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Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 1
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2 Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.”

19 Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. 21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. 22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. 25 Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success! 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. 27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. 28 You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. 29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Background

David, the psalmist is describing here his own troubles which were similar to those of Christ. Many hated David without a cause just like the hatred against Christ.  David had his bruises and his grief. All of them needed healing. God is sometimes the strength of His people, even when He is not their song. While what we want in life are spiritual delights, many times we just get spiritual support.

Our challenge is to trace all of our comforts back to their source, the everlasting goodness and mercy of God. It is then, in our forward vision that we see our blessing and find abundant cause for joy and praise. Every answer to our prayers is evidence that the Lord is on our side and that we need not fear what any man can do to us. What is our roll in this relationship? To conscientiously do our duty to all and trust in God alone to accept us and bless us. Each of us should set as a goal to live to declare the good works of God and to encourage others to serve God and trust in Him. These were the greatest triumphs of Christ, to assurance each one of us that we will prosper in His hands

Items for Discussion

  • What is the most lasting impact of Palm Sunday on you personally?
  • How do you keep yourself focused on God’s many blessings when things are not going the way you would like them to?
  • What do you think the greatest characteristic of God is?
  • What do you think the greatest characteristic of Christ is?
  • What makes acts of faith when times are hard so much more important to your spiritual growth?

 

Mark 14:1-11
1 Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.” 3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. 4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. 6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” 10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Background

The anointing of Jesus by Mary Magdalene is traditionally depicted with a vessel of ointment. The anointing of Jesus’s feet are events recorded in all four gospels. The account in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and John 12 has as its location the city of Bethany in the south and involves Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Christ poured out His soul unto death for us and the hard question we face is whether there is anything God asks of us  that is too precious for Jesus? Do we give Him the “precious ointment” of our best affections? Do we love Him with all our heart?

The Jewish priests had decided that Jesus should die but they did not know how to make this happen away from the crowds. During each day, large crowds listened while Jesus taught them. So these priests needed to know where Jesus was by night. Usually, nobody would tell them. But some disciples were not happy with Jesus. Among those disciples was Judas (Mark 14:10-11; John 12:3-5).

We know many things about the woman. The Bible tells us who she was (John 12:3). And we know many things about her family (Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-44). But Mark does not tell us these things. He only tells us how she showed her love for Jesus. She gave something that was both beautiful and expensive. And she gave it all to Jesus. Some disciples thought that Jesus would be angry, they were not rich men and the gift was expensive. They wanted to use the money so that they could help poor people. And they thought that the woman had wasted her gift.

Those disciples knew that poor people needed money but they did not know what God was doing. By her gift, the woman showed that she knew, she was preparing Jesus’ body for His death. That is why it was so right to give this gift. It was right to give an expensive gift because Jesus is the true King. The women would not have the time to give these gifts after his death (Mark 16:1-8).

While a few disciples were not happy, (Mark 14:3-9), only Judas went to the priests. Judas knew that they were against Jesus and decided at moment to be against Jesus too. We do not know if Judas wanted Jesus to die but what we know that Judas liked money (John 12:4) so Judas agreed to lead the priests to Jesus.

Items for Discussion

  • What is your “best gift” that you give to Jesus?
  • How do you know it is your best?
  • Do gifts change over a life time?
  • What do you think the impact is on others, when they see absolute unselfish acts of generosity?

Discussion Challenge

  • Based on this story of Mary in Mark, how would you explain “Lent” to someone? Is it different knowing the story?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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