Monday, December 11, 2017

Mark 1:40-45 - The Disobedient Leper

Mark 1:40-45
40 And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”41 Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. 43 And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away, 44 and He said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” 45 But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news around, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere.

Message: The Disobedient Leper

Time: Mark's personal connection with Peter gave him the source material for this book. This book was composed probably between AD 57 and AD 59. It's a book that is on the move, leading to the cross. 39 times is the word 'immediately' used. Mark reveals Jesus as God's servant, reaching into the lives of people and effecting physical and circumstantial change.

What the Lord is Saying: 

At first glance, when I look at this passage, I see that on the heels of Mark mentioning that Jesus' purpose in ministry is to preach the gospel, the next scene Mark gives us is of a man being healed. The man comes to Jesus basically begging to be healed, believing that Jesus can heal. He doesn't give Jesus his sob story, but simply states that If you are willing (or I believe you have the power), you can make me clean. Jesus obliges I am willing; be cleansed, and the man is healed. And then in response Jesus gives him a command. Now, isn't this similar to what Jesus asks of each of us. Each person comes to Jesus and believes in him and then Jesus blesses them. Jesus doesn't ask each person to do something first and then he blessed, but Jesus simply blesses. But, afterwards he does ask something of this man and asks something of us, his followers.

He tells him to: (1) say nothing to anyone, (2) go to the priest, (3) make an offering. But instead the man goes and spreads the news. And Jesus has to retreat to smaller villages to continue his mission. Jesus loves people. He has a compassion to heal them, but he also has a mission and he understands that many will not approve of him.

Old Testament Law had very specific rules about lepers. Lepers had to take precautions to prevent the spread of their disease. They had live outside the camp, away from God's special presence. The leper could only re-enter the camp once healed - but this re-entry was preceded by the priest conducting a close investigation of the leprous man or woman and offer sacrifices to restore the person to ritual purity. In Old Testament law, purity was obtained through sacrifices. It is interesting that this is the command that Jesus gives. The priests could not heal, but their intent was to confirm the healing and restore them to purity. So while Jesus healed this man, he intended the man to go the priest ready to be restored, not mentioning how he had been cleaned, but to take the proper procedures to re-enter the city. He wanted the man to follow the correct procedures and keep his healing a secret, in a way.

Thus, Mark does communicate here that Jesus does continue to have a mission, but he also brings to the attention that people are enthralled and amazed and see the potential of saving their ailments at the hands of the healing master Jesus. But, Jesus is still about his purpose and thus, everything he continues to do is to preserve that purpose.

Promise: Jesus hates what sin has done to his creation, and He is full of compassion for those who suffer the effects of the fall. Despite knowing what this man will do, the Lord heals him anyway, which is a remarkable display of His patience, compassion, and grace to undeserving sinners.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for being about compassion. Thank you for loving your people. And thank you for having a purpose. Lord, there will be different times that I am sidetracked throughout my day, but keep me focused on You and Your purposes and Your plans in my life. I am on mission to proclaim You, but I also have responsibilities in life. Keep me focused. Thank you for your example and showing me the way.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Mark 1:35-39 - The Purpose of Jesus' Ministry

Mark 1:35-39
35 In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.36 Simon and his companions searched for Him; 37 they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” 38 He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” 39 And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.

Message: The Purpose of Jesus' Ministry

Time: Mark's personal connection with Peter gave him the source material for this book. This book was composed probably between AD 57 and AD 59. It's a book that is on the move, leading to the cross. 39 times is the word 'immediately' used. Mark reveals Jesus as God's servant, reaching into the lives of people and effecting physical and circumstantial change.

What the Lord is Saying: 

Jesus here provides us his simple reason for coming and that is to preach. In Mark 1:15 Jesus says, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." This seems to clearly be his mission as these were the first words Mark has Jesus saying. Mark 1:1 states that this book is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, our text reminds us that the key and only key for Jesus' ministry is to preach the gospel, from town to town.

On the heals of everyone looking for him, to help them, he responds instead by saying his mission is to preach. His mission was not simply to heal people. Mark adds in verse 39 that he will go to synagogues throughout Galilee preach and cast out demons. The signs and wonders of miracles and deliverance are confirmation of the truth of the gospel, but the gospel must still be preached.

The world we live in today is no different. People love the supernatural. Hollywood and movies is built often on superheroes and people who can do things that humans cannot. People love this and flock in high numbers to view this. Computer games are built on this, doing the supernatural. TV shows more and more are bent on wizardry and supernatural events. This is the world we live in and get trained it. We get trained not to focus on the reality of the day and the mission of people living for the gospel of Jesus and instead we focus on Fantasy Island. And it is growing worse every day. The every day life is too hard to handle, which is why alcohol and marijuana are now so prevalent in our lives. We have been trained to not handle life but instead to medicate it and live in a fantasy world.

But Jesus reminds us that the purpose of His ministry and really our lives is preaching the gospel. I almost think that verse 35 is shown here as an example for us, that we need to take time from our life, always, and go to a secluded place and talk to the Father -  In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. It is as if Jesus is telling us how important it is for us to be reminded of our real purpose. It is not to escape, acquire, consume, be comforted, live at ease and free of problems and be entertained. Yes, life includes those outlets and we are clearly supposed to celebrate, but our purpose is to remind people of the hope we have in Jesus. The world would much rather put forth that there isn't even a problem that needs to be solved.

Promise: Fellowship with the Lord in prayer is an absolute necessity if we will be sustained in life and ministry over the long haul. This is true whether we are pastors, working in secular workplaces, or living in our homes.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for the reminder today that you were all about preaching the gospel of repentance and believing and my life needs to always mirror this. Forgive me for getting carried away often into worlds that are a fantasy and don't reflect life here on earth. I too often want to escape rather than deal with what is in front of me. Thank you for being my anchor, my shield, my refuge, my cornerstone. Help me to continue to run to you and be reminded of this. I praise you God.


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Mark 1:29-34 - Healings in Capernaum

Mark 1:29-34
29 And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. 31 And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.

32 When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. 33 And the whole city had gathered at the door. 34 And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.

Message: Healings in Capernaum

Time: Mark's personal connection with Peter gave him the source material for this book. This book was composed probably between AD 57 and AD 59. It's a book that is on the move, leading to the cross. 39 times is the word 'immediately' used. Mark reveals Jesus as God's servant, reaching into the lives of people and effecting physical and circumstantial change.

What the Lord is Saying:

I have just left Jesus exorcising a demon from a man in the synagogue. Jesus is getting personal now. He began with the message - repent and believe - and then he called his disciples to be fishers of men. He shared in the synagogue, speaking with authority and along the way, engages with a man with an unclean spirit (possessed) and removes that spirit from him with only a word. Now, he goes to the house of Simon (the Apostle Peter) and Andrew (both his called disciples) with James and John as well coming along, he comes to a sick woman (Simon's mother-in-law) and heals her. Her response is noted - she serves him. Obviously, this type of healing begins to get everyone's attention as news of this spreads and soon many are coming to him to be healed, putting their faith in him (I would imagine).

A couple of notes:

  • This passage mentions Peter's mother-in-law which means Peter was married. Thus, Jesus chose a married man to be an apostle. 
  • Andrew seems to also be living with Simon in the same house
  • Immediately into the house, immediately to the matter, immediately healed. 
  • Mark does note that they came after sundown, thus after the Sabbath day had been completed, as these people still felt like this type of work should not be done until the Sabbath was over. \
  • The demons were muzzled
  • At various times in the gospels, Jesus does not permit people to speak about him being the Messiah. Jesus did not desire at this time for this to be known by all the people. Therefore, he imposed silence on the evil spirits. 
Promise: Jesus continues to be personal, this time healing his disciples' mother-in-law

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your healing touch on our lives and knowing the right time when to reveal yourself to people.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Mark 1:23-28 - Casting out Demons

Mark 1:23-28
23 Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24 saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” 25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. 27 They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” 28 Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.

Message: Casting out Demons

Time: Mark's personal connection with Peter gave him the source material for this book. This book was composed probably between AD 57 and AD 59. It's a book that is on the move, leading to the cross. 39 times is the word immediately used. Mark reveals Jesus as God's servant, reaching into the lives of people and effecting physical and circumstantial change.

What the Lord is Saying:

I have been mentioning that Mark has been brief so far in his re-telling of Jesus and his life following his baptism in the Jordan. However, he could be brief also because he didn't have complete information and he wanted to be true to re-tell what he knew rather than adding information that he wasn't clear on. As I turn to this passage, there is more information and the words of Jesus are given. Thus far, Mark has recorded these words of Jesus - verse 15 -  The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel and verse 17 - Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men. These verses are moving from an audience of everyone, to a smaller group of the disciples to now an individual.

In each of these statements, his authority is clearly on display. Exorcising demons from a person was not unusual, as Jewish leaders and rabbi's had done this, but they often relied on procedures to help people. Jesus however simply speaks and thus relies only on his words and his authority.

It is interesting that the demon is present here in the synagogue. I wonder how long he had been present and not cried out. It's a reminder that the church can still be a place where evil spirits are present. This spirit recognizes Jesus, recognizes his authority and that he has come from God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. There is power, power, wonderful working power in the name of Jesus. And they were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” Here, everyone, the demons and the scribes and religious leaders understand what is going on. This man has greater authority that even a rabbi as he speaks and it happens.

As I follow the story, there is clearly something different about this man Jesus.

  1. Wonder, and what excited it:
    1. What they had seen -- men delivered from the power of Satan
    2. What they had heard - the all-powerful Word of Jesus
  2. Inquiry, and to what end it was directed
    1. Into the nature and reality of His works
    2. Into the character of His doctrine
  3. Popularity, and how it was extended
    1. By the reports of wondering men
    2. Swiftly spreading through the land.
Promise: Jesus sets people free from the devil's tyranny as the gospel goes forth. Evil powers can hold his creation hostage. Christ must deal with the evil powers.

Prayer: Lord, I thank you for the power that is in the name of Jesus. Thank you for dealing with the forces of Satan in our world and freeing us to be able to live for you. Keep doing this, for at times, the devil has a hold on people's lives. Keep us strengthened to live for you and glorify you. Thank you for being a personal God, concerned about each person's condition.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Mark 1:21-22 - Teaching With Authority

Mark 1:21-22
21 They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. 22 They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Message: Teaching With Authority

Time: Mark's personal connection with Peter gave him the source material for this book. This book was composed probably between AD 57 and AD 59. It's a book that is on the move, leading to the cross. 39 times is the word immediately used. Mark reveals Jesus as God's servant, reaching into the lives of people and effecting physical and circumstantial change.

What the Lord is Saying:

I have already discovered that Jesus didn't stay in Judea because of Herod. John the Baptist had been taken into prison by Herod. So instead, Jesus headed up north, near and beyond the Sea of Galilee, and here he is at Capernaum. Capernaum was located on the main trade route between Damascus and the Mediterranean coastal plain. Jesus could teach local Jews as well as those passing through on their way elsewhere.

In the synagogue, the scribes were experts in the Old Testament law and held high honor in the synagogues and sat in the prestigious seats. The scribes cites opinions from various rabbis, appealing not on their own authority but the authority of others.

Mark, as I have seen, is brief in his summation of what Jesus is doing. He doesn't record the words of Jesus, but so far, his deeds. Here, he emphasizes that Jesus, upon entering Capernaum immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. He arrived to the synagogue on the most popular day. He didn't walk in to listen, but went in to teach. And they were amazed at His teaching. It is interesting that Mark focuses on what Jesus did and the people's response and what was said is not mentioned.

For He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Again, I think Mark wants the reader to think about the impression that must have been felt by those there. Jesus taught as one having authority, thus he taught as a rabbi. He didn't simply re-tell what someone else said. Jesus was very different from the others.

Promise: Jesus was not merely a teacher, re-telling what others had said. He brought a message of authority. His Words are truth itself; he spoke with divine authority.

Prayer: Lord, again, I thank you for the words of Mark that speak of your deeds, and continue to share about you and your work here on earth. Thank you for Mark's approach. Thank you for the brilliance of your message and your authority. Help me, as your child, to always take your words seriously and heed them. I don't simply want to be knowledgeable of you, but I want my life to reflect your words.



Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Mark 1:16-20 - Jesus Calls the First Disciples

Mark 1:16-20
16 As He was going 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. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 19 Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets.20 Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him.

Message: Jesus Calls the First Disciples

Time: Mark's personal connection with Peter gave him the source material for this book. This book was composed probably between AD 57 and AD 59. It's a book that is on the move, leading to the cross. 39 times is the word immediately used. Mark reveals Jesus as God's servant, reaching into the lives of people and effecting physical and circumstantial change.

What the Lord is Saying:

This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mark begins with the fulfillment of prophecy and John preparing the way of the Lord. John proclaimed repentance, forgiveness of sin, and baptism. Jesus would come though and baptize with the Holy Spirit. At Jesus' baptism, is the union of Jesus, the Spirit, and the Father. Jesus is tempted for 40 days by Satan, but he is not alone; the Spirit ministers to him. Jesus message is the gospel of God - repent and believe. And now he introduces the next step - following Him with the purpose of becoming fishers of men.

Life to me is always about being together, about community, about fellowship. I think the world often preaches independence and is focused on protecting individual freedoms and rights. Here, Jesus is not setting out to minister on his own. He is calling disciples to come alongside. He knows he is not alone with the Spirit ministering to him in the wilderness, the Father expressing to him at the baptism he is beloved -- it is clear that our faith is about being together.

Here, Jesus saw Simon and Andrew casting nets and John and James mending nets. To each pair he called them to come follow him. Thus far, Mark has been brief in his descriptions so I would guess this one is brief as well. It's hard to fathom that it was a simple request and response that occurred here. It makes a little more sense that there might have been some discussion. The outcome was the same, they left and followed. They left probably a lucrative business as fishermen provided a staple food at this time, so what they did was in high demand. And it is hard to think they really understood what the future held. I tend to also think that the gospel message is something they had already heard because following is our response to repenting and believing in Jesus. And our desire to follow is stronger because we have repented and believed.

I think too often the message on earth is simply to believe. And what is lost is the bookend of that belief - to repent and then to follow. Mark shows that James and his brother John left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants. I don't know if the father was working or just there, if the father was older or younger and able to lead the charge still. What we do know is two brothers left to follow Jesus. Perhaps the father encouraged them. That is a possibility but what is key is that they followed.

At this point, I am also thinking about that Jesus is asking them to become fishers of men. Jesus will be preaching the gospel and many will follow, but disciples will be fishers of men. Some commentators think there are distinctive roles. Rather than being full-time laborers, like fishermen, these men are now to be full-time ministers of the gospel. This is a subject I've often struggled with because I think there is too much of a separation between full-time ministers and full-time laborers. But, let me not assume anything and just enjoy the story.

Promise: The disciple was necessary in Jesus' ministry life. He knew his time was short and he wanted men with him to learn from him so that they could pass on what he taught them.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for this message. I must admit, I struggle a little now in understanding all of its ramifications and what it means, but that is fine. I am following you, like these disciples and I am waiting to discover all that you want to teach me through that process. As I follow you, help me to continue to preach the message of the gospel in my life, calling people to repentance and to believe. Give me your strength each day and remind me that my life is not just about me, but its about others and having life together.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Mark 1:14-15 - Jesus Preaches the Gospel

Mark 1:14-15
14 Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Message: Jesus Preaches the Gospel

Time: Mark's personal connection with Peter gave him the source material for this book. This book was composed probably between AD 57 and AD 59. It's a book that is on the move, leading to the cross. 39 times is the word immediately used. Mark reveals Jesus as God's servant, reaching into the lives of people and effecting physical and circumstantial change.

What the Lord is Saying: 

Well, Mark is progressing, rather quickly. His accounts so far are rather brief, starting with John's preparation, Jesus being baptized, the temptation in the wilderness and now 2 verses about Jesus preaching the gospel. Mark begins with Jesus at age 30. The book begins with the message of it being about the gospel. Thus far, it has been about repentance and focusing on God the Father and the Spirit being present with Jesus, providing him help. Jesus is not alone, nor am I, as I traverse through life. 

Now after John had been taken into custody. Herod imprisoned John. That is kind of startling. So much for the reward of preparing the way, but our temporary surroundings don't always mirror our eternal blessings.

Jesus came into Galilee. Thus far, Jesus has left Nazareth, where he had grown up, and then to Judea and was now heading more into the retired country of Galilee. Obviously, John's conviction must have occurred in Judea, so he was on his way out. But the region he headed were populous areas, full of activity. He is  preaching the gospel of God. This is his mission - to preach the gospel of God -- the good news. In thinking about the message of faith from God up to this point, for me, it seems like a message of a relationship between God and man and man realizing his whole world is about God. But man also has seen that his sinfulness, his selfishness, and his own personal view of God, can at times get in the way. The law clarifies and reminds us further of this. Thus, the message first from John and now with Jesus is stated as good news. We need good news in life because life is so often about duty. Just as Jesus begins this life of ministry, so each of us, me, can begin a new life, believing, repenting, being baptized, and going forward.

The time is fulfilled. This moment is not by accident, but on purpose. The time of the appearance of the Messiah has been prophesied and Jesus now concludes that prophecy by stating that it has been fulfilled. It culminates in himself. Wow. Such strong words that don't rise to any debate. He is it.

And the kingdom of God is at hand. This is it. This is the time of God living, reigning, being in his people's hearts and lives. All that God has wanted in history is to be with his people, to walk with them, and to be in right relationship with them. God has so much to provide and he is simply looking for people to trust him. Life may not be simple as we can already see that John has entered prison and is now in custody. But, he has the gospel in him. While his life is now difficult, he forever has peace.

Repent and believe in the gospel. Thus, here is our response. Repentance is turning from our sin. It is an about face to go in the opposite way. Wherever you are headed in life, turn to God, instead. The gospel is Jesus and His work. Turn to him. The message is not being presented as believe in God, but rather believe in the gospel. Obviously, God is part of the gospel. But the presentation is to believe in the good news. But, is Jesus thus far clear about what the gospel is. Is he whetting the appetite of his listeners. What is clear is repentance and forgiveness of sins (v. 4). Thus, there is already faith or believe that is being asked. What is clear is that our current paths, our man-made roads and not the way and we must repent.

Often, this is what people are doing in life - seeking all the answers first, then they will change. But, the Lord is asking us to change first and then the answers will come.

Promise: The gospel is not a message that "you can have your best life now" or that "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." The gospel is Jesus Christ - repent and believe and follow him.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for Mark and thank you for the simplicity of the Gospel. Thank you for a new day and to begin again. I turn from my sin, from my paths, from my understanding and I believe in you now. I believe in you. Bring repentance to people everywhere. I think of Derek outside of London, Lord, and his ambition to have every question answered first, Lord, show him that it's about believing, it's about repenting first, giving up his direction and turning to You. Help him and people to trust in this path. Thank you for working and living in me.