New Testament Commentary- Mark

February 16

 

Mark

 

For a visual summation (map) of the ministry and travels of Jesus see:

http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/CP051GOSPELMAPS.htm

http://www.bible-history.com/geography/ancient-israel/israel-first-century.html

 

The author of this Gospel is John Mark.  His mother was a woman of wealth and position in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12).  His cousin was Barnabas (Col. 4:10).  He was a close friend of Peter (1 Pet. 5:13).  He accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary trip…but did not complete the trip.  Because of this, Paul refused to take him on the second missionary trip.  So instead, he went with Barnabas to Cyprus (Acts 15:38-40).  About 12 years later he is again with Paul (Col. 4:10; Philemon 24).  Just before Paul was executed he sent for Mark (2 Tim. 4:11).

Mark’s Gospel is directed towards Gentile readers…Romans in particular.  Because of this he didn’t include matters that would have been of interest and significance to the Jews.  For instance: the genealogy of Christ, the Sermon on the Mount, and the condemnation of the Jewish sects (Pharisees, Sadducees, etc.).  Since his readers were not Jews he felt it necessary to interpret Aramaic words (see 5:41; 7:34; 15:22) and he used Latin words not found in the other Gospels.  There are only about 63 Old Testament quotations or allusions in Mark…as compared with 128 in Matthew, and between 90 and 100 in Luke.  Mark’s Gospel is a book of action…emphasizing what Jesus did, rather than what He said.

It is generally agreed that Mark received much of what he wrote from Peter.  Mark probably wrote this Gospel in the 50’s.   It has been suggested that the theme of the book is Christ the Servant and that the key verse is 10:45, which divides the book into two parts…part 1-the Service of the Servant (1:1-10:52), part 2-the Sacrifice of the Servant (11:1-16:20) (Ryrie).

Mark seems to be the Gospel writer that wrote at a fast pace, he was in a hurry.  His is the shortest of the four Gospels…only 16 chapters.  And one of his favorite words is “immediately”…which he uses 55 times.

 

Outline:

The Introduction of the Servant              Mark 1:1-13

The Work of the Servant                          Mark 1:14-8:26

The Identity of the Servant                      Mark 8:27-10:52

The Announcement of the Servant       Mark 11:1-19

The Teaching of the Servant                   Mark 11:20-13:37

The Preparation of the Servant              Mark 14:1-42

The Rejection of the Servant                  Mark 14:43-15:47

The Exaltation of the Servant                 Mark 16:1-20

 

Mark 1:1-22

 

The Introduction of the Servant              Mark 1:1-13

Mark 1:1-8                By His Forerunner

Mark 1:1-18-Mark begins by telling about the ministry of John the Baptist.  His message was one of repentance for sin…that was visually portrayed by the act of baptism.  This repentance was based on belief in the coming of the One who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.  They were being “baptized”.  The Greek word means:

“to immerse, to submerge, to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe”

(http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G907&t=NASB).

Mark 1:9-11             By His Baptism

Mark 1:9-11-When Jesus was baptized by John it was not as an act of repentance, but of righteousness (3:15).  After Jesus was baptized a dove descended upon Him and God the Father spoke from Heaven.  This is the first recorded expression in the New Testament of the concept of the Trinity…that the Son, the Spirit, and the Father are one God…who exist in three distinct personalities.

Mark 1:12-13           By His Temptation

Mark 1:12-13-The temptation of Jesus (cf. Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13).

 

The Work of the Servant                          Mark 1:14-8:26

Mark 1:14-20           The Calling of 4 of His Disciples

Mark 1:14-Between the temptation of Jesus (:12-13) and the imprisonment of John the Baptist (:14)…the events of John 1:19-4:54 took place.  Mark explains why John was imprisoned in 6:17-20.

Mark 1:14-15-Jesus now goes to Galilee and begins to preach.  The content of His message was: 1.-The time is fulfilled (the time that the prophets had predicted for the coming of the Messiah); 2.-the kingdom of God is at hand (He was in their midst); 3.-repent (of sin); 4.-believe in the gospel (“gospel” literally means “the good news, the glad tidings of salvation through Christ”).

Mark 1:16-20-As Jesus was walking along the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee He saw Simon and his brother, Andrew…they were fisherman.  Jesus told them to, “Follow Me, and I will make you into fishers of men.”  They immediately did so.  Further along, they came upon James and his brother John (sons of Zebedee)…they too were fisherman.  They left their father and followed Jesus.

Mark 1:21-3:12       The Demonstration of His Authority

Mark 1:21-22-Jesus and His four disciples now go to Capernaum…situated on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee.  It was an important town because: it was on the caravan road to Damascus, it had a customs station (2:14), it had a Roman garrison, and it was the home of Peter, Andrew, James and John.  On the Sabbath Jesus went to the synagogue and taught.  The people were amazed at His teaching because, “He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes”.  The authority of His teaching was from Himself…whereas the scribes appealed to other scribes and sources for their authority.

Prayer:  Lord, I don’t ever want to live without Your power…whether it be seen through miracles of healing, or whether it be the power of Your Holy Spirit working in the hearts of people.  But please, Lord…anoint me with Your power, for Your glory!

 

February 17

 

Mark 1:23-45

 

The Work of the Servant                          Mark 1:14-8:26, cont’d.

Mark 1:21-3:12       The Demonstration of His Authority, cont’d.

Mark 1:23-28-In the synagogue was a man with an “unclean spirit” (a demon).  When the demon saw Jesus he began to call out through the man, “What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have You come to destroy us?  I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”  The demon is well aware of Who Jesus is and that there was a conflict between the demonic world and Jesus.  The demon asks if Jesus has come to destroy “us”…meaning the rest of this demonic realm, as well.  Certainly the whole of the demonic realm had been placed on high alert of Jesus.  They are aware that He has ultimate power over them.

Notice that the teaching of Jesus was authenticated and validated…by the authority given to it when He performed miracles.  There are several characteristics of the teaching of Jesus: 1.-It revealed truth; 2.-It called for change (repent, 1:15); 3.-It was accompanied by evidence (1:27); 4.-It was applicable to their condition; 5.-It was offered to all (2:13-17).

Mark 1:29-34-Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law and many other people.

Mark 1:35-36-Here we find the regular practice of Jesus to go away by Himself and pray (cf. Luke 5:16).  The disciples came looking for Him because “Everyone is looking for You” (:37).  But Jesus knew that if He was going to meet their needs later, He must meet His own need first.  His need was for close communion with the Father.  He went to a “lonely” (means: secluded) place where He could be alone with the Father.

Mark 1:37-39-As word of His healings get out…people begin to come to Him from all over (:28,37).   But Jesus is careful to remain focused on the purpose of His mission…”that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for” (:38).  The proclamation of the message of the Gospel, salvation, was the purpose of His mission, His priority.  The healings and miracles were meant to serve as authentication of the message…but were never meant to replace it or take priority over it.

Mark 1:40-45-A leper approaches Jesus…somewhat timidly…”If You are willing…”  Jesus’ response was one of “compassion”…the verb here is a passive participle meaning that the man’s condition profoundly affected Him.  Crowds are thronging about Him, pressing in, vying for attention.  And yet, the Lord never allowed the agenda or the drama to distract His love.  He saw this man’s condition and His heart was moved.  The word “touched” does not mean that Jesus stretched out one finger and carefully touched this wretched, leper…covered with oozing sores and infectious wounds.  The word actually means “to fasten, to adhere to”.  Jesus reached out to this man and took him firmly in His grasp.

 

Among the sixty-one defilements of ancient Jewish laws, leprosy was second only to a dead body in seriousness. A leper wasn’t allowed to come within six feet of any other human, including his own family. The disease was considered so revolting that the leper wasn’t permitted to come within 150 feet of anyone when the wind was blowing.

(for more information about leprosy see:

http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-leprosy.html)

 

When was the last time this man had felt the touch of another human’s hand?  Jesus not only healed the man physically…but He also restored the man socially, cleansed the man religiously (:44), and cured the man emotionally.

It was still early in His ministry and Jesus did not want anything to happen that would jeopardize His work.  So, He tells the man to go straight to the priest and fulfill the Law for the cleansing of lepers.  He also tells him to say nothing to anyone about how his healing had taken place…so as to not draw attention to Jesus.  But the leper could not restrain himself…”he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news about”.  The response was such that Jesus had to avoid going into cities because of the crowds He would draw.  Notice how the news about Jesus would begin to spread (1:28,37,45; 2:4,13; 3:8,20; 4:1; 5:21).

Prayer:  Lord, it is so easy to get caught up into the many demands that the ministry places on me.  Please help me to stay focused on what You would have me to do.  And Lord, let me be like this leper…unable to keep from telling others what wonderful things You have done!

 

February 18

 

Mark 2

 

The Work of the Servant                          Mark 1:14-8:26, cont’d.

Mark 1:21-3:12       The Demonstration of His Authority, cont’d.

Mark 2:1-Back in Capernaum…”at home”.  Jesus has made Capernaum His base of ministry.

Mark 2:2-10-A man that is a paralytic cannot get to Jesus…so his friends decide to help him.  The reason he cannot get to Jesus is because of the crowds standing around (:4).  Is there ever a time today when people get in the way of others who want to come to Christ?  Obviously, Jesus knew something about this man that we are not aware of…because rather than address his physical problem, He addressed his spiritual problem.  We assume that the reason that his friends brought him was because of his physical problem.  Could it be that he wanted to see Jesus because of his sin?  But Jesus wasn’t through.  He knew what the scribes were thinking.  And, He knew that they were right.  Only God can forgive sin.  So, Jesus heals the paralytic of his physical problem…as a demonstration that He had the authority to forgive sins, a spiritual problem.  What’s the connection?  Many people in that day believed that sickness was the result of sin.  So, when Jesus healed the man of his sickness, in their eyes, He was ultimately healing the man of his sin…giving him forgiveness.  In this way, He was demonstrating visually His authority to forgive sin.

Mark 2:13-17-The calling of Levi (Matthew) and the gathering of tax-gatherers and sinners…“there were many of them and they were following Him”.

 

For an explanation of who tax-gatherers were and what they did see:

http://www.bible-history.com/taxcollectors/TAXCOLLECTORSHistory.htm

 

In the incident we just read about with the paralytic it was the “crowd” that was keeping him from being able to come to Jesus.  In this case, it is specifically the religious people (:16) who have a problem with “tax-gatherers and sinners” coming to Jesus.  They are appalled that Jesus is eating and drinking with them.  Jesus tells them that those who think that they are healthy (have no need for spiritual healing, forgiveness) will not go to the doctor.  In other words, the scribes and Pharisees will not come to Him for forgiveness…because they don’t think that they need it and because they don’t think that He can give it.  But, those that know that they are sick (they recognize their sin) will go to the doctor (come to Him for forgiveness).  When Jesus says, “I did not come to call the righteous…” (:17)…He is speaking of the self-righteous (those that think that their good works make them righteous), not those that are truly righteous (those that know that only God can make them righteous).

Mark 2:18-20-Jesus says that He and His disciples do not practice fasting in the manner that the disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees did.  The reason is that fasting (which involved acts of contrition and mourning) was not compatible with the joy that His presence among them brought.  There would be time for them to fast later, after He had departed for Heaven.

Mark 2:21-22-If a piece of cloth that had not been “shrunk” (washed and dried) was added to an older piece of cloth that had been shrunk…it would eventually shrink when it got wet and then dried…and would tear apart from the piece it had been added to.  An old wineskin had already been expanded to its limit by the fermentation of the wine that had been put into it.  If you fill it again with new wine…it will burst because the new wine will ferment, but the wineskin cannot expand any further.  Jesus is telling them that His new message will not fit into the old traditions that the Pharisees and other religious leaders had developed.  It wasn’t that His message was different from what God had previously given.  But, that the religious leaders of the Jews had built an additional structure of practices and observances around God’s original message that was incompatible with the message of Jesus.  In fact, it was actually incompatible with the message of the Old Testament, but they didn’t realize it.  Their structure was based on the letter of the Law (their interpretation of the letter) and not the spirit of the Law (it’s original intent and Jesus’ interpretation of it).

Mark 2:23-28-Here we find one of those very practices that the Pharisees had developed.  It was Rabbinic tradition, not the Old Testament law, that forbade what the disciples were doing.  Yet, the Pharisees enforced their traditions with the same authority as the Law of God.  Jesus makes it clear that God established the Sabbath to be a blessing to man…not a burden.  The Pharisees had so structured their observance of the Law of the Sabbath that man became a slave to it.  This was typical not only of their observance of the Law of the Sabbath, but of every area of life.  They had added laws and requirements to virtually everything that was done…to the extent, that the law had become a burden that could not be borne, upheld (cf. Matt. 23:1-4).  For instance, consider the prohibition of boiling a young animal in its mother’s milk when preparing food to eat:

 

Since the Torah is somewhat vague in defining the parameters of this mitzvah, the rabbis felt it necessary to safeguard it by adding further restrictions. They felt that without these additional prohibitions, people would mistakenly think that it is only forbidden to actually cook a baby goat in its mother’s milk.12

The following prohibitions were added by the rabbis:

Torah law only prohibits the cooking (and eating) of the meat of a domesticated animal in milk. The rabbis added that one may also not cook (or eat) the meat of a kosher wild animal or bird with milk.13

Torah Law only prohibits the consumption of meat that was cooked with milk. The rabbis added that one may not eat meat and milk together even if they were not cooked together.14

In addition, the rabbis instituted that one must wait a certain amount of time between eating meat and milk.15

The rabbis also decreed that two acquaintances may not share a table if one is eating dairy products and the other is eating meat products.16

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1149824/jewish/Meat-Milk.htm

 

For a list of the 613 Commandments that the Jews found in the Torah see:

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/756399/jewish/The-613-Commandments.htm

 

For an explanation of what the Mishnah is, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mishnah

 

Jesus has established…

A New Authority (2:3-12) that authenticated His claims as Messiah;

A New Following (2:13-17) that attracted the religiously unacceptable;

A New Celebration (2:18-20) that was based on His presence;

A New Relationship (2:21-22) that exceeded mere religious practice;

A New Understanding (2:23-28) that identified the purpose of the Law.

Prayer:  Lord, don’t let me be the slave of tradition, or anything that would hinder Your work in and through me.  Help me to accept You completely…as You are…and not try to force You into my preconceived ideas.  Lord, You shape me, instead of me shaping You.

 

February 19

 

Mark 3:1-21

 

The Work of the Servant                          Mark 1:14-8:26, cont’d.

Mark 1:21-3:12       The Demonstration of His Authority, cont’d.

Mark 3:1-6-Jesus goes to the Synagogue on the Sabbath.  There, He finds a man with a “withered hand” (the word means: to become dry and is used of plants and crops that have no water and their leaves have shriveled up).  “And they were watching Him” refers to the Pharisees (:6) since they were there hoping to catch Jesus breaking the law so that they could accuse Him.  That’s a good reason to go to a worship service, right?  Got any Pharisees in your church…just watching for someone to mess up?  Jesus initiates a conversation and asks if it is lawful to do something on somebody’s behalf on the Sabbath…but no one answers…”But they kept silent”.  (Ryrie)-“Christ’s argument is: To be able to do good and refuse to do it is evil; not to heal this man would have been evil.”  They did not respond…showing that they were satisfied with doing nothing, evil.  Jesus was “looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart…”.  Jesus was “grieved” (cf. Matt. 5:4, disturbed, sorrowful, saddened) because the people felt no compulsion to help the man.  They were so concerned about their regulations for Sabbath observance…that they were oblivious to the need of this man.  Do we ever allow our religion to get in God’s way?  Is there ever a time when we should speak up in behalf of other people, those who are in need…but we keep silent?  Notice that this led Jesus to “anger”.  Anger is God’s response to sin…because it is contradictory to His nature, and it is destructive to His creation.  Jesus tells the man to stretch out his hand…and it is “restored” (means: to return to how it was before, its former state, to be healed).  You would think that immediately there would be rejoicing over what God had done…because God is the healer.  But not this time.  The Pharisees were so focused on the Sabbath regulations…that they failed to see God in their midst.  Does our religion ever obscure God’s presence in our midst, from us?  Can we become so caught up in our practices and our traditions that they become more important than God, Himself?  We would never admit it.  In fact, we would probably adamantly deny it.  But then again, when was the last Sunday that someone was healed in your church?  I’ll bet you finished the service on time, though, didn’t you?  Are you tired of the status quo?  Do you want God to show up in your midst…next Sunday?  Perhaps if we experience God’s presence in the midst of our hearts individually…then we will experience God’s presence in the midst of our hearts, congregationally.

Mark 3:7-10-Multitudes of people from all over were following Jesus…and He healed many of them.  People were pressing in on Him…just trying to touch Him….to the extent that He told the disciples to get a boat ready in case they had to use it for their own safety.

Mark 3:11-12-The unclean spirits (demons) knew exactly Who Jesus was and He warned them not to tell anyone.

Mark 3:13-35           The Appointing of His 12 Disciples

Mark 3:13-19-Here we find the identification (“appointed”-means: “to do, make”; i.e.-to give a unique quality to something, to make a distinction about something) of the 12 disciples…Simon Peter, James and John Zebedee (“sons of thunder”-an Aramaic word…“The name seems to denote fiery and destructive zeal that may be likened to a thunder storm” which Mark translates into Greek for his Gentile readers), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas Iscariot.  The New Testament lists the Apostles in four different places: Matt. 10:1-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:13-16; Acts 1:13.  Thaddaeus (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18) is the same as Judas, the son or brother of James (it is merely a different form of the same name…similar to: Robert and Bob, Suzanne and Sue, Phillip and Phil).  There are three specific aspects of their ministry (:14-15):

  1. to be with Jesus
  2. that He might send them out to preach
  3. to have authority over demons

Mark 3:20-21-The multitude grew so large that Jesus and His disciples could not even eat a meal.  His “own people” (family) heard of this and said “He has lost His senses.”  They were afraid that Jesus had been overwhelmed by all that was going on and had lost control, was not thinking straight.  They would soon show up (:31-32)…possibly to encourage Him to come home, to get some rest.  But Jesus was resolute, calmly determined in His mission…and would allow nothing, not even His earthly family…to interfere with His Heavenly directive.  In fact, He intentionally states that those that are part of what He has been called to do on earth are His truer, ultimate family (:33-35).

Prayer:  Lord, in this passage I see You calling out Your people to serve You.  Please call out people here, in our church, to serve You as clearly as You did there.  And help them to know what it is that You would have them to do.

 

February 20

 

Mark 3:22-35

 

The Work of the Servant                          Mark 1:14-8:26, cont’d.

Mark 3:13-35           The Appointing of His 12 Disciples, cont’d.

Mark 3:22-27-The scribes claim that Jesus is possessed by Beelzebub.  Jesus responds by saying that if He is possessed by Satan and is casting out the demons of Satan…then Satan is finished…because he would be fighting against himself.  Then He says that the only way that He has the power to overcome demons is that first He must have had the power to overcome Satan…their master.

Mark 3:28-30-Jesus then says that anyone who attributes His work to Satan has committed a sin that cannot be forgiven (cf. January 16, Matt. 12:22-50).

Mark 3:31-35-His mother and brothers arrive and ask for Him.  He announces that anyone who does the will of God is His true brother and sister and mother.  Those who belong to the family of God are closer to Jesus than those of His own earthly family.

Prayer:  Lord, sometimes it is discouraging when people misunderstand me, or misrepresent me.  I am trying to do Your work…and yet, there are those, who challenge, question, and oppose virtually everything that I do.  Please help me to have Your discernment…to know which among them are just immature and mistaken…trying to follow You, but not seeing things correctly; and those that are simply opposed to You and the work You are doing through me.  Then Lord, give me the wisdom to know what to do…how to respond according to Your will to each of them. And Father, I pray that You would give me the humility to accept critique when it is correct.

 

February 21

 

Mark 4:1-20

 

The Work of the Servant                          Mark 1:14-8:26, cont’d.

Mark 4:1-34             The Preaching through Parables

In these verses, Jesus tells 4 Parables that demonstrate how the Word of God is communicated, how people respond to it, and what it produces in them.

Mark 4:1-5-#1 The Parable of the Sower

This parable demonstrates how people respond to the Word, the Gospel in four different ways…the first three are the wrong ways to respond.  Only the last is the correct way to respond.

Mark 4:1-2-Jesus is teaching in “parables”.  A parable is an earthly story, with a Heavenly meaning (“parable” means: “to put one thing by the side of another for the sake of comparison”).  (Ryrie)-“Parables were told by Christ for opposite effects: on the one hand, to make the truth more engaging and clear to those who were willing to hear (Luke 15:3) and, on the other, to make the truth obscure to those who lacked spiritual concern (Mark 4:11-12).”

Mark 4:3-Jesus says, “Listen”…meaning to pay careful attention so that you may learn something of importance.  In verse 9, Jesus says that we should have ears to hear…meaning not just hearing the sound, but understanding the meaning.  The word “hear” will be repeated and have significance in each of the four different parts of the parable.

Mark 4:4-6-Person #1…The Hard Ground: the Word is rejected before it is heard (the Deniers)

The earthly story: a farmer goes out to plant his seed.

The Heavenly meaning: The Word of God, the Gospel, is like a seed that God plants in people’s hearts when it is proclaimed (:14-sower sows the Word).

Mark 4:4-The earthly story: some of the seed fell beside the road where the ground is hard and packed down from the traffic of men…and the seed lies on top.  The birds ate it up.

The Heavenly meaning: because the person’s heart is hard, unresponsive, the Word is not received and it has no positive affect upon the person.  Satan quickly acts to remove it, lest it have an affect still later (:15-immediately Satan comes and takes away the Word sown in them).  This person’s heart is hard because it has been stepped on, trampled upon by disappointment, sorrow, bitterness, unfairness, cruelty, or any other number of the troubles of life.  Through some means of reasoning they blame God for what has happened.  And now, they are not even willing to listen to the Word…turning a deaf ear.  They don’t want to hear the Word.  They have already made up their mind and will not even listen.  Have you ever tried to tell someone about Jesus and they said, “I don’t want to hear about it.  I don’t believe in God”?

Mark 4:5-6-Person #2…the Rocky Ground: the Word is one among numerous options (the Deceived)

The earthly story: some of the seed fell on the rocky ground.  There is nothing but rocks here.  So, there is no soil for the seed to sink its roots into.  Immediately the seeds sprang up, but not down.  Because they had no soil, they had no moisture for nourishment to sustain them.  Consequently, they were scorched by the sun, and withered away.

The Heavenly meaning: these people have only made a cursory, superficial acceptance of the Word…an intellectual approval of its truth…but not a valid, authentic acceptance by faith.  When they hear the facts, the truths of the Word…they become excited because they believe it will benefit them.  The Word of God is on their heart…but not in their heart.  The particular verb that is translated as “hear” suggests that they have heard the Word but not actually made a decision…they are holding it in reserve.  They are thinking about it…but have not yet made a final decision.  The verb is in the subjunctive (potential) mood.

“Mood is the quality of verbs which indicates the relation of action to reality…Subjunctive Mood: This expresses action which is not really taking place but which is objectively possible”. (Essentials of New Testament Greek, Ray Summers, pp. 12, 107)

Then, later, when they face difficulties that arise because of the Word (persecution that accompanies those who are followers of Christ will eventually come, as certainly as the sun will eventually rise) their half-hearted approval of the Word proves to be incapable, inadequate, and unsatisfactory in dealing with the problem.  Actually, they don’t want to deal with the problem, at all.  They want to discard the problem.  So, to accomplish that, they discard the Word, blaming it for being ineffective, instead of recognizing that they had never fully accepted it.  As long as the Word appeared to be a source of satisfaction and happiness, they were all for it.  But they weren’t buying into anything that might result in difficulty and struggle.  They were looking for immediate gratification, they lived only for the moment (:16-“immediately receive it”).  There is no thought of commitment and dedication (:17-“immediately they fall away”).  For them, the problem isn’t that there is no blessing (they know there is)…but, that there is a cost associated with the blessing that they are unwilling to pay.

4:7-Person #3…the Thorny Ground: the Word is too other-worldly (the Distracted)

The earthly story: some seed fell among the thorns (briars, bramble, plants with pointed thorns).  The thorns were thick, numerous, and ultimately overwhelmed it and choked it out, so that it produced no crop.

The Heavenly meaning: The verb (a participle) “heard” suggests that the Word was something that was currently being given ongoing consideration, but only as one option among several.  It has not been accepted as the sole, singular, final option…being the most important of all.  But, as one value, among many.  There are other factors, other considerations that are perceived to have equal, or perhaps even greater, significance in making decisions and living life.  These include: “the worries of the world” (“worries” means the things of the world that we care about, stress out over…perhaps the opinions of others, peer pressure, public acceptance); “the deceitfulness of riches” (“deceitfulness” means false, counterfeit, never actually producing what is promised; “riches” means wealth, abundance of possessions); and “desires for other things” (“desires” is the word commonly translated as “lust”, craving, longing for something…and “other things” simply means anything that we want so much that our desire for it controls us).  The Word is callously added to this grab bag of influences and priorities.  This person is one-dimensional…living only for what the world they live in can provide for them…here, and now.  They are so caught up, so preoccupied, so engrossed by these things…that the Word becomes a mere afterthought.  There is no attention, no consideration of the future, of eternal matters.  Only the physical.  Only the pleasurable.  Only the present.  Thus, the Word produces nothing in them, or through them (:18-unfruitful).

Mark 4:8-Person #4…the Good Ground: the Word is fully received and productive (the Disciples)

Mark 4:20-These people “hear” the Word (they listen attentively), “accept” the Word (means: to receive, to acknowledge as one’s own); and “bear fruit” of the Word (the presence of the Word is obvious because the believer is continuing to grow as the fruit of the Holy Spirit is produced in his life).  The seed grew up, increased, and yielded a crop…30, 60, and 100 fold.  Not all will bear fruit the same, but all will bear the same fruit. (:20).

Prayer: Lord, help me to be faithful to spread Your gospel…and to not stop, no matter what the reception may be.  Help me to keep myself pure and unstained by the sins of the world…and from sin of my own.  Please help my heart to be receptive to You and let Your fruit be produced completely and thoroughly, in and through me.

 

February 22

 

Mark 4:21-41

 

The Work of the Servant                          Mark 1:14-8:26, cont’d.

Mark 4:1-34             The Preaching through Parables, cont’d.

Mark 4:21-25-#2 The Parable of the Lamp

This parable demonstrates how the Word reveals all things…even as a lamp reveals what is around it.  When someone hears the Word it makes all things clear.   When someone hears the Word, they are responsible for what they now know.  So, they should listen carefully and respond in an appropriate manner.  You will only be able to understand the Word to the degree that you are willing to obediently respond (:24-25).

Mark 4:26-29-#3 The Parable of the Growing Seed

This parable demonstrates how the Word has the ability to grow and will one day result in a great harvest of souls.  This is a parable about the growth of the Kingdom of God.  We may not be able to fully explain how the Kingdom of God grows…but we can be certain that one day there will be a time of harvest when the days for growing will end…and we will all stand before God to give an account of our life.  The word “harvest” is often used as a reference to the last days and judgment.  We cannot know exactly when that day will come.  But we should be ready for it to come, right now.

Mark 4:30-34-#4 The Parable of the Mustard Seed

This parable demonstrates how the Word is initially small but grows larger than any other plant (cf. January 24, Matthew 17:14-21).  Jesus says this is a parable about the Kingdom of God and how its population of believers will eventually grow to massive proportions…larger than any other kingdom.

Mark 4:33-34-Jesus taught many parables “as they were able to hear”…meaning able to understand.  He explained them to His disciples.

Mark 4:35-6:6          The Demonstration of His Authority

Mark 4:35-41-Jesus calms the storm at sea.  This was a visual proof of His authority over the earthly realm that substantiated His authority for the verbal proclamation of the Word.  This experience offers a great lesson on faith.  First, in v. 35, Jesus told the disciples that they were going to go to the other side of the lake.  No matter what happened on the lake that day…they should have realized that He had already told them that they were going to make it to the other side.  We can always trust God to fulfill, to accomplish what He has said.  His Word never fails.  Second, when we are in a panic and succumbing to fear…never, ever assume that it must mean that God doesn’t care.  Just because we are in a panic does not mean that God will be, also.  He is calm and composed…because He has absolute control over whatever is assailing us.  Third, He is sovereign over everything…e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g!  We may agree with that intellectually…but never lose the wonder, or the awe of Him…”Who then is this…?”  Fourth, when Jesus asked, “Why are you so timid? (this word comes from the word “fearful”)  How is it that you have no faith?”…He was asking them how much it was going to take, how many miracles was He going to have to perform, before they began to transfer their faith in Him in one instance, to the next.  It was almost as if they compartmentalized their faith in Him.  “I’ve seen Jesus do this…so, I have faith in Him for that need.  I’ve seen Him work this miracle…so, I have faith in Him to handle this problem.”  But somehow, that faith never extends to something else, to a different circumstance.  Jesus is telling us that our faith in Him should expand and broaden until it covers every area of life.  There is nothing that He cannot handle.

Mark 4:41-The disciples were “very much afraid” when they began to contemplate Who Jesus was as a result of this miracle…they had a greater fear of Him, than they had of the storm.

Prayer: Lord, when I read Your word, please help me to have a clear understanding and to respond to it correctly, in obedience.  I ask You to explain it to me as You did to the disciples because sometimes I am hard of hearing.  And Lord, please help me to always have a more holy awe and fear of You than I do of anything else.  Please help me to always remain in reverence of You.  Help me to always find out that You are greater than I ever thought, before!

 

February 23

 

Mark 5:1-20

The Work of the Servant                          Mark 1:14-8:26, cont’d.

Mark 4:35-6:6          The Demonstration of His Authority, cont’d.

 

It is nighttime (4:35) when they arrive in the country of the Gerasenes.  A man who was demon-possessed and lived in the graveyard approaches them.

 

Demon Demoniac: “signifies “to be possessed of a demon, to act under the control of a demon.” Those who were thus afflicted expressed the mind and consciousness of the “demon” or “demons” indwelling them, e.g., Luk 8:28. The verb is found chiefly in Matt. and Mark; Mat 4:24; 8:16, 28, 33; 9:32; 12:22; 15:22; Mar 1:32; 5:15, 16, 18; elsewhere in Luk 8:36; and Jhn 10:21, “him that hath a devil (demon).”,

http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1139&t=NASB

 

The local townspeople had forced him to live there because of his violent nature and behavior (:3-4).  Jesus questions him and discovers that he refers to himself as “Legion”.

 

“The word ‘legion’ is the designation for a company of Roman soldiers numbering 6,826 men, an emblem of irresistible power and of a multitude organized into unity.”

Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Kenneth Wuest, vol. 1, p. 103

 

This signifies the fact that a host, a large number, of demons live in him.  Such is the control of the demons over the man that when he speaks Jesus recognizes that it is the collective voice of the demons that He hears and not the voice of the man.  The demons know Who Jesus is and beg Him to not “torment” them.  Considering the present condition of the man (a social outcast, emotionally anguished, physically suffering, and spiritually depraved, :2-5) we realize this to be the condition in which the demons are most comfortable and don’t want to leave.  Imagine then, what Hell must be like, how much worse it will be…where they will face torment for all of eternity…if they are comfortable with the condition they are now in.  Why do demons want to inhabit a human’s body?  It has been suggested that before they were cast out of Heaven (cf. http://www.gotquestions.org/one-third-angels.htmlf), the demons had a body…but, that when they were cast out they became disembodied spirits.  Now, while they are dwelling in the earthly realm, they constantly seek to reenter into a bodily form…be it that of man, or animal.  It is interesting that they implore Him by “God”.  Don’t ever be surprised when people who are not submitted (or even opposed) to God try to use God for their own advantage and benefit…as a bargaining chip.  The demons ask that they be allowed to go into a herd of pigs that was grazing, nearby.  Jesus agrees to allow them to do so, then commands the demons to come out of the man.

The herdsmen keeping the pigs ran into town and reported what had just happened.  When the townspeople came to see for themselves they found the man who had been previously possessed by the demons (spiritually healed), sitting down (emotionally healed…calm, in control), clothed (socially healed), in his right mind (mentally, physically healed…not harming himself).  Instead of being thrilled for the recovery of the man…they were troubled over the loss of the pigs. The people became “frightened”, and yet, their response was not one of reverence.  They told Jesus to leave.  Perhaps they had other pigs in the area and were afraid of losing them, as well.

Mark 5:18-20-The man who had been demon-possessed asked Jesus if he could go with Him.  But Jesus told him to go back home and tell the people “what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you” (:19).  He did just that…telling the people who lived in “Decapolis” (a region to the southeast of the Sea of Galilee where there were 10 cities) what great things Jesus had done for him.  Did you notice that Jesus told him to tell what great things the “Lord” had done for him, and Mark says he told them what great things “Jesus” had done for him.  This is a subtle reference to the Trinity.  The next time Jesus comes to this area the people are more receptive to Him (Mark 7:31).  Could it have been because of the testimony of this man?  Are the people who live in your area more receptive to Jesus because of your testimony?  This incident is another visual proof (authentication) of His authority for when He speaks, of His verbal proclamation (this time over the spiritual realm).

Prayer: Lord, please help me to always be ready and willing to tell people about the great things that You have done for me!  Help me Lord, when You are working in my life…to recognize those things and be in reverence and awe of You.

 

February 24

 

Mark 5:21-43

 

The Work of the Servant                          Mark 1:14-8:26, cont’d.

Mark 4:35-6:6          The Demonstration of His Authority, cont’d.

Jesus performs two miracles of healing…visual proofs of His authority for His verbal proclamation (over the physical realm).

Mark 5:21-24-Jesus returns to Capernaum.  Once again, the crowd is so large that Jesus has to stay along the shore of Galilee.

Jairus was an elder, a leader, in the synagogue in Capernaum.

 

Elder

  1. ruler of the synagogue. It was his duty to select the readers or teachers in the synagogue, to examine the discourses of the public speakers, and to see that all things were done with decency and in accordance with ancestral usage.

 

Synagogue (Ruler of The):

denotes “the administrative official,” with the duty of preserving order and inviting persons to read or speak in the assembly, Mar 5:22, 35, 36, 38; Luk 8:49; 13:14; Act 13:15; “chief ruler” (AV) in Act 18:8, 17.

Note: In Luk 8:41, “ruler of the synagogue” represents archon, “ruler,” followed by the genitive case of the article and sunagoge.

(Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)

http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G752&t=NASB

 

Jairus tells Jesus that his daughter is “at the point of death” and requests that He “lay Your hands on her that she may get well and live.”  Jesus goes with him to heal his daughter (12-years old).  The crowd follows.

Mark 5:25-34-Along the way a woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind Jesus and touched His robe.  For all these years she had 1.-continued to struggle with a hemorrhage, the constant flow of blood; 2.-endured much treatment by doctors (“endured” is a participle and it suggests that she had been to doctor after doctor trying to find help); 3.-she had spent all of her money; 4.-she had found no help; 5.-she just kept getting worse.  But, “after hearing about Jesus”…she thought that if she could just touch His robe she would get well.  What faith!  And it worked.  “Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.”  Jesus realized what had happened and asked who it was that had touched His clothing.  The crowd was pressing in and the disciples said it was impossible to know which single person it might have been.  But Jesus knew…and He turned and looked at the woman.  She was now afraid that she had done something wrong…and fell at His feet, telling Him her story.  To alleviate her fear, Jesus responds in a most compassionate manner, “Daughter” (a term of affection, endearment).  He tells her that because of her faith in Him, He has healed her.  The word “affliction” speaks of something that is very severe, sometimes being translated as “whip, scourge”.  Her entire life had just been changed.

Mark 5:35-43-Suddenly word arrives from Jairus’ home that his daughter has died and that there is no need to “trouble the Teacher anymore”.  Imagine, they actually thought that they were bothering Jesus.  Jesus tells Jairus, “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.”  These words are not a request, or a suggestion, but a command.  What father wouldn’t have been afraid in that circumstance?  When they arrive at the home there is a commotion…people crying and weeping over the little girl’s death.  Jesus says that the little girl “has not died, but is asleep”.  People in the crowd laugh at Him.  Jesus goes into the room with the little girl…only allowing her parents to come with Him…along with Peter, James, and John (:37,40).  He took the child by the hand and said, “Talitha kum!”  Mark translates this Aramaic phrase for his Gentile readers, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”  Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around.  Her parents were amazed.  Perhaps Jairus had hoped that while she was still alive that Jesus could heal her.  He was well aware that He had done this for other people.  But to raise her from the dead…that was something more that he had not expected.  Jesus told them to give her something to eat.  He then told them to not tell anyone what had happened.  However, there was little chance that that was going to happen.

Prayer: Lord, please help me to have compassion on all people…regardless of age, or sex, or status.  Help me to see them through Your eyes.  And Lord, please give me the faith that I need to do Your ministry…and to never quit, no matter how long a problem has lasted (the woman had been sick for many years), no matter how hopeless it may seem (the woman had already tried everything humanly possible, the daughter was already dead), and not matter what other people may say (the people laughing at Jesus).  God, do the unexpected!  I love to be amazed at You!

 

February 25

 

Mark 6:1-32

 

The Work of the Servant                          Mark 1:14-8:26, cont’d.

Mark 4:35-6:6          The Demonstration of His Authority, cont’d.

Mark 6:1-6-Jesus returns home, to Nazareth.  He speaks in the synagogue and the people there basically reject Him. Because of this He could not do many miracles there…He wondered at their “unbelief”.  Jesus, though probably disappointed with their response, is not surprised, saying that this is the normal reception that a prophet receives from those in his hometown.

Mark 6:3-Four half-brothers of Jesus are mentioned in this verse (James, Joses, Judas, Simon) and His “sisters”, half-sisters.  Only James (the leader of the church in Jerusalem and the one who wrote the book of James) and Judas (Jude-wrote the book of Jude) would ever be mentioned as being a follower of His.

 

For clarification on Jesus having brothers and sisters, and an explanation on the false teaching that His mother, Mary, was a perpetual virgin, see this site:

http://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-siblings.html

 

Mark 6:7-13             The Ministry of His Disciples

Mark 6:7-13-The commissioning of the 12 Apostles.  Jesus sent them out in pairs.  Here were their instructions:

  • They had authority over unclean spirits
  • They were to take nothing with them (except a pair of sandals)
  • They were to stay in the house of the one who welcomed them
  • They were to shake off the dust from their feet as they left when anyone would not accept them
  • They preached that men should repent
  • They were casting out demons and anointing with oil the sick and healing many

 

shake the dust off your feet

Listen to what the Hebrew linguist and the great Jewish scholar John Gill says about this particular idiom:

“The Jews believed that even the dust of a heathen and wicked country contaminated them. To “shake the dust off your feet” was the Jewish way of signifying that they would have nothing more to do with those who would not welcome the people of God, or anything more to say to to those who refused to listen to their message. By shaking the dust off their feet, the Jews looked upon those who acted in this manner as impure and unholy, as they would any heathen city or country. Jesus is alluding to this custom when He speaks to His disciples. He is instructing them that there will come a time when they will need to “shake the dust off their feet” in their desire to communicate with others.  By this act, they testify that the very dust they shake off their feet will rise up in judgment against them, and declare that though the good news of God’s grace has been proclaimed among them, they have rjected both the messenger and the message, and as a result, will find an aggravation to their condemnation.”

http://www.wadeburleson.org/2012/08/shaking-dust-off-feet-turning-over-to.html

 

  1. He pronounces a very heavy doom upon those that rejected the gospel they preached (v. 11); “Whosoever shall not receive you, or will not so much as hear you, depart thence (if one will not, another will), and shake off the dust under your feet, for a testimony against them. Let them know that they have had a fair offer of life and happiness made them, witness that dust; but that, since they have refused it, they cannot expect ever to have another; let them take up with their own dust, for so shall their doom be.’ That dust, like the dust of Egypt (Ex. 9:9), shall turn into a plague to them; and their condemnation in the great day, will be more intolerable than that of Sodom: for the angels were sent to Sodom, and were abused there; yet that would not bring on so great a guilt and so great a ruin as the contempt and abuse of the apostles of Christ, who bring with them the offers of gospel grace.

Matthew Henry Commentary, Mark 6

http://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Mar/Mar_006.cfm?a=963011

 

Mark 6:14-29           The Death of John the Baptist

Mark 6:14-29-King Herod hears about Jesus and thinks that John the Baptist had risen from the dead.  Others suggested that He was Elijah, or a prophet.  Herod was guilt ridden and paranoid.  He had illegally (and immorally) married his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias.  John had publicly condemned him for his actions.  Herodias had a “grudge” against John.  Herod was “perplexed” (means: embarrassed, didn’t know what to do) by John because while he enjoyed listening to him preach (:20)…at the same time he knew that John was condemning him.  Finally, there was a large birthday party for Herod…everybody who was somebody, was there.  Herodias’ daughter danced at the party and she “pleased” Herod so much that he made the audacious statement that she could ask for anything she wanted, up to half of his kingdom, and he would give it to her.  She asked her mother what to request…and Herodias said the head of John the Baptist.  Herod didn’t really want to do that…but he allowed his ego to be pushed into a corner (:26).  He had John beheaded immediately and his head brought to the party and presented to the daughter and her mother.  Maybe he did so as proof that he had done so.  Or perhaps, since he knew that Herodias was aware of his interest in John and still used pressure in a public setting to force him to do what he didn’t want to do…this was an “in your face” act on his part.  Herod was “afraid” (:20) of John while he was alive…and now, he is more afraid of him than ever.

 

Mark 6:30-8:26       The Demonstration of His Authority

Mark 6:30-32-The disciples return from the missions that Jesus had sent them on (:7) and give Him a report of what had taken place.  He takes them away in a boat to a secluded place so that they can rest.  There are so many people that are following them that He is aware that they could become physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted.  While ministry is exhilarating, it is also exhausting

Prayer: Lord, I’m not sure, but it seems that perhaps it was their familiarity with Jesus that led the people in Nazereth to not believe in Him.  They had known Him growing up, His whole life…and now, they could not get beyond their preconceptions about Him.  Please help me Lord to never become too familiar, to comfortable with Jesus…so that I don’t recognize Him for Who He really is.

 

February 26

 

Mark 6:33-56

 

The Work of the Servant                          Mark 1:14-8:26, cont’d.

Mark 6:30-8:26       The Demonstration of His Authority, cont’d.

Mark 6:33-44-Even though Jesus had intended for the disciples to have some time away from the crowds…the people watched their progress across the Sea of Galilee and headed around the lake to their destination.  A “great multitude” has gathered on the shoreline by the time they arrive.  Jesus felt “compassion” because they were like “sheep without a shepherd”…so He began to teach them.  It began to get late in the day and the disciples suggested that He send the people away into the area villages so that they could find food.  I can almost see a slight smile in the corner of Jesus’ mouth as He responds by telling the disciples to feed them.  He is all too aware of what is about to happen.  They are flabbergasted and say that it would cost 200 denarii (this was the basic Roman silver coin used in Palestine and a rural worker would earn about 1 denarius per day)…to feed that many people…a significant amount of money!  Jesus tells them to “Go look!” and see what they have available to use to feed the people.  They return, probably thinking that their finding would bring an end to this approach to feeding the people.  “Five loaves and two fish.”  Jesus tells the crowd to be seated in groups.  He takes the loaves and fish in His hands…looks up to His Father and blesses it.  Then, He starts breaking the loaves and fish into pieces, and pieces, and more pieces…until everyone in the crowd had pieces…and not just a tiny piece…but they all had enough to eat so that they were “satisfied”.  Afterward, they picked up 12 full baskets of leftover fish and loaves.  There were 5,000 men (plus women and children).  Never forget what can happen when we place what God has given to us…back into His hands.  The feeding of the 5,000 was a visual proof, authentication of His authority (over the earthly realm) for His verbal proclamation (over the spiritual realm).

Mark 6:45-52-Jesus tells the disciples to get into a boat and go to Bethsaida…located further to the east of Capernaum and about 2 miles north of the Sea of Galilee.  He began sending the crowd home.  He then went off by Himself to pray.  Somewhere between 3-6 a.m., Jesus looked across the lake and saw the disciples struggling to reach their destination because they were rowing into a stiff wind.  Jesus began to walk to Bethsaida…on the water…”and He intended to pass them by.”  When the disciples saw Him, they thought He was a ghost and were afraid, but He identified Himself and got into the boat.  When He did so, the wind stopped and they were “greatly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.”  Why didn’t the disciples connect the dots?  How many times would Jesus have to perform miracles before they would stop believing in Him in only the specific areas that He performed a miracle and begin to believe in Him as the Lord of everything?

Prayer: Lord!  Please do not let my heart be hardened.  Don’t let me miss what You are teaching me.  Help me to recognize the significance of everything You do so that I might realize exactly Who You are.  And Lord, please help me to see how what I have learned in one instance is to be transferred to the rest of my life.  Don’t let me compartmentalize, and limit You…to only what I have seen, or understand…but help the faith You give me to be extended to every aspect of life.

 

February 27

 

Mark 7:1-13

 

The Work of the Servant                          Mark 1:14-8:26, cont’d.

Mark 6:30-8:26       The Demonstration of His Authority, cont’d.

Mark 7:1-13-The Pharisees question Jesus concerning what they call the “traditions of the elders” (:5).  They had many of these practices: “and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe” (:4).  Jesus refers to them as the “precepts of men” (:7), and says that the Pharisees had elevated them to the level of “doctrines” (:7) and “the commandment of God” (:9)…and, even allowed them to surpass them in importance (:8).  He then gives a specific example in reference to the 5th Commandment…and their teaching concerning “Corban” (this word comes from the Hebrew word for “offering”, cf. Lev. 2:1,4,12,13; 7:13; 9:7,15).  Their tradition allowed a man to give money to the Temple that should have been used to support his parents (Ryrie-Evidently, too, he was not really obliged to devote that sum to the temple.).  Jesus says that this is their way of getting around the commands of God…by substituting their own teachings.

 

ḲORBAN (lit. “an offering”):

  1. A sacrifice of any kind, whether bloody or bloodless; term used by Josephus in the sense also of a vow-offering, or of something devoted to God (“Ant.” iv. 4, § 4; “Contra Ap.” i. 22; Mark vii. 11). 2. The sacred treasury in which the gifts for the Temple, or the alms-box in which the gifts for the poor, were kept (Josephus, “B. J.” ii. 9, § 4; comp. Matt. xxvii. 6).

The term “ḳorban” was frequently used in vows. By saying, “Let my property be to you ḳorban”—that is, a gift consecrated to God—a man could prevent another from deriving any benefit from what he possessed (Ned. i. 4). This, of course, led to great abuses, as, in fact, all inconsiderate vows did, and, therefore, was much opposed by the sages (see Eccl. v. 1-5). Jesus (Mark vii. 11-13; comp. Matt. xv. 5-9) had such a vow in view when he said: “If a man say to his father or mother, That wherewith thou mightest have been profited by me is Ḳorban, ye no longer suffer him to do aught for his father or his mother, making void the word of God by your tradition” (Greek). But the charge of hypocrisy, or lip-service, raised against the Pharisees in this connection is entirely unfounded; for pharisaic tradition did actually provide a remedy against rash vows by empowering any sage consulted to dissolve the vow in case it could be shown that it was not made with a full consideration of all its consequences; this very power “to loosen that which is bound” by the Law being declared to be a privilege of the Rabbis, derived from the spirit of the Law while seemingly against the letter (“hetter nedarim”; Ḥag. i. 8).

It is expressly declared, however, by R. Eliezer that if a vow infringes upon the honor due to father or mother, the right procedure is to endeavor to convince him who made it that he failed to consider the consequences sufficiently, and then to dissolve the vow; others, however, dissented, holding that God’s honor ought to be considered first (Ned. ix. 1). Against this, R. Meïr declares (Ned. ix. 4) that “wherever a vow is made which infringes the laws of humanity, the vow should be dissolved by the sage.” Thus the Mishnaic code shows the instance quoted in the New Testament to be, instead of a reproach of pharisaism, as contended by Oort in “Theol. Tijdschrift,” xxxviii., a vindication of the humane spirit prevailing among the Rabbis; possibly Jesus had only the rigorous class of teachers in mind, while his more humane views were those shared by others. See Alms.

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/9468-korban

 

Traditions of men

The point of their accusation is telling: Jesus and his disciples had violated the “traditions of the elders” (Mark: “tradition of men”), as if those traditions were now authoritative and could be sinned against. These traditions were still oral in Jesus’ days, but were written down a couple of centuries later. The traditions about washing would be found in the tractate called Yadayim or “Hands” (see Mishnah Yadayim 2:1). What this means is that the traditions of men had been elevated to the status of Scripture, so that one could be guilty of violating them. By the way, the same problem exists today as many groups have their “biblical” views, and to violate them means criticism or expulsion from the group. But some of those views are applications and not what the Bible actually teaches.

https://bible.org/seriespage/22-jesus-and-traditions-elders-matthew-151-20

 

Prayer: Lord, please keep me from any traditions, or teachings, or attitudes that do not come from You.  As I read Your Word, I see that there are many traditions that are rich and meaningful…but don’t let me merely value the form, the shadow, and not the substance.  Help me to see the true spirit and intent of what we do…and not just keep the letter of the law.  I pray that my worship and service will be pleasing to You…and that I don’t just go through the motions.

 

February 28

 

Mark 7:14-37

 

The Work of the Servant                          Mark 1:14-8:26, cont’d.

Mark 6:30-8:26       The Demonstration of His Authority, cont’d.

Mark 7:14-23-Jesus does not dismiss the OT teachings concerning the eating of unclean animals (cf. Lev. 11).  Instead, He clarifies that it’s not the animal that actually makes a man unclean, but the rebellious, defiant heart that acts in disobedience to what God has said.  The disciples did not quite understand what He had meant so later they ask for clarification.  Jesus explains to them that it isn’t unclean food that actually defiles a person, but the act of rebellion against God (when He had commanded them to not do so) when it is eaten that defiles him.  The eating of the food is indicative of the condition of the heart.

Mark 7:24-30-(cf. Jan. 22, Matt. 15:21-39 for a more detailed explanation) Jesus goes to the region of Tyre, trying to be unnoticed…but it didn’t work.  A Syrophoenician woman (a gentile from the region of Phonecia in Syria) brought her daughter who had an unclean spirit to Him.  He initially rebuffed her by explaining that He had come exclusively to the Jews.  But, because of her persistence and correct understanding that His message was really for everyone, He cast the demon out (He did so without going to where the girl was).

Mark 7:31-37-Jesus goes to the region of Decapolis.  A deaf (cannot hear) and dumb (cannot talk) man was brought to Him.  He put His fingers in his ears, touched his tongue with His saliva and healed him.  The people were astonished and said, “He has done all things well.”  Is this a comment on how well He does things, or, is it a comment that recognizes that He has done everything that OT prophecy had said the Messiah would do?  In other words, “He has accomplished everything that was prophesied.”  Perhaps both.

Prayer: Lord, help me to keep my heart clean, free from defilement and sin.  Help me, Lord…to be faithful and obedient to You…whether, or not I completely understand why it is that You tell me to do what You desire for me to do.

 

March 1

 

Mark 8

 

The Work of the Servant                          Mark 1:14-8:26, cont’d.

Mark 6:30-8:26       The Demonstration of His Authority, cont’d.

Mark 8:1-9-A great multitude of 4,000 people had been with Jesus for 3 days and they have become very hungry.  Jesus decided that they needed to eat.  It’s an amazing thought that God is not just concerned about matters that are of an eternal nature…but He is concerned that I am hungry, and tired.  And not just concerned, but desires to do something about it.  This time, different from when He fed the 5,000, He didn’t tell the disciples to feed them.  Instead, He asked how much food they had with them.  But they assumed that He would ask them to feed the people and began to wonder where they would find that much food.  They had 7 loaves of bread and a few small fish.  He fed them all and afterwards collected 7 baskets full of leftovers (Ryrie-the words “large baskets” speaks of larger baskets than those used with the 5,000 in 6:43…more like the kind used to let Paul down over the wall of Damascus in Acts 9:25).  How quickly they had forgotten what He had done, before.  It is vital to our faith that we remember God’s faithfulness to us in the past…that we remember the works of God.

Mark 8:10-13-Jesus and the disciples get into a boat and go to the district of Dalmanutha (an unknown location)…but obviously somewhere in the vicinity of the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  The Pharisees argue with Jesus.  They wanted a sign from Heaven, to test Him.  He says that no sign would be given to this generation.  This does not mean that Jesus did not work miracles…just that He would not do the kind that they wanted…a sign in Heaven, or some celestial miracle that would satisfy their demands.  The reason none would be given is because in reality none would ever be enough, none would ever satisfy.  They were not really looking for a sign.  Their intention was to keep increasing the level of their demands until Jesus could not meet it…and then use that as their evidence that He was not from God.  They get back into the boat and leave.

Mark 8:14-21-The disciples had forgotten to bring bread for a meal.  Jesus tells them to beware of the “leaven of the Pharisees” and they think that He is bringing attention to their failure to bring bread, food.  He corrects their misunderstanding and chastises them for their “hardened heart”.  Again (cf. 6:52), Jesus reminds them of the miracles He had previously worked…and of the fact that they have not yet begun to put the pieces together concerning Him.  A “hardened heart” is the inability to get beyond the physical realm, and recognize those things that are of the spiritual realm.

Mark 8:22-26-They arrive in Bethsaida.  The last time they were there Jesus had healed many people, 6:53-56.  Yet, by and large, despite the miracles that He performed there, the people did not repent of their sins, Matt. 11:21.  Jesus heals a blind man…first He spits on his eyes (perhaps cleaning dirt or eye discharge off of them)…then lays hands on him, but he only sees partially.  So, He puts His hands on his eyes again and this time he could see clearly.  Jesus told him to not go into the village, but to go home.  Again He is trying to keep control over the response to His miracles so that He does not draw too much attention from the religious authorities.

A friend of mine once asked me, “Why didn’t Jesus just heal the blind man completely the first time?”  Two thoughts seem to provide the most helpful answer.  The first thought is, notice that it says, “they brought a blind man to Him.”  Obviously, it could simply mean that the blind man could not find his own way to Jesus, so someone had to bring him.  However, many blind people are fully capable of finding their way around an area that they are familiar with.  So on the other hand, it could mean that while the blind man did not have a lot of faith in Jesus and His ability to heal him, his friends did.  As an act of their faith, they brought the man to Jesus.  Then Jesus healed him in such a way that his faith would be involved.  Jesus took the man where he was…at the level of faith that he exhibited.  After all, he did at least agree to be taken to Jesus.  In response, Jesus gave an initial healing to his eyes.  Just enough so that he could see some, but also just enough so that he would realize that there was still more that could be done for his eyes.  And, just enough, so that based on what had already happened…he would begin to exercise greater faith in Jesus.  Then, based on this man’s increased faith in Him, Jesus healed his eyes completely.  There are two great lessons on faith, here.  One is that Jesus will take us at whatever degree of faith we have when we come to Him.  Not everyone comes to Jesus with exactly the same faith.  He will take us at the level of faith that we have in Him…in order to bring our faith in Him to what it must be.  Second, it encourages us to not allow our faith to become stagnant…but to increase as we learn more about Him.

The second helpful thought is that Jesus was being very intentional in what He did when He healed this man.  People can become so mechanical, so methodical in their religious practices.  So, Jesus changed His method of healing to prevent there from becoming a standard method of operation for the healing of the blind.  Here is the key: He didn’t want people to simply focus on the method of healing, but on the message of the healing.  Here, at Bethsaida, Jesus healed a man brought to Him by his friends, in two stages.  He led the man from having no faith in Him…to having great faith in Him.  Later, Jesus would heal a blind man named Bartimaeus who would call out to Him on his own, without help from anyone.  In fact, the people in the crowd tried to make him stop calling out to Jesus…but he refused.  Jesus would clearly state, “your faith has made you well,” and heal him without even touching him (Mark 10:46-52).  Clearly, Bartimaeus already had faith in Him that would not be stopped.  In the Gospel of John (9:1-40) we find a man who was blind from birth.  Jesus happens across this man as He is walking through Jerusalem, “as He passed by”.  Initially he exhibits no faith of his own in Jesus.  This time Jesus makes mud from His own spit and dirt, places it on the man’s eyes, and tells him to wash it off in the pool of Siloam.  It wasn’t until a later conversation with Jesus that the man truly placed his faith in Who He was.  So, what is the point?  Don’t become so enamored with the method of healing that you miss the message of healing.  In each and every case the healing was intended to direct people to have faith in Jesus.

 

The Identity of the Servant                      Mark 8:27-10:52

Mark 8:27-33           The Revelation of His Identity Proclaimed

Jesus goes to the area of Caesarea Philippi (cf. Matt. 16:13-16).

 

Caesarea Philippi

http://www.bibleplaces.com/banias.htm

 

He asks the disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”.  Peter responds, “Thou are the Christ.”  Jesus then began to teach them more directly about His death and resurrection.  Peter tried to stop Him…but Jesus said, “Get behind Me Satan…” because what Peter was saying was the way that men would respond and not what God wanted.  Peter was among Jesus’ closest friends and associates.  If He listened to him, then He would not accomplish His mission.  Perhaps He called him “Satan” because that is exactly what Satan had tried to do when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness.  Peter was acting in a manner that was in keeping with that of Satan and Jesus refused to have anything to do with it.  Surely, such a sharp rebuff would keep Peter from making such suggestions in the future.

 

Mark 8:34-38           The Requirement for His Followers

Mark 8:34-38-Jesus calls the multitude together along with His disciples and tells them that the cost of following Him would require their willingness to die to themselves.  This seems to be a direct response to what Peter had said.  Evidently, Peter had tried to discourage Him from talking about dying…and Jesus’ response was that not only must He be willing to die…but, if they were going to follow Him, then they must also be willing to die, as well.  Jesus tells them that if they are going to be His followers they must “deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me”…all three are commands.  Jesus speaks of two reasons why someone might not follow Him: 1.-“gain the whole world” (to have all the profits and benefits that the world has to offer); 2.-“ashamed of Me and My words” (to be accepted by men and to avoid the persecution that comes from following Him).  However, Jesus responds that there is nothing in this world that’s worth gaining…that is worth losing your soul over.  And, there is no one in this world whose opinion is worth gaining…who is worth losing the opinion of God over.  The words “deny” and “lose” are strong, intense words.  “Deny” means “to affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone; to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests”. “Lose” means “to destroy, to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to ruin”.  Jesus is making it absolutely, totally clear that to follow Him means to forsake all else.

Prayer: Lord, I need Your help to see beyond the apparent, the physical matters of life.  It is so easy for me to recognize these things.  I need Your help to see, to remember, and to understand things from Your perspective, from the spiritual side.  I am so accustomed to the flesh.  Please help me to become more accustomed to the Spirit and to allow You to have greater rule over my life than anything else.  If I am to ever truly crucify the flesh, to take up my cross and follow You, then I must have this understanding.  Otherwise, I will forever be captivated by the things of this world.

 

March 2

 

Mark 9:1-29

 

The Identity of the Servant                      Mark 8:27-10:52, cont’d.

Mark 9:1-13             The Revelation of His Identity Confirmed

Mark 9:1-Jesus says that there are some that are standing there with Him who will be present at the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit comes.

Mark 9:2-8-This is referred to as the Transfiguration (cf. January 24, Matthew 17).  Peter is awestruck by the presence of Elijah (who represents the OT prophets) and Moses (who represents the Law) and suggests that they build three tabernacles (tents)…one for each of them and one for Jesus.  Suddenly a cloud formed and God spoke…”This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!”…establishing the words and teaching of Jesus as being superior to the other two.  They looked around and Elijah and Moses were gone…leaving Jesus as the final and ultimate voice of God.

Mark 9:9-13-As they were returning down the mountain, Jesus told them to not tell anyone about what had just happened until He was raised from the dead.  They began to discuss what this meant.  Then, the disciples questioned Jesus about Elijah.  He said that it is true that Elijah must come first and has already come.  He is making reference to the fact that John the Baptist has come in the spirit of Elijah and fulfilled that prophetic role.  Then He brought their discussion back around to Himself and the suffering He would go through.

 

Mark 9:14-10:52     The Training of His Followers

Mark 9:14-29-When they arrive at the place where the disciples are gathered, they find a man who had brought his son (a mute possessed by a demon) to the disciples and they had been unable to heal him.  Jesus’ response again reminds us that we should always remember what He has done before and that our faith in Him in those instances should be applicable to what is happening in new instances.  He says, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you?”  In other words, He is telling them that He should not have to perform miracle after miracle for them to have faith.  They should recall what He has already done and that should be enough. They had better learn the lesson, now.  He’s not going to be with them forever, to keep on performing miracles.  The father asks Jesus to heal his son, “…if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!”  Jesus’ response suggests that He can, but that the father could, as well…if he just believed.  The father tells Jesus…”I do believe; help my unbelief.”  The word “help” is simple enough, but its implications are profound.  This man is asking Jesus to complete in his faith what is lacking.  This has been happening to his son since he was a child.  Surely this father had tried everything to help his son.  And now, he has brought him to the disciples and Jesus.  He was desperate.  It is as if he is saying, “I want to believe…but I’ve almost given up hope.  Please, I want to believe, but I need Your help to do so.  Help me to do what I cannot do on my own.”  Hebrews 13:6 uses the same word for “help” and says, “The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid…” (a reference to Psalm 118:5-7).  Jesus became the man’s Helper…and healed his son.

What is there in your life that you just haven’t been able to overcome?  Jesus will be your Helper…He will come to your rescue…if you just call on Him.

Later, the disciples asked Jesus why they had not been able to cast out the demon. Jesus tells them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.”  It is only through the consistent life of prayer that we develop our uninterrupted relationship with God and learn to trust Him in every incident of life.  Commenting on this incident, one Bible commentator writes, “The highest function of humanity is belief, that activity of spirit that proceeds upon the pathway of reason, until it comes to some great promontory, and then spreads its wings, and upon the basis of its earlier journeying, takes eternity into its grasp” (Studies in the Four Gospels, The Gospel According to Mark, G. Campbell Morgan, p. 201).

Prayer: Lord, I know that there are things that can only be done through much prayer.  Please, hear my prayers.  At times, they seem to be so inadequate in the face of the needs that are present.  Holy Spirit, please make my prayers acceptable and pleasing to the Father…and let me know how You would have me to respond and what You would have me to do.  Don’t let my prayers just end with my voicing them.  Teach me to pray, Lord.

 

March 3

 

Mark 9:30-50

 

The Identity of the Servant                      Mark 8:27-10:52, cont’d.

Mark 9:14-10:52     The Training of His Followers, cont’d.

Jesus begins to expand on His teaching about His death and resurrection.  The disciples didn’t understand but were afraid to ask Him about it…perhaps because of His recent rebuke of Peter (even though Peter did not just ask a question, but tried to influence His thinking).

 

Servanthood

These verses can be difficult to understand.  In particular, verses 49-50.  Part of the reason is that they are sometimes thought to deal with several different topics of teaching (for instance: how we are to relate to other people, dealing with people who are not a part of the group that followed Jesus, judgment in Hell).  However, when these verses are read together, understanding them to all be dealing with a single, cohesive topic…then it becomes much easier to understand them.  In these verses, Jesus is teaching about Servanthood.

 

The Premise of Servanthood (:33-35)

Jesus and His disciples have returned to Capernaum.  Along the way the disciples had been arguing among themselves about who was the most important, “the greatest” (:34), the “first” (:35).  Jesus asks them what they had been talking about, but they were ashamed to tell Him.  No need though, He already knew.  Obviously, they were accepting the world’s standard for greatness…that being, the one who is served is the one who is greatest.  Jesus turns that concept completely around and says that in His kingdom the greatest is the one who does the serving…not the one who is served.  You don’t attain greatness by being served, nor do you even become great by serving others.  But, serving is greatness.

 

The Object of Servanthood (:36-37)

In verses 36-37, Jesus tells them that they must be a servant to everyone, not  just those they choose.  By using a child as an example of the type of person that they are to serve, He is showing them that they are to do so to everyone, even the very least significant person.  A child was at the bottom of the typical social order…and they were to serve even a child.  There is nothing that a child could do for them in return.

 

Child, children (from the Greek παιδίον, paidion)

  1. a young child, a little boy, a little girl
  2. infants
  3. children, little ones
  4. an infant
  5. of a (male) child just recently born
  6. of a more advanced child; of a mature child;
  7. children (like children) in intellect

http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3813&t=NASB

 

The Examples of Servanthood (:38-41)

Then, in verses 38-41, in the course of this conversation, John tells Jesus that they had recently encountered a man who was casting out demons in Jesus’ name (believing in Him and Who He is).  And yet, he was not a part of the group that was keeping company with Jesus.  So, they told him to stop.  Jesus told them to not stop people from serving Him just because they were not part of His entourage.  He told them that whether a person was doing something as spectacular as working a miracle in someone’s life (:39) in His name, or as simple as giving someone a cup of cold water (:41), in His name…they are both an act of service, in His name.  And, they would both be rewarded.  Jesus is showing that serving people comes in all shapes and sizes…each and every one is important…and God blesses them all.

 

The Seriousness of Servanthood (:42-48)

But He isn’t finished there.  Not only does serving people come in all shapes and sizes…but, those that we are to serve come in all shapes and sizes, as well.  In verse 42, He now approaches the same topic, but from a negative perspective.  What will happen if a Christian fails to serve “one of these little ones”? In verses 36 and 37, the term “child”, was used of an individual of a very young age.  It spoke of someone who held no social position, or influence in society.  In that sense, they were the very least in society.  Here, a different term is used.

 

“little ones”…from the Greek word μικρός (micros)

Least:

the comparative of No. 3, is used of

(a) size, Mat 13:32, AV, “the least,” RV, “less;” Mar 4:31 [cp. No. 1 (a)];

(b) estimation, Mat 11:11; Luk 7:28, AV, “least,” RV, “but little,” marg., “lesser” (in the kingdom of heaven), those in the kingdom itself being less than John the Baptist [cp. No. 1 (e)]; Luk 9:48.

See LESS.

Notes:

(1) In 1Cr 6:4, AV, exoutheneo, in the Passive Voice, “to be of no account,” is translated “is least esteemed” (RV, “are of no account”); see ACCOUNT.

http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3398&t=NASB

 

It is intended to identify adults.  Not just any adult…but an adult whom Jesus associates with the “child” in verses 36 and 37.  An adult who has not status, no prestige in the social order.  In fact, they are just the opposite.  This person is on the bottom rung of the proverbial social ladder.  And Jesus warns against causing any believer (:42-little ones who believe) to “stumble” (to lose faith in Christ).  Even this person who seems to be on no consequence, of no benefit.  There would seemingly be no profit to serve such a person.

 

Stumble

“scandalizo”…to offend…from which we get the English word “scandal”.

 

  1. to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall, metaph. to offend
  2. to entice to sin
  3. to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey
  4. to cause to fall away
  5. to be offended in one, i.e. to see in another what I disapprove of and what hinders me from acknowledging his authority
  6. to cause one to judge unfavourably or unjustly of another

http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4624&t=NASB

 

How does this happen?  How do we cause people to “stumble”?  We cause people to “stumble” when they know that we claim to be a follower of Jesus…and yet, we fail to live as He has commanded…that is, by serving other people.  Remember, this admonition falls immediately on the heels of the disciples arguing among themselves concerning which of them is greater.  And then, by the simple extension of the argument of who is greatest…it will be determined who is least, and who should be serving whom.  Jesus turns this whole basis for greatness on its head…and tells them that it isn’t greatness that they should be so interested in, but Servanthood.  In fact, He warns against anything that would inhibit their ability to serve.

 

In verses 43, 45, and 47, He says, “And if your hand (foot, eye) causes you to stumble…”  Here, to “stumble” is speaking of something that is present in the life of a Christian that causes him to fail to properly serve people.  Notice that Jesus says that whatever this is…”it causes you to stumble”.  “You” is talking about the Christian.  In other words, there is something in the Christian’s life…that causes the Christian to stumble.  And then, as a result, it causes someone else to stumble.  Jesus then uses hyperbole (the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech) to emphasize the importance of what He is saying.  He doesn’t literally mean that a person should cut off his hand, or foot, or gouge out his eye.  But, He is showing the degree of the importance that He associates with our being a servant to other people.  Nothing in our life (even hand, foot, or eye) should be more important.  It is better to lose something, give up something, of yourself in this present life in order to serve others…than to face judgment for not having done so in the future life.

What is there in a Christian’s life that could cause him to stumble…to not serve other people?  Jesus says, “And if your hand”…could that be speaking of something that a person refuses to give up, to let go of…wealth, riches, possessions, a relationship…and as a result, it keeps him from serving others?  Jesus says, “And if your foot”…could that be speaking of places a Christian goes, activities he is involved in, people he associates with, behavior he is involved in…and as a result, it keeps him from serving others?  “And if your eye”…are there things that a Christian might look at with envy, with lust, with anger, with bitterness, with jealousy… and as a result, it keeps him from serving others?  And for the other person…when they become aware of these things in a Christian’s life…it totally discredits and invalidates the Christian’s witness and ability to serve in the name of Jesus.  And worse yet…it brings into disrepute the name and person of Jesus, Himself!

 

The Responsibility of Servanthood (:49-50)

 

Verse 49

Eventually, everyone’s behavior (works, life) will be judged.

 

1 Corinthians 3:15 (NASV)

  1. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

 

Fire burns away the dross, the sin (:44,46,48).  In a similar thought…salt is used to purify.  Salt is a purifying agent.

 

Salt was required in every sacrifice burned on the altar. Besides its preserving factor, it also has a purifying affect on what it comes in contact with. Ezekiel 16:4 records that newborn babies were rubbed with salt. In addition, Elisha treated a bad water supply in Jericho with salt. Besides purifying, then, it also signifies a new beginning.

http://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/12069/Salt-as-Purifying-Agent.htm

 

This is a metaphor…fire and salt, are two very different things, but they accomplish the same thing…to purify.

 

Verse 50

Don’t let your discernment, your judgment be weakened, or become distorted…so that you don’t recognize something in your life that inhibits your service to other people.  Once that happens…you are no good for service to anyone.  You have lost your ability to purify, to influence those around you.

 

The idea of salt losing its flavor (taste) and thereby becoming worthless is found in two other passages in the New Testament.

 

Matthew 5:13 (NASV)

  1. “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

 

Jesus tells us that if we fail to rightly discern our lives (our actions and behaviors)…we will lose our ability to be salt (a purifying agent, a witness to righteousness) to other people.

 

Luke 14:34-35 (NASV)

  1. “Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35. It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

 

Luke records another time when Jesus taught this same concept.  There, Jesus is teaching about what it means to be one of His disciples.  He tells them that they must give careful consideration to the cost of following Him.  It would involve a total realignment of values…including family and life, itself…so that He is their number one priority, with no contenders.  And, it would be a permanent condition.  Such that…every day each of them must be willing to “carry his own cross” (:27)…be willing to die every day to the things of the world (:33) in order to live for Jesus.  If they are unwilling to do this…then they have no value…because they have no witness.  They have no value to Christ because they cannot be depended upon…they vacillate between the things of this world and the things of Christ. In verse 34, the passive verb (ἀρτυθήσεται) suggests that the salt is incapable of being used as a season (since it has lost its saltiness, its flavor).  They have no value to those that know them because their half-hearted commitment to Christ never bears the evidence of a transformed life that would appeal to them in such a powerful manner that they would desire to follow Jesus, as well.  Such a life is useless. If you’re not willing to count the cost, you’re no good to anyone.

 

Servanthood Purifies Our Motives

There will be times when it will be difficult for us to serve someone.  But, these very difficulties are opportunities for our motives (attitudes, character) to be purified.  These are the times, the people, which God uses in our lives to mold us and shape us into the person He wants us to be.  It is easy to serve people that we love, people that serve us back, people that are receptive to the Gospel.  But that affords little opportunity for the Holy Spirit to be operative in our lives.  Basically, we can handle that on our own.  However, when we encounter people who would be quicker to stab us in the back than to pat us on the back, people that are resistant to spiritual matters, people who are have a grudge against God…and we determine that Jesus would have us to serve them…then, we must lean heavily, no, completely upon the Holy Spirit.  And it is at such times as these…that the Holy Spirit is able to transform His character into our personality.  Salt purifies.  We should have pure motives. The very people that we struggle with the most in our willingness to serve…are the ones that God uses most effectively to purify our motives.

 

Servanthood Preserves our Relationships

      “Have salt in yourselves”…Jesus ends by telling us to take responsibility for our behavior, our willingness to serve other people.  Take responsibility to judge our behavior now, so that it will not be judged later.  When we see other people correctly…and are willing to serve them…then we will have peace with each other.

 “Be at peace with one another”…stop trying to be greater, better than each other.  This will only happen when we serve each other.  As long as we think that someone owes us something, or should treat us better, should serve us…we will not have peace. We should desire to serve others…then we will be at peace with one another.  Peace comes when we accept the role of the servant.

Prayer: Lord, sometimes I don’t recognize the contributions that others are making to Your Kingdom.  I want other people to agree with me and my agenda…and don’t give them grace to be following You in the way that You have led them.  Please forgive me.  Help me to see You at work through them…and to encourage and assist them in whatever ways You would lead me.  Help me to be a peacemaker among Your followers.  And Jesus, help me to serve all people.  To have a true servant’s heart…to have Your heart.

 

March 4

 

Mark 10:1-31

 

The Identity of the Servant                      Mark 8:27-10:52, cont’d.

Mark 9:14-10:52     The Training of His Followers, cont’d.

Mark 10:1-Jesus travels beyond the Jordan to the region of Judea (to the west of the Jordan River).

Mark 10:1-12-Responding to questions posed by some Pharisees, Jesus teaches concerning divorce (remarriage and adultery).  He tells them that God’s original plan was for a man and a woman to be married for life…but, due to their hardness of heart, He made a provision for divorce.  This is the command that Moses had given them.  If a man divorces his wife and then he marries another woman…he has committed adultery against his first wife.  And, if the wife divorces her husband and then remarries…she has committed adultery (cf. January 27, Matthew 19:1-15).

Mark 10:13-16-People were bringing children to Jesus so that He might touch (bless) them.  The disciples tried to stop them.  Jesus was “indignant” (very displeased) with this and told them to not hinder the children from coming to Him.  He then used the children as an illustration of the fact that we must come to God with the same child-like faith that they had expressed in coming to Him.  He then took them into His arms…and began “blessing them, laying His hands upon them.”

Mark 10:17-31-Jesus teaches concerning eternal life…a man approaches Him and asks, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Mark 10:18-Jesus first draws attention to His own true identity, His divine nature…“No one is good except God alone.”

Mark 10:19-20-Jesus then draws attention specifically to those Commandments that deal with relationships with other people.  The man says that he has kept these…”from his youth up”…he had been at this for along time.

Mark 10:21-Jesus “felt a love (agape) for him” and told him that he lacked (had failed) at only one area…he valued his possessions more than he valued people.  Really, this is a revelation that his keeping of the Commandments that Jesus had mentioned was purely on a technical level.  He had done what was required, mechanically.  But had not really done what was intended.  He had only done what was prescribed…he had met the requirements, the letter of the Law, and nothing more.  His intent had been to keep the Law…not to fulfill the intent, the spirit of the Law.  He was more concerned about keeping the Law, than about loving the people.

Mark 10:22-T he man’s “face fell” and he “went away grieved“…“he was one who owned much property.”  But had he truly believed in Jesus then he would have listened more closely to his words, because Jesus said that if he would give up his death grip on his treasures on earth, then he would “have treasure in heaven” (:21).  Surely, the treasures of Heaven are greater than anything on earth!  This man was so focused, so intent on his earthly possessions…that he missed the greatest treasure of all…Jesus.

Mark 10:23-27-Jesus comments that it is very difficult for those who value property more than anything else to be willing to give it up…for the value of the Kingdom of God.  The disciples were concerned about this…thinking, as many do, that material wealth and possessions were a sign of spiritual blessing, and membership in the Kingdom of God.

Mark 10:28-31-Peter says that they had left everything they possessed in order to follow Him.  Jesus responds that there will be compensation in store for those who do such…both on earth, and in Heaven.  However, the compensation on earth will be mixed…in that, there will also be persecution along with blessing.  After all, this is still earth.  The compensation in Heaven is “eternal life”.

Prayer: Lord, please keep me from being a spiritual technician…just meeting the requirements.  Help me to know and practice the intent of Your Law and Commandments.  Help me to live in the Spirit and to be pleasing to You.  Help me to place the proper value on material things…and to never confuse them with the value of people.  Lord, the saying comes to mind, “We are given people to love and things to use.  Don’t confuse the two.”

 

March 5

 

Mark 10:32-52

 

The Identity of the Servant                      Mark 8:27-10:52, cont’d.

Mark 9:14-10:52     The Training of His Followers, cont’d.

Mark 10:32-34-Jesus and His disciples are on the road going “up” to Jerusalem (it was situated 2,500 above sea level…their route probably led them through the Jordan Valley which was below sea level).  The disciples were “amazed” at the determination of Jesus to go to Jerusalem and at the same time “fearful” knowing what possibly would happen there.  Jesus tells the disciples what was going to happen in detail (arrest, trial, death, resurrection).

Mark 10:35-45-James and John request to sit on his right and left hands in Heaven, places of authority.  The other 10 disciples become upset over their request.  Jesus tells them that they do not understand what it would cost them to have this privilege.  Then, He tells them that following Him will in fact cost them greatly.  He again teaches them that greatness in His kingdom is measured by service to others.  He is the perfect example of this principle.

Mark 10:46-While passing through Jericho a blind man named Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus for mercy…the people try to make him be quiet.  How many times have people wanted to come to Jesus…but other people tried to silence them.  Why?  They didn’t fit their picture of a follower of Jesus.  They were disturbing their idea of what should be happening.  Jesus tells Bartimaeus, “Go your way…”, and he began “following Him on the road”.  Now…Jesus’ way was Barnabus’ way.  That’s what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

Prayer: Lord, one moment here we see Your disciples clambering for position, to be next to You (in prestige and power).  But You correct them…it’s not where you sit that matters, but how you serve.  Then we see people who should be serving others and bringing the needy to You…actually attempting to hinder them.  Please help me Lord…because I often want to sit by Your side and share in Your glory…instead of being a servant who thinks of others before I think of myself and who brings those that need You, to You…to bring You glory.

 

March 6

 

Mark 11:1-19

 

The Announcement of the Servant       Mark 11:1-19

Mark 11:1-11           By His Entrance into Jerusalem

(for a more detailed explanation see: January 31, Matthew 21:1-22)

 

Mark 11:1-11-It is Sunday.  As they come near Jerusalem (Bethpage and Bethany…near the Mt. of Olives)…Jesus sends two disciples to go into the village and find a colt for Him to ride on. As He enters, the people called out to Him and threw palm branches in front of Him. They call out “Hosanna!”, which means “Save now!”  This is the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9…the hailing of the coming of the Messiah.  Jesus rode into Jerusalem, looked around, then returned to Bethany…because it was already late in the day.

 

They shout Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! (v. 13). These are lines from one of the Psalms of Ascents (Ps 118:25-26) sung as a welcome to pilgrims coming up to Jerusalem. As such, this is an entirely appropriate thing to do as Jesus is coming up to Jerusalem. But there is more involved here. The cry of Hosanna! is a Hebrew word (hoshi`ah-na) that had become a greeting or shout of praise but that actually meant “Save!” or “Help!” (an intensive form of imperative). Not surprisingly, forms of this word were used to address the king with a need (cf. 2 Sam 14:4; 2 Kings 6:26). Furthermore, the palm branches the people carry are symbolic of a victorious ruler (cf. 1 Macc 13:51; 2 Macc 10:7; 14:4). Indeed, in an apocalyptic text from the Maccabean era, palms are mentioned in association with the coming of the messianic salvation on the Mount of Olives (Testament of Naphtali 5). The cry of Hosanna! and the palm branches are in themselves somewhat ambiguous, but their import is made clear as the crowd adds a further line, Blessed is the King of Israel! (v. 13). Clearly they see in Jesus the answer to their nationalistic, messianic hopes. Earlier a crowd had wanted to make Jesus king (6:15), and now this crowd is recognizing him as king in the city of the great King. Here is the great dream of a Davidic ruler who would come and liberate Israel, establishing peace and subduing the Gentiles (cf. Psalms of Solomon 17:21-25).

Jesus responds by finding a young donkey to sit on (v. 14), thereby making a mess of the picture they were creating. He should have found a horse to ride on or made use of some other symbol of power. Instead he paints from a different palette. His action undercuts their nationalism and points in a different direction, evoking an image from the Prophets: Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt (v. 15; from Zech 9:9). He is indeed king, but not the sort of king they have in mind.

John says the disciples did not make the connection with the passage from Zechariah at the time: At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him (v. 16). The word translated realize is emnesthesan, “remember,” the same word used to describe their recollection and insight into the cleansing of the temple (2:22). At the time they were caught up in the swirl of events and did not really understand what was going on. From what we know of them elsewhere, they probably shared the nationalistic hopes of the crowd (for example, Acts 1:6). The disciples and the crowd thought they were honoring Jesus, and they were. But they did not really understand the true meaning of what was happening nor even what they were saying. They did not put the events of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and the Scripture together, so they did not grasp what had taken place until after Jesus had been glorified. They needed to see the revelation at it greatest in the death and resurrection of Jesus and to have the help of the Spirit who was not available to them until after the glorification (7:39) before they understood the significance of these events (cf. 15:26; 16:13-14).

https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/John/Jesus-Enters-Jerusalem-King

 

Mark 11:12-19         By His Cleansing of the Temple

Mark 11:12-14-It is Monday.  Jesus sees a fig tree and looks to see if it has any fruit.  When it doesn’t, He curses it (:14,21).

Mark 11:15-19-When they entered the Temple, Jesus cast out those who were operating businesses there and overturned the tables of the moneychangers (this is the second time that He cleansed the Temple…John 2:13-17).  He quoted Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11…“…My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? But you have made it a robber’s den.”  His actions were causing a stir among the people since He appeared to be more concerned about what took place in the Temple than the religious leaders did.  He was also upsetting the profitable businesses that took place around the Temple.  The religious leaders heard about what He was doing and began to make plans to kill Him.

Prayer: Lord, save me from public opinion.  The very ones who praised Jesus here on Sunday…were possibly among those who crucified Him on Friday.  Don’t let me base my life, or my faithfulness, or my love for people, or my ministry for You…on the response of people.

 

March 7

 

Mark 11:20-33

 

The Teaching of the Servant                   Mark 11:20-13:37

Mark 11:20-26         Concerning Faith

Mark 11:20-26-Jesus uses the cursed fig tree as an opportunity to teach the disciples about prayer.  The next day, as they were passing by the tree they saw that it was completely withered. (cf. 11:1-they were on the Mount of Olives…:23-“this mountain”).  Jesus was teaching them that not only would prayer work on a single fig tree, but is powerful enough to work on anything, even something as large as the mountain (cf. January 31, Matthew 21:1-22).  He begins by saying, “Have faith in God”.  Here is the premise, or basis for the very content of all answered prayer.  This faith…because it is in God…will be established and determined by God.  It isn’t that just any prayer will be answered.  But, that prayer which is consistent with God…His character, and His will.  Pray, ask, and believe that you have received and it will be done.

There are three hindrances to answered prayer that are given, here.  First, as we have seen, the prayer is not in harmony with God’s will.  There must be “faith in God”…the submission of my request to His final and ultimate decision.  See the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (14:35-36) for the perfect example of this practice.  Even the Son was submissive to the will of the Father.  Second, the one praying “does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen”.  The word “doubt” is a contraction of two Greek words (“dia”…meaning “through, by means of” and “krino”…which means “to judge, to make a distinction, to determine”…when they are put together it means that through the faculty of reason, or rationale, a person is making a judgment, or distinction between two things) and means that a person says that he believes one thing, but in his mind (what he can understand, explain as being possible) he has accepted something else.  He says that he believes that it is possible…but because he cannot figure out how it could actually happen (from a human perspective)…in his mind, he has a different opinion that is more dominant.  Our mind, our intelligence, our rational thinking must be submitted by faith to God.  While what we are praying for may not be possible, according to the laws of this physical realm in which we exist…God is not limited by such restrictions.  If He so chooses, God can intervene through His sovereign, divine power and work in miraculous ways.  At such times when we reach the end of our intellectual capacity to understand how something is possible…it is by faith that our journey continues into the possibilities of the that which is doable only by faith.  “Have faith in God.”  The third hindrance to prayer is the failure to forgive others.  An unforgiving heart is a sign of an unbelieving heart.  For surely, if we are to believe in a sovereign God that can work miracles in the physical realm…then we must also believe that His same sovereignty extends into all areas of our life, as well.  Our belief would be an affirmation that we accept that He is sovereign over everything in our life.  God has exhibited that He is forgiving of our sins.  Therefore, as His children, in keeping with His nature that we have inherited through the work of His Spirit, we should be forgiving of those who have sinned against us.  To not do so is an expression that we do not actually accept His sovereignty (we refuse to abide by His will)…and therefore, we do not believe that He is sovereign over the matter that we are praying about.  That prayer will not be answered.

Mark 11:27-33         Concerning His Authority

As Jesus enters the Temple the religious leaders question the source of His authority.  He knows that if He says it comes from God that they will claim that they are the resident representatives of God and they know nothing of God giving Him any authority.  Or, they might accuse Him of blasphemy…saying that by claiming to have the authority of God, He was making claim to be God.  While they would have been right in their conclusion…they would not have accepted it and would have proceeded to have Him punished.  So, Jesus turns the table on them.  He says that He will answer their question if they first answer one for Him.  They agree to do so.  I think for a moment, their common sense gave way to their pride.  They were probably thinking that there was no question of theology that this pseudo-miracle worker could ever ask that they could not answer.  This was their chance to outshine Him in front of the people.  “Sure, fire away!  Ask us any question You want!”  Jesus proceeds to ask them where John the Baptist got his authority…that is what He was speaking of when He asked them what the source of the baptism of John was.  They don’t want to say it was from God…because they had opposed John.  But, neither do they want to say it was from man…because the people believed that John’s baptism (authority) came from God and then the people would be against them and in favor of Jesus.  To avoid giving a direct answer they simply say that they don’t know.  Jesus tells them that if they won’t answer Him, He feels no compulsion to answer them.

Prayer: Lord, please teach me the truths that You meant here in this lesson on prayer.  Help me to believe in You and not doubt.  To submit my mental, rational understanding to You.  And help me to forgive, as You forgive.  Teach me to pray, Lord.  There is so much I need to learn.

 

March 8

 

Mark 12:1-27

 

The Teaching of the Servant                   Mark 11:20-13:37, cont’d.

Mark 12:1-12           Concerning Israel

Mark 12:1-12-Jesus tells a parable about a vineyard…it is a teaching about Himself and how the Jewish leaders will mistreat Him.  In the parable…the man who built the vineyard represents God, the vineyard is Israel, the slaves represent the Old Testament prophets and John the Baptist, and the son that they killed is Jesus.  The destruction of the vineyard speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.).  The Jewish leaders became angry because they knew that Jesus was making a reference to the way that they were treating Him.

 

Mark 12:13-17         Concerning Taxes

Mark 12:13-17-Jesus responds to a trick question from the Jewish leaders concerning the paying of taxes (for an explanation see February 2, Matthew 22:1-22).  They tell Him that they know that He would “defer to no one”…meaning that He is not susceptible to being flattered.  However, their very statement is in itself an attempt to use flattery to affect His ego…to cause Him to lose focus and respond in a self-confident, thoughtless manner without giving careful consideration to the question.

 

Mark 12:18-27         Concerning the Resurrection

Mark 12:18-27-Jesus responds to a question (Levirite marriage) from the Sadducees concerning the resurrection (see February 3, Matthew 22:23-46).

 

Levirate Marriage

This story line would make some sense in a variety of cultures. Levirate marriage (Deut 25:5-6; compare Gen 38:8-26) and widow inheritance (see Belkin 1970; as in Ruth 3:12-13) perpetuate the name of the deceased and serve to provide for widows in many traditional societies where women cannot earn sufficient wages for sustenance (for example, Mbiti 1970:188-89). Yet many ancient hearers would assume a woman who had outlived seven husbands was dangerous (Mart. Epig. 9.15; t. Sabbat 15:8). The Sadducees borrow the story line of a woman with seven husbands from the popular Jewish folktale in Tobit 3:8; they want to illustrate the impossible dilemmas they believe the doctrine of resurrection creates.

https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/ivp-nt/Proving-Resurrection

For additional information on Levirate Marriage see:

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/life/Relationships/Spouses_and_Partners/About_Marriage/Levirate_Marriage.shtml

http://www.oxfordbiblicalstudies.com/article/opr/t94/e1118

 

Prayer: Lord, you told the Sadducees that their problem was that they did not understand the Scriptures, or the power of God.  Please, Lord…help me to understand with clarity what You have said in the Scriptures and to understand how to have Your power to fulfill and keep them…as certainly as Your power can raise the dead.

 

March 9

 

Mark 12:28-44

 

The Teaching of the Servant                   Mark 11:20-13:37, cont’d.

Mark 12:28-34         Concerning the Great Commandment

Mark 12:28-31-Jesus is still in the Temple.  One of the scribes recognized that Jesus had given a good answer to the question concerning the resurrection.  So, he ventured to ask a question of his own.  “What commandment is the foremost of them all?”  Jesus responds with two passages (not one) from the Old Testament…but, He teaches that the second is the natural result of the first.  Together, they are what we commonly refer to as the Great Commandment.  The first passage was given to the Jews at the time when Moses reiterated the 10 Commandments to the people, just before his death and their entry into the Promised Land.  Moses recalls the time at Mt. Sinai when God had first given them the 10 Commandments.  The people had responded in awe and reverence…to the degree that they felt unworthy to come close to His presence, and requested that Moses go before God in their behalf.  God was pleased and said, “Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29).  God then instructs Moses to tell the people to go back to their tents…but for him to stay so that He might give him the rest of the commandments that were to guide them in their daily lives.  If they will keep these laws they will be blessed by Him.  Moses then says…

 

  1. O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. 4. Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  6. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.

Deuteronomy 6:3-6

 

Beginning in verse 4 is the “Shema” (“Shema” is the first word and means “Hear”)…”which became Judaism’s basic confession of faith”…Rabbinic tradition taught that originally the Shema consisted only of verse 4, but was later expanded to include vv. 5-9, 11:13-21, and Numbers 15:37-41.  According to rabbinic law the Shema was to be recited morning and evening (v. 7) (Ryrie).

 

Verse 4 should be understood to mean, “The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.”  The following verses in Deuteronomy lay stress to the exclusivity of worship that the Jews were to give to Him (and no other god).  But not only is their worship to be exclusive to Him…it is to be inclusive of every facet of their lives…there is nothing left out.  They are to worship God with everything that they are and all that they have…”you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  When Jesus quotes this verse, He adds “and mind” (:30)…as an interpretive explanation of the all inclusive nature of worship that is to be given to God.

 

For more insight into the Shema see:

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/shema.html

http://www.aish.com/jl/m/pb/48954656.html

 

The second passage comes from Leviticus (19:18)…in a portion of the book that is detailing the laws concerning how the Jews were to live their daily lives.  The verse reads…

 

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.

 

The key to the laws detailed in Leviticus is the relationship between the people and their God…which had just been stated in the first passage.  This relationship is vividly repeated over and over throughout the book (see February 14, Leviticus 18-19)…

 

These laws are based upon the nature of the character of God, and the relationship that the people have with the Him …

  • The name “LORD” is 273 times in Leviticus
  • “I am the LORD”-49 times in Leviticus (3 times in chapter 18; 8 times in chapter 19)
  • “I am the LORD your God”-21 times in Leviticus (3 times in chapter 18; 7 times in chapter 19)
  • “God”-47 times in Leviticus
  • “…I am the LORD your God” (Lev. 18:1-5,6,21,30)
  • “You shall be holy, for I the LORD our God am holy.” (Lev. 19:1)
  • “I am the LORD…” (Lev. 19:1,4,10,12,14,16,18,25,28,30,31,32,34, 36,37-or similar phrase)

 

Jesus has answered the man’s question concerning which was the most important command in the Old Testament by saying that it is to love God with all that you are…and that the inevitable result of that love will be a corresponding love for other people.  The scribe is impressed with Jesus’ answer and even adds a thought of his own…that to keep the Law in this manner is what is truly meant, not just going through the routines of making offerings and sacrifices.  While those things were to be done…they were to be done as a reflection of one’s relationship with God and other people.  They didn’t cause the relationship, but were intended to be a visual portrayal of that relationship.  Jesus is pleased with the scribes understanding (“intelligently”-means: “the capacity for spiritual truth, the higher powers of the soul, the faculty of perceiving divine things”- http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=G3563&t=NASB) and tells him that He is “not far from the kingdom of God”.  In other words, this man is beginning to understand what God and His kingdom are truly about.  Jesus now had the scribes on their heels…they recognized His absolute ability to deal with even their most difficult questions.  This shows us again that they were not really interested in discovering truth, but merely in trying to cause Him to say something in error that they could accuse Him of.  Just imagine what publicity and attention a scribe would have received if he had been the one that tricked up Jesus…he had been the one who brought this renegade teacher to His knees.  We can only imagine the conversations, the plans, the strategies that these scribes tried to devise behind closed doors.  But nothing they did was successful.  Jesus more than adequately dealt with everything that they attacked Him with.

Mark 12:35-37         Concerning His Deity

Mark 12:35-37-Jesus takes advantage of the moment and asks the religious leaders a question: How is it possible for David to call the Lord, his son? (see February 3, Matthew 22:23-46).

Mark 12:38-40         Concerning Pride

Mark 12:38-40-Jesus warns against the kind of religion that the scribes practice…one which served their own interests, and not those of God.  Because they claimed to have a greater knowledge of God, they would be held to a higher level of accountability.

Mark 12:41-44         Concerning Giving

Mark 12:41-44-Jesus sat down across from the treasury and watched as people brought their offerings.  He comments on how a widow gave out of her poverty (“two small copper coins, which amount to a cent”…this coin had the least amount of value of all of their coinage)…not as the rest gave out of their surplus.  Are we ever guilty of giving God out of our surplus (what we don’t need)…of giving God our leftovers (what we don’t care about)…of giving God our second-best (what we wouldn’t give to others)?  Or, is our gift to God an indication of our true love and total dependence on Him?

 

“treasury”

This word is used to describe the apartments constructed in the courts of the temple, in which not only the sacred offerings and things needful for the service were kept, but this was also where the priests (etc.) resided (cf. Neh 13:7). The sacred treasury, public records, and even the property of widows and orphans were deposited here. Josephus speaks of treasuries in the women’s court of Herod’s temple. In the N.T., the term “near the treasury” seems to be used of that receptacle mentioned by the rabbis to which were fitted thirteen chests or boxes, i.e. trumpets, so called from their shape, and into which were put the contributions made voluntarily or paid yearly by the Jews for the service of the temple and the support of the poor.

(http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1049&t=NASB)

 

Prayer: Lord, please help me to never give my left-overs to You.  Help me to give my very best to You.

 

March 10

 

Mark 13:1-13

 

The Teaching of the Servant                   Mark 11:20-13:37, cont’d.

Mark 13:1-37           Concerning the Future

Mark 13:1-2-As Jesus is leaving the Temple, He predicts the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple.

The Temple was a magnificent building.  It was built in such a way as to inspire those who entered it to worship God.

 

For a description of the Temple see:

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/secondtemple.html

For an interesting 3D Tour of the Temple see (this website also has some beautiful video of Jerusalem and many of the other important Biblical sites):

http://jerusalem.com/tour/jewish_temple_3D

 

Mark 13:3-37-Jesus goes to the Mt. of Olives where He teaches how we are to live during the last days.

 

For information on the Mt. of Olives see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_of_Olives

 

Mark 13:3-This discussion took place only with Peter, James, John, and Andrew…they wanted to know when these things would take place and what sign will be given that they are to begin.

Mark 13:5-8-Jesus warns them to be careful to not be misled…because there will be both false prophets and false signs.

Mark 13:9-11-There will be attacks on believers…but the Holy Spirit will guide you in what to say when such things take place.

Mark 13:12-13-This attack will come from those near to us, as well as from those we don’t even know…and you will be hated by many.  However…despite everything that Jesus says will happen there is a positive, hopeful promise…”the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.”  An interesting thought: Saved from what?  If he endures all that Jesus has spoken of…what will he then need to be saved from?

 

The word “endure” is also translated as:

Abide, Abode:

lit., “to abide under” (hupo, “under”), signifies “to remain in a place instead of leaving it, to stay behind,” e.g., Luk 2:43; Act 17:14; or “to persevere,” Mat 10:22; 24:13; Mar 13:13; in each of which latter it is used with the phrase “unto the end;” or “to endure bravely and trustfully,” e.g., Hbr 12:2, 3, 7, suggesting endurance under what would be burdensome. See also Jam 1:12; 5:11; 1Pe 2:20. Cp. makrothumeo, “to be longsuffering.”

 

It might be better to translate the phrase this way…”the person who is found to still be faithful and obedient at the end the end of his life, is the person who is saved”.  In other words, endurance, perseverance, and faithfulness are characteristic of those who are truly saved.  So, in a sense, our promise bears an intrinsic warning.  If a signature mark of a person who is saved is that he perseveres and continues in the faith no matter what happens.  Could it be said that the opposite is true?  Could it be that an identifying mark of a person who is not saved is that he does not endure, he stops short and walks away when persecution reaches his front door?

Prayer: Lord, please help me to have the wisdom to know the truth.  Sometimes the attacks are not frontal, but much more subtle.  Help me to recognize them all.  And Lord, please help me to love You more…more than I love all others…no matter who they may be.  So that I will stand with You, regardless of the cost.

 

March 11

 

Mark 13:14-37

 

The Teaching of the Servant                   Mark 11:20-13:37, cont’d.

Mark 13:1-37           Concerning the Future, cont’d.

Mark 13:14-22-The Abomination of Desolation speaks of the time when the Antichrist will stand in the Temple and proclaim himself to be god (see February 6, Matthew 24:1-22).  This event will begin the second half of the 7 years of tribulation (the “great tribulation”…”great” referring to intensity level).  It will be the worst time period in the history of the world (:19)…but it will only last for a short period of time (:20).  Even during this time there will be false Christs (Messiahs) and prophets who will perform miracles in an effort to try and lead the elect (the saved) away (the elect will be intensely persecuted, :20 and will be intensely deceived, :22).

Mark 13:23-“But take heed: behold, I have told you everything in advance.”…by “everything,” Jesus means every thing that we need to know in order to make the right decisions and in order to remain faithful and strong.  What an incredible word of encouragement.  If Jesus will give those who go through this period of the most intense persecution that the world has ever known everything that they need in order to remain faithful…can we not also rest assured that He will give us everything that we need to go through those times of difficulty that we face?  Thank you, Lord!

Mark 13:24-29-“after that tribulation”, the intense period of time that He just spoke of…“then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds…and then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds…”  This is the second coming of Jesus Christ…the time when He will come back to the earth.

Mark 13:30-31-“this generation”…speaks of the one that sees the signs, the events just described…“will not pass away until all these things take place”.  The parable of the fig tree teaches us that summer is near…and that there will soon be a harvest.  Even so, the generation that sees these things take place will see the harvest take place…they will not die before it happens.  Jesus guarantees that this is the way things will transpire by saying that it would be more possible for Heaven and earth to cease to exist…than it is for His word to not come true.

Mark 13:32-37-While Jesus gives us the timeline for these events and even some details of the events…He does not tell us when they will begin.  Only the Father knows that.  Since Jesus is fully God, why wouldn’t He know when these things would begin?

 

Ryrie, from the note on Philippians 2:7-“The kenosis (emptying) of Christ during His incarnation does not mean that He surrendered any attributes of deity, but that he voluntarily took on the limitations of humanity.  This involved a veiling of His pre-incarnate glory (John 17:5) and the voluntary waiving of some of His divine prerogatives during the time He was on earth (Matt. 24:36).

 

Since no one knows the exact time that these things will take place…we should live in such a way that we are always ready and prepared…on the alert.  Jesus could come back at any time and we need to be ready.

Prayer: Lord, help me to live on the alert…eagerly anticipating Your return.

 

March 12

 

Mark 14:1-25

 

The Preparation of the Servant              Mark 14:1-42

Mark 14:1-11           Through the Anointing by Mary

Mark 14:1-2-The Passover (commemorating the deliverance of the Hebrew people from Egypt was celebrated on the 14th of Nissan.  Nissan covered the time span of our modern months of March-April) and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were two days away (it immediately followed Passover and continued from the 15th-21st, cf. Exod. 12).  The religious leaders were actively seeking a way to kill Jesus.

 

Jewish annual calendar with Feasts:

http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Calendar/calendar.html

 

Mark 14:3-9-Jesus is in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper.  A woman (Mary of Bethany, John 12:3) with an alabaster vial of perfume (“pure nard”…a costly oil used for anointing that was the extract of a plant from East India…three hundred denarii was equivalent to about 300 days wages for a rural worker-Ryrie) came and poured it over His head.  Jesus said that she had anointed Him for burial and that her good deed would always be remembered.  The disciples (instigated by Judas, cf. John 12:4-6) had said that the money could be used for the poor…and “were scolding her”.  But Jesus told them that they would always have the poor to help (cf. Deut. 15:11), but He would not always be with them.

Mark 14:10-11-Judas left and made arrangements to betray Jesus.

Mark 14:12-25         Through the Institution of the Lord’s Supper

Mark 14:12-16-It was now the first day of Unleavened Bread.  Preparations for Passover were being made.  Jesus sent two of His disciples into Jerusalem to secure a room for them to celebrate it.

Mark 14:17-21-During the Passover meal Jesus reveals that He is about to be betrayed by one of the disciples.

Mark 14:22-25-The institution of the Lord’s Supper (Communion).

 

See February 11, Matthew 26:20-54 for the historical significance of the Passover for the Jews and its symbolism for Christians.

 

For additional information on the Passover and the point at which Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper in the context of the Seder Feast see:

http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Spring_Holidays/Pesach/pesach.html

 

Prayer: Lord, there are some people who believe that Judas did not really intend for Jesus to die…but that he was merely trying to force Jesus into a position where He would have to exert His power and become a political leader, to restore Israel and throw off the Roman’s control over them.  Lord, sometimes it is not easy to discern between what we want and what You want.  My desires seem pure and right…and I assume they are from You.  But Lord, I never want to become guilty of this same sin that Judas committed.  Please help me to know and understand clearly what Your desire is, what You would have me to do…and to not be confused by my own thinking.

 

March 13

 

Mark 14:26-50

 

The Preparation of the Servant              Mark 14:1-42, cont’d.

Mark 14:26-42         Through Prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane

Mark 14:26-31-Jesus tells the disciples that He is going to die…Peter says that he will not desert Him, but Jesus says that he will.  Peter and the other disciples continue to insist that they will not desert Him.  Had they listened more closely and believed the words, “But after I have been raised…” (:28), it would have made a world of difference in the next few days.  It is somewhat stunning that their response to Him was not of concern over the fact that He was going to suffer and die…but, that they were determined to not desert Him.  The focus seemed to be more on them, than on Him.

Mark 14:32-42-They conclude the Passover Feast and the institution of the Lord’s Supper by singing a song.

 

Psalm 115-118, the traditional Passover Hallel, (cf. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0008_0_08255.html).

 

Then, they proceed to the Mount of Olives…to a place referred to as the Garden of Gethsemane.

Mark 14:32-34-When they arrived at Gethsemane Jesus told the disciples to stay where they were and to pray.  He took Peter, James and John with Him and “began to be very distressed and troubled.  And He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.'”

Mark 14:35-36-In the prayer of Jesus we see the intimacy of how He addressed the Father…”Abba! Father!”…like a child pleading with a parent.  Jesus asked the Father that He not have to go through what was about to happen.  Yet, He willingly submitted Himself to the will of the Father.  This could be both the most amazing and the most informative prayer in all of the Bible.  It is amazing that in it we see both the entire Deity and humanity of Jesus.  His Deity is revealed in that He was fully aware of what was about to happen.  He knew all that He was going to suffer…and He knew the ultimate victory that He would accomplish.  And yet, His humanity is seen in that knowing the physical cruelty, torture, and anguish He was about to suffer…He asked the Father to keep Him from it.  It is informative for us concerning the nature of prayer.  Jesus prayed for something that was potentially not in keeping with the will of the Father, “remove this cup from Me”.  And yet, it was not sin to do so…because, He relinquished His will in the matter to that of the Father, “yet not what I will, but what Thou wilt.”   There is no period at the first part of the prayer…only a colon.  Jesus began with the sincere desire of His heart…presented it to the Father…and then submitted it to the Father’s will.  This is a wonderful model for us.  We should present matters to the Lord as we truly feel about them…not disguised, or even trying to make them sound pious.  Then, we should accept God’s decision concerning them…His will.

Mark 14:37-38-Jesus returned to Peter, James and John…and found them sleeping.  He told them to keep watching and praying so that they would not fall into temptation.

Mark 14:39-Jesus prayed again.  Notice that He prayed the same thing.  This was not a lack of faith on His part…but the earnest expression of what was in His heart.  He continued to pray in that manner until He received an answer.

Mark 14:40-Jesus again found the 3 disciples asleep.

Mark 14:41-42-Jesus finds the 3 disciples asleep a third time.  This time, He tells them that the time has come for His betrayal.

 

The Rejection of the Servant                  Mark 14:43-15:47

Mark 14:43-52         The Betrayal of Judas

Mark 14:43-50-Judas betrays Jesus.  Jesus is arrested.  Peter (John 18:10) draws a sword and cuts off the ear of the slave of the high priest.

Prayer: Abba.  Lord, I have such mixed emotions when I think of praying to You in this manner.  On one hand, the fact that You allow me to call You my Father…is amazing (because I recognize Who You are…Your “otherness” and holiness…You are God!) and comforting.  On the other hand, I feel uncomfortable doing so (because I recognize who I am…a sinner, a created being, unworthy).  It is such an intimate, personal term.  Please help me to know and understand the appropriate balance of those two thoughts when I call You, “Abba.”  Jesus, please help me to learn how to pray as You have taught us here.

 

March 14

 

Mark 14:51-72

 

The Rejection of the Servant                  Mark 14:43-15:47, cont’d.

Mark 14:43-52         The Betrayal of Judas

John runs away after his robe is torn off.

 

For a timeline of the last hours of the life of Jesus see:

http://www.jesus.org/death-and-resurrection/holy-week-and-passion/a-time-line-of-the-passion-week.html

http://christianity.about.com/od/biblestudyresources/a/jesusfinalhours.htm

 

Mark 14:53-65         The Trial before Caiaphas

The trial before Caiaphas (high priest, chief priests, elders, scribes, whole Council).  Peter had followed them into the courtyard of the high priest (:54).  They tried to find false testimony against Jesus, but couldn’t (:55-59).  The high priest questions Jesus (:60-65).  Finally, he asks Him if He is the Christ (Messiah) and Jesus responds, “I am…” (:62).  That is all the evidence needed, so the high priest accuses Jesus of blasphemy and they begin to abuse Him physically.

 

Mark 14:66-72         The Denial of Peter

Mark 14:66-72-Peter’s denial of Jesus…

  • A servant girl says that he was with Jesus…he denies it (:66-68)
  • A maid says that he was one of them…he denies it (:69-70)
  • Bystanders say that he was one of them…he denies it and begins to curse (:70-71)
  • The rooster crows…and Peter begins to weep (:72).

Prayer: Lord, even from the distance of time and knowing what I know…I can only pray that if faced with persecution such as the disciples faced that I would be faithful and strong.  It seems too easy to read about their denial and judge them.  But they didn’t have the benefit of knowing of Your resurrection.  And Lord, even with that…the fear of physical harm and pain are strong.  Help me to be faithful…even today…where I face no trial for following You.  Lord, it is not the rocky road of persecution that I walk…but the smooth road of comfort.  At times, my struggle is to be willing to give up the comfort in order to follow You.  Right now, I don’t struggle with following You during a time of persecution…but I struggle following You during a time of peace.  I get lazy.  I don’t keep up my guard.  I get comfortable.  I find myself not seeking You with as much determination, passion, and need…but relying on myself.  Please forgive me, Lord.  Help me to follow You as closely during times of ease, as during times of difficulty.

 

March 15

 

Mark 15:1-26

 

The Rejection of the Servant                  Mark 14:43-15:47, cont’d.

Mark 15:1-15           The Trial before Pilate

Mark 15:1-Jesus is taken to Pilate (the Roman governor, prefect, procurator of Judea…appointed by Tiberius in A.D. 26…he appointed the high priests).  He knew that the motivation of the chief priests was “envy” (:10).  He had already had problems with the Jewish people and it had been reported to Rome.  He did not want another incident that might threaten his future.  If that happened…heads would roll…literally.

Mark 12:2-5-The chief priests, elders, scribes, and whole Council gathered together and then sent Jesus to Pilate.  Pilate questioned Jesus, “Are You the King of the Jews?”…Jesus replied, “It is as you say.”  The Jews knew that the only charge which Pilate was interested in would be one which threatened political stability.  So, this question was presented.  John (18:34-38) tells us that Jesus went on to explain the nature of His answer to this charge.  The chief priests began to accuse Him of other charges…but He gave no further response.

Mark 15:6-15-Pilate tried to make a deal with the Jews that would satisfy both the supporters of Jesus and His opponents by offering to execute a notorious insurrectionist named Barabbas instead of Jesus.  The chief priests would support this because an insurrection against the government threatened their security.  The followers of Jesus would obviously support this since it would spare His life.  But the chief priests were too well organized and determined in their effort to have Jesus killed and they won the shouting match.

Mark 15:16-20-Jesus is taken by the soldiers to the Praetorium (the residence of the governor, perhaps the fortress of Antonia where the Roman troops were housed) where He is mocked and beaten.

 

Mark 15:21-47         The Crucifixion before the Public

Mark 15:21-A man named Simon of Cyrene was forced to help Jesus carry His cross (cf. Romans 16:13).

Mark 15:22-They brought Him to Golgotha (Place of a Skull, see February 14, Matthew 27:32-66) for the crucifixion.

Mark 15:23-They gave Him wine mixed with myrrh, a sedative…but He refused it.

Mark 15:24-25-“And they crucified Him…And it was the third hour when they crucified Him.” (9:00am).  Stop for a moment.  Don’t go any further.  Just say those words…”And they crucified Him…”  If we are not careful…we become far too comfortable with those words.  We forget the cross.  We forget the cause.  We forget the cost.

Mark 15:26-The inscription was the official accusation of His crime.

Prayer: Lord, I don’t like reading this…because I know what happened.  And, I know why it happened…me.  I am the sinner.  The mockery, the beatings, and the nails that held You to the cross were meant for me.  Lord Jesus…please forgive me…when I forget the cross.  Lord, what if the Gospel ended here…at the end of chapter 15.  Thank you, Lord, for chapter 16!  Thank you for the resurrection!

 

March 16

 

Mark 15:27-47

 

The Rejection of the Servant                  Mark 14:43-15:47, cont’d.

Mark 15:21-47         The Crucifixion before the Public, cont’d.

 

Mark 15:27-32-Jesus is mocked

Mark 15:27-28-Two robbers were crucified along with Jesus.  This was a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 53:12.

Mark 15:29-30-The people who are passing by mock Him, incorrectly reporting that He had said that He would destroy the Temple and then rebuild it in three days.  They heard this from the false testimony brought against Him earlier (cf. 13:2; 14:58).

Mark 15:31-32-The chief priests now join in mocking Him…saying that if He wants to prove that He is the Messiah, then He should come down from the cross.

Mark 15:32-The robbers crucified next to Him mock Him.

Mark 15:33-41-Jesus dies (see February 14, Matthew 27:32-66)

Mark 15:33-Suddenly, from the 6th-9th hour (12:00-3:00pm) it becomes dark.

Mark 15:34-35-At the 9th hour…Jesus cries out, “’Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’”  In these two verses, Mark translates an Aramaic phrase (which Jesus spoke) into a Greek phrase (for his readers).  The Aramaic word “Eloi” comes from “Elohim” (God) and the suffix “i” means “my”.  The word “lama” means “why” and “sabachthani” means “to leave, to let alone”.  The Greek word that Marks uses to translate “sabachthani” is “egkataleipo” and it means “to abandon, desert, leave helpless”.  During the 6th-9th hours, the Scripture says that all of the sins of the world were being poured into Jesus.  At that moment, God the Son…bearing the consequences of the sins of all of humanity…being totally, 100% human…was experiencing the separation from God that was caused by their sin.  At that moment, He literally bore all of the penalty, all of the punishment, all of the consequences of the sins of every person who will have ever lived on planet earth.  It was the destruction that resulted from their sin that He was experiencing.  It was their sense of the rejection of God that He was encountering.  Both words that Mark uses here express the abandonment, the rejection that Jesus felt at that moment.

Mark 15:36-He is given a drink of sour wine.

Mark 15:37-Jesus dies.

Mark 15:38-The veil of the Temple is torn in two from top to bottom (for an explanation of the significance of this see: http://www.gotquestions.org/temple-veil-torn.html).

Mark 15:39-The Centurion (when he sees the way that Jesus died) said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”.

Mark 15:40-41-Among the women who were there at the crucifixion were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome.

Mark 15:42-47-Jesus is buried.

Joseph of Arimathea (a prominent member of the Jewish Council who was waiting on the Kingdom of God) gathered up his courage and asked Pilate for the body of Jesus.  Pilate confirmed with the centurion that Jesus was dead and then agreed.  Joseph buried Him in a tomb and rolled a stone across the entrance.  Mary Magdalene and Mary (Jesus’ mother) watched to see where He had been buried.

Prayer: Lord, Joseph of Arimathea honored You…it took a lot of courage.  Please help me to have that kind of courage…even in the face of opposition or persecution.

 

March 17

 

Mark 16

 

The Exaltation of the Servant                 Mark 16:1-20

Mark 16:1-8             By His Resurrection from the Grave

 

Mark 16:1-3-It’s Sunday morning (the sun had risen).  Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome went to the tomb to prepare the body of Jesus for burial.

Mark 16:4-As they were walking to the tomb they were trying to figure out who they would get to role the large stone away from the entrance.  However, when they arrived, the stone had already been rolled away.

Mark 16:5-8-They entered the tomb and saw what appeared to be a young man sitting to their right, wearing a white robe.  They were amazed.  The man was really an angel and he tells them that Jesus has risen from the dead.  He instructs them to tell His disciples that He will meet them in Galilee.  He specifically mentions Peter.  This is probably due to the fact that Peter would not consider himself worthy of being a disciple of Jesus, anymore.  More than any other disciple Peter had boasted that he would never forsake Jesus.  And then, when the moment came, he denied Him not once, but three times.  Jesus wanted to make sure that Peter knew that he was still one of His followers and wanted him to come along with the others to Galilee.

 

Mark 16:9-18           By His Appearances to His Followers

Mark 16:9-20-These verses are not in two of the most trusted manuscripts.  Verse 8 ends very abruptly, suggesting that perhaps the last part of this gospel was lost and that someone later wrote verses 9-20 and added them (Ryrie).  Jesus appears to Mary (:9), to two people walking in the country (:12), to the 11 apostles (:12).  He reproached them for not believing the others when they told them that He has risen.  He then gives them a commission (a command) to go into all of the world, and identifies signs that will accompany them (:17-18).

Mark 16:16-Some try to use this verse as a proof text that you must be baptized in order to be saved.  However, there are numerous other passages that clearly and definitively support the correct teaching that salvation is the result of faith in Christ…nothing else and nothing more.  Also, a simple reading of this verse tells us that a person will be condemned not because he wasn’t baptized, but because he did not believe.  The point of baptism here is that it is such an anticipated, expected response to being saved…that it is mentioned in context with it without hesitation.  Some explain this verse by suggesting that the baptism mentioned here is not water baptism, but the baptism of the Holy Spirit…in which case it would be true for all believers.

Mark 16:17-18-There are some who suggest that the signs mentioned here are signs of true faith and that believers should do these things to prove that their faith is authentic.  However, notice that it doesn’t say that all believers will do this…but, that some will and that when they do so it will be a sign of authentication.  Why was that important?  Because in the coming days there would be many impostors.  If all believers are supposed to do these signs…then the questions should be asked, “How many of the Apostles did them?  How many times do we read of the believers in the churches of the New Testament doing them?”  Paul is the only one who it mentions picking up a serpent and no one is recorded of drinking poison.  So obviously, not all believers are required or even expected to do so.  Jesus is simply identifying some of the signs that some of His followers would perform.

Mark 16:19-20         By His Ascension into Heaven

Prayer: Lord, thank You for specifically mentioning Peter.  I know that he must have been discouraged and have felt unworthy.  But You made it absolutely clear that he was still included.  I see myself there, Lord.  Sometimes I don’t feel worthy (I know that in and of myself I really am not)…but, despite my failures and my weakness You still include me.

 

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