1 It was two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and legal experts through cunning tricks were searching for a way to arrest Jesus and kill him. 2 But they agreed that it shouldn’t happen during the festival; otherwise, there would be an uproar among the people. 3 Jesus was at Bethany visiting the house of Simon, who had a skin disease. During dinner, a woman came in with a vase made of alabaster and containing very expensive perfume of pure nard. She broke open the vase and poured the perfume on his head. 4 Some grew angry. They said to each other, “Why waste the perfume? 5 This perfume could have been sold for almost a year’s pay and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you make trouble for her? She has done a good thing for me. 7 You always have the poor with you; and whenever you want, you can do something good for them. But you won’t always have me. 8 She has done what she could. She has anointed my body ahead of time for burial. 9 I tell you the truth that, wherever in the whole world the good news is announced, what she’s done will also be told in memory of her.” 10 Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to give Jesus up to them. 11 When they heard it, they were delighted and promised to give him money. So he started looking for an opportunity to turn him in. 12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, the disciples said to Jesus, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover meal?” 13 He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city. A man carrying a water jar will meet you. Follow him. 14 Wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher asks, “Where is my guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?” ’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs already furnished. Prepare for us there.” 16 The disciples left, came into the city, found everything just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover meal. 17 That evening, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 During the meal, Jesus said, “I assure you that one of you will betray me—someone eating with me.” 19 Deeply saddened, they asked him, one by one, “It’s not me, is it?” 20 Jesus answered, “It’s one of the Twelve, one who is dipping bread with me into this bowl. 21 The Human One goes to his death just as it is written about him. But how terrible it is for that person who betrays the Human One! It would have been better for him if he had never been born.” 22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 I assure you that I won’t drink wine again until that day when I drink it in a new way in God’s kingdom.” 26 After singing songs of praise, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 Jesus said to them, “You will all falter in your faithfulness to me. It is written,I will hit the shepherd, and the sheep will go off in all directions. 28 But after I’m raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else stumbles, I won’t.” 30 But Jesus said to him, “I assure you that on this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But Peter insisted, “If I must die alongside you, I won’t deny you.” And they all said the same thing. 32 Jesus and his disciples came to a place called Gethsemane. Jesus said to them, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John along with him. He began to feel despair and was anxious. 34 He said to them, “I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying. Stay here and keep alert.” 35 Then he went a short distance farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if possible, he might be spared the time of suffering. 36 He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible. Take this cup of suffering away from me. However—not what I want but what you want.” 37 He came and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you stay alert for one hour? 38 Stay alert and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation. The spirit is eager, but the flesh is weak.” 39 Again, he left them and prayed, repeating the same words. 40 And, again, when he came back, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open, and they didn’t know how to respond to him. 41 He came a third time and said to them, “Will you sleep and rest all night? That’s enough! The time has come for the Human Oneto be betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up! Let’s go! Look, here comes my betrayer.” 43 Suddenly, while Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, came with a mob carrying swords and clubs. They had been sent by the chief priests, legal experts, and elders. 44 His betrayer had given them a sign: “Arrest the man I kiss, and take him away under guard.” 45 As soon as he got there, Judas said to Jesus, “Rabbi!” Then he kissed him. 46 Then they came and grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 47 One of the bystanders drew a sword and struck the high priest’s slave and cut off his ear. 48 Jesus responded, “Have you come with swords and clubs to arrest me, like an outlaw? 49 Day after day, I was with you, teaching in the temple, but you didn’t arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 And all his disciples left him and ran away. 51 One young man, a disciple, was wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They grabbed him, 52 but he left the linen cloth behind and ran away naked. 53 They led Jesus away to the high priest, and all the chief priests, elders, and legal experts gathered. 54 Peter followed him from a distance, right into the high priest’s courtyard. He was sitting with the guards, warming himself by the fire. 55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they couldn’t find any. 56 Many brought false testimony against him, but they contradicted each other. 57 Some stood to offer false witness against him, saying, 58 “We heard him saying, ‘I will destroy this temple, constructed by humans, and within three days I will build another, one not made by humans.’” 59 But their testimonies didn’t agree even on this point. 60 Then the high priest stood up in the middle of the gathering and examined Jesus. “Aren’t you going to respond to the testimony these people have brought against you?” 61 But Jesus was silent and didn’t answer. Again, the high priest asked, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the blessed one?” 62 Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Human Onesitting on the right side of the Almightyand coming on the heavenly clouds.” 63 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we need any more witnesses? 64 You’ve heard his insult against God. What do you think?” They all condemned him. “He deserves to die!” 65 Some began to spit on him. Some covered his face and hit him, saying, “Prophesy!” Then the guards took him and beat him. 66 Meanwhile, Peter was below in the courtyard. A woman, one of the high priest’s servants, approached 67 and saw Peter warming himself by the fire. She stared at him and said, “You were also with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t understand what you’re saying.” And he went outside into the outer courtyard. A rooster crowed. 69 The female servant saw him and began a second time to say to those standing around, “This man is one of them.” 70 But he denied it again. A short time later, those standing around again said to Peter, “You must be one of them, because you are also a Galilean.” 71 But he cursed and swore, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.” 72 At that very moment, a rooster crowed a second time. Peter remembered what Jesus told him, “Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down, sobbing.
1 At daybreak, the chief priests—with the elders, legal experts, and the whole Sanhedrin—formed a plan. They bound Jesus, led him away, and turned him over to Pilate. 2 Pilate questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “That’s what you say.” 3 The chief priests were accusing him of many things. 4 Pilate asked him again, “Aren’t you going to answer? What about all these accusations?” 5 But Jesus gave no more answers, so that Pilate marveled. 6 During the festival, Pilate released one prisoner to them, whomever they requested. 7 A man named Barabbas was locked up with the rebels who had committed murder during an uprising. 8 The crowd pushed forward and asked Pilate to release someone, as he regularly did. 9 Pilate answered them, “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” 10 He knew that the chief priests had handed him over because of jealousy. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas to them instead. 12 Pilate replied, “Then what do you want me to do with the one you call king of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14 Pilate said to them, “Why? What wrong has he done?” They shouted even louder, “Crucify him!” 15 Pilate wanted to satisfy the crowd, so he released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus whipped, then handed him over to be crucified. 16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the courtyard of the palace known as the governor’s headquarters, and they called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They dressed him up in a purple robe and twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on him. 18 They saluted him, “Hey! King of the Jews!” 19 Again and again, they struck his head with a stick. They spit on him and knelt before him to honor him. 20 When they finished mocking him, they stripped him of the purple robe and put his own clothes back on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. 21 Simon, a man from Cyrene, Alexander and Rufus’ father, was coming in from the countryside. They forced him to carry his cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha, which means Skull Place. 23 They tried to give him wine mixed with myrrh, but he didn’t take it. 24 They crucified him. They divided up his clothes, drawing lots for them to determine who would take what. 25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The notice of the formal charge against him was written, “The king of the Jews.” 27 They crucified two outlaws with him, one on his right and one on his left. 29 People walking by insulted him, shaking their heads and saying, “Ha! So you were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, were you? 30 Save yourself and come down from that cross!” 31 In the same way, the chief priests were making fun of him among themselves, together with the legal experts. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down from the cross. Then we’ll see and believe.” Even those who had been crucified with Jesus insulted him. 33 From noon until three in the afternoon the whole earth was dark. 34 At three, Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani,” which means, “My God, my God, why have you left me?” 35 After hearing him, some standing there said, “Look! He’s calling Elijah!” 36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, and put it on a pole. He offered it to Jesus to drink, saying, “Let’s see if Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 But Jesus let out a loud cry and died. 38 The curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion, who stood facing Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “This man was certainly God’s Son.” 40 Some women were watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James (the younger one) and Joses, and Salome. 41 When Jesus was in Galilee, these women had followed and supported him, along with many other women who had come to Jerusalem with him. 42 Since it was late in the afternoon on Preparation Day, just before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph from Arimathea dared to approach Pilate and ask for Jesus’ body. (Joseph was a prominent council member who also eagerly anticipated the coming of God’s kingdom.) 44 Pilate wondered if Jesus was already dead. He called the centurion and asked him whether Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that Jesus was dead, Pilate gave the dead body to Joseph. 46 He bought a linen cloth, took Jesus down from the cross, wrapped him in the cloth, and laid him in a tomb that had been carved out of rock. He rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was buried.
The plot to kill Jesus, the Last Supper, travel to Gethsemane, betrayal, trial, denial, Pilate, crucifixion, death, burial.
Reading these chapters of Mark may take more time than the usual reading of scripture connected with The Upper Room Disciplines. Read them unhurriedly. A slow reading of this text yields spiritual...
God, open our hearts and minds to the ever-expanding ways your love enters the world. Amen.
This week’s readings prepare us for Palm Sunday, a joyous event. Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, a symbol of kingship in ancient Israel. The people greet him with loud acclamations. He is coming in the name of the Lord! Standing along the road leading into Jerusalem, how could anyone imagine what would happen that following week? Wasn’t Jesus finally going to manifest the fullness of God’s power, take his place on the throne of David, and overthrow the Romans? No, because that was not his mission. He came not to build an earthly kingdom but to lay aside his rights. He came to be glorified by being humiliated . . . for us. He came to suffer and die . . . for us.
Read Isaiah 50:4-9a. How does your faith community reflect the servant in this reading?
Read Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29. How are you rejoicing in this day that the Lord has made? How are you blessing “the one who comes in the name of the Lord”?
Read Philippians 2:5-11. How does this hymn of the early Christian community speak to you as you prepare for Holy Week?
Read Mark 11:1-11, 15-18. Spend some time imagining the scene of Jesus entering Jerusalem as described in the reading. Where are you in the scene? What do you see? What do you hear around you? What do you feel as you watch this event?
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