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In writing my messages on the book of Mark, I have assumed that every word of it was written by God, and that as such it is deserving of the respect and heed that such a book would deserve. However, there are many attacks by modern scholarship upon such an idea. As a rule, I tend to just ignore such attacks, assuming that my readers believe in the validity of the Word. However, there is a charge which even some who hold the Bible in respect as God-breathed may consider, and I want to examine this charge in my conclusion to Mark. That is the charge that the last twelve verses of Mark, Mark 16:9-20, did not exist in the original manuscripts and thus do not belong in the Bible, or that a different “shorter ending of Mark” may be more appropriate. Is this charge correct? Read the rest of this entry »
1. Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.
We know that these women, being good Israelites, would not have bought spices on the Sabbath day. Thus, they waited until the Sabbath was past. Yet, the Sabbath according to the Jewish calendar ended at 6:00 in the evening. When then would these women have had time to buy spices before going to the tomb “very early in the morning” the next day? They surely could not have bought spices in the middle of the night!
The answer to this becomes clear once we realize that the Lord was crucified on Passover day, and the day after Passover started the Feast of Unleavened Bread. We can see this truth in Leviticus 23:5-6. “On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread.” Now also according to Leviticus 23, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was a Sabbath day or holiday in our terminology. “7. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.” Thus, the day after the Lord was crucified was a Sabbath day. It was not the weekly Sabbath day, but rather this first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This day fell on a Thursday that year. Then the next day, the women bought spices that they might come and anoint the body of the Lord, as this verse says. The day of the week was Friday, and was the second day of the Lord’s three days and three nights in the tomb. Read the rest of this entry »
25. Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.
The Jewish days began with twelve hours of night starting at 6:00 PM by our reckoning, and then were completed with twelve hours of day starting at 6:00 AM by our reckoning. Thus, the third hour of the day would be about 9:00 AM by our clocks. The Lord was no doubt held by the Romans until morning, for they would not have tried to crucify someone at night. It is interesting to note that, according to God’s law, the third hour was the hour of the morning sacrifice.
26. And the inscription of His accusation was written above: THE KING OF THE JEWS.
This was the only accusation brought against our Lord, and the one for which He died. This was really no accusation at all, since there was no law against being the King of the Jews. Herod was a usurper on the throne of Israel, not being a descendent of the line of David, and yet the Romans were not crucifying him. Yet the religious leaders had rejected the Lord, the true King of the line of David. By dying on the cross, however, He acted as their King in a more profound way than anything else He could have done, including freeing them from the Romans and starting His Kingdom. To die for the sins of His people was the act by which He freed them from what truly held them in bondage: their own sin. Once they were free from sin, He would be free to reign over them in righteousness. This inscription of His accusation bore testimony to what it was that He was really doing. He was truly being their King! Read the rest of this entry »
1. Immediately, in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; and they bound Jesus, led Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate.
This is said to be “in the morning.” Morning would be 6:00 on the Jewish clock, or just after first light. The phrase here in Greek could mean any time before first light. It was about midnight when Pilate said, “Behold the man!” (John 19:14,) so they probably dragged Pilot out of bed for this, seeking to get Jesus condemned to death before the majority of the people were awake and could find out what was going on. Remember, they feared the crowds, as they knew that the crowds loved Jesus. Read the rest of this entry »
43. And immediately, while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.
Judas does not come with a few soldiers, but a great crowd of them. They were probably expecting to meet opposition. The chief priests and scribes were no doubt taking no chances, and had sent enough men to stop a full-scale rebellion, suspecting that the Lord and His usual crowd of followers might fight back when they tried to arrest Him. Yet the cautious religious leaders were wrong here, for the Lord had no intention of fighting back, but meant to be arrested according to His plan. Read the rest of this entry »
18. Now as they sat and ate, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me.”
Although we do not read of it, Judas must have returned to the twelve after setting up his betrayal back in verses 10 and 11. Now, the Lord Jesus reveals His knowledge of Judas’ coming betrayal. This not only demonstrates His complete knowledge and authority over the situation, but also gives Judas the chance to repent. Unfortunately, he did not take it, but continued on the destructive course he had set out on. Read the rest of this entry »
1. After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death.
This issue of the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread is confusing to us who do not live under the religious system that God had instituted among the Jews. Basically the feast of the Passover was a single feast day. On the original Passover the lamb was to be sacrificed that day “at even,” which was the start of the day on the Jewish calendar, and the blood was to be placed on the doorposts the same day. Some argue that in later times, when a lamb had to be slaughtered for each family, they sacrificed all the lambs the day before the Passover meal was to be eaten, so it was already slaughtered when the feast day started at even. Some have tried to argue from this that the Lord had to be sacrificed on the day before Passover, not on Passover day. These are trying to make out that the so-called “Lord’s Supper” is not the Passover meal. But the fact is that the original Passover lamb was slaughtered on the day of Passover, and though Christ was not slaughtered at even, He was still slaughtered Passover day, which was according to the original Passover. Moreover, I do not see evidence in the law that a provision was ever made for sacrificing the lamb a day early. In Deuteronomy 6:6 we read, “At the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at twilight, at the going down of the sun, at the time you came out of Egypt.” As far as I can tell, the Passover was to be sacrificed at sundown on the same day the Passover was to be eaten. II Chronicles 35:1 indicates that they slaughtered the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month, which was the same day it was to be eaten, so at that time, at least, there was no tradition about slaughtering the lamb a day early. Read the rest of this entry »
24. “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light;
Mark skips some of the further information given in Matthew, and moves right on to the time immediately following the great tribulation. He now quotes, in this verse and the next, Isaiah 13:10. After the tribulation, the sun is darkened and the moon does not give its light. If this happened literally, of course, the earth would be doomed. Yet I do not believe that this is literal. Rather, the sun and moon are darkened because they are overpowered by a much greater light. These things may sound terrible, yet this is not speaking of awful things, but instead of the glory of Christ’s coming, as we see in verse 26. For His coming will overshadow all the heavenly bodies by its brightness and the glory He will bring to the earth at that time. This will be a wonderful event, not a terrible one. Oh, for the day when His glorious return will take place! Read the rest of this entry »
14. “So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not” (let the reader understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
The Lord refers to the prophecy of Daniel next and the prediction he made of an abomination of desolation being set up in the temple. We can read of this in Daniel 9:27.
“He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
Here we read of “the prince who is to come,” and see him setting up this abomination. We can see too that “where it ought not” be set up is in the temple. This is confirmed in Matthew 24:15, which says it is set up in the holy place, which is in God’s temple in Jerusalem. Read the rest of this entry »
1. Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!”
As the Lord and His disciples are leaving the temple, it seems that one of the disciples points out in awe the glory of the temple. Remember, most of the disciples were from Galilee, a region that was largely filled with what we would call “country-folk,” and so they would not have been used to an urban-type environment like Jerusalem. Add to this the wonder of the amazing structure called the temple, and we can see why one or all of them might have been awed by it. Though they visited Jerusalem three times a year, it is likely these men would never get completely over being amazed by it. And how can we blame them for being in awed reverence of the temple of God on earth? Read the rest of this entry »