2 Peter 1: “Introduction”

Welcome to 2 Peter!

Below is helpful information I found in Fee and Stuarts Book, “How to Read the Bible Book by Book:“


Orienting Data for 2 Peter

Content: a “farewell speech” sent as a letter, urging Christian growth and perseverance in light of some false teachers who both deny the second coming of Christ and live boldly in sin

Author: the apostle Peter, although questioned both in the early church and by most New Testament scholars; possibly a disciple who wrote a kind of “testament of Peter” for the church

Date: ca. a.d. 64 (if by Peter); later if by a disciple

Recipients: an unknown but specific group of believers

Occasion: a desire to establish the readers in their own faith and godly living, while warning them of the false teachers and their way of life

Emphases: concern that God’s people grow in and exhibit godliness; the sure judgment on the false teachers for their ungodly living; the certainty of the Lord’s coming, despite the scoffing of the false teachers


Overview of 2 Peter

The letter is in four parts that focus on godly living in light of the certainty of the Lord’s coming, against the backdrop of those who deny the latter, with its concomitant judgments, and who thus live like pagans. Part 1 (1:3–11) is an exhortation to growth in godliness, thus confirming their “calling and election” (v. 10) so as to “receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom” (v. 11).

Part 2 (1:12–21) is Peter’s testament about the “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 16), an event that both the transfiguration (vv. 16–18), which Peter witnessed, and the reliable word of prophecy (vv. 19–21) argue for.

All of this is set (in Part 3) in the context of the greed and licentiousness of the false teachers, whose condemnation is certain (2:1–22). The main thrust of this section is to reaffirm the certainty of divine judgment on those who reject God by rejecting holy living; thus several Old Testament examples are brought forward by way of illustration. You may want to read Jude 4–18alongside this passage, since it reflects similar concerns and uses some of the same examples from the Old Testament and Jewish apocalyptic. These teachers “promise freedom” but are themselves “slaves of depravity” (2 Pet 2:19), who would finally have been better off never having followed Christ than to have followed and then rejected him (vv. 20–22).

The false teaching itself is exposed and argued against in 3:1–18(Part 4). Against those who deny the second coming (vv. 3–4) is the certainty of God’s word, and thus the certainty of coming judgment, and a biblical view both of “time” and of God’s patience (vv. 5–10); the conclusion urges readiness, in obvious contrast to the recklessness of the false teachers (vv. 11–18).


Specific Advice for Reading 2 Peter

Watch for the two (interlocking) concerns that drive 2 Peter from beginning to end: (1) the false teachers as such and (2) their denial of the second coming of Christ. You will find the description of them in chapter 2 especially vivid. Besides their immorality (licentiousness, sexual immorality, disavowal of authority), note that they are especially scored for their greed (2:3, 14–15) and the exploitation of the unsuspecting and unstable (2:3, 14, 18–19). And the twin pictures of their rejection of Christ are especially graphic—a dog returning to its vomit, a washed sow returning to wallow in the mud (v. 22). Note also how those on the other side, who eagerly await the coming of our Lord, are exhorted to “holy and godly” living (3:11–12).

Regarding the certainty of the coming of Christ, which will include inevitable judgment on those who reject him by the way they live, be watching for the emphasis on the sure word of prophecy, both Old Testament and apostolic. This is the point of 1:16–18 and1:19–21, where the transfiguration of Christ itself was a prophetic foretaste of the future, and where true prophecy is completely reliable. The coming of the “false prophets” is also prophesied (2:1), while the final exhortation (ch. 3) begins by reminding the readers once more of the sure word of the “holy prophets” and the “apostles,” with emphasis on the reliability of God’s word—that the same word that brought the created world into being is preserving it for the day of judgment.

1 Peter 5: “Cast ALL Your Cares”

Worry and Anxiety in Children and Teenagers

A WebMD article I read said, “Many chronic worriers tell of feeling a sense of impending doom or unrealistic fears that only increase their worries.” People who struggle with worrying are extremely worried right now that I’m writing about being worried. Anxiety and worry manifest themselves in many different ways, but you need to know that they don’t discriminate by age, gender, or race.

Anxiety and worry manifest themselves in many different ways, but you need to know that they don’t discriminate by age, gender, or race.

In fact, there are studies that point to teenagers being more stressed than adults! August, 2013, The American Psychological Association asked 1,018 teens (13-17) on a scale from 1-10 what level was their stress. The average for teenagers was 5.8 and the average for adults was 5.1.

Do you know what the #1 response of teenagers is when they’re stressed?

  • 40% of teenagers become irritable or angry!
  • 36% nervous and anxious.

Reports are now being published that lead health experts to believe the next generations lifespan will be shorter and shorter do to chronic stress, worry, poor health.

The non-profit group Child Trends reported in 2013 that 29% of high school students in grade 9-12 reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or longer during the past year.

Listen, worry and anxiety isn’t something that just adults deal with, it’s something that even are smallest children are showing symptoms of suffering.

For the Parents

If you’re a mom or dad reading this I want to tell you this statement is true:

“More is caught then taught.”

You are modeling for your children how to handle worry and anxiety in your life. We have to stop and allow that point to sink in.

It’s interesting: When your son or daughter comes to you and say’s, “daddy, I’m worried about something,” what’s are typical response? Tell me about it. After they’ve told you, what do we typically do next? We lead them to God and tell them to give it to him. What’s interesting is not the way we handle it with our children, it’s that we don’t listen to our own advice!

The way we act when we’re worried or anxious is the way our kids will act
when they’re faced with the same realities. 

So if we want our kids to go to God in those moments, we better model what that looks like to them now. It’s learning and teaching that sometimes worry and anxiety is helpful. It can help you get ready for an upcoming situation. Like, preparing for a job interview or being prepared for a test. A little worry will help you to keep focus on preparation so you’ll do your best.

Confession

There was a time about a year and half ago that I suffered from chronic stress and anxiety. It got so bad at some points that it became very difficult to sleep. I would wake up in the middle of the night panic stricken about something I had been thinking about or dreaming about.

On one particular night as I sat straight up in my bed worried about all that was going on, the Holy Spirit started whispering to me, 1 Peter 5:6-7, 1 Peter 5:6-7, 1 Peter 5:6-7. I have to be honest, I couldn’t tell you if or when I had ever read 1 Peter 5:6-7, but when the Spirit leads you to scripture in the middle of the night, you better pay attention. I went to my Bible that was sitting on my night stand opened it up to… you guessed it, 1 Peter 5:6-7.

1 Peter 5:6-7 (NLT) So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Wow! I was blown away to hear the voice of God speaking to me about humbling myself and casting all my cares upon him. The kicker for me was that Peter included a person note regarding why we can cast our cares on God… “because he cares about you.”

I almost in that moment sensed Peter saying through his letter, “trust me; I know, you can go to Jesus because he told me all about how much he cared about you and me when we were together.”

Easy to say, but hard to do; cast ALL your worries, and anxieties on Him today, trust me, He cares about you.

1 Peter 4: “Reaching a Learned Helpless World”

Chapter 4 1 Peter is for sure not a warm and fuzzy chapter to read. But let’s not forget the context of Peter’s writing and who he’s writing too.

We know that Peter is writing from Rome around A.D. 64, just 3 years before he would be crucified upside down by the ruthless Caesar Nero. So he writes this letter to new believers who heard him speak at Pentecost and went back to start churches in their towns (which were all located in Asia Minor, present day Turkey).

Think about this: It would be like going to a Billy Graham Crusade, being changed by the message, and going home to start pastoring a church! Oh and by the way, you don’t know it yet, but this new faith you signed up for will likely cause you and your family to be tortured and ultimately killed. Any takers? But this is the power of God’s transformational story in the world. It is worth dying for! It always has, and always will!

1 Peter 4:7-9 (NLT) 7 The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. 8 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. 

So far, here’s the call to action:

  • Be earnest and disciplined… in your prayers.
  • Show deep love for each other… for love covers a multitude of sins.
  • Cheerfully share your home (the NIV adds, “without grumbling”)

1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV) 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

This is good news! Number one, God has gifted each of us in our own unique way, and we are to use those gifts as stewards, or managers, of His grace, which by the way can take many forms.

Look at the rhythm of Paul’s writing here:

  •  If anyone… they should…
  • If anyone… they should…
  • So that…
  • To Him…

Now let’s put some meat on this now:

  • If anyone speaks… they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.
  • If anyone serves… they should do so with the strength God provides
  • So that… in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
  • To Him… be the glory and power for ever and ever

Learned Helplessness

In the 1960’s psychologists Martin Seligman and Steven Maier stumbled upon what later would be defined as “Learned Helplessness.” Learned helplessness was observed in dogs that were classically conditioned to expect a low voltage electric shock after hearing a tone. Later the dogs were placed in a shuttle box that contained two chambers separated by a low barrier. The floor on one side was electrified, but the floor on the other side was not. It would have taken little effort for the dog to cross over to the safety of the other side.

The dogs who were previously subjected to “classical conditioning” made no attempt to escape, even when the opportunity was so easy and obvious. They were so helpless they just laid on the floor receiving shock after shock. But there is hope. Later in the experiment a second dog was introduced who had never been conditioned to expect a shock after hearing a tone.

The Result:

The two dogs were on same side, the tone is played and the shock administered to the floor of the box. The conditioned dogs sits there while the other dog takes off, probably thinking to themselves, “I’m outta here.” What do you think the conditioned dog did? The conditioned dog saw the other dog run for safety and followed after him.

The dog who for so long had learned helplessness was now safe because of the actions of another dog. All the conditioned dog needed was for someone to show them the way.

The Challenge

1 Peter 4 is filled with the challenge to do something with what God gave you! Sometimes I hear people say, “I’m not sure why God gave me this gift, it feels like a curse…” The best thing to realize about God’s gifts is that he didn’t give them to you, He gave them for you.  

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others…”

 

1 Peter 3: “Pink Shirts and Evil Days”

Pink Shirt Day

I few years ago in Nova Scotia a freshman gets ready for his first day of school. As he’s going through his closet he finds a pink shirt, he grabs it, puts it on, and heads off to school. As this new freshman is walking down the halls of his massive high school, he’s suddenly grabbed from behind, thrown to the ground, and kicked a couple of times by the school bully. The bully said some really mean and hurtful things, but the gist of what he said was, “don’t you ever wear pink again.”

As the freshman is laying there in the hallway two Juniors get on their knees next to him, and as they’re helping him they say, “hey, we saw the whole thing, will you wear that shirt again tomorrow?” “Are you kidding, did you see what just happened to me?” Yeah, wear the same shirt tomorrow, don’t worry we got your back.”

That kid had a choice, but what he didn’t know is that those two juniors had a choice as well. The two Juniors later that day would go onto social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email) and tell the entire school to wear pink the next day. This high school in Nova Scotia (1,400-1,500 students) rallied and over 1,370 students showed up to school wearing pink the next day. They made a huge declaration that there would be no more bullying at their school.

Nova Scotia caught wind of this and declared the first day of school “Pink Shirt Day” as a day dedicated to Anti-Bullying. In 2012, the United Nations caught wind of “Pink Shirt Day” and declared the official Anti-Bullying day to be May 4, which is recognized by over 25 countries worldwide including the US, Australia, and Great Britain. All because two Juniors stopped to help their neighbor, a freshmen kid who got beat up because he wore the wrong color shirt to school.

But what if this wasn’t how the story went? What if the young freshman just had enough and went home to find a gun, returned the next day to school, and take care of the problem? In this particular story evil was repaid with good, but that’s unfortunately not the norm.

“Don’t repay evil for evil.”

In our 1 Peter passage today the “you” in verse 8 are Christians. The call of Peter is for Christians to be of one mind. Christians sympathizing with each other. Loving each other as brothers and sisters. As we keep reading we get to the meat of verse 9, “Don’t repay evil for evil.”

1 Peter 3:8-12 (NLT) Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. 10 For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life
    and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
11 Turn away from evil and do good.
    Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
    and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
    against those who do evil.”

If this sounds familiar it should. Paul when writing to the Romans said: Romans 12:17-18 (NLT) 17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

The Challenge Today

With the presence of evil is all around us, and I’m sure you’ll encounter it at some point today. When evil walks into our lives, we have a choice. Our choice is to either repay that evil with more evil, or to repay them with a blessing.

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
– John Wesley

 

1 Peter 2: “Look Under Your Boot”

My Favorite Toy

Do you remember your favorite toy growing up? I do! For me, my favorite toy was the Fisher Price Parking Ramp Service Center! It was coolest thing! It had a little bell to indicate which floor the car elevator was located and little gates to protect the car from moving out of the elevator too soon. I had other toys as well. Some that my family absolutely hated, like my fisher price drum; you know the one with the built in xylophone on the opposite side. I used to walk around the house with that drum strapped to my waist banging on it day and night. Come to think of it, I never knew what ever happened to that little drum. I just remember that one day it disappeared, never to return again.

When I think about it now, it’s kinda of funny to recall how much emotional stock I put into my toys. For years I wouldn’t go to sleep unless I had my Chip and Dale stuffed animal with me in bed. My wife finally asked me if it was okay that they get retired to a shelf…just kidding!

Toy Story

In November 1995 the first ever all computer animated movie came out, Toy Story. No one, including some of the animators believed this movie would be the highest grossing movie of the year in 1995!

If you’ve never seen it the concept is quite simple: It’s all about toys coming to life when there aren’t any humans around. Genius!  We’ve all thought about what happens to toys when no one’s around, but now they made a feature length movie about it!

If you think about it, the plot for the first movie is quite complex. An “older” toy, Woody, lives in fear that he’s being replaced by a more modern, “bells and whistle,” toy, named Buzz. While Woody knows his role is to be Andy’s favorite toy, this new “competition” has created a bit of an identity crises in Woody. Buzz on the other hand believes that he is a member of the elite Universe Protection Unit of the Space Ranger Corps. Buzz only knows that he was sent to protect the galaxy from the threat of invasion from the Evil Emperor Zurg, sworn enemy of the Galactic Alliance.

The funny thing is, Buzz isn’t struggling with his identity, Woody is the one struggling!

Who do you relate to in the story?

  • Buzz: People telling you you’re ridiculous for being who you are?
  • Woody: Afraid of what people think

What do you believe about yourself? Buzz’s identity at this point can only be found in the description on the side of the box he came in. Woody however was now questioning the one thing he had always known to be true; he was Andy’s Toy. Nothing could be better than to be called “Andy’s Toy.”

What about your identity? How are you defined…?

  • By your feelings…
  • Opinions of others…
  • Circumstances…
  • Success or failure…
  • The car you drive…
  • The money you make…
  • The house you live in…
  • The friends you associate with…

One of my favorite scenes comes while Woody is having an identity crises. Bo Peep looks at Woody and says, “Look under your boot.” Af first Woody argues, but after Bo’s persistence, he finally looks and is reminded that he is “Andy’s.”

1 Peter 2:9-10 (NLT) But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

10 “Once you had no identity as a people;
    now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
    now you have received God’s mercy.”

For Today

STOP
Stop accepting what others have said…
Stop accepting labels…
Stop being defined by other people…

START
Believing what God says about you
Realize “You are a chosen people”
Understanding “you’re God’s very own possession”

Maybe today you need to simply, “Look under your boot.”

1 Peter 1: “Introduction”

Welcome to 1 Peter!

Below is helpful information I found in Fee and Stuarts Book, “How to Read the Bible Book by Book:


Orienting Data for 1 Peter

Content: a letter of encouragement to Christians undergoing suffering, instructing them how to respond Christianly to their persecutors and urging them to live lives worthy of their calling

Author: the apostle Peter; written by Silas (5:12), the sometime companion of Paul

Date: ca. a.d. 64–65 from Rome (5:13, Babylon was used by both Jews and Christians to refer to Rome as a place of exile)

Recipients: mostly Gentile believers (1:14, 18; 2:9–10; 4:3–4) in the five provinces in the northwest quadrant of Asia Minor (modern Turkey), referred to—with a play on the Jewish Diaspora—as strangers (= exiles) in the world

Occasion: probably concern over an outbreak of local persecution that some newer believers (2:2–3) were experiencing as a direct result of their faith in Christ

Emphases: suffering for the sake of righteousness should not surprise us; believers should submit to unjust suffering the way Christ did; Christ suffered on our behalf to free us from sin; God’s people should live righteously at all times, but especially in the face of hostility; our hope for the future is based on the certainty of Christ’s resurrection


Overview of 1 Peter

Peter’s primary concern is for truly Christian living in the context of hostility and suffering. The letter moves forward in a kind of elliptical way, embracing first one and then the other of these concerns, returning to them over and over again along the way. At the same time these concerns are placed within the context of Christ’s suffering and resurrection, his suffering offering a pattern for believers as well as saving them, his resurrection giving them hope in the midst of present suffering.


Specific Advice for Reading 1 Peter

The special vocabulary of 1 Peter tells much of the story and should be watched for as you read. These words are especially important: suffering (11x); anastrophē (“way of life, behavior” 6x[1:15, 18; 2:12; 3:1, 2, 16]); God (39x); Christ (22x); Spirit/spiritual (8x); God’s will (4x); election/calling (10x); save/salvation (6x); and hope (5x)—along with a number of other words that point to the future (inheritance, glory, etc.), plus a large vocabulary reminding them that they are God’s people, living as “foreigners” or “strangers” or those in exile in the present world.

What propels the letter from beginning to end is their suffering. Peter’s concern is that they understand their suffering in the larger context of God’s saving purposes. Thus the strong emphasis on the work of the Triune God. God, the author of salvation, has both chosen and called them to be his people in the world. Suffering may therefore be understood as in keeping with God’s higher purposes (his will); yet Christ’s death and resurrection have made their final salvation altogether certain so that they live in hope. Note that Peter—significantly—always refers to Christ’s redeeming work in terms of his suffering (rather than “dying”) for us, which at the same time also serves as the example to be followed (2:21–24; 3:15–18)—all of which is enabled by the Spirit (1:2; 2:5; 4:14). All of this is said over and over again, with obvious interest in encouraging and reassuring them.

You also need to have a sense of the first-century household in order to appreciate what is urged in 2:18–3:7. In ways that are hardly understandable to Western cultures over the past several centuries, in the first-century Greco-Roman household the male head of the house was the absolute “lord and master.” In most such households, if he cared at all for things religious (and religion was a part of their way of life, whether taken seriously or not), then it was customary for the entire household (wife, children, household slaves) to adopt the religion of the householder. Peter is speaking into this context, where some household slaves and wives have gotten out of line on this matter by becoming followers of Christ, whereas when he speaks in a secondary way to the husband in 3:7 he assumes that he and his household have all followed Christ.

Mark 16: “Including Peter”

If you’ve never failed God, this reflection is not for you. But if you’ve ever promised God something, but not done it; if you’ve ever resolved to overcome some persistent sin, only to mess up repeatedly; if you’re plagued with guilt over sins that have defeated you; then, this reflection is for you.

Although Marks reflection of the resurrection is short by comparison, it’s not without a powerful and profound moment. If you’re not careful in your reading, you could run right past the two most hope filled words in the whole chapter, especially for those who have failed God.

Mark 16:5-7 (NLT) When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”

A question to ask is, why did the angel add, “including Peter?” You better believe that the risen Lord made sure to specifically include these words, knowing they would eventually get back to Peter. Peter, who just a few short days earlier had fallen completely on his face and denied Jesus to his face, was now included in the list of disciples. Now that’s grace!

Can you imagine the scene when the women got back to the disciples? The disciples are sitting in a small room; looking at each other wondering, what now? Suddenly the women barge into the room, out of breath, talking about the angel they met who was sitting inside the open tomb. I’m sure Peter was thinking this can’t be, but then he heard them say, “including Peter!”

What did you say? The angel said, “including Peter,” really? Are you sure that’s what the angel said? Tell me, what were his exact words?

As we’ve already discussed in a previous reflection, scholars agree that Mark’s Gospel was written primarily under Peter’s influence. Picture Mark, quill in hand, writing, “Go, tell His disciples.” There’s Peter looking over his shoulder, saying, “‘including Peter!’ Mark, don’t forget to write, ‘including Peter!’” Remember, this is the same Mark who had failed Paul on the first missionary journey. You can be sure that the words are accurate. Those two short words say to us:

The Resurrected King offers hope to all who have failed God

How have you failed God? What have you done to disappoint Jesus? Now think about this, was it as bad as what Peter did right in front of Jesus the night he betrayed him? You may think so, but Peter would probably disagree.

Now think about not only what Jesus did on the cross, but that today he makes it a point to say…”now go and tell his disciples…” including (insert your name here).

Mark 14: “Broken and Spilled Out”

Mark 14:1-11 (NLT)

 

Nard

The first thing we see is Mary entering the scene in verse 3. She shows up with an “alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard.” I’m pretty sure perfume companies aren’t lining up to name their next scent “NARD!” Can you imagine?

“Oh my, what are you wearing? You smell great!”

“It’s the latest scent, it’s called Nard.”

So the question we need to ask is, what is this Nard and what is it used for?

The Alabaster Jar

The Alabaster Jar would have been made of white, semi-transparent stone which was used as a container for precious perfumes and ointments. Nard was a highly perfumed ointment used in a couple of different ways:

  1. Cosmetic use for hot climates
  2. Anointing the dead for burial
  3. Ritual uses for anointing priests and kings
  4. Would have been considered a wonderful gift for a king because of its worth
    (Hmmm, sounds like we should be paying attention here)

But this still doesn’t tell us what this stuff is.

 Well, “Nard,” which defines the kind of ointment in the vial, was a plant found way up in the Himalayan Moun­tains. The reason it was very expensive was because it was very difficult to get. Ac­cording to (verse 5), “It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages.” An amazing fact to understand is the average working man made roughly one denarii a day. So what she poured on Jesus this day was worth an entire year’s wages!

If we were to stop here and only focus on the worth of the ointment, we would only be telling half the story. Mary not only had an expensive jar of ointment, but she did something with it.

We read what she did in (verse 3), “She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. John 12 adds that she anointed His feet and wiped His feet with her hair.” The reference to breaking the jar is significant because it showed her whole-hearted devotion to Jesus. Having served its purpose, the jar would never be used again”.

Her actions not only demonstrated her deep devo­tion and love for the Jesus, but it also demon­strated her understanding into His true identity and purpose.

This is made clear by Christ’s own interpretation of her actions. What did she understand that the others had been insensitive and blind to?

This Act revealed she knew Christ as:

  1. King: Such an extravagant gift was only lavished on a king. This was very appropriate in view of the fact that on the next day He would proclaim Himself the King of Israel through his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
  2. Priest: John 12:3 and Mark 14:8 define this as an anointing. As priests were anointed, this is in keeping with the fact that Christ was a Royal Priest and was about to make atonement for His people.
  3. The Savior Who Must Die: Although the disciples had a hard time understanding Jesus’ teaching that he must die, Mary believed the teaching and demonstrated her belief by what she did.

She un­doubtedly recognized her sin and need of a suffering Savior. She understood the reason for His death was her sin, and the significance of His death was for her salvation. Nothing has changed about the facts of why Jesus died:

The reason for His death was for our sin,
but the significance of His death was for our salvation.

(Verse 8) reads, “She did what she could.” The truth is:

She did what she could, not what she should!

Many on the room would argue with Jesus, telling him that she had no business doing what she did. But she led by example and did what she could, not what she should.

Today I feel like I need to ask you, at the end of your story will people say, “you did what you should” or will they say, “you did what you could?”

Holiness

I believe Mary’s story is an incredible examples of holiness. It’s allowing God to set the bar and then for us to break the jar. It’s living a life of full surrender, holding nothing back from God. It’s living and knowing it’s different from the worlds view, but you don’t answer to the world.

Mark 13: “The Olivet Discourse”

Known at the “Olivet Discourse,” if you’ve already read Mark 13, you’re probably scratching your head wondering, “What does all this mean?” I’m sure the disciples were experiencing the same thing hearing what they heard. Things like, “you’ll be handed over to the local councils,” “beaten in the synagogues!” That one really gets to me. Beaten in the synagogues? The place where we worship will become places of beating? This is hard to take in.

Never one to miss a “teachable moment,” Jesus has a rather poignant and frank conversation about the future with his disciples, specifically Peter, James, John, and Andrew. They’ve just left the temple in Jerusalem and are now on their way to Bethany where they’ve been staying during the Festival of Passover. Along the way, one of the disciples makes a remark about beauty of the temple which led Jesus to share a startling prophetic statement regarding the temple.

Just as Jesus doesn’t miss a “teachable moment,” the disciples don’t miss an opportunity to ask Jesus some curious questions regarding the prophecy:

  1. When will these things happen?
  2. What will be the sign?

As Jesus began to share with the disciples he was preparing them for the tough road ahead. He was able to warn them about false messiahs, natural disasters, persecution, and that they needed to be ready. Probably recognizing the concerned look on the disciples face, he also shared with them that through it all, he would be with them.

As we too notice the warning signs and experience the “birth pains ” of the end, Jesus isn’t just speaking to the disciples in Mark 13, but he speaks to us today. He proclaims to us that we too shouldn’t panic, or be afraid of what to say, instead trust and know that the Jesus will be with us through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

As we look forward to his return:

  • We must be ready.
  • We must continue to proclaim the gospel.
  • We must endure great trials.
  • We must wait patiently.

Ultimately what we learn out of Mark 13 is that Jesus warned his disciples about the future so that they could learn how to live in the present. Jesus didn’t make this predictions so that we would sit around guessing when it would happen, but rather to help us remains spiritually ready and prepared at all times. As we wait for his return we live each closer and closer to Christ, always mindful that ultimately he’s the only one in charge of the timeframe.

Mark 12: “It’s All Yours”

Mark 12:41-44 (NLT) 41 Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. 42 Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. 43 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. 44 For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”

Giving during this time was an event at the temple. It would be like us having a box in the lobby of our church and you would give after the service was over. On this particular day, Jesus sat down across from where the offering box and watched the giving for the day. You say, how did we watch the giving? Well, the Pharisees would parade to the offering box with their long robes and make a big deal about how much they were giving. Their offering became more about the show then the heart. But then he watches a poor widow come and drop two small coins. The amount is insignificant, but to her, it’s all that she has.

John Wesley, “It’s All Yours”

We have a wonderful example of what this looks like in our doctrinal father John Wesley. If you’re not familiar with John Wesley he was an Anglican preacher who led incredible revivals in 18th Century England and was the founder of the Methodist church and subsequent holiness movement.

Author, Charles Edward White wrote an article about the spending and giving practices of John Wesley:

In 1731 Wesley began to limit his expenses so he would have more money to give to the poor. He records that one-year his income was £30, and his living expenses £28, so he had £2 to give away. The next year his income doubled, but he still lived on £28 and gave £32 away. In the third year his income jumped to £90, again he lived on £28, giving £62 away. The fourth year he made £120, lived again on £28 and gave £92 to the poor.

Wesley preached that Christians should not merely tithe, but give away all extra income once the family and creditors were taken care of.

In 1744 Wesley wrote, “[When I die] if I leave behind me ten pounds… you and all mankind [can] bear witness against me, that I have lived and died an thief and a robber.”[1] When he died in 1791, the only money mentioned in his will was the miscellaneous coins to be found in his pockets and dresser drawers, he’s given everything else away.

Imagine the difference we can make in the world if we lived on less and gave more away. Just recently I had the opportunity to attend the Willowcreek Global Leadership Summit where saw an interview with Melinda Gates.

Bill and Melinda Gates, “It’s All Yours”

Bill and Melinda Gates are the Co-founders of the Gates Foundation. A Foundation that exists to put poverty and world disease into extinction. My favorite line of her’s was when she said, “It’s a hard job when you wake up every morning thinking how you’re going to spend Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s fortune.” The Gates Foundation has already received commitments from 128 other millionaires and billionaires to spend their increase.

The Takeaway

This story stands in contrast to the story of the widow in Mark 12. In fact, what she gave could have equalled the amount that you would find under the floor mat of your car. But here’s the good news, that’s not true in God’s economy. In God’s economy it’s not the amount you give that matters, it’s the heart you give it with. When you look at the examples of extravagant gifts in the bible, it’s never about the amount, but instead, it’s always about the heart.

You will never truly give unless God changes your heart.