff up in our prayers. We will know Memorial Service information shortly.