Jesus commands his disciples, and by extension his church, to preach the gospel to all nations, making and baptizing disciples. We preach the gospel, not to be intolerant or disrespectful, but out of love for others and because our Lord and Savior has commanded us to do so. He promises to pour out his Holy Spirit on us to empower us to preach the gospel and to care for one another. And in his ascension, he proves that he has completed everything necessary to satisfy God's justice, secure our acceptance before God, and provide for our every need. We belong to him!
Jesus died an authentic death and was raised in an authentic resurrection. His resurrection is proof of the satisfaction of his sacrifice and of the defeat of death. His resurrection means that he has secured the life and resurrection of his people.
The atonement made by Jesus in his death has innumerable facets. Considering four of these facets in particular, we see Jesus as the triumphant king (Christus victor); the mediator who bridges the gap of sin that separates us from God; the ultimate moral example for us; and chief of all, our own sacrifice and substitute suffering under and completely satisfying the wrath of God in our place and whose righteousness now clothes us.
The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark highlights the irony that Jesus is mocked as king, but he is in fact king of all. Jesus suffers not only physical pain, but also the very wrath of God, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and types, and to secure our salvation and life by suffering in our place. We are no longer separated from the presence of and fellowship with God, and in fact the crucifixion reveals clearly God's love for us. The only proper response is for us to worship in awe and gratitude.
We see in this passage a sharp contrast between Jesus and everyone else—Judas, the disciples, the Sanhedrin, and Pilate. The fear and sin of others are on full display, but Jesus's glory and his confident trust in his Father are also clear. Jesus's suffering is the answer for the disciples' sin and our own.
In the garden we see two provisions God has made for our sin. First, we see our suffering Savior, who suffered and died in our place to bear our sin and guilt—this is our justification. Second, we see the provision that God has made through prayer to help us resist temptation and sin day to day—this is our sanctification.
The nation of Israel failed to see that the greatest problem they had was not external, such as Rome, but was internal—their own sin. As a result, they failed to see what sort of a Savior and Messiah they needed. In this passage, we see a sharp contrast between Mary's loving and worshipful anointing of Jesus and the hatred and betrayal of Jesus' many enemies. At the same time, we are reminded that all – both true and false disciples – have need of a savior. We see God's provision for us in Jesus' death and are regularly reminded of it in our celebration of the Lord's Supper.
Jesus foretells the destruction of Jerusalem but also looks ahead to his second coming. Much scriptural prophecy about the coming of God's kingdom has this already-but-not-yet flavor. While we cannot know when he will return, nor what the exact circumstances surrounding his return will be, we can be sure he will return. Knowing this should cause us to be looking for his return with eager anticipation, comforted with the knowledge that he is coming, and seeking to walk in faithful obedience to our Lord.
In this portion of the discourse on the Mount of Olives, Jesus prophetically describes to his disciples the destruction of the temple and the events that will precede it. While these events are long past, there is clear application for us today. We must be on guard, not to be led astray by false teaching and not to fear persecution or the happenings in the world around us. Instead, we are to trust in God's sovereignty and grace and live our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Religion that pleases God is 1) rooted in the teaching of Scripture, 2) rooted in Jesus himself, 3) impacts all of our earthly allegiances, 4) knows the God of the Scriptures, 5) is the overflow of a love for God and our neighbor, and 6) results in real sacrifice.