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Archive for the ‘Mark’s Gospel’ Category

rbr4Step into the study, pour yourself a cup of coffee, get comfortable and let’s enjoy the Gospel of Mark.

Our scripture this week is Mark 2:23-28 “One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

This section contains a controversy story, a saying of Jesus and an affirmation about Jesus. The general theme that holds these together is the Sabbath, an integral and substantial part of Judaism. This section allows us to see some of the substantial disagreement between Jesus and his critics. This is most certainly a portrait of Jesus challenging the Pharisees at the core of their religious perceptions and not at the fringes. The passage also shows us Christian reasoning about the Sabbath itself and the sort of justification that was put forward by Christians for worshipping on a new day of the week. (more…)

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rbr4Step into the study, pour yourself a cup of coffee, get comfortable and let’s enjoy the Gospel of Mark.

Our scripture this week is Mark 2:18-22 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.” (more…)

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rbr4Step into the study, pour yourself a cup of coffee, get comfortable and let’s enjoy the Gospel of Mark.

Our passage today is Mark 2:13-17. Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (NIV)

How did Jesus treat people? If Christianity is correct in its confession that Jesus is the incarnation of the eternal, creator God, then Jesus’ treatment of individuals is perhaps the most important part of the Gospel message. Why? Because this indicates how God feels about me! It is the most personal aspect of what the Gospels have to say to any of us. The scholarly pursuit of the Gospels as literature of a religious movement is important, but even the most objective and skeptical scholar must be impressed with what we see in Jesus treatment of individuals. Only the most crude person could say there is nothing here that is worth imitating. (more…)

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rbr4Step into the study, pour yourself a cup of coffee, get comfortable and let’s enjoy the Gospel of Mark.

Our passage today is Mark 2:-12 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . .” He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (NIV) (more…)

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rbr4Step into the study, pour yourself a cup of coffee, get comfortable and let’s enjoy the Gospel of Mark.

Our passage today is Mark 1:16-20. ” And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him (RSV).

The disciples are central characters in Mark’s gospel. They are the witnesses of Jesus’ ministry from beginning to end, thereby qualifying them to testify to others about Jesus. There has been much controversy about exactly how Mark wants his readers to think about the disciples. I am not convinced this question can be entirely answered, but I do believe Mark wants us to identify with the disciples. What Jesus says to the disciples he is often saying to the reading audience. What happens to the disciples is often what is happening to anyone who follows Jesus. The choice, actions and feelings of the disciples are meant to reflect our own. (more…)

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rbr4Step into the study, pour yourself a cup of coffee, get comfortable and let’s enjoy the Gospel of Mark.

Our passage this week is the temptation of Jesus recorded in Mark 1:12-13. Like so many things in Mark, this passage seems highly abbreviated when compared to the other synoptic gospel accounts. Matthew and Luke add details of the temptation that have become the center of many sermons and lessons. As a result, some of Mark’s version has been obscured.

The most striking thing about this passage is the verb ekballo used by Mark to indicate how the Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the desert. Mark uses this verb 17 times, often in the context of exorcisms. The force of the verb is not captured by the NIV’s “sent”. Better is the NASB “impelled.” We are not to think that Jesus is reluctant to experience this chapter of his life, but to see the strong hand of the Spirit leading Jesus in his ministry. The Spirit of the Lord is truly “upon” him (Luke 4:18). We read of similar strong directions by the Spirit in the Old Testament (I Kings 18:12, 2 Kings 2:16, Ezek 3:12, 14 ff, 8:3, 11:24, Acts 8:39 ff.) John’s gospel records many statements of Jesus explaining that he is in the world to do and say exactly what he is directed by the Father. We are not to think of Jesus as a puppet, but we are also not to think of the Holy Spirit as anyone less than the sovereign God! God’s Spirit is the mightiest of powers and we should expect strong leadership of the Holy Spirit in those things that are in the plan and purpose of God. (more…)

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rbr4Step into the study, pour yourself a cup of coffee, get comfortable and let’s enjoy the Gospel of Mark.

Our scripture passage this week is Mark 1:9-11, the baptism of Jesus. Most of our “memory” of Jesus’ baptism is a combination and harmonization of all four gospel accounts. When we look at Mark’s account by itself, we are struck with its brevity, but also with its directness and the force of its conclusion. Though some well known critical scholars question whether this event ever occurred, its very inclusion speaks highly of its historicity. It would have been an embarrassment for the early Christians to explain why the son of God was baptized by a Jewish prophet in a ceremony that indicated conversion or repentance from sin! Yet, all the Gospel writers make it a centerpiece of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

Mark gives us no information about Jesus’ family or ancestors because his purpose to identify Jesus as the Son of God overrides this sort of detail. Mark does tell us that Jesus is from Nazareth in Galilee. Nazareth is such a small town that it is not mentioned in the Old Testament or rabbinic literature. Even today it is a small place. Scholars estimate that Nazareth may have had a population of around 700. But this does not mean Jesus grew up isolated or in a cultural backwater. Nazareth was only seven miles from Sepphoris, a large Roman town of as many as 30,000 people. It is highly likely that Jesus may have worked in the city at some time. (more…)

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