March 21, 2011

Today you should read: Mark 6:1-29

Today, Kasey and I are on a trip to London and Rome. We had the privilege of praying together in Paul’s prison where he wrote books of the New Testament. We attended Spurgeon’s church on Sunday in London. We’ll be home tomorrow.

Chapter 6 is an interesting chapter – so much here. It comes right before the feeding of the 5,000. The chapter begins with Jesus teaching in His hometown of Nazareth. The people there did not give Him the respect He deserved, because He was a home-town boy – they knew Him and His brothers.

Verse 5-6 are extremely strong. The sick that were brought to Jesus (maybe due to the scuttle buff that they heard) – didn’t really believe in Him – they lacked faith that they could be healed – and they weren’t. Their lack of faith held back the healing. I know that these are dangerous theological waters – I fully believe that Jesus is God in every way including His Omnipotence. He’s Sovereign and in full power of everything. But you read it… He could do no miracle because of their unbelief. James reinforces this in James 5:14, “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick.”

I wonder how many times my lack of faith has held back a miracle in my life? That’s a sobering thought…

Remember the twelve that Jesus selected (from among all of the disciples that were following Him) last Monday in chapter 3? Today He sends them out. They’ve watched, learned, interned (while the Master watched), and now they are to go out on their own. How exciting!

This section ends in a sad way – the tragic death of John the Baptist. Killed because He (as a prophet) spoke truth. Truth has always been hated. Scripture tells us that, “men love the darkness rather than the Light for their deeds are evil.” Mark 3:19

Truth is still at a minimum today. We must stand for it! It makes all the difference in the world.

Posted by: Tim Parsons


March 19, 2011

Today you should read: Mark 5:21-43

This must have been a nice change of pace for Jesus. By now, He was used to ridicule and confrontation from the religions zealots — the Pharisees. It is rare to find a pleasant interaction between Him and a religious leader. That’s what makes this story neat: one of the religious leaders comes to Him, not for theological arguments, but for help.

Here was Jairus, a leader in the synagogue, and His daughter was dying. Whether from the stories he had heard or maybe from an eyewitness account of a healing, he was confident in Jesus’ ability to meet his need. But Jesus didn’t go immediately. He stopped to interact with a woman who also had faith in Him. Many have questioned the purpose of this interaction, and theologians have wrestled with what Jesus meant when He asked, “Who touched my robe?”. Bible commentator Bob Deffinbaugh has some helpful comments on this:

(1) Our Lord Jesus did not need to learn the woman’s identity. Mark does not tell us that Jesus looked to see who had touched Him, but, “He looked around to see the woman who had done this” (Mark 5:32).

(2) Our Lord delayed in order to give the woman the opportunity to give testimony to her healing. Had Jesus not stopped and asked who touched His garments, no one would have known of the miracle save Jesus and the woman. When she saw the eyes of Jesus fixed upon her, she knew that He knew everything. She had taken nothing from Him, but He had given healing to her. She now poured out her sad and miserable life story, telling how Jesus had done what all of medical science could not.

(3) Our Lord stopped in order to correct any misconceptions on the part of the woman. If there were any elements of magic in the thinking of this woman, Jesus swept them away by making it completely clear that it was her faith that had saved her, not her grasp on His clothing. Jesus touched many as He went about, but few of these found in physical contact with Him a wonder such as this. It was her relationship with Jesus by faith that made her whole.

(4) It has also been suggested that this was a gracious act of our Lord to make it publicly known that this woman had been made whole, so that she was no longer to be considered ceremonially unclean.

(5) Most significantly in the context, this delay of Jesus resulted in a greater miracle, and greater faith on the part of Jairus, for now the young girl was not sick, but dead.

Upon this woman’s confession of faith, the Lord Jesus sent her off with the words, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your affliction” (Mark 5:34).

#5 in the article really brings light to the situation. Jairus’ daughter had died, and Jesus would show His life-giving power in bringing her back to life, a mere foreshadowing of what His resurrection would do for all of us. It was again proof of the deity of Christ. The people laughed at (and probably mocked) Jesus for saying that she was only sleeping. At the end of the day, no one present could confidently doubt that He was the Messiah.

Food for thought:
1) Is your faith strong right now? Why or why not?
2) Do you have confidence in the life-giving power of Jesus?
3) How can we live in the power of the resurrection?

For further study, read all of Deffinbaugh’s article on Mark 5 here.

Posted by: Todd Thomas

March 18, 2011

Today you should read: Mark 5:1-20

Have you flipped through the pages of Mark? Man, you couldn’t come up with this stuff if your life depended on it! I am reminded today of 2 Timothy 3:16 which says that all Scripture is inspired by God! John 1:1 is also an amazing passage that causes me to reflect on the power and glory of God’s written Word!

When I read this passage, my first thought was: what in the world do I write about? This story is through-the-roof insane!
And then I had another thought…
The entire Bible is God’s story of how He is redeeming the world to Himself! Let’s really think through this idea. What does redemption mean?

Redemption: The action of being saved from sin and evil in the world.

Now, let’s think about this word and apply it to the entire Bible while reflecting back on our journey through Genesis and the beginning of our study in Mark. Think of how many people God has redeemed to Himself. Remember Abraham, Noah, and Joseph, just to name a few?

Now, let’s take a look at the demon-possessed man. This dude was certifiably crazy, off-the-wall, bonkers! He was so off-his-rocker that his home was in a tomb. Can you imagine? Picture you and your friends wanting to come over for pizza and me telling you that my address is 101 Graveyard Avenue – 10th head stone on the right. Not only did he live amongst the tombs, but the guy was constantly screaming and cutting himself with sharp objects.

Has this question ever crossed your mind: did the demon-possessed man have a family? Did he have children? Did he hold down a job near Market Garden Lane? I wonder if he was an intelligent man who enjoyed the occasional Greek triathlon and maybe hung out at the local vineyard. Put yourself back into his lifetime …would you have any hope for his redemption? Would you see any light at the end of the proverbial tunnel? This man’s life was overtaken by the enemy.

And yet, once again, who do we see engaging this demoniac? Jesus, who in my opinion, is one of the baddest (meaning tough, manly, and heroic) men who ever walked the planet! I mean, let’s get really honest – how many of us would take a stroll down Tomb Drive and hang out with the neighborhood demoniac? This is truly amazing!

Throughout scripture, we see Jesus Christ redeeming those who have lost all hope, those who are at the bottom and can see no light at the end of the tunnel. For me, this passage serves as a reminder that before I met Christ there was absolutely no good in me – there was nothing in me that desired Christ. However, in His grace and love, He plucked me from the dominion of darkness and placed me in the dominion of light (Colossians 1:13). Now the rest of my life will be spent hating and fighting sin and living life to bring Him glory just as the man did when he was set free from the demons!

My prayer for you who identify yourselves as true Christ followers is that you would be like the man proclaiming all the miraculous things Christ has done in your life. The unbeliever can try to refute the Bible, but they cannot argue about what God Himself has done in your life! Be bold and be courageous! Our Dad owns the planet and everything that walks on it!

Posted by: Zach Monroe

March 17, 2011

Today you should read: Mark 4:21-41

The words “kingdom of God” send me into such a whirlwind of imagination that I can’t even wrap my head around it. My mind immediately goes to movies like Braveheart, The Lord of the Rings, and The Chronicles of Narnia. The pictures of epic battles and majestic beings surrounding the throne of our Lord Jesus Christ could literally keep me day-dreaming for weeks. However, when I read the parable of the mustard seed I become perplexed.

Why – of all the things that Christ could have compared with the kingdom of God –did He use a mustard seed? Didn’t He see The Lord of the Rings? I mean, He is eternal so I am sure He knew about it.

In context, the use of the mustard seed makes perfect sense. The parable is less about the outcome and more about the means by which God is going to bring about His kingdom. Jesus could use anything to bring Him glory but, by God’s grace, He has chosen to use the Church. Each of us is called to be a light in a dark world (v. 21-25). We are called to sow seeds of the Gospel, and to see –by His power – more added to the kingdom (v. 26-29).

So why use a mustard seed? It is the smallest of the seeds.
“He replied, ‘because you have so little faith truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’”
Matthew 17:20

The mustard seed is a representation of our faith. If we just have faith the size of a mustard seed, God can do impossible things through us. However, if we are honest, a mustard seed may be too generous. When I think about my own faith, I immediately remember times when I hid in the shadows of a dark world. When I had an opportunity to take a stand for the Gospel, I worried about how it would reflect on me. In those instances, I may have kept my dignity, but I turned my back on my Savior. Why do we sometimes do that? One of the main reasons is fear.

So how do we stay strong and not crumble under fear? In verses 35-41, when the disciples were met by the storm and fear had overtaken them, Jesus calmed the storm. Jesus allowed the storm to take place to show that, in any circumstance, He reigns. The disciples thought that their lives were over, and the comfort of following Christ was gone in that moment, but afterwards, they walked away saying “who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”(v. 41b)

When we face the rejection, disappointment, hurt, and persecution that will come as a result of following Christ, we must find our strength in Him. Through an obedient heart comes the kingdom of Heaven.

• When you face hardships for the sake of Christ, how do you react? Do you rely on Christ or rely on yourself?
• Would you say that you are a light in a dark world? If not, what is blocking it and what needs to change?
• This week, rest in the gospel and let that drive you. Do not be driven by fear.

Posted by: Chad Wiles