Tuesday, June 07, 2022
Monday, June 06, 2022
31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to tell him to come out. 32 Many people were sitting around Jesus, and they said to him, “Your mother and brothers are waiting for you outside.” 33 Jesus asked, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 Then he looked at those sitting around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 My true brother and sister and mother are those who do what God wants.” ~ Mark 3:31-35
Today, we conclude our study of Mark 3 where the overriding theme is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to be our Savior from our sinful condition. Mark wrote this Gospel account in order to give us a clear picture of the Lord Jesus Christ and His ministry. The supernatural world understood His identity, but most of the people didn't have a clear understanding of His identity, not even the disciples. In fact, the first in Mark's Gospel, to give a clear statement of His Messianic identity was the Roman Centurion who at the foot of the cross said, "Truly this was the Son of God."
In v.31-32 of today's passage we read, "1 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to tell him to come out. 32 Many people were sitting around Jesus, and they said to him, “Your mother and brothers are waiting for you outside."
You will remember that earlier in this passage the family of the Lord Jesus thought He was out of His mind due to the fact that the religious leaders accused Him to be demon-possessed and thus tried to dismiss Him and His ministry. The half brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus were not "born again," thus, they could not understand what the Lord Jesus was doing. This is what our unregenerate default mode does to us: it clouds our ability to recognize God, His work in our lives, and, in this world.
In v.33-35 of today's passage we read, "33 Jesus asked, 'Who are my mother and my brothers?' 34 Then he looked at those sitting around him and said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 My true brother and sister and mother are those who do what God wants.'"
When word was delivered to the Lord Jesus that His family was outside, everybody expected Him immediately to go out and see them. But He didn't. Instead, He looked around at those seated around Him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! My true brother and sister and mother are those who do what God wants."
In saying those words, the Lord Jesus made it clear that His family is made up of those who believe in and are being defined by the God of the Bible. This underscores the fact that the Word of God must have the final authority in our lives. It must be the deciding factor in the making of our decisions.
Biblically speaking, there must always be a priority in our lives of spiritual relationships over any other relationships. Not that we should disregard our family, we should honor all. When the will of any human is not aligned with the will of God for our lives, we must obey God.
The evidence of His identity had piled up, and the people were slow to make the obvious conclusion and to make the consequent confession that the Lord Jesus is God. This went on until after the resurrection. You will remember that when He came back to Galilee, after His resurrection, the Lord Jesus appeared to 500 believers in Galilee. And when the Holy Spirit came in the upper room in Jerusalem, about month later, there were only 120 gathered there. The resurrected Christ was seen by 500 after His resurrection and only 120 were there in that upper room in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit came.
While on this earth, the Lord Jesus provided a lot of evidence for us to conclude His identity correctly. But, seeing is not always believing. The real world is an unseen world, a world that we can only access by the means of our faith, the Word of God, prayer and the Holy Spirit. It is a must that we are defined by the thoughts and culture of God as found in His Word.
A part of the process of learning to view all things through the lens of the eternal is growing in our faith in the God of the Bible. And, in order for our faith in Him to grow, we must entertain the questions that are created by our doubts. One of the twelve disciples, Thomas, was skeptical about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and wanted proof in order to believe.
In John 20:27 we read, "Then Jesus said to Thomas, Put your finger here and look at My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas replied, "My Lord and my God!"
In John 20:29 we read. "Jesus said to him, 'Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'"
Our faith demands that we believe without seeing. When we are to be sure of what we cannot see, there is little room for asking for proof! But, God reveals Himself to us best as we go through the hardest of moments wherein we learn the correct questions to ask of Him. Learning to trust Him, even when we cannot see the outcome of any situation, is what enables us to see Him best, with our hearts. This, in large part, is a must for the development of knowing Him and making Him known.
Friday, June 03, 2022
Thursday, June 02, 2022
Today, we return to our study of the gospel according to Mark. As we have been seeing, the popularity of the Lord Jesus was on the rise. Of course, most of the people were attracted to the lesser more than the greater, meaning, they were most interested in the physical healing more than the spiritual healing. And, due to this they pressed in on the Lord Jesus so much that He was in danger of being run over by them.
Wednesday, June 01, 2022
20 Then Jesus went home, but again a crowd gathered. There were so many people that Jesus and his followers could not eat. 21 When his family heard this, they went to get him because they thought he was out of his mind. 22 But the teachers of the law from Jerusalem were saying, “Beelzebul is living inside him! He uses power from the ruler of demons to force demons out of people.” ~ Mark 3:20-22
Today, we return to our study of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ through the eyes of Mark and Peter. From a historical point of view, Mark's account is the oldest of the Gospels, and, it was a main source for the writings of Matthew and Luke. And, through our study of it, we will learn to see the heart of our Savior. And, as we see His massive heart for us, we will become more and more willing to be defined by Him, and, we will learn to see all things through His eyes.
When we became believers in Christ, we entered into His discipleship program. Discipleship takes us from being focused on ourselves to being focused, to some degree, on others. This is the point of our sanctification which incorporates the process of discipleship. It is our justification before God through Christ alone that gets us into heaven, and, it is our sanctification that gets heaven into us now. Our justification is about our salvation, and, our sanctification, for the most part, is about the salvation of others.
In v.20 of today's passage we read, "Then Jesus went home, but again a crowd gathered. There were so many people that Jesus and his followers could not eat."
Many people clamored to be near the Lord Jesus who was so involved in ministry that He did not eat. This is the way of God, and, it includes humility and selflessness. The presence of these characteristics in our ministry is a sure sign that we are doing ministry the way the Lord desires.
As the result of trusting the Lord Jesus as our Savior, God lives inside of us. His expression in, to, and, through our lives is determined by our willingness to depend upon Him and to let Him express Himself. And, to the degree that we yield ourselves to Him determines how much of Him we will experience for ourselves. Once this happens, we are positioned for Him to express Himself through us. And, once we have experienced this, we will want more of Him and His expression through us.
To yield to God is simply to allow God to define us. And, we do this best by bending our wills to His definition of things. Before we met the Lord, we were in the practice of yielding ourselves to our understanding of the way things should be. The Bible calls this sin. And, sometimes when we bend our wills to God's will, we will forgo even eating for the sake of the salvation of others.
In v.21 of today's passage we read, "When his family heard this, they went to get him because they thought he was out of his mind."
The half brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus were not "born again," therefore, they lacked the ability to appreciate and understand His ministry. This explains why they thought "he was out of his mind." They failed to understand His real nature and His real calling. They thought that His decisions were absurd and they were afraid of what would happen to Him. This is what the flesh (evil desires of this world that are yet in us) does to us: it motivates us by an unwholesome fear and it clouds our ability to think logically with reference to the most important things in this life.
When the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ defines us, others will think that we are out of our minds. The Lord Jesus always lived to be defined by His Father, and, this is what happens in our lives when we are going through His discipleship program. Through this process, we experience the "exchanged life" which is eternal life. And, this eternal life yields "the substance of things hoped for." It is not less than sight, it is more than sight. It is our hearts ability to see and relate to God. Christ dwelling in our hearts is the key.
In v.22 of today's passage we read, "But the teachers of the law from Jerusalem were saying, “Beelzebul is living inside him! He uses power from the ruler of demons to force demons out of people."
Those who should have understood the ministry of the Lord Jesus concluded something quite illogical. "Beelzebul is living inside Him." Beelzebul is a reference to Satan as king of the underworld. Yet again, the religious leaders' ill-informed theology threw them under the bus. They failed to see the real identity of the Lord Jesus, even though His miracles and message could not be more clear. This is the nature of deception, for it is guided by the rejection of a proper understanding of God.
God, through our acceptance of His Son as our Savior, cherishes us as His children. His acceptance of us is equal to His acceptance of His Son, the Lord Jesus. When we have believed in His Son, He sees us through the lens of His Son. As a result, we are wise to be defined by Him daily. When His value system becomes ours, it will alter our thinking and our choices. And, as a result, we will see anew through His eyes. Our thinking and our choices will be informed by the selflessness of God rather than the selfishness of this world.
At the end of the movie, Bruce Almighty, there is a great scene where Bruce, played by Jim Carey, is awakened while laying in a bed in the hospital. He had been run over by a truck and lived. God, played by Morgan Freeman, asks Bruce, "What do you want?" To which Bruce answers, "Grace" which was the name of his former girlfriend. Then Bruce goes on to say, "I want her to meet someone who sees her the way I do now ... through your eyes." This captures what ministry is all about. Seeing others through the eyes of the One who gave His only begotten Son to be the Savior of all who are willing of heart.
Tuesday, May 31, 2022
Today, we return to our study of the Lord Jesus through the gospel given to us by God through the pen of Mark. Mark’s most significant personal connection to the Lord Jesus was through one of the first to be called by the Lord Jesus to follow Him, Simon Peter, who was likely Mark’s source for the material in this gospel.
If we present Christianity as merely peddling an ideology, offering it to people as great moral teaching, we miss the point. The point is to have an encounter with God which alters our culture and we begin thinking and living according to His word. As a result, we will be effective witnesses when we are able to communicate with people what it is to have a personal relationship with God. And, the real nice thing about God, He values and uses our uniquenesses.
Of the twelve, the Lord Jesus only gave another name to Simon, James and John. Simon Peter and James and John, the sons of thunder. This marked them as belonging to an inner circle with the Lord Jesus. And after this, when the Lord Jesus went to do something special He took with Him Peter, James & John. He dealt more intimately with these three. In doing so, He designated them leaders, the means by which the others would be reached. The Lord Jesus reached the few in order to reach the many.
Monday, May 30, 2022
7 Jesus went out to the lake with his disciples, and a large crowd followed him. They came from all over Galilee, Judea, 8 Jerusalem, Idumea, from east of the Jordan River, and even from as far north as Tyre and Sidon. The news about his miracles had spread far and wide, and vast numbers of people came to see him. 9 Jesus instructed his disciples to have a boat ready so the crowd would not crush him. 10 He had healed many people that day, so all the sick people eagerly pushed forward to touch him. 11 And whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, the spirits would throw them to the ground in front of him shrieking, “You are the Son of God!” 12 But Jesus sternly commanded the spirits not to reveal who he was. ~ Mark 3:7-12
The four Gospels are designed to provide proof of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ to a different group. All four Gospels tell us the Lord Jesus Christ is no mere man, prophet, or religious leader; they inform us, He is God. And, eternal life comes to those who believe the evidence of His deity.
In v.7-8 of today's passage we read, "7 Jesus went out to the lake with his disciples, and a large crowd followed him. They came from all over Galilee, Judea, 8 Jerusalem, Idumea, from east of the Jordan River, and even from as far north as Tyre and Sidon. The news about his miracles had spread far and wide, and vast numbers of people came to see him."
There were there, that day, tens of thousands who came from all over the area. It was the miracles of the Lord Jesus that was attracting the people. In their eyes, He was a spectacle causing His popularity to rise. And, even though His following had a gradual rise, today's passage underscores the emptiness of popularity.
As mentioned, the crowd that pursued the Lord Jesus that day was attracted to His miracles instead of His message. As a result, the Lord Jesus began de-emphasizing His miracles. More than the human body, He came to heal man's heart.
The people wanted miraculous healings, but the Lord Jesus wanted to provide for them the teaching that would heal their souls. Popularity is always a danger to us because, most often, it distorts our message. Popularity will always tempt us to emphasize the secondary, causing us to miss the most important.
In v.9-10 of today's passage we read, "9 Jesus instructed his disciples to have a boat ready so the crowd would not crush him. 10 He had healed many people that day, so all the sick people eagerly pushed forward to touch him."
The Lake of Galilee is thirteen miles long and about seven miles wide, and, the Lord Jesus used it to retreat from the large buldging crowds. This large group of people was in danger of crushing the Lord Jesus because He had healed many people that day, so all the sick people eagerly pushed forward to touch him.
In v.11-12 of today's passage we read, "11 And whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, the spirits would throw them to the ground in front of him shrieking, “You are the Son of God!” 12 But Jesus sternly commanded the spirits not to reveal who he was."
When demons saw the Lord Jesus they always identified Him as the "Son of God." Yet, the Lord Jesus rejected their testimony because they were out to mislead the people into following their agenda rather than God. Though what these demons said was true, it was nevertheless misleading. As a result, the Lord Jesus rejected their testimony.
When we are yet to understand what a given moment or a given truth is about, we are tempted to make out that we understand. It is always out of this context that we are in danger of falling into the trap of image. And, it is then that we are in the danger of manufacturing what we think God has made it about. Inevitably, we make it about something that is lacking in substance. As this passage points out, real life is not about the temporal or the image that may be put forth. No, real life is about the eternal and the substantive, real life is about a personal relationship with God. When we make it about image we show we lack substance.
As the Lord Jesus was going about healing the sick and teaching the misled, no one tried to dismiss Him as a fraud. He performed miracles daily, underscoring His undeniable testimony as the "Son of Man," and the evidence of His deity.
The religion of the so-called leaders of Israel was in opposition to the Lord Jesus because their teachings led the people to hell. Behind all of the religious were the activities of the demonic. In fact, at that time demon possession was at an all-time high. If the teachings of the religious leaders had been of God this would not have been the case.
We live in a time when the presence of demons has not been all that obvious, because, for some time, we have enjoyed the residue of the impact of the teaching of the word of God in this country. As we go further from the influence of the truth in and on our culture, we will see an uptick of the demonic in our world.
When the Lord Jesus came on the scene, the demonic world responded quickly to Him which underscores the authenticity of His person and His message. When the Lord Jesus walked this earth and demons saw Him, the one possessed by the demon would be thrown to the ground by the demon. The verb used to describe this action is used eight times in the New Testament, and every time it describes an inferior bowing to a superior. The demonic world knows the identity of the Lord, and, they respond accordingly.
The religion of the Pharisees was a system that emphasized the distance between God and the sinner. Though God was at work in the nation, He was yet distant. When the Lord Jesus began His ministry, He confronted this distance that was created by our sin. The law kept us at a distance and frightened us with the wrath of God, whereas, the Lord Jesus came in order to make it possible for us to know the forgiveness of our sin and that we would know God as our Father.
Friday, May 27, 2022
Thursday, May 26, 2022
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
Today's story is about spiritual healing which begins with the forgiveness of sin. The problem is we can not heal ourselves, only the Lord can do that. Levi, also known as Matthew, became the disciple who penned the gospel according to Matthew. Before he met the Lord Jesus, it did not appear that his life would turn out as it did.
In Matthew's gospel, Matthew quotes the Old Testament more than any of the other gospel writers. This tells us he was well-trained in the Old Testament scriptures. Matthew was probably of the tribe of Levi and he was dubbed to be a priest. But, he was so disgusted with the religion of his day, he was a rogue who did not want to be a "religious" person. He did not want to join the priesthood, so he became a tax collector.
The last thing a Jew, in good standing, would say to a tax collector, is the first thing the Lord Jesus said to Levi: "Follow Me and be my disciple." By including Matthew on His team, the Lord Jesus risked bringing discredit to Himself in the eyes of the religious establishment. But, since when did the Lord Jesus allow anyone other than His heavenly Father to define Him.
It all began when Levi invited the Lord Jesus to his house for a meal. Levi also invited his other tax collector friends. In that day & culture, sharing a meal with someone meant sharing life with them. One didn’t recline at a table with sinners and tax collectors; one reclined only with those who were the upstanding in the community. Above all, if you preached the kingdom of God, you didn’t recline at a table with tax collectors and sinners. To do so meant you were aligning yourself with the wrong people.
In v.16 of today's passage we read, "But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?”"
For the third time in Mark’s Gospel, the Lord Jesus enters a house. When the religious folk saw the Lord Jesus at Matthew's table, they were beside themselves. They reasoned the Lord Jesus to be a fraud because He spent time with such sinners. In fact, this was the issue that led to their rejection of the Lord Jesus in the end. For the One who claimed to be the most holy and righteous, to be most comfortable with sinners, in the religious mind, proved Him to be a fraud.
You will remember when the Lord Jesus healed the leper, He restored him to community. When the Lord Jesus dines with tax collectors and sinners: he restores them to community, as well, if they are willing of heart. The Lord Jesus brings together sinners and disciples and seats them at the same table. In doing so, He gave a glimpse of heaven.
The Lord Jesus heals us by calling us into a deeper relationship with Him. In so doing, He extends to us His forgiveness, inviting us to be part of His community. He does not exclude so-called healthy people, whom he equates here with the righteous. Obviously, this was a slap at the "self-righteousness" of the religious. Biblically speaking, the righteous are not those who live perfectly but those who belong to God through their faith in Him. The Lord Jesus did not need to call those who already belonged to God. He came to call those who were sick and of need of spiritual healing.
Monday, May 23, 2022
We live in a world that doesn’t attribute its problems to sin. Denial, however, doesn’t make sin go away. Many who deny the existence of sin think the problem is ignorance and the answer is education. They reason that if everyone were educated, the world’s problems would go away. But, some of the smartest people commit the most heinous crimes.
Some of us deal with sin with self-condemning thoughts. Nothing cripples like shame and guilt. We don’t trust the Lord Jesus to deal with our sins; therefore, we punish ourselves. All we succeed in doing this, however, is feeling bad about ourselves. There is a good aspect to guilt, though. Guilt is the nerve ending of the soul. It can serve to drive us to the Lord.
Some of us prefer self-help. We recognize some inadequacy in ourselves and resolve to do better. Or we are over inflated in our abilities and we discover, at some point, we do not know everything. Or, we brilliantly get to the place where we go to God with our questions.
It is only the Lord Jesus who can effectively address our real problems. The forgiveness that He offers works its way into our hearts to liberate us in the deepest parts of our being. Only the Lord Jesus can offer God’s forgiveness. Just as He exposed the flawed reasoning of these religious leaders, the Lord Jesus also challenges our faulty methods of dealing with sin. He shows us, through His Holy Spirit and His Word, the ineffectiveness of our solutions.
Oftentimes, God allows sin to do its life-wrecking work in us so that we might turn to Him. The real problem is that we’re sinners, and the real solution is His forgiveness.
After addressing the religious leaders, the Lord Jesus resumes giving his full attention to the paralyzed man. In v.11, He commands him to get up and go home so that the religious leaders and everyone else can see that he has been healed. The man’s healing served as confirmation for all who could see that his sins had been forgiven.