Mark 14 The heart of the faith.

Some scholars say that all of Mark’s gospel leading up to chapter 14 is merely prologue. Chapters 14-16 are the reason he wrote his gospel. That may be true, given the detail with which Mark tells these events, compared to the earlier book.

Be that as it may, I cannot read of Jesus’ last day without a deep sense of amazement and reverence for what Jesus went through to secure my freedom from sin, sin which I heaped upon myself.

So much of this account hurts to read. The squabbling over the woman who anointed Jesus. Oh, how I (we) love to self-righteously judge the actions of others. The Passover meal and transformation from OT to NT celebration; the blustery talk of Peter, ‘I will never leave you’, the disciples who couldn’t pray for an hour, I see myself in the mirror of all these actions every time I read them.

Interestingly, I found myself lingering with the account of the unnamed woman who anointed Jesus. She did this extravagant act of love for Jesus and was bashed by those closest to Jesus. Jesus, however, sets everyone straight saying, "Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." And yet she remains nameless.

I thought about my desire, at times, for recognition when I do something grand (but surely not as selfless as this woman). God took me inside, asking me about my motivations. The questions I heard in my spirit went something like this, “Bill, do you do things for Me, for love of Me or do you do them for recognition? Bill, if it is the latter, you are no different than the Pharisees who stood and prayed loud prayers on street corners to be heard by people around them. And I told them, they had gotten their reward (Matthew 6:5).

I needed to pray, to search my soul and, yes, to confess…

Lord, search me and know me. See if there is any wickedness in me. and when You find some, which You will, root it out like a dentist drilling out decay or a triage doctor cutting away dead flesh from an soldier injured in battle. Heal me, Jesus, from my deep seeded selfishness and by Your grace transform me into a lover of You, one who serves You with every ounce of life as many valiant soldiers serve their country or the secret service serve their president.

Mark 13 Watch.


I am not an ‘end-times’ fanatic trying to figure out when Jesus will return like many do. I am also not nervous that the apocalypse is drawing near. You don’t have to be a Christian to dwell on the apocalypse. How many movies are made with the end of the world as its theme?

Reading this chapter, the word “watch” flashes like a neon sign. As Jesus unfolds pictures of the end for His disciples, He gives particular instruction at least twice… Watch out that no one deceives you (5), and again at the conclusion He says, "Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back… . If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'" (35-37).

Watch out… keep watch… watch!

Jesus is not simply instructing followers to watch for the signs of the times, He is saying, “Watch your life. Don’t be caught sleeping, i.e. slacking off, not doing what the Master would not want you to be doing…”

Jesus is saying to me (and I believe others, too), keep at your post, be alert, be diligent in following Me, and when I return, which will be at an hour no one but the Father knows (32-34), you will be ready for it.

Lord Jesus, build in me diligence, fortitude, steadfastness, stick-to-it-ness. Jesus, help me by Your Holy Spirit to keep my hand to the plow and looking straight ahead. I love You, Jesus and I want to be ready whenever You return. And should I die before You return, I want to finish my race well. And  that my life, till its end this side of eternity, gives You all the honor and glory that I am able to give.

To God be the glory, great things You have done…



Mark 12 Funny how the mind works, isn't it?


As I was reading this chapter, in the back of my mind, I remembered a passage and devotion from last week about children coming to Jesus. The punch line was about needing to “receive the kingdom of God like a little child” (10:15). As I watched and listened to the Pharisees, Sadducees and other adults questioning Jesus, I thought, “Ah-ha, here is a perfect example of why I (we) need to become like little children. These adults were so caught up in their own deal; some were even trying to trap Jesus because they just couldn’t believe that He was who He said He was. They had their “mold” for who and what the Messiah would be and Jesus didn’t fit.

Another adult, who seems to be moderately sincere, needed to check out Jesus’ orthodoxy with a question about summarizing the law. It is fine to question because orthodoxy is important. What I found sad, however, is that after Jesus passed the orthodoxy test, the issue ends. It seems that for this teacher of the law the question was all a head game, rather than a ‘follow-Jesus if He is right question’. As adults we have such an ability to rationalize…

These observations about adults drove me to pray.

O God, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, help me, help me, help me develop those child-like attributes of my faith so that I can go deep with You. Help me to trust You implicitly and help me to follow You boldly as a child would, with absolute faith and trust.

And Lord, help me to search the scriptures like that one teacher of the law who needed to test orthodoxy did, however Lord, help me to move from correct thinking to faithfully following You, who is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus, I pray this in Your name. Amen.



Mark 11 Reading today, I found myself thinking about how easily I pick and choose which parts of scripture I choose to believe and others I glance past. I don't disbelieve them but I pass over them.


I don’t disbelieve them but I pass over them. We all do this to one extent or another. We all have our favorite passages. The word of the Spirit to me is, “the whole of the Scripture, every word of it is mine,” says the Lord. “Bill not only can you trust the entirety of scripture, I want you to build your life around it all, that which you find a blessing as well the parts you find a challenge.”

It happened this way, I was reading verse 22-25: "Have faith in God," Jesus answered. "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." As I was reading these verses I became aware of my reactions:

·       The mountain moving part: In one way my heart soared. Wow, I could do that!? But even as I thought about that, I became nervous. What if it didn’t happen? What if what I prayed for didn’t happen, moving a mountain or praying for someone’s healing? I found myself thinking it is easier to simply “skip over” this verse, not disobey, not disbelieve it, just not deal with it…

·       The ‘whatever you ask for in prayer’ sentence: I had some similar thoughts but this was a verse I wanted to hold on to. I found myself thinking, “Yeah, God, I like that”. This verse fuels my prayers. Maybe this is because I have heard many people say and hold on to this verse…

·       Then I came to the forgive sentence: I thought about many people I know who hold a grudge and choose not to forgive and yet, at the same time, they hold to the ‘whatever you ask in prayer, receive’ part. Hmmm, I thought Jesus links all of these together in one paragraph. Can I pick and choose?

Well, that’s how God brought me to the place of dealing with my own likes and dislikes of scripture, which ultimately led to prayer…

Lord, Jesus… I am sorry that I pick and choose among Your word. Help me to take ALL OF IT, believe it by faith and let it ALL guide and direct my life; those parts I naturally gravitate toward and those that are hard for me. I love You and surrender all of myself to You and submit my whole life to Your whole word… lead me Lord Jesus, Lead me Holy Spirit, Lead me Gracious Father… with Your word, ALL of it! In Jesus’ name, amen!!!