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Categorized | From the Pulpit

Preparation

Pastor Dallas Burgeson

The Springs Church 

135 N. Grant St., Cedar Springs

On Palm Sunday our worship pastor, Greig Hess, preached about “living in the middle.” He talked about the coronavirus phenomenon we are all living right now, not knowing what will come next; then he talked about Holy Week and our living this week between the Triumphal Entry and the Crucifixion five days later. To prepare for Good Friday, he recommended reading Mark chapters 11-16—a chapter for each day. 

What a great idea.

As I read these chapters again, many things stuck out to me. Chapter 11, particularly, but the five chapters as a whole, too, overflow with challenging material. Jesus here is continually challenging those around Him—even that poor fig tree. It’s as though He is spending the last five days of His life in a strange sort of preparation, making certain before He is crucified that those around Him, from follower to enemy, know exactly what He is really about. He seems to make it His aim to leave no room for doubt:

• He curses the fig tree, which had always stood for Israel as a nation, but was also—this particular tree—an early bloomer with full leaves and yet had borne no fruit.

• He clears the Temple of those who had been selling animals for sacrifice, saying they had turned His Father’s house of prayer into a center for racketeering.

• He in no uncertain terms puts the priests, teachers, and elders firmly in their place when they ask about His authority to do the things He was doing by revealing how duplicitous and compromised they were in their own hearts.

• He then tells the parable of evil farmer-renters who beat or killed every one of their master’s messengers until they finally murder his own son. The religious leaders know immediately this story is about them.

Again, this may all seem a strange way of settling accounts, of getting one’s house in order before He dies. But most people are in situations where “getting our house in order” involves more a paying of our debts: financially, relationally, or otherwise. Jesus wasn’t in that position. He owed no one anything, except maybe some clarification. This appears to be what He was now giving.

The woman who shows up in chapter 14 is a couple steps behind Jesus in her preparations, but still ahead of every other person in the story as she breaks a jar of expensive perfume to anoint His “body for burial ahead of time” (Mark 14:8, NLT), just two days before the Passover. It was the next day that the disciples ask: “Where do you want us to go to prepare the Passover meal for you?” (Mark 14:12, NLT). The cruel irony in the story comes late in chapter 15 after Jesus has already been crucified. Verse 42 says: “This all happened on Friday, the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath” (NLT).

They missed it.

What are you preparing for right now? Do your preparations involve Jesus? Let’s make sure they do.

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