Category Archives: Mark

Second Chance: Mark 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

Cliff notes characters from Mark 2
• A paralyzed man, Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth, the teachers of the law who were Pharisees and John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees who were fasting.

• Focus: Mark 2:25 He [Jesus] answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 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.”  27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Mark 2 is a rich resource of who, what, where, when and why Jesus brings about the renewal of the worn out, run-down, or broken.  All that information was the key to why I distilled my focus to the last four verses of the chapter where Jesus reveals his own Sabbath identity“…The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Jesus is Lord of the seven-day-a-week rhythm we call Sabbath.  His Sabbath identity is the encouragement of all the “renewals” I saw in this chapter.  Jesus’s Sabbath identity was made for us too. His Sabbath identity is the bridge of encouragement that connects our human need to our renewal.

The Firsts – Mark

You might wonder why a chapter about baptism and the confession of sin for repentance would possibly include “Jesus the Messiah,” the perfect, sinless Son of God.  I wondered too, so I read this chapter and made my notes with that in mind.  I think God purposely included the baptism of his perfect, sinless Son in his plan of confession so we might better understand what the Baptist meant when he said “I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”  Our confession is more than a one-time event.

That makes Jesus’s confessions that day important to think about because he was perfect.  These are only my imagined confessions Jesus might have made based on Marks words but maybe they’re still examples to follow that can make our confession an ongoing connection to that perfect Spirit.

• The Confession of Baptism
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

• The Confession of Spirit
10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 

• The Confession of Belief
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

• The Confession of Followers
17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.

• The Confession of Authority
27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.”

• The Confession of Sacrifice
44 “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.

Commentary

-Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

-Matthew 22:37 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

-Luke 10:27…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.

These three New Testament Scripture passages all quote Jesus speaking words that would have been familiar to his Jewish hearers, the Shema. They’re words still used repeatedly in Jewish prayers. They all include loving God with your heart and soul which seems obvious. The inclusion of mind and/or strength is the variant that got my attention.  I understand the access to mind and strength more than I do heart and soul.

This is the age-old debate: Is it strength of commitment or the exercise of the mind that fills the heart and soul? How do we figure out what’s required of us to prove our sincerity?  It would seem even these Bible authors had their own opinion on that.  Mind and strength? Mind? Strength? Do I have to choose one or the other?

Hillel was a famous religious leader in Jewish history. He was asked to recite the whole law for a dedicated student who would prove his sincerity and his physical strength by listening to it all while standing on one leg. That’s a funny mind picture isn’t it?  Hillel’s short answer was probably pretty welcome to him; “What thou hatest for thyself, do not to thy neighbour. This is the whole law, the rest is commentary. Go and learn.”

This is the whole law…“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…”   Now go find a comfortable spot, read, study and think.  God will begin to write his whole commentary in your mind and on your heart to strengthen your soul

The Red Thread – The Complete Package

Mark 10
Bartimaeus is sitting by the side of the road begging so an approaching crowd is good but when he hears Jesus is with them he begins to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

*49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
*51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him
*52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

I forgot to add my tag to The Red Thread last Sunday but it would have been something to do with eyesight because I saw a connection between the vision of James and John and blind Bartimaeus. There’s more than one kind of blindness.

It was interesting that Jesus asked the exact same question in both of these stories; “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus really wanted them to focus on their answer to his question. James and John’s vision was of a shared glory. Bartimaeus only knew his vision was dependent on Jesus. Both were responses of faith but are they either/or options?

Instead of making it an either/or option I wonder if the point of these two stories following one another is to show they don’t compete with but complete one another? It’s a new vision of what a whole [holy] person looks like, complete with total dependence AND shared glory.

2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 15: 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

My answer to Jesus’s question? I want the complete package, please.

The Red Thread

Mark 10
*36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he
*42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Here’s the cliff notes: The disciples have left their lives behind to follow Jesus. They believe he is Messiah. They’ve found security in Jesus. He’s been the assurance of their sacrifice but now the question about who can be saved, and how, has rattled them. They’ve spent this time with Jesus waiting for that revelation, learning and seeing firsthand the powers Jesus has…even over death.

Now Jesus is telling the disciples what the chief priests and teachers of the law have planned for him in Jerusalem. It’s not good but it’s also not as real to them as what they’ve been taught their whole lives that Messiah would be revealed as a conquering king. Jesus asks James and John – “What do you want me to do for you?” It’s clear from their reply they’re seeing “glory” in their future, rather than destruction. They don’t see how the final demonstration of Messiah’s power could happen any other way.

It reminded me how easy it is in life to assume we know how Jesus will reveal his power and miss the reality of seeing it happen in our lives.

The Red Thread – The “One Thing”

Mark 10
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” 21… “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Isn’t it odd for Jesus to ask “Why do you call me good?” The reality is even the perfect son of God recognized how flawed the human perception of goodness is…even when it comes to approaching God. We can’t help but evaluate God’s promised goodness by His performance. That’s tricky to navigate in the history of the Bible and in our own lives. Jesus asked the rich young man to do more than make the choice between possessions and poverty. The “one thing” he lacked was the ability to see his treasure was the reality of a future with God beyond his own goodness.

The Red Thread – Impact on the Heart

Mark 10
Jesus is questioned by the Pharisees about divorce. It’s a law but even then it’s controversial. Jesus responds with v5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” and then lays out God’s original plan for marriage from Genesis. Then the scene changes drastically to talk of the hearts of children and the kingdom of God.

Once again this book of Mark seems to follow a unique diary-like style of writing. The first entry is the very adult issue of divorce…and it’s relationship to hearts. This was not one of the “Big 10” laws the Pharisees were asking about. It sure doesn’t fit with the words Jesus quotes from Genesis about the condition God set for the marriage relationship in v7…be united and the promise in v8…’the two will become one flesh.’ That’s the point, it wasn’t about legality of divorce at all it was about the impact on the heart.

It was the flawed reality of those hearts Jesus was addressing that makes the next entry such a dramatic contrast to the impact on the heart of a child.
• Some hearts have had years to develop their own sense of importance in the world around them. A child’s heart has not yet learned the importance of himself in the world.
• Some hearts have learned to value independence from others. A child’s heart still knows he’s dependent on others.
• Some hearts only respond to what they trust of authority. A child’s heart can more readily know the authority of those he trusts.
• Some hearts look for convenient loopholes in kingdom requirements. A child’s heart accepts God’s requirements to enter the kingdom.