1. Mark 14:1

You’re probably familiar with the original “scary story” beginning: “It was a dark and stormy night…” Mark doesn’t begin his story of Jesus’ Passion with those exact words, but he nevertheless strikes the same ominous, foreboding note: It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him (Mark 14:1).

Mark 14 starts a new chapter – quite literally – in Mark’s account of Jesus’ life. And this opening verse serves as something of a road sign, indicating for us what is to come. In this single verse, in fact, Mark draws us immediately into the intrigue and drama that characterize Jesus’ Passion. Because even if you don’t know a thing about the story, you quickly know that something sinister is afoot. You know that this man Jesus is in danger. You know that these chief priests and scribes have murder on their minds. Taken together, these things tell you that this will not be an easy story to read.

But it will be an important one. For in and through this story we will see revealed God’s grace for all the world, God’s love for all God’s people, and God’s mercy for all who are willing to receive it. The Lenten journey we are commencing today will take us deeply into this miraculous and meaningful story. It will at times be dark, even scary, but we read it hoping to learn more not only about Jesus but also about ourselves. And, even more, we hope to be met by this Jesus who is, indeed, in mortal danger for our sake.

It will at times be a dark story, but also one that could just change your life. I’m glad you’ve come along for the ride.

Prayer: Dear God, please give us the courage to fasten our eyes on Jesus through this dark story, and embolden us to follow him in our daily life. Amen.