For this entire week the Scripture reading skill is to read with imagination. This is a remarkably powerful and moving scene. Read this once, and then again. And again. This account is called the Passion for a reason–feel the pain, hear the cries, imagine the hair being ripped from someone’s face. As I type this I am heavily burdened again. What Jesus endured is unbelievable.
Monday, August 27
Scripture: Mark 15:1-20
 And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate.  And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.”  And the chief priests accused him of many things.  And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.”  But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.  Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked.  And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas.  And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them.  And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?”  For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.  But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead.  And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?”  And they cried out again, “Crucify him.”  And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.”  So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.  And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion.  And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him.  And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!”  And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him.  And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him. (ESV)
Tuesday, August 28
Scripture: Mark 15:21-41
 And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.  And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull).  And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.  And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take.  And it was the third hour when they crucified him.  And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.”  And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left.  And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,  save yourself, and come down from the cross!”  So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself.  Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.  And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.”  And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.”  And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.  And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”  There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.  When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem. (ESV)
Put yourself in this passage. How are you feeling and what are you thinking if you are Mary Magdalene, from whom Jesus cast out demons? Or Mary Jesus’ mother. If you’re a mother what is going through your mind? How about Simon? How must he have felt being pulled into this unfolding saga–he was simply a passerby. Such passion in this account. Brings me to tears.
Wednesday, August 29
Scripture: Mark 15:42-16:8
 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath,  Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead.  And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph.  And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.  Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid. (ESV)
 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.  And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.  And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”  And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.  And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed.  And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”  And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. (ESV)
Scripture Reading Skill: Wow, how the mood changes! You can feel it as you read it. Such relief! Such astonishment!
Thursday, August 30
Scripture: Mark 16:9-13
 [[Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.  She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept.  But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.  After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country.  And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. (ESV)
Notice how confused the disciples and followers of Jesus are. They can’t figure out what to think. This is so true to life isn’t it.
Friday, August 31
Scripture: Mark 16:14-20
 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.  And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;  they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”  So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.  And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.]] (ESV)
Note: This is the most disputed passage in the NT. Your translation should tell you that some of the earliest manuscripts do not include it. I would encourage you to read a good commentary on this passage. Daniel Akin has written a recent commentary (Christ-Centered Exposition) on Mark. I recommend it. Space here is insufficient for me to discuss some of the difficulties of this last section.