Four centuries had passed without any prophecies, without any words from God, and then… a bug-eating prophet dressed in camel skins steps out of the wilderness and into the Jordan River to inaugurate the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth.
But what was this ministry about? What did Jesus come to say? What did He come to do?
First, He was baptized - then tempted. The sinless One identified Himself with sinful humanity. Then He preached. His text? “Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
The miracles Jesus performed proved He was the Son of God. He healed many, but when He was sought for more healing, He was found praying in a secluded place. His disciples said, “Everyone is looking for You!” We must not miss the impact of His response. He did not say, “Let’s get busy. How many are there? What are their diseases? Are they hurting badly?” No, in fact, His answer seems at first to be insensitive.
He said, “Let us go somewhere else…so I can preach there also.” And then He says what may be the most significant six words in the Bible: “That is why I have come.”
It wasn’t to physically heal, although He healed many. It wasn’t to change water into wine or curse fig trees, although He did that. It wasn’t to bless children and curse scribes, but He certainly did that. It was not even to walk on water, rebuke storms, or command demons, but He did that (and still does)! As wonderful as it all is, the Word was not made flesh for that.
Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, came to present the good news of salvation, both verbally, by teaching and preaching; and visually, by suffering and dying. Why? -To provide sinful humans access to a holy God. “That is why I have come.”
Chapter one closes with Jesus saying to the leper, “I am willing.” Leprosy is a physical picture of what sin does spiritually. Jesus was willing to cleanse the leper, and He is still willing today to deliver you from whatever threatens your soul. Trust Him! That is why He came!
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for Jesus. Thank you for hope. Thank you for restoring the intimacy that was lost in the Garden. Amen.
Ó 2003 C. E. Briggs
In chapter one, Jesus revealed a secret that many today are still unaware of. Turn your television to the right channel and almost any time of day, you can find those who teach that Jesus came to heal every physical problem in this life and make every bank account overflow with money. Ironically, the self-proclaimed prophets who teach these things, as well as those who they pray for, get sick themselves and die. The statistics are overwhelming – one out of every one person contracts the same disease and dies. The disease is called physical death. It may be cancer, car-accident, drowning, leukemia, organ failure – the list is almost endless. The results are always the same. Jesus did not come to seek every person with a physical problem and heal them.
The leper from chapter one knew this, and he respectfully, bowed to the lordship of Jesus Christ and said, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus said, “I am willing.” Jesus did not rebuke the person for weak faith. Instead, Jesus was “filled with compassion.” Wouldn’t it be nice if more people would yield to the will of Jesus instead of their own wills?
When four men lowered their friend through the roof of the house where Jesus was, “Jesus saw their faith” and said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” In fact, Jesus did physically heal the paralytic, but why did He do it? Listen to His own words, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” Jesus showed that physical healing was a secondary concern – but spiritual healing was primary.
If you are in great physical need and you know that Jesus is able to heal you, and you are willing to surrender to his will, he sees your faith, and you can be sure that He has healed your soul, and you can be sure that if He is willing you will be healed physically in this life.
Some say our healing is guaranteed in the atonement: “By His stripes we are healed.” And they are absolutely right. But don’t miss the context of the Bible as a whole, life as a whole, and common sense. We know by grace through faith that our souls are healed, and we know that in the resurrection our corruptible bodies will put on incorruption, and we will enjoy complete physical victory! (1 Cor 15:54)
Yes, we have a guarantee in our hearts, sealed by the Spirit of God (2 Cor 1:22). Certainly God does bless us in this life. He knows when the sparrow falls, and He is concerned with the most trivial details of your life, but never forget: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (Jn 6:29).
It seems perfect that chapter 2 should close with Jesus words, “So the Son of Man is Lord, even of the Sabbath.” Surrender to His Lordship today, and discover eternal healing.
Ó 2003 C. E. Briggs
It has been said that everyone is either:
So, where do you stand in this formula? What are you going through today?
In this third chapter of the Book of Mark, Jesus proclaimed Himself Lord over the Sabbath, and He continued to heal on the Sabbath. This made the religious leaders furious, because even though Jesus used no ointments or herbs, they still considered Him to be practicing medicine, and that was considered work, which was forbidden on the Sabbath. But this was just one of many ways that the religious and political leaders tried to discredit Jesus.
Often the crowds He drew were fickled, at their best, and deadly, at their worst.
In chapter 3:
No wonder the writer of Hebrews said “we have a High Priest Who can sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
I don’t know what you have been through, what you are going through right now, or what you are about to go through, but Jesus does and He wants you to know He personally cares.
The certain fact is: Jesus knows and understands.
Prayer: Father in Heaven, we approach you through Christ Jesus, Your only unique Son. May we learn this day to be more gentle and humble in heart like Jesus. Be glorified in all we do and say - in our homes, our workplaces, and our communities. Amen.
Ó 2003 C. E. Briggs
I’ve got a riddle for you. What do birds, rocks, and thorns have in common? The answer? Well, actually there are two answers. 1) They can all mess up a perfectly good planting season; by eating the seeds, preventing strong roots, and choking out young plants. 2) They represent people who hear the Word of God and respond, but are sidetracked by Satan, lack of devotion, and selfish desire for partying, more money, and nicer things.
I’ve got another riddle for you. What do good soil, a sleeping farmer, an elevated lamp, and a tiny mustard seed have in common? You probably have already guessed: I have two answers to this one also. 1) They all represent things that appear useless at first, but can produce amazing results. 2) They all represent the Kingdom of God, which starts with a seemingly insignificant Carpenter, a small group of odd characters, the good news of God’s salvation, and the sovereign grace of a loving Father, and ends up with a global family of people who love God, and love others so much that they are willing to share the truth about sin and salvation.
This chapter begins and ends with Jesus speaking in a boat on the sea. His words result in rejection, curiosity, fear, and peace -- rejection by those who prefer to remain in sin rather than attempt to understand the words of Jesus; curiosity in those who seek to understand His words; fear in those who underestimate His power; and peace in those who surrender their lives completely to Him.
The disciples asked the question in the last verse, “Who is this Man…?” We know how they eventually answered that question (Mt 16:16). But how do you answer?
Prayer: Father, break our hearts into fertile soil, plant the Gospel seed, protect us from evil, and insure a bountiful harvest in our lives. Through Christ we pray – Amen.
Ó 2003 C. E. Briggs
In this chapter Mark gives us three unforgettable encounters with the Lord Jesus. A twelve-year-old girl (the good) had just died, a powerful and crazed demon-possessed man (the bad) who wandered among the tombs (but Lara Croft had nothing on this Tomb Raider!), and a desperate woman who suffered for twelve years from a bleeding condition (the ugly) was nearly dead.
Jesus demonstrated His authority over evil spirits by delivering the demon-tormented man. He demonstrated His authority over nature by healing the hemorrhaging woman. And He demonstrated His authority over death by raising the little girl from the dead.
Jesus did not perform these miracles as an end in themselves, and Christians should not view them that way either. Jesus demonstrated His supernatural powers to authenticate His message of salvation.
Perhaps you are a “self-made” man or woman, financially independent, physically fit, and a respected benefactor of your community. You are confident that you are in control. But how confident are you? Each day you look in the mirror, and as much as you do to prolong the inevitable, you know the day approaches when you will become sick (as the woman was), and stressed (as the man was), and will finally die (as the child did). All the money in the world, all the beauty in the world, and all the confidence in the world will not hinder your appointment one bit. The person in your mirror -- is not in charge!
But we know Who is in charge, don’t we? The Carpenter from Nazareth has proven that He created, sustains, provides for, and redeems this universe that you are part of. And He loves you with a special love.
Trust Him today with your soul – with your family, your finances, and your health.
Prayer: Father in Heaven, there is so much we struggle with in our minds, but our search for meaning outside You leads nowhere but to despair. Our quest for hope in any other but You is like searching blindfold at the edge of the abyss. We surrender all to Christ, and because we do, we know that all is well. Amen.
Ó 2003 C. E. Briggs
There is a terrible storm near the end of chapter 6 of the book of Mark, the second writing of the New Testament portion of the Bible. The disciples are very frightened for their lives. Jesus approaches, walking on the water, gets in the boat, and calms the storm.
The chapter begins, with Jesus teaching in the synagogue, and the subsequent rejection of His teachings by the Nazarenes. So we might say, at least for Jesus, the chapter begins with a storm.
Later in the middle of the chapter the disciples are dispatched by the Lord for evangelism and His instructions to them let us know that, for the disciples, the storm has also begun.
In fact, the storms never ceased for Jesus and the disciples while they walked on this earth. Consider it:
In chapter 6 Jesus was rejected, slandered, disbelieved, accosted, exhausted, disrupted, empathetic, bereaved, and misinterpreted. His audiences included faithless relatives, slanderous neighbors, thrill seekers, jealous ministers, distorted rulers, suffering invalids, hungry crowds, and hardhearted followers. This was what many today would call "having a Monday." And from the events of chapter 6, the intensity only increases, the persecution only worsens, and in the days to come the events will become more and more stressful.
But of course it should be noted that Jesus did heal some in Nazareth, and He did teach many, and He did feed more than five thousand, and He did walk on the water, and He did calm the storm. Not bad - for a “Monday!”
This chapter powerfully reveals Jesus Christ as both Son of Man and Son of God; Lord of Heaven and Earth; Lord of glory.
So, why the title, The Perfect Storm? Because, lets face it, no one is ever really out of the storm. From the trauma of child birth to the frightening sting of death, life is a raging journey. Loss of a loved one, or a job, or a home; retirement fund gone - cancer test positive – marriage collapsed - insecurity and terror threaten around every corner! Not to mention the lesser challenges we are bombarded with everyday.
What is the answer? What is the purpose? Is it found in this life? Or is it found in the Giver of eternal life?
The storms rage - the waves toss, but even in the chaos there can be calm. This chapter lets us know, the perfect storm - is the one engaged by the Peacemaker, Jesus, the Lord. He knows what you are going through and He offers peace - peace that is found through surrender to Him. Simple faith – it may not make the storm stop, but it will keep you above the harsh circumstances. Won't you give all to Him, now - today?
Ó 2003 C. E. Briggs
Right now you’re thinking, “Ok, I give up! What on earth does it mean?” Well, keep reading – you will see!
We do not usually think of Jesus as a celebrity or megastar, and yet His presence drew crowds like nothing or no one, before or since. Everywhere He went His reputation always arrived before Him. He often sought rest, but instead was met by more crowds, more needs, and more criticism.
In the seventh chapter of Mark, Jesus and His disciples journeyed about 250 miles. From Galilee to Syria to Decapolis, they traveled by foot, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Several remarkable encounters are recorded in this chapter. We see Jesus facing frantic crowds, arrogant religious leaders, ignorant disciples, a desperate mother, and a deaf, mute man. As the chapter closes, we read that Jesus touches and heals the deaf man.
Now when He touches this man, He sighs and then says something that sounds odd. It is only one word and it is different from anything we have read before. Instead of the usual Greek, Mark records this word in Aramaic, and so it comes to us that way in our English Bibles. Thankfully, Mark translates it for us.
Jesus touches the deaf man, and says (with a sigh), “Ephphatha,” or “Be opened.”
Amazing! Only one funny sounding word, and yet, it beautifully summarizes the entire ministry of Jesus, for you see, this word is a term of liberty, of peace, and of joy!
The deaf man heard, and told everyone he could. “Ephphatha!”
The desperate Syrian mother heard, and found her once-tormented daughter resting peacefully. “Ephphatha!”
The curious disciples heard, and were rescued from the bondage of legalism. “Ephphatha!”
Ironically, only the religious leaders closed their ears to the message of freedom…even as the Lord was calling for them to listen (vs. 14). “Ephphatha!”
Regardless of how you pronounce it, you will certainly know when Jesus speaks this word into your heart.
The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The gates of Heaven and the door of the heart are closed because of sin.
But! Even now, if you listen closely, you can hear the voice of the Lord Jesus, speaking to your heart (and to those gates):
Ephphatha! Be opened!
Ó 2003 C. E. Briggs
Finally, she had the salesman within 300 dollars of the price she had planned to pay, but he would not budge. And neither would she! Her husband and her brother both advised her to “take the deal!” But it would be her deal or no deal. My daughter got her price and took the car home last week. She’s a tough negotiator (just like her father).
“What would you be willing to pay?” I hate that question when a salesman asks it, but when Jesus asks it, we better listen. It is not a bad question. It actually is a good question to ask myself about cars, houses, clothes, and according to Jesus of Nazareth, we should ask it about our souls. There can be no question more urgent.
In the eighth chapter of Mark, after dealing with the spiritually and physically blind, Jesus asked the question,
“What will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
The Lord answered the question with another question,
“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”
That is a very uncomfortable question, I suppose because the logical answer is so obvious, and yet so many choose the world.
We see the negotiations going on all the time - people giving up so quickly - selling their souls so cheaply. Our society is a society that has everything and wants more, and the negotiations are on. A child of our culture says,
“Take my money – I’ll get more – but I have to have that! I can always work more – I can always rest less – I can always produce more – I can always care less. Just give me bigger, give me better, give me faster, louder, smaller, younger, prettier, stronger, older, easier! And on and on and on. And I am soooo tired! I have lost the very essence of life! Where did it go? I have lost my very soul! The temporal for the eternal – and I sold it so cheaply.
“What price? – This soul of mine. Will I barter my soul for dust, for moths, for rust, for decay? Or will I give all for the joy of the Lord?”
Jesus cuts right to the chase. He doesn’t speak of cars and careers, houses and accounts, clothes and makeovers. How about the whole world, but a condemned soul?
What price? It’s a no-brainer. Receive Christ as Lord, today!
Ó 2004 C. E. Briggs
Mark, chapter 9
I guess everyone knows the last book of the Bible is called Revelation. According to the first verse it is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. But we have been surveying the Book of Mark for this series of devotionals and here in chapter 9 our eyes are filled with revelations of Jesus Christ.
For instance, in verses 1-9 He reveals His divine glory to Peter, James, and John; verses 11-13 reveal His divine knowledge regarding Elijah and the future; verses 14-19 reveal His divine indignation toward the faithless; verses 19-21 His divine compassion for a suffering boy; verses 22-29 His divine power by delivering the boy from his affliction; and verses 30-32 reveal His divine mission in His own death and resurrection.
He then reveals His divine flow chart when He says, “Anyone who wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”
And in the final verses He reveals His divine mandate to be salt or seasoning to everyone around you. Preserve your purity by separating yourself from anything that causes you to sin and then you will have a purifying and preserving effect on the world around you.
It is truly a chapter of revelation! And it reminds us that the entire Bible is a revelation of Jesus Christ.
I was especially struck by Jesus’ words to the desperate father of the suffering boy. First the man said to Jesus, “Have mercy on us… Do something if you can.” Then Jesus said, “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” (NLT)
This surprises me because in chapter one you might remember the leper who said to Jesus, “Lord, if You are willing, You can heal me.” The leper was clear about the Lord’s ability, but he would not presume about the Lord’s will. And Jesus said, “I am willing. Be healed.”
It is ok to be unsure of the will of God in a matter, but it is not ok to be unsure of God’s ability. I talk to people often who claim that something is the will of God, when they spend little or no time in His Word. They actually do not know His will at all. They simply superimpose their will in place of the will of God.
But let me make one thing clear. While I may not be able to tell you what God’s will is in a matter, I can certainly tell you what His ability is in a matter. Perhaps you are ill and desperate – God is able to help; maybe you are unable to pay your bills and despairing – God is able; or your child is in trouble and it seems hopeless – God can; you realize you are going to die and you are afraid – God can. Listen folks, God can ----- and ----- God has!
God’s abilities are not limited by your problems and his grace is not limited by your sinfulness.
He loves you. Come to the Cross today.
Ó 2004 C. E. Briggs
Three men approached Jesus - a Pharisee, a rich man, and a beggar. They had one thing in common. Each one, in his own way, was unable to see. Two of them went home blind, but one received his sight.
The Pharisee did not see that Jesus is the promised Messiah. You may remember the Pharisees – the religious guys who kept trying to get Jesus to say something they could use to have Him arrested. They would ask a question designed to make Jesus look bad no matter what He answers. So they would ask Him about something everyone knows is wrong, and yet accepts as right. They chose the subject of divorce. Some things never change!
Jesus lovingly told the people that divorce is not a plan that God came up with. He said from the beginning of creation it was God’s plan that one man and one woman would join as one unit for one lifetime. But the heart of mankind has not always been sensitive to that plan.
And the Pharisee went home blind.
The rich man did not see his sinful condition. Like most people, he thought he was a pretty good person. But he was not comparing to the perfect standard of God’s holiness. The fact is we have all fallen short of God’s glory. It is only the righteousness of Jesus Christ that deserves eternal life. The rich man wanted to work out his own destiny. He had wealth and fame, and he wanted to add Jesus to all these other assets, but Jesus is not an add-on. God’s plan requires complete trust in the willing sacrifice of the Son of God Who fulfilled God’s perfect standard (John 3:16). Jesus offered the rich man a chance to become truly rich but first he had to discover how spiritually poor he really was. Jesus offered a lifeline, but the man had to release his grip on the things of this world, and he would not do it.
And the rich man went home blind.
Finally, the blind beggar did not see the physical world. And he cried out to Jesus. Jesus healed him and said, “Go your way.” The man instantly received his sight and followed Jesus. But Jesus did not say, “Follow Me.” He said, “Go your way.” Question is, “Is your way God’s way?” The beggar could see that his way led to a dead end, but God’s way to eternal life.
And the beggar received his sight and followed Jesus.
May God open our eyes today!
Ó 2004 C. E. Briggs
The eleventh chapter of Mark is a chapter of great things.
First, there is the scene of the Great Entry of the Lord into the City of David, Jerusalem. The modesty of this scene is amazing – a miracle working Carpenter, riding into town on a donkey surrounded by cheering crowds.
Then there is the surprising record of the Great Hunger recorded in verse twelve. “Jesus felt hungry.” That may be the most amazing paradox in history! The Commander of the winds and the waves - the Healer of the lame and the blind, “felt hungry!” How could it be? Some people see Jesus as just a man; some as part man and part God. But the Scriptures show Him to be 100% Man and 100% God. And that is why He understands what you are going through!
Jesus responds to this hunger by walking over to a fig tree where He expects to find some fruit, but there is no fruit on the fig tree. And so He issues the Great Curse, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” The fig tree withers away (and the message to us is glaringly clear).
Then there is the record of His Great Anger as He violently drives the merchants from the Temple of the Lord. These greedy men hindered access to the mercy of God by making sure the spiritually needy could not worship God without first paying up. [I wonder what Jesus would do in some of today’s churches!]
The chapter ends with a Great Debate in which (once again) Jesus silences the priests and religious teachers who are trying to trap Him in His words.
Yes, Mark 11 is a chapter of great things, but the greatest thing is not the Great Entry, the Great Hunger, the Great Curse, the Great Anger, or the Great Debate. One thing is more important than capricious crowds, growling guts, fickled figs, greedy grubbers, and hushed hypocrites.
And that one thing is what Jesus taught. In fact, it may be the Greatest Teaching in history.
He began with words about faith and praying, and trusting God as your Provider. Then Jesus stops them all in their tracks with His next statement. He says,
“But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins also.” (Vs. 25)
The Greatest Teaching from the Greatest Teacher is not a popular lesson. The mindset today is to pray for the bass boat or the mortgage payment (or the mortgage payment on the bass boat!). Who cares if we are angry with the neighbors? They deserve it!
But Jesus said, before we pray, we must forgive. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it will set you free. Forgive that relative, that neighbor, that coworker – release that grudge – turn loose of the bitterness. You will never regret it.
Ó 2004 C. E. Briggs
The Temple of the Lord was so busy that day, she almost disappeared in the crowds, but He saw her clearly. By worldly standards she was worth less than nothing – down to her last two cents – no husband – no money – no hope. Lonely, tired, hungry, and heartbroken, she moved through the gate, across the courtyard, through the parade of religious folks, and past the watchful Galilean. He just sat there and watched the people drop money into the collection box. Some were rich and gave large amounts; some gave less. But He took special notice of the poor widow as she dropped her offering in the box and worshipped God. One clink and then another; her last two pennies fell.
I doubt she knew that the transient Rabbi sitting near the collection box was the Lord of all creation, but He knew her and according to Mark, chapter 12 -
He called his disciples to him and said, "I assure you, this poor widow has given more than all the others have given. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has."
In this chapter of the Bible, Jesus faced off with the Pharisees, the Herodians, and the Sadducees – 3 prominent religious and political groups of Jerusalem during that time. These 3 groups did not like each other at all - and none of them liked the Carpenter from Nazareth. In fact, they disliked Him more than they disliked each other, even joining forces to wreck His ministry.
But He continued teaching. He taught the people through stories, and through questions and answers. His lesson was that everything on this earth ultimately belongs to God. We are only the stewards of His resources. And when we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; our attraction for the treasures of this world changes into an attraction for the treasures of the Heavenly Kingdom - treasures without price, such as:
Love for others,
Joy that transcends the ups and downs of this life, and
Peace that the frantic quest for earthly satisfaction can never bring.
The list goes on – kindness, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control. The treasure chest is full and Jesus is the key.
He taught this lesson in several ways in Mark 12, but I think His most effective lesson was this last one – the crown on the whole chapter. The poor widow gave her last two cents worth. Why? Because she had discovered this treasure – treasure not of this earth - treasure so valuable that all of the wealth of Bill Gates could not compare with even one jewel.
This same treasure is available to you - right now. Won’t you come to Christ?
Ó 2004 C. E. Briggs
In this chapter of the Bible Jesus is speaking to His disciples about things to come. This is called prophecy and much of the Bible is written this way. There have been many books of prophecy written but the thing that makes the Bible different than any of the others is its degree of accuracy, which is 100%. Anything less than 100% accuracy is not from God, and only the Bible has a perfect track record.
As I considered the disturbing images in this chapter, I wondered why Jesus shared all this with His followers. And I began to realize just how much He loved them and desired them to be aware of the terrible things coming both in the near future and in the end times. His words were filled with concern and urgency, like a father warning his children. The phrases He used included,
“Don’t be mislead.” (vs. 5)
“don’t panic.” (vs. 7)
“…watch out!” (vs. 9)
“…don’t worry…(vs. 11)
“…endure…” (vs. 13)
“Watch out! I have warned you!” (vs. 23)
“…stay alert and keep watch.” (vs. 33)
“…keep a sharp lookout!” (vs. 35)
“Watch for His return!” (vs. 37) [NLT]
This chapter is filled with strong warnings and urgent tones. So if you are thinking you should check out the whole chapter, you’re absolutely correct!
Two things are certain: 1) The judgment of a holy God is coming. 2) This holy God loves and desires all to be saved. So - He warns. But there’s more!
There is one more verse – one more warning I saved until now. It is my favorite and I will show you why. It is verse 14, and the phrase is, “reader, pay attention!” There are two things that I really love about that phrase. The first is the word “reader.” I love that word because I am that reader! And at this very moment, so are you! The second thing is the exclamation point. You see, the word “reader” lets me know how intimately concerned Jesus is with my welfare. But the exclamation point lets me know how passionately concerned He is with my welfare.
The Bible says God is love. Not a weak, distorted, earthly version of love that winks at sin, but a pure and righteous love, giving grace to the “reader” even now. Won’t you turn to Him today!
Ó 2004 C. E. Briggs
His name was Simon, but his nickname was Peter, from the Greek word, “petros,” which means, “rock,” although he wasn’t much of a rock here, in the closing verse of chapter 14 of the book of Mark.
Peter, the Rock, was considered a man’s man – a born leader. He was often bold and arrogant, but here we find him broken and in tears. So what happened?
Well, to begin with, after a long day and a busy night, Peter was physically and mentally exhausted. He had heard Jesus speak so strangely about things like betrayal and desertion by His closest friends, and about His death, burial and resurrection.
There was guilt and curiosity, and a lot of confusion.
Peter vowed to die for Jesus, but Jesus told Peter, “You will deny you even know Me.”
When Jesus was greatly distressed and desperately needing their company, Peter, James, and John fell asleep, waking up just in time to see their Lord betrayed by the kiss of a close friend.
And just as Jesus predicted, everyone deserted Him. Not to mention, as the day was breaking, and the rooster was crowing, Peter denied ever knowing Jesus, not once, but three times.
When Peter realized what he had done, he broke down and cried.
The brash and confident fisherman from Galilee – the Rock - was broken – his ego devastated. But before you feel sorry for him, remember the very first sentence of the greatest teaching ever.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Jesus said the “poor in spirit” are blessed and frankly, Peter was spiritually bankrupt!
No, strange as it may sound, I don’t think we should feel sorrow for Peter. We should feel sorrow for those who woke up this morning, and looked in the mirror at a soul that is one day closer to an eternity without hope. Peter learned Who was his hope – his only hope. And it was not the person in the mirror.
Ó 2004 C. E. Briggs
Friday at 5 in America is a real phenomenon. People are in a hurry! Cars drive faster! Everything seems extra-energized. Everyone knows Monday will be here all too soon, but who wants to think about Monday right now? IT’S FRIDAY!!
You may find it interesting that on a Friday afternoon, about 2000 years ago, in the city of Jerusalem, people were also very busy getting ready for Saturday, which in that community, was a day of rest and reverence. But even more interesting is that this particular Friday was unique in all of history. It was so unique that calendars have referred to it ever since.
One of the concerns in preparing for the holy day was removing 3 men who had been executed on crosses on a hill just outside the city. Two of the men were convicted of theft, but the other had been charged with being the King of the Jews. Because of Him, what took place on that hill was so significant that it split all of human history into two parts. In fact, over 100,000 Friday’s have past and here I am, writing about Him on a Friday evening. And I am one of millions!
Who was He? He was a carpenter, who became a preacher with an extraordinary message of salvation and repentance; and He spoke like no other. He said He was the Son of God, and He backed His claim with miraculous deeds that no man had ever done before. And it led to trouble. The religious leaders were jealous and afraid of Him and His growing organization.
So - they decided to kill Him, just as the Scriptures said they would. On Friday, the Nazarene named Jesus was executed, on a cross overlooking the city that He deeply loved, just as the Scriptures said He would be.
One thousand years before this crucifixion, and 300 years before the method of crucifixion was even invented, David, the writer of the 22nd Psalm, wrote explicit details of the crucifixion of the Messiah.
Jesus Himself said,
“… when I am lifted up on the cross, I will draw everyone to myself.” (John 12:32)
Why did He do it? Because He loves the world (Jn 3:16), because He loves His Father (Jn 4:34), and because He loves you (2 Pe 3:9)!
So the next time you hear or see the letters, T-G-I-F, remember:
There really is a Friday you can thank God for!
Ó 2004 C. E. Briggs
Over the last year and a half, chapter-by-chapter I have written overviews and observations about the Gospel according to Mark.
The word “Gospel” means “Good News.” The good news of the Cross is that Jesus died for our sins and made access to God possible! The good news of the Resurrection is that it validates the good news of the Cross!
Jesus Christ lives! And because He lives, you may live also!
Ó 2004 C. E. Briggs