Friday- You Can’t Make This Stuff Up 

Mark 14:71-72

Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” 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.

So there you have it. One lie, two lies, three lies. And then let’s throw a curse in there, too.

What’s fascinating with all that is going on with Peter is how the actions of Jesus and Peter are a case of opposites. Think about it.

Praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asks God to take the cup of suffering away from him three times. But he will do what God wills.

Peter denies the man he calls, “Messiah,” three times.

Peter strikes out in violent attack. Jesus doesn’t raise a finger. Peter blurts out, “I don’t know the man!” Jesus remains silent.

Suddenly Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Three times…”

How does Mark know what flashed through Peter’s mind? Well, Peter is one of Mark’s key sources for his Gospel. Peter knows what flashes through his own mind. And Peter has indeed brought a curse down on himself. It’s not just lying. He is betraying his best friend.

This is the worst thing you can do. Turn your back on your best friend. Humiliating.

That’s what makes this all the more powerful. We are reading the beginning foundational history of the whole Christian movement, the Gospel of Mark. Peter, one of the key sources of the Gospel is also one of the key founders himself. Peter makes sure that every generation afterward gets to read about him at his absolute worst.

What leader wants to put his failure in the “Articles of Incorporation” to be read and read forever?

Betraying the one who means everything to him.

Having his arrogance and bluster be stamped out by his fear.

Peter is as bad Judas.

And that’s just what Jesus doesn’t need.

You see, just like Peter, Jesus is tired, Jesus is stressed out, and Jesus is all alone.

So, Judas betrays him.

The rest of his followers desert him. And now, the only one left, his best friend, the one whom Jesus has invested in more than any other, “Denied.”

Why does Peter allow these words to be written? Who casts themselves in such a horrible light?

Someone who knows something about forgiveness.

This isn’t the end of the story

But you will have to wait until next Sunday to find out how this story ends.

Me

Why did those who wrote the Bible, especially those telling their own story, show so many key leaders messing up all the time, including themselves? What other sacred books do that? Trick question…

LIFEhouse God Time-Thursday- Lies: Our Antidote for Fear

Mark 14:68-70 

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.

When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!” 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.”

The people in the courtyard are probably all from Jerusalem. These are the high society folks. Galilee, however, is considered Hicksville. To be from Galilee is what you would call back woods.  They dress differently than the Judeans. Galilean’s speak with an accent. Galileans probably think the people of Jerusalem speak with an accent, but that’s not the point. The point is, if Peter would only have kept quiet in the first place, accent or not.

But, that’s not Peter.

He acts impulsively.

He drops his fishing net and jumps in the water to follow Jesus.

He jumps in the water again later. Well, not in the water, but he walks on the water for a bit, just like his master.

And of course, his latest impulse action is to slice of a guy’s ear. But, Peter also speaks impulsively.

Or at least that is what Jesus thinks. More than once, Jesus has had to tell Peter, “You don’t know what you are talking about.”

And now, how ironic for Peter to be using those same words with the servant girl and the crowd.

“I don’t know what you are talking about.”

O, O, here we go.

The trouble with lying is, once you lie, you keep on lying. Lying is the language of fear.

And one of the greatest fears is getting caught. We learn that from day one.

You don’’t want to get in trouble? Just lie. That will do the trick. And if the first time it doesn’t work, lie some more. Young children are expert liars.

Parents correct their lying tendencies. but it doesn’t always get better.

For many children, when they grow into adults the lying doesn’t stop. Just pay attention to the news on any given day. The fear of getting caught. Lies, lies, and more lies.

For impetuous Peter, there is going to be a reckoning. He starts denying he knows Jesus and a rooster crows. It doesn’t matter. Once the lies start, Peter blows right by the prophesy.

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” even though they are talking about his best friend.

Me

The next time you have the urge to lie, think about why you need to lie. What is a better way?

Tuesday- A Recipe for Disaster- LIFEhouse God Time

Mark 14:53-54

They took Jesus to the high priest’s home where the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law had gathered. 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.

Can you imagine what it was like for Peter at this very moment? His adrenaline is off the charts. He has just attacked a whole group of bodyguards and cut off a guy’s ear.

But, Jesus isn’t pleased by this and he tells Peter to put away his sword. Then Jesus is led away to the house of Caiaphas. Earlier, it says in the Gospel of Mark that all the disciples ran away when Jesus is arrested. Well, not necessarily. Peter sticks around with his best friend, or at least follows him to the high priest’s house.

Peter is filled with stress. He is tired. It’s early morning and he has been up for about 24 hours. He is there all alone, his master and friend nearby but Peter can’t do anything about it.

These are all recipes for Peter to make a big error in judgment. The times when we get into trouble the most are when we are stressed out, tired, and lonely.

When we are tired, stressed, lonely and I will add hungry, we do well to be very careful. We are super vulnerable to doing something or saying something we are going to regret. Peter will soon find this out.

Me

One of the best things you can do when you are stressed out and tired is take a walk…Take a walk.

Monday- Speaking For and Forth

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

Mark 14:27-31

On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.’

But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”

Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.”

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.”

“No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same.

Here we see Jesus is practicing prophesy.  In the Bible, prophesy is understood in two ways.

First, prophesy is speaking for. A person is chosen by God to speak for him. Sometimes this is a general message for everyone. Sometimes you yourself might have a prophetic word from God for someone specific.

This doesn’t have to be something momentous. The walls don’t have to come tumbling down. Just pay attention.

Second, prophesy is speaking forth. This happens when a prophet makes a prediction about something that is coming in the future.

We make such a magical thing out of prophesy that we don’t realize, God is speaking to us all the time, usually in our thinking. We just don’t realize it’s God or we just aren’t too good at listening.

Well Jesus is a prophet and he is speaking forth to Peter. It is not a word Peter wants to hear.

“Three times I will deny you. Never!”

Peter’s not going to get his prophecy right.

Me

When you encourage someone because God gives you a slight “nudge” to do it, that’s prophecy. A huge blessing. Who is God nudging you to encourage today?

Thursday March 17- Jesus on the Throne

Gratitude

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

Word

Mark 14:62

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.”

Jesus says, “I AM.” This is the sacred name for God himself. He is quoting Psalm 110. Then he quotes Daniel 7:13, which is reserved for the one who will share the throne of Israel with God. The Son of Man.

Now, Jesus gives Caiaphas what he needs. He commits blasphemy, unless he really is everything he says, of course.

Here is what Jesus is really saying,

Yes, I am a true prophet; yes, what I said about the Temple will come true; yes, I am the Messiah; you will see me vindicated; and my vindication will mean that I share the very throne of Israel’s God.(from Wright, N. T.,  Mark for Everyone, p. 205)

In other words,

‘Sorry boys, your services are no longer required. There is a new sheriff in town!’ 

Me

What is one truth of Jesus you want to live out today. Do it…

Wednesday March 16- Messiah? More Than You Can Imagine…

Gratitude

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

Word

Mark 14:60-61

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?” But Jesus was silent and made no reply. Then the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

Here it is. If Jesus testifies against himself, they don’t need the eyewitnesses. How does Jesus react?

But Jesus was silent and made no reply.

Jesus takes the fifth. The high priest is not going to outthink the most brilliant person who ever lived.

Now it’s time to change tactics.

Then the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

Now, it is not against the law to claim you are the Messiah. It might be delusional but it is allowed. There were self-proclaimed Messiahs before this, but, none panned out. If Jesus says, “Yes,” it’s not enough to convict him.

Judas of Galilee

When Jesus is a little boy

Sephoris- rebellion where 2000 are crucified

But , it is enough for the Romans. To say you are the Messiah means you are claiming to at least be the King of the Jews.   If Caiaphas can get Jesus to say he is the Messiah, the king of the Jews, then he can hand Jesus over to the Romans and charge him with rebellion.  There is no king but Caesar…

But, he doesn’t say, “Yes.” He blows the top off of everything he did before.

Me

For one day, don’t try to get your way? How did it go?

Tuesday March 15- The Trouble with Jesus

Gratitude

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

Word

Mark 14:55-61

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. Many false witnesses spoke against him, but they contradicted each other. Finally, some men stood up and gave this false testimony: “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.’” But even then they didn’t get their stories straight! 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?” But Jesus was silent and made no reply.

Here is the situation. Palm Sunday has already happened. There are thousands of people who seemed ready to crown Jesus as king only a few days ago. The high priest would have to come up with something terrible that Jesus did in order to turn the mob against him. It has to be something worthy of the death sentence.

But there is also the matter of the Romans. Caiaphas has to come up with something terrible in order for the Romans to kill him. The Romans won’t let the Jews execute their own people.

So, why is there so much opposition to Jesus by the high priest and the chief priests? Think of it.

Jesus is messing with the Temple. The day after Palm Sunday, Jesus disrupts the whole Temple system by driving out the Temple employees. (Mark 11:15-16)

He also prophesies the Temple is going away soon, anyway. (Mark 13:1-2)

So you see, why wouldn’t Jesus be in trouble?  If you are threatening to destroy the center of religious faith and the center of commerce for Israel, how do you think this affects the people who benefit the most from it? For the High Priest and chief priests the Temple is everything.

Jesus is saying he has authority over the Temple and over those who run the Temple. Of course they are going after Jesus.  They have a good thing going. So, the chief justice and his court are ready.  Court is in session.

Things start out bad for the priests. They can’t get anyone to be able to tell testify properly against Jesus. O, they use false witnesses, but they can’t get their stories straight. They need at least two witnesses who tell the same story. You see, in the Jewish law, there has to be two or three eyewitnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15).

So, now what? Caiaphas is clever. Like a good persecutor, he tries to trip Jesus up.

Me

Because you can do something, doesn’t mean you have to do it. For a couple of days, forego a privilege you take for granted.

 

Monday March 14- Caiaphas: The Most Powerful Man in Israel

Gratitude

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

Word

Mark 14:53-54

They took Jesus to the high priest’s home where the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law had gathered. 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.

Caiaphas. Just what did the high priest do in Israel at this time? More than we can imagine. Here is a brief primer.

We start with Aaron, the brother of Moses. Aaron is the first priest. The priests of Israel come out of Aaron’s line. They first started designating high priests when they built the first Temple.  The high priest and all the chief priests are descendants of Zadok, the first high priest of the first Temple. We get the word “Sadducee” from,

“Zadok.”

Zadok was a descendent of Eleazar, the son of Aaron.

So, for practical purposes, the Sadducees are the rulers of Israel. How?

They are in charge of the Temple and all its operations. The Temple business is sacrificing animals, especially sheep. Animal sacrifice is big business. More sheep skins are sold out of Israel at this time than any other country in the world. The Temple business is Israel’s number one moneymaker. Israel, in turn, is Rome’s richest province. Rome gets more money out of Israel than any other conquered territory.

The High Priest didn’t just head of the Temple and control the funds that are generated.

The High Priest also:

•Administered the state domestically

•Regulated relations with the Romans

•Equipped and led the army

•Mediated domestic grievances

•Collected the taxes

So, the high priest is the Pope, President, Secretary of the State, Secretary of Defense, Chief Justice, IRS, and Bill Gates all wrapped up into one!

The high priest is not appointed by the King nor the chief priests. He is appointed by the Roman governor. High priests usually don’t last too long. But, Caiaphas ruled the longest. 18 years! He is appointed by the governor before Pilate.

He must have been a wheeler dealer of the top order to keep his job! Really knew how to kiss up to the governor.

So think about it. Jesus is now before the most powerful man in Israel. How do you think that’s going to go?

Me

The Sadducees didn’t believe in an afterlife. Today, frequently stop and say to yourself, “This is one day in eternity.”