The Way of Death

Text: Mark 15:16-41
Rev. John Downs

It’s embedded deep within sinful human nature to want to run away from pain and embarrassment.  In today’s account of the crucifixion of Jesus, the focus is less on the physical suffering and pain he underwent, and more on the profound mocking, derision and degradation he endured.  The sobering truth is this: the only perfect man, the incarnate son of God, willingly walked to the cross in obedience to his Father’s purposes, enduring its shame to deliver us from the judgment we rightly deserved.

The Way of Deliverance

Text: Mark 15:1-15
Rev. John Downs

None of us needs to be persuaded that fear and evil lie within each human heart from birth.  What we need instead is convincing that sin and its consequences have been defeated and no longer define our eternal destiny.  Because Jesus our King was delivered over (Gr. paradidomi) to death to the pay the penalty our sin requires, we have been delivered from death to everlasting life.

The Way of Witness

Text: Mark 14:53-72
Rev. John Downs

We as humans tend to love the idea of justice being done.  Unfortunately, just as with Peter in today’s text, our tongues and hearts reveal our sin and would condemn us as great sinners justly deserving the wrath of God.  Praise be to God that, while our sin reveals our own unfaithfulness, Jesus demonstrates the greatness of his perfect faithfulness to his father’s purposes, walking the path as Messiah to purchase our redemption.

The Way of Betrayal

Text: Mark 14:43-52
Rev. John Downs

In Dante’s Inferno, the most despicable sin of all time, occupying the deepest circle of hell, is Judas’ betrayal of Jesus.  Today’s text helps us feel the weight of human depravity, including the same seed of sin and betrayal that lies in each of our hearts.  Thanks be to God that, in the cross of Christ, he has provided a way for our sin to be completely covered while assigning Christ’s perfect righteousness to us, allowing us to run toward him rather than fleeing and hiding.

The Way of Weakness

Text: Mark 14:26-42
Rev. John Downs

We have a tendency to overestimate our abilities, and this extends to our spiritual lives as well.  In our weakness, we will often stumble and fall in this life of faith.  Happily, we have a Savior who has gone before us in weakness to provide for us the forgiveness of all our sin.  Rather than seeking to become self-sufficient, we must look to the grace of God which is sufficient, and to his power that is made perfect in weakness.

The Way of Union

Text: Mark 14:12-26
Rev. John Downs

In science, an emulsifier is a substance that can bring together two normally incompatible substances.  In our life of faith, the cross of Christ functions as an “emulsifier” for us as it brings together a holy God and sinful, rebellious people.  God prepares us for this union by calling us to flee from sin and his wrath.  At the same time, we run toward God’s gracious provision for us in Christ.  What’s more, union with Christ brings us into union with his people.

The Way of Devotion

Text: Mark 14:1-11
Rev. John Downs

We humans have a tremendous capacity for devotion.  Sadly, in our depravity, that devotion may lead through sin to death.  The religious insiders of Jesus’ day, including the Pharisees and Judas, displayed such misplaced devotion.  But to those outside of the religious establishment of his time, Jesus led them to be devoted to him unto life.  Despite what the unbelieving world may view as foolishness, today the call remains for us to be outrageously, extravagantly devoted to Jesus.

The Way of Seeing

Text: Mark 13:1-23
Rev. John Downs

Life in a fallen world entails a lot of uncertainty and suffering.  In the face of this truth, today’s challenging text encourages us not to submit to fear or anxiety.  Instead we are called to view all of redemptive history — past and future — with humility and vigilance.  Our hope lies not in our own perfect plan for life, but in the secure and living hope we enjoy in Christ, who in his perfect timing will usher in the fullness of his kingdom.

The Way of Love

Text: Mark 12:28-44
Rev. John Downs

While we were still in rebellion against God in our sin, he set his hesed covenant love upon us.  As we are consumed by his love, we are transformed in our relationship to him, to each other and to his word.  We are challenged to reorient our priorities away from what looks like success and power in the eyes of the world.  The foolishness and weakness of the cross of Christ is actually the emblem of his great love for us.

The Way of Belonging

Text: Mark 12:13-27
Rev. John Downs

Identity issues date back to the beginning of time.  Although we may find identity in relationships, vocation or other spheres of life, these are all subordinate to our primary identity as image-bearers of God.  This is true not only for a season but for all of eternity due to the rescue mission of Christ on our behalf, as the promise of the Christian life is resurrection to be in God’s presence forever.