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The Bible In A Year: Day 63

Job 36-37
Psalm 60
Mark 14:43-72

Elihu’s final speech is recorded in these next two chapters we read today. In this speech he speaks about God’s power, justice and wisdom. He makes a point, and is correct, that God can use suffering as a correction and not just as a punishment. He tells Job that this suffering should be seized upon as an opportunity for repentance. But as wise as Elihu’s words are here, he also isn’t seeing the behind the scenes reasons for Job’s suffering.

Elihu then speaks of how high God is above men, and how he is the source of all things in the universe. He closes by saying God cannot be prosecuted or summoner to court like a mortal man, so Job doesn’t have what a court would call “standing” to sue God for explanations.

Mark 14:43-72

Picking up where we left off yesterday, and Jesus is with his disciples in the garden of Gethsemane. Judas approaches and greets Jesus with a kiss. This is usually a sign of love and affection, even more so than in our day, and almost everywhere else in the Bible a kiss is a greeting between family members (think Esau and Jacob or Joseph and his brothers).

Interestingly, Mark doesn’t identify either the person with the sword or the man he struck. It’s only from the Gospel of John that we know it was Peter who struck Malchus, and this could be because Mark’s gospel was written while Peter was still alive and Mark didn’t want to expose him to even more trouble with the authorities than he was most likely already in. But excluding Malchus from being named could also possibly be for the same reason, meaning he may have become a believer after this encounter.

Jesus is taken to the high priest’s house and questioned, meanwhile the man who promised to go and die with him is anonymously warming himself by a fire. The whole council of the Sanhedrin was convened and they sought testimony against Jesus but none could agree. Then they asked him point blank if he was the messiah. He answered with the Divine Name, the same answer that almost got him killed several times: I AM

With that claim of divinity/admission of guilt/confession or whatever you want to call it, Jesus’ conviction was sealed in the eyes of the Sanhedrin, but there’s only one problem. Rome gave them considerable leeway to deal with internal affairs as they seen fit, but reserved the right to execute convicted criminals to themselves. Not that they always obeyed this Roman dictate, as evidenced by their stoning of Stephan in the early days of the church. But with as high profile of a person that Jesus was, they felt it necessary to take this case to the Roman prefect, Pontus Pilate.

The chapter ends with Peter denying Jesus three times, just like it had been told to him. The difference between Peter and Judas, who both turned their backs on their leader and friend, is that Peter bowed his head and wept at this moment and then he’ll regroup with the others and stay true to what their master taught them, while Judas gave in to despair and killed himself without ever seeking reconciliation.

The church teaches us in the strongest terms possible that nobody is beyond redemption and reconciliation, so don’t ever give into despair like Judas, but seek forgiveness like Peter.

Tomorrow’s Readings:
Numbers 16-17
Job 38
Psalm 61
Mark 15:1-20

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