**This is my last Going Deeper for this year’s reading plan. If you have journeyed with me since last year’s SFJMC National Run, it means you have successfully read through the entire New Testament—260 chapters and 52 Going Deeper Bible studies.
I praise God for all the awesome feedback we have received from men and women around the world who are studying their Bible every day with us, and who are growing every weekend through the Going Deeper studies. In case you missed any or want to look back over our studies, you can find all of the Going Deeper studies here at SFJbible.com or on our club website SFJMC.com under “Shepherd’s Studies.”
We are excited to be launching a brand-new reading plan for this next year, and I will announce it at our USA National Run on Saturday night. The first reading will be on Monday, September 2, 2019. In the meantime, invite your friends and family to sign up at SFJbible.com and they can join us as we start into a new year of studying God’s word together.
Grab your Bible, and let’s go deeper into Mark 14 and 15.
Read Mark 14:32-42.
It says, “Jesus began to be greatly distressed and troubled.” We must see that Jesus is fully man and fully God. As fully man, He experienced the weight of the hardship before Him just as you and I do. He had to be fully human so He could be our substitute. It says in Luke’s Gospel account that He was so intensely distressed that He sweat blood.
That is a heavy weight Jesus is carrying. I have sat with many people through their darkest hours, and I have seen many reactions to the weight of this world's hardships, but I am yet to see anyone sweat blood in his or her distress. What does this tell us? It tells us that Jesus understands what it means to have heavy burdens on His shoulders, to be in the midst of the storm, or to hurt at His core. It tells us that nothing you experience is beyond what He has known or experienced.
Jesus is not a God who is far off and doesn’t get you. He came. He bore the fullness of our struggle. He understands. Like Jesus is running to God the Father in prayer, we need to also see no higher priority in the middle of the storm than to get on our faces and go to God the Father in prayer.
Notice Jesus doesn’t do this once. He spends significant time in the garden in prayer with the Father and returns to find His crew sleeping each time. What a perfect contrast for Jesus' righteousness and our selfishness. Peter, James, and John—Jesus’s core three disciples—are so focused on the flesh that they are missing what God is doing. They are disobedient to their Rabbi’s instruction. They are lazy with their posture. They are useless to do anything by their own power for what God is about to do.
Jesus finally says, “It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” Praise God that Jesus was all He needed to carry out our redemption.
If He trusted one ounce of it to us, we would have messed it up. This is why our salvation is God’s work alone and not a synergistic work between God and us, because in our sin we are hopeless, powerless, and not willing to participate. We would rather sleep! If left to ourselves, we would lay in our grave of sin and death forever. Praise God for His election—for His pursuit of us when we were His enemies—for His substitutionary atonement. Praise God for His amazing grace which sets us free to see and savor the true gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We are not willing, but Jesus is!
Mark 14:35-36 “And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, 'Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'”
Jesus is both fully God and fully man in this moment. His flesh cries out in absolute honesty for a pass from what is about to come—that the cup of God’s perfect wrath would be satisfied another way. But His righteousness is immediate and without pause. He says, “Not my will but your will be done!”
It is imperative we understand that Jesus willingly submits to being captured, to being falsely testified about, to being beaten, to being hung on a criminal's cross, and to dying. He says in John 10:18, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
I want us to see the beauty of Jesus' submission. This is the response man should have had in the Garden of Eden. This is the response we should have but we don’t. What makes us not submissive to God’s will—to God’s commands? It is our idolatry; it is placing self or something else above God.
Praise God for His substitutionary atonement that sets us free from our grip on our idols so that we can submit to His will and we can enjoy His supremacy! Even in the face of great suffering like Jesus, we too can truly say, “God, your will be done—not mine.”
Please understand, in Christ alone this is possible.
Read Mark 14:53-65.
A quick overview of the six trials of Jesus:
Religious Annas – A Religious Leader (former High Priest)
Caiaphas – The High Priest
The Sanhedrin – The Religious Supreme Court
Civil Pilate – The Roman Governor in Jerusalem
Herod – The King of Judea
Pilate – A Second Trial
The way these trials went down in the middle of the night was shady. This makes sense because they have nothing on Jesus, but they are so distraught at His teachings and influence on the people that they want Him gone. So they do what man does when we are blinded by our selfish agenda: We lie, we cheat, we steal, we take, we kill.
Why do they lie and give false witness? For the same reason you and I lie about anything—because something else is so important to them that they will do anything to have it. Something is functioning in our lives as god, so we will lie to keep it or have it. This can be a relationship thing (lie to your parent or spouse because you want to please them or not lose them). This can be a physical thing (money is commonly something we lie to keep or to have more of). This can be an identity thing (you are so concerned about how other people see you or talk about you that you wear a mask to keep them or get them to like you). That mask is a LIE!
This is all idolatry. It is elevating something to define your joy or identity that you lie to have it or keep it.
When God is our greatest joy—when He is who we worship—we don’t need to lie because we are clinging to other things to complete us, keep us, define us, complete us or make us happy.
Romans 1:25 ... they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.
Now, do you see the contrary response of Jesus? He is the one facing the greatest consequence, being the one standing on trial. But instead of lies and false witness about Himself, He is truthful in His witness! By saying, “I AM,” Jesus is claiming to be the Messiah—the promised royal Redeemer they have been waiting for. You and I would easily lie to save our skin, but Jesus is most concerned with God’s will, so He speaks honestly knowing what it will produce.
We see a perfect example of how we (mankind) respond in our flesh in Peter’s denial of Christ.
Read Mark 14:66-72.
Peter is the only one we know of that risked getting close to the trial by standing in the courtyard with the cops. This is a testimony to his love for Christ. This was very risky. It would be like the accomplice of a murder, and while the trial for your buddy happens inside, you are sipping a venti coffee with the investigators just outside the courtroom doors. But Peter’s faithfulness is short lived in the face of possible ridicule or persecution. Unlike Christ who boldly proclaims His allegiance to God, Peter lies and claims to not even know Jesus.
We need to see the depth of our lostness, of our sickness, of our spiritual death in this. Everything in Peter wants to be loyal and true to his master. That is why he is there. He is the first one to always tell Jesus, “I got your back. I will die for you.” He wants to be faithful. But his flesh—his depravity—leaves him enslaved to the fear of man—to the fear of persecution.
Like Peter, you and I can sit and tell God all day that we will be faithful! But without Christ's substitutionary atonement, we cannot do it. We are desperate for Jesus. Only Christ in and through you and me can produce true honesty in the face of ridicule or persecution—true faith in the face of suffering or death.
Read Mark 15:1-15.
It is commonly said that if you and I were standing there, we would be the ones screaming out, “Crucify him!” By our sinful actions, we have said this indirectly every day of our lives, as we are so blind in our sin that we actually think an innocent man is more deserving of death than we are. Our selfishness will cause us to do just about anything to stay on top of our world.
That said, what I believe God wants us to see today is less of you and I being like those yelling, “Crucify him!” and more like that of Barabbas. We are the one who deserves death for our crimes against God. We are the ones who should be in shackles in route to the cross. We are the ones who do not deserve in the slightest to be released to the streets while an innocent man dies in our place.
Don’t miss this, because it should change everything about us today and every day. Just as Jesus proclaimed to the Sanhedrin, “He is the Judge of the entire world,” He is the one in shackles being judged. Do you see it? This is our trial! We are the ones that should be in the shackles being condemned for our sin and actual blasphemy, but He is our substitute. Jesus Christ is worthy of all our praise forever.
Romans 5:8 God demonstrates his love for us in this. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
The question today is do you feel the weight of the amazing grace of God? The substitutionary atonement of Jesus?
It's like Barabbas must have felt that day. He knew he was a murderer. He knew he should not be walking the streets a free man. Can you imagine the power of that freedom for him?
That is what you and I should feel every day. The good news washing over us, shaping every thought and decision we make, freeing us to enjoy God through Christ.
Now, here is the crossroad! If Barabbas goes home that day back to his old life, murdering, he will never see or savor the life Christ gave him. He will remain in spiritual death. But, if that day he found his way to the cross and watched the innocent blood of Jesus spill out of His broken body, and Jesus suffered and died in his place; if God opened his eyes to the gospel, and he responded in repentance of his sin and trusting in Jesus with his entire life, he will be forever, truly, forever changed! Barabbas would be reconciled to God, set free from slavery of sin, and commissioned to enjoy and live for the living God.
May we always see and savor and share the fullness of the freedom of Barabbas that the substitutionary atonement of Jesus gives us. AMEN!