Showing posts from January, 2012

Number 200! [Mark 4:35-5:43]

This is my 200th post! And of all my posts thus far, this one has the most important message. The implications of this post cannot be ignored.

Mark 4 begins by relating four of Jesus' parables. It is Jesus' longest teaching section in Mark's gospel so far. And then, Mark describes four incredible miracles done by Jesus. Mark is very particular about the stories and the details he includes. It's easy to take each of the following miracles on its own, break it down, and find the meaning behind it - like I did with my last post. But that is not what Mark intended to be done.

If you notice while reading through this series of miracles [Mark 4:35-5:43] occurs within the span of 24 hours. That night he calmed the storm. That morning he drove out the demon. That afternoon/evening he healed the woman with uncontrollable bleeding, and he raised a little girl from the dead. If I could go back and be with Jesus during just one day of his ministry, this would be it!

Like I said, M…

Who's in the Boat? [Mark 4:35-41]

Jesus had just finished a long, hard day of teaching people who didn't have a clue what he was talking about. Some preachers and youth ministers can relate to that... So after he had been teaching - standing up in a boat, in the sun, all day - he told his disciples to pile into the boat an head over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Keep in mind, four of these guys (Peter, Andrew, James, and John) were professional fishermen. Their entire lives had revolved around the lake. If it looked like a storm was coming, they would have waited to set out. But there was no indication that THE storm was in the forecast. In fact, this is probably what the lake looked like as they set off:

Calm. Serene. The sky turning from blue to yellow to orange, and the water doing the same. The calm before the storm.

As the sun went down, the wind picked up, storm clouds blew in, and things took a turn for the worse. Cool, dry air from the mountain range east collided with the warm, moist air from t…

Listen Up! [Mark 4:1-34]

Have you ever really paid attention to the way Jesus taught people? Comparing Jesus and Paul in the area of teaching style is like those old Mac Vs. PC commercials. Paul is very black and white, doctrine-focused, very left-brained, Bible-nerd. Paul loved lists. He loved extensive, logic-filled arguments. This is to be expected since he was an up-and-coming Pharisee/lawyer. That's just the way his brain worked and processed.

Jesus, however, had a much different teaching style. His favorite way to teach was through the use of parables. Jesus was a storyteller. But these were not merely fables or cautionary tales. They were multifaceted, intricate, truth-packed stories about the kingdom of God.

Mark finally lets us in on what Jesus had been teaching by recounting several of Jesus' parables. In fact, Mark says that, "He did not say anything to them without using a parable" 4:34 (Nice double-negative, Mark!)

Jesus begins this section of teaching by inviting the crowds to…

Who Is This Guy? [Mark 3:20-30]

Who is Jesus?

This question is one of, if not the pivotal question. Who is Jesus? Was he just a teacher, a healer, a miracle worker? Was he a made-up character? Was he just a founder of a new religion like Muhammad, Siddhartha, or Joseph Smith? Or was he really the Son of God?

This is the ultimate question. The answer you give to this question is number one most important answer. This answer has complete bearing on the entire course of your life.

Who is Jesus?

This is a question that people have been trying to answer since the time a little baby was born in a manger in Bethlehem. People are still asking it and wrestling with it today. And Mark was especially interested in answering this question for his readers.

In Mark 3, we see an interesting attempt at some religious leaders to answer this very question. Who is Jesus? Well, obviously he must be a servant of Satan. (o.O)

You see, Jesus had been going around healing people and casting out demons. He was single-handedly overthrowing …

Jesus Called Them One By One [Mark 3:13-19]

Last Sunday we talked about Jesus' disciples. We talked about the process of becoming a disciple (as seen in the video below), and we talked about the little we know of some of the disciples. We really only know a little bit about 7 of the 12. But one thing we know about all of them was that they weren't good enough to become any disciples of any other rabbi. They were average Joe's, if not a little below average in some cases!

What really sticks out to me about this particular passage is that Mark gives a slightly different job description than Matthew and Luke. Mark says that Jesus called these 12 guys to him so that they might 1) Be with him, 2) Be sent out to preach, and 3) Have authority to drive out demons. Matthew and Luke do not include 1 and 2. It's almost as if Mark has a more universal view of discipleship. Not everyone has the power to drive out demons or to heal diseases (Matthew 10:1), but everyone can have the chance to be with Jesus and to go out and pr…

Confessions of a Religion Addict [Mark 2:23-3:6]

I love religion. Religion fascinates me. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and a bunch of other -isms... they're all intriguing to me. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a culture throughout history that was not at least somewhat religious. Mankind has set out to find God from the very beginning. In fact, archaeologists have recently discovered a 12,000 year old temple! This means that religion - not agriculture - could be the reason for the beginning of civilizations. People came together for religious rituals long before they came together to farm, buy, sell, or trade.

And we like religion. We like religion because it means we are in control. If we say the right prayers, offer the right sacrifices, and observe the right rituals, then the gods owe us their good favor. If we choose not to do these certain things, or if we break certain laws, then we are sure to receive the wrath and punishment from whatever god we angered.

It's a very …

That Guy? [Mark 2:12-17]

Have you ever stopped to think about the kind of people you go to church with? For the most part, I would guess that your fellow church members are pretty good people. They aren't murderers, thieves, or rapists. The vast majority would be well behaved, upstanding citizens. You probably feel safe with the people at your church.

But what about the people who first followed Jesus? In Mark 2:13-17 we see Jesus calling another disciple. He has already called 4 guys, two sets of brothers who were fishermen. These were your blue collar, time-card punching, guys whose language was only slightly less foul than their body odor after a long day on the lake. Not your typical suit and tie, third row center church goers. And now he calls a guy named Levi.

When thinking about the people in your church, I doubt any of them are murderers or thieves. But is there anyone who would be considered a traitor to your country? No?

Levi was a tax collector. Strike one! We don't like for people to take …

Untouchable [Mark 1:40-45]

Leprosy is and has always been a terrible disease. Today it can be treated with a series of antibiotics. We know the cause, we know the treatments, and we know that it is not nearly as contagious as was feared until somewhat recently. Unfortunately, there are still many people in the world who contract leprosy and are unable to gain access to the necessary treatments. And this is the result:
One of the main symptoms of leprosy is the loss of sensation in the hands and feet. Nerve endings in the skin become numb to all sensations - including pain. Thus, a scratch, prick, or burn can go unnoticed for quite some time - which leads to infection. If these infections go untreated, which is as likely in undeveloped nations today as it was in ancient Israel, then fingers, toes, and entire limbs may need to be amputated. The untreated disease will eventually cause the infected person a slow, miserable death as his organs gradually succumb to infection and shut down.

Under the Law of Moses, per…

Unplugged [Mark 1:35-39]

The gospel of Mark is definitely in my top 4 books about Jesus. Get it?

But seriously, Mark is such an interesting take on Jesus' life. From the very beginning we see Jesus going, doing, teaching, healing, driving out demons, and gathering a massive following. Mark loves the word "immediately." It's just one thing after another.

To the Roman reader, this would have been business as usual. Romans were pretty much workaholics. Sun up to sun down, seven days a week, except for certain holidays and festivals. Time off was rare. If you didn't work, you didn't eat. It was dog-eat-dog. So it makes sense why Mark would portray Jesus as a man of action. Always on the go. Always with things to do, places to go, and people to see. A fully booked schedule.

And it's right in the middle of it all that we see Jesus doing something out of the ordinary. He took time to REST. Not just sleeping in on a Saturday or lounging on the couch watching football all afternoon kind …