Day 352: Zechariah 5–6, Psalm 136, Mark 14 – The Rev. Dr. Helen-Ann Hartley

The visions continue in Zechariah with a flying scroll of huge dimensions, a measuring basket (ephah), and a final vision reminiscent of the first with four chariots coming out from between two bronze mountains. The final vision affirms that God’s rule extends over the whole earth and God’s empire is beyond anything that imagination can create—or indeed beyond any known power of the day. That, in its context, was a very bold and challenging message to proclaim!

Psalm 136 echoes the sense of God’s sovereignty and majesty found in yesterday’s psalm, offering a hymn of praise to God as creator and deliverer.

Mark 14 then takes us into the story of Christ’s passion. Mark’s telling of the final days of Jesus’ life is incredibly powerful. Proportionately these chapters far outweigh the previous ones in their focus on just a few days. Mark’s narrative has hurtled along at great speed up to this point, and suddenly we are made to slow down and dwell with Jesus’ death in a way that again, as with the previous chapter we explored, invites us into the drama of the moment. The plot against Jesus, the anointing, the sinister role of Judas, the Passover meal, the Last Supper, the denial of Peter, the prayer at Gethsemane, the betrayal and arrest, and the trial: all these crucial events are recounted in a way that calls our attention and engagement into being. We cannot ignore this story, nor should we. The enigma of verses 51-52 is interesting. Archbishop Rowan Williams was once asked, “Who is that young man in the story?” Expecting an in-depth answer, the questioner was perhaps left surprised, yet I hope thoughtful, at the wise words in response: “Maybe we are not meant to know exactly who that young man was.” Part of Mark’s clever narrative technique is to leave us with a sense of mystery. We are invited to “wonder”—and so we do.

QUESTIONS

What role can the visionary wonderings of Zechariah play in your contemporary attempts to read and understand Scripture?

What part would you have played in Mark 14?

PRAYER

Gracious God, as we begin our journey with Jesus to the cross, teach us patience in recalling how your precious Son gave his life for us so that we might know you better. Amen.