Friday, March 29, 2013
Good Friday Meditation #3 - A Slow Look at the Cross
Mark 14:12 "And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” (ESV)
For the past two days we have been preparing for Good Friday by noting how the Gospel of Mark and Isaiah work together to present to us the sufferings of Jesus Christ - the Servant of the Lord. We noted in yesterday's blog how Mark uses the word "immediately" in over 40 places to hasten the pace of his book. When Jesus came to this world, He had a mission to accomplish and much ministry to do. With the idea of "activity", Mark also omits his commonly used word "immediately" from the two sections that demand a slower pace: namely Jesus' last public sermon (The Olivet Discourse) and His preparations for the day and night before His crucifixion. 1
The need to s.l.o.w down and take a long hard look at what Jesus accomplished in His first coming and what He will accomplish in His second coming
It is in the first half of Mark 14 (and more particularly Mark 14:12-28) that we find Jesus celebrating His final meal with His disciples. It is on this particular occassion that Jesus transforms the Passover celebration commemorating the Old Testament Exodus into focusing on what would be His once for all provision for salvation. Scripture encourages the believer to use the event of the Lord's Supper to s.l.o.w. down and take a slow and long look at the cross. (1 Corinthians 11:23-34; Hebrews 12:1-3) Consider the following thoughts from Mark 14:22-28 by way of the acrostic s.l.o.w....
Spend time with Jesus. Mark 14:12-17
Three times in this section do we find reference to the disciples needing to "prepare" for the meal they would have with the Master. (Mark 14:12,15,16) The emphasis here is the need to spend time with Jesus. In fact we read in Mark 14:17 - "When it was evening He came with the twelve." So if we are going to take a slow look at the cross, we must aim to spend time with Jesus. But notice the second purpose for the Lord's supper here in Mark....
Look at the Scriptures. Mark 14:18-21
Jesus communicates to His disciples that He is going to be betrayed, and that "the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him." (Mark 14:21) The thing I love about the Lord's supper is how it slows us down enough to hear God's Word and read God's Word about Jesus.2 And so in seeing the celebration the Lord's supper here in Mark, we learn to slowly look at the cross by spending time with Jesus and looking closer at the scriptures. Now notice a third truth...
Ongoing Nourshment from Jesus. Mark 14:22-25
Why is it that Jesus chose to use the Passover meal to communicate what He was going to accomplish on the cross? Simply put - Christ is the source of nourishment in the Christian's spiritual walk. (John 6:53-58) The symbols of bread and fruit of the vine are signs that point us to the presence of Jesus among His people as they come together. (Hebrews 2:11-14) The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reminds us that the Lord's Supper is "a symbolic act of obedience." 3 The food and drink of the Lord's table are physical means of nourishment, staples for physical existence. They point and signify the fact that the Master is ever with His church, to the end of the age, feeding and nourishing the saints of God through the word. (Matthew 28:18; John 21)
Slowing down to spend time with Jesus, looking at His word and enjoying ongoing nourishment from Him is what we need reminded of, however there is one last truth we learn from this text...
Worship in celebration of Jesus. Mark 14:25-28
Mark 14:26 states - "And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." When we celebrate the Lord's Supper, as prescribed for us here in Mark, we should not end on a low note.4 In the Passover Meal that night, Jesus and His disciples would had closed singing what the Jews came to call the "Great Hallel", the section of Psalms 113-118 and 136. Read those Psalms, and you understand that the tone is not of sadness and defeat, but of victory and expectation. The word "Hallel" in the Hebrew means "praise" and is in our word "Hallelujah" which means "praise the Lord."
I hope these last few blogs have enabled you to get more focused on what Jesus accomplished on Good Friday. Remember, take time to take a s.l.o.w look at the cross.
Spend time with Jesus
Look at the scriptures
Ongoing nourishment from Jesus
Worship in celebration of Jesus
1. The Olivet Discourse in Mark 13 is the final sermon Jesus delivered on the slopes of the Mount of Olives which lies East of the city of Jerusalem. The subject of that message was the events and times leading up to Jesus' second coming. Without a doubt God's people need to slow down and base their prayers and hopes in this life on the soon return of the Great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:13; 1 John 3:1-3)
2. We slow down enough to not merely read the word, but to reflect on it. (Joshua 1:8) My question is: "what scripture is Jesus referring to here that speaks about His betrayal?" Comparing passages such as Psalm 55 and 109 yields to the reader a set of pictures and predictions about the betrayal of our Lord at the hands of Judas.
3. Jesus was in the midst of His disciples. Contrary to what some may teach, the bread and fruit of the vine do not turn into the body and blood of Jesus, nor do they contain His spiritual presence. Rather Jesus is in His people as mediated by the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. (John 16:14; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13) As these disciples came together to eat this first meal, Jesus was with them in a personal way.
4. To merely treat the Lord's Supper like a solemn memorial service only is to stop short of its ultimate aim. Yes, time was needed for these disciples to digest what their Master was to undergo in a few short hours. Undoubtedly, we need time to take a slow look at the cross. However, Good Friday points beyond itself to Resurrection Sunday.