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Summary: Many emotions make an appearance in the Scriptures during Holy Week and only the resurrection of Christ brings their resolve.

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Responses to the Resurrection: Scandal

Mark 14:66-71 {NIV}

66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.

68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.

69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”

The word is “skandalon.” In the New Testament it is usually translated “stumbling block,” “hindrance,” or “offence” and it used 44 times; 26 are on the lips of Jesus. It is used metaphorically and ordinarily of anything that arouses prejudice or becomes a hindrance to others.

We usually think of the crucifixion as the “scandal of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23). It is what causes offense and keeps many from following. That God could die on a cross makes no sense and immediately “disqualifies” Jesus in the minds of many – particularly the Jews and the Romans of Jesus’ day. But the word is used on many other occasions in the Scriptures and often it refers to people who are offensive or have been offended.

Holy Week saw a lot of “aroused prejudice” didn’t it? It was one of those raw “emotions” or more accurately, dispositions, that seemed to make the rounds in Jerusalem.

Jesus certainly felt an “aroused prejudice” against him during Holy Week didn’t he?

• The religious leaders said he was unqualified.

• The crowds viewed him as a charlatan and began to call for his death.

• The soldiers went as far as to mock Him.

• The crucifixion forced him to identify with rabble-rousers.

• He was even buried in a borrowed tomb.

All dignity was gone.

Everyone felt superior to Jesus come the latter part of Holy Week. And his disciples felt the same animosity that he did – guilt by association.

I can imagine the sense of failure and even humiliation that many must have struggled with. Just a few days before they are hailing Him as King and now he has been killed on a cursed cross.

Have you ever had confidence in someone only to discover later they were a snake in the grass? Maybe they talked a good talk and put up a good front but eventually they were exposed as hypocrites – or worse. Jesus followers could easily have felt duped. They could easily have felt swindled by another would-be messiah.

Do you think some of the reason they were cowering away in their little hovels might have been shame? Fear, as we discussed the other evening, certainly played a role (John 20:19) but it’s hard not to think there was some embarrassment mixed in there. Peter seems to even have been transparent enough to suggest he was leaving it all behind and going back to his fishing business (John 21:3).

They didn’t even trust each other did they? The women come back from the tomb and share their discovery – but they are only women and their testimony doesn’t count. The disciples need someone more rational and trustworthy – “We need a man to check this out” – so off a few of them go. The women, you see, weren’t “vetted” properly and could not be trusted. Never mind Jesus trusted them enough that he anointed them to be the first heralds of the Good News. Never mind that is was “trustworthy” men who arrested him and judged him and killed him – and ran away and hid.

I have had times when I felt like my testimony didn’t count. I was not vetted properly or not qualified to participate in the conversation. I hate it when I am treated that way – I HATE IT! And I suspect you do too. And I suspect every one of Jesus’ followers did too.

But something changed. Something changed radically and it made those cowering, embarrassed followers of Jesus into fearless, confident, heralds of the preposterous claim that he was alive; that he would never die again; that he was indeed the King they had crowned Him to be on Palm Sunday.

But what was it? What changed?

• It wasn’t the population at large. They still had contempt for Christ and His followers.

• It wasn’t the fact of his humiliation and death.

So what changed? Jesus’ followers did! From the inside-out! God’s Spirit did a work that convinced them that they had seen, indeed experienced, the miracle of the risen Christ. It took a little while (about 50 days) but eventually they got it – and then they began to give it to others.

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