April 25, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Mark 13-14
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Context: Chapter 13 begins with Jesus describing what will happen at the end of the age. Jesus describes events that will occur during the Roman invasion in AD 70 and signs of His second coming. It is often easy to forget that Jesus was also human. When the disciples ask when the events He spoke of were going to come to pass, Jesus shows His humanity by not knowing the answer. While awaiting Passover in Bethany, a short distance from Jerusalem, Jesus dined at the house of Simon the Leper. While dining, a woman (identified by other Gospels as Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus) anointed Jesus with a very expensive perfume, worth a whole year's wages! It was an act of love and devotion, yet the disciples criticized her for it, saying the money could have been given to the poor. Jesus saw the act for what it was and rebuked the disciples, reminding them that while there would always be poor to help, He was on earth for a limited time, as such, there was a limited time to perform such acts. Jesus celebrated Passover in Jerusalem with His disciples. During their final meal, Jesus linked the old celebration, Passover, with a new celebration, Communion. Jesus stunned and saddened His disciples when He told them that one of them would betray Him. To break bread with someone was to enter into a pact of friendship and trust. It was considered rude to insult, or in this case, betray a person with whom you had broken bread. After eating, Jesus and His disciples went to one of His favorite places to pray: the Garden of Gethsemane. While the disciples slept, Jesus prayed to His Father, addressing His Father in the most intimate manner. Again, we see Jesus' humanity and fear of what was to come, yet eternal commitment to His Father's plan. Three times Jesus found His disciples sleeping instead of praying. The final time He woke them, the crowd was coming for His arrest. Jesus willingly allowed Himself to be arrested, rebuking Peter for taking up a sword. Jesus was taken before the religious leaders of the day to stand trial, but they were unable to find testimony that agreed. According to Jewish law, in order for a person to be sentenced to death, there must be two witnesses whose testimony agrees with one another. Out of desperation, the chief priest asks Jesus if He is the Son of God. Jesus, for the first time, publicly identifies Himself as such. He was immediately condemned to die, breaking Jewish law which requires a day between conviction and sentencing.
World History: The temple was still under construction during this time. The stones of the temple were up to 40 feet long, 12 feet high, and 18 feet wide, and were pure white. Giving gifts to the poor was a custom during Passover, one of the reasons the disciples were so upset at what they viewed as a waste. It was also customary to those that lived in Jerusalem to offer empty rooms to travelers in which to celebrate the Passover.