Search:
test

April 19, 2017: What a Great Savior

Today’s Bible Reading: Judges 16, Psalm 89:1-18, Mark 7:24-37, 1 Corinthians 12:14-31 Mark 7:24-37: Jesus is under increasing pressure, even not being able to be hidden in a house. The needy press in to see him. A Gentile comes, and Jesus first puts her off with what seems like a harsh expression, but has the effect of raising with her the faith to which he responds. “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” There is a right kind of importunate prayer that seeks God’s blessing after initial apparent resistance—see the parable of the persistent widow. Then he comes across a man who is deaf and has a speech impediment. Jesus acts what he is about to do because the man is deaf and cannot otherwise understand—touches his ears and his tongue indicating he is about to heal him. He then dramatically looks up to heaven and speaks, “Be...

Continue Reading

April 18, 2017: Religious Traditionalism

Today’s Bible Reading: Judges 13-15, Psalm 88, Mark 7:1-23, 1 Corinthians 12:1-13 Mark 7:1-23: Religious traditionalism did not die with the Pharisees, and it continues extending its tentacles through the religious instincts of humanity in the clothes of various religious movements and tendencies today. At its heart is a root that issues in one particular fruit. The fruit is illustrated in the interaction that Jesus has with the Pharisees in the first half of the passage (7:1-13), and the root is explained in Jesus’ teaching about that interaction in the second half of the passage (7:14-23). The Pharisees were outraged because Jesus’ disciples were eating with “defiled,” that is unwashed, hands. Mark explains this tradition and others like it in an aside that suggests his original audience was not familiar with the Pharisees’ practices. The disciples of Jesus, they felt, were not walking according to “the tradition of the elders.” Jesus replies that the Pharisees are,...

Continue Reading

April 17, 2017: Walking on Water

Today’s Bible Reading: Judges 10-12, Psalm 87, Mark 6:45-56, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 Mark 6:45-56: Under all this pressure, Jesus instructs and “makes” the disciples go into the boat to cross to the other side. Meanwhile he retreats to the mountains to pray. Take note, disciple of Jesus: if our Master prays, so must we. He retreated from time-to-time to find refreshment and renewal in prayer, and to seek God for renewed power and provision for the great work of which he was about. We are not to take as unnecessary that which Jesus himself regarded so highly; prayer is not to be spurned by the disciples of Jesus but to practiced with zeal and commitment and joyful freedom as Jesus himself prayed. Then comes the famous walking on the water. He meant to keep on going—as if he is taking a short cut to meet them at the other side—but when they are frightened (thinking...

Continue Reading

April 16, 2017: Five Loaves and Two Fish

Today’s Bible Reading: Judges 9, Psalm 86, Mark 6:30-44, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 Mark 6:30-44: The humanity and divinity of Jesus is here on display. First, he recognizes the tiredness facing his disciples. They had been on mission. They returned and gave their report. And now they needed to rest. So busy were they, so impactful was their ministry, that they did not even have time to eat. The pressures of work and the pressures of Christian ministry, whether salaried or not, can be intense. The businessman can face huge challenges in his office, massive opportunities for witness at work, and then come home and face leadership needs in his home church—before repeating the same cycle starting early the next morning. The preacher can face massive pastoral challenges, leadership challenges, preaching opportunities, and the pressure can build and build and build. Take note that Jesus does not expect his servants to be superhuman. He understands that...

Continue Reading

April 15, 2017: Beheaded

Today’s Bible Reading: Judges 8, Psalm 85, Mark 6:14-29, 1 Corinthians 10:14-33 Mark 6:14-29: The introduction of Jesus’ evident growing fame, and the knowledge of that fame reaching the ears of the notorious King Herod, leaves Mark the opportunity to tell the story of John the Baptist’s end. Because Jesus is preaching so powerfully, Herod, with a guilty conscience plaguing him, associates that preaching with the fearful righteous preaching of a radical prophet all-too-familiar to him: John. When a man is plagued by guilt, they drum up ghosts and terrors out of every righteous preacher. John the Baptist had boldly spoken “truth to power,” in the modern parlance, telling Herod that it was not lawful for him to have his brother’s wife. Herodias, Herod’s wife, had naturally enough taken a disliking to John, and so John was in prison. But she also, in her wickedness, sought to put an end to the troublesome preacher. Herod...

Continue Reading

April 14, 2017: Ministry

Today’s Bible Reading: Judges 6-7, Psalm 84, Mark 6:1-13, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 Mark 6:1-13: A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown—Jesus was to experience this truth in his own hometown of Nazareth. Despite the fact they knew him when he was “knee high to a grass hopper,” knew that he was “the carpenter,” knew his family, instead of concluding then that his “astonishing” teaching meant that he was “more than a carpenter,” they refused to believe the evidence of their eyes or ears. Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith. None of us are likely to fall into exactly the same trap: Jesus did not grow up in our own hometown. But there can be a real danger of diminishing the majesty of Jesus in our minds by virtue of our proximity and familiarity with him from our growing up years. We have heard teaching about Jesus appropriate for a child’s...

Continue Reading

April 13, 2017: Arise!

Today’s Bible Reading: Judges 4-5, Psalm 83, Mark 5:21-43, 1 Corinthians 9:13-27 Mark 5:21-43: Two daughters, two healings, two acts of faith met with gracious love and merciful power. First we have one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus, who comes to Jesus about his daughter (5:22-23). He was a powerful man, presumably, a religious authority figure, an elder, pastor, overseer, a member of the council. Respected enough for his piety to be elevated to this position, and yet—coming from the synagogue—he is now so desperate that he is even willing to trouble the attention of that wandering trouble-maker, the one so many synagogues and synagogue rulers were rejecting: Jesus. As Jesus goes with Jairus, a “great crowd” throngs around him (5:24). Jesus had achieved significant celebrity status, and now wherever he went, people came to see and be in the middle of what was happening. Without any secret service detail keeping the crowd at...

Continue Reading

April 12, 2017: What Has Jesus Done for You?

Today’s Bible Reading: Judges 1-3, Psalm 82, Mark 5:1-20, 1 Corinthians 9:1-12 Mark 5:1-20: One of the more extraordinary stories in Mark’s Gospel, a demon possessed man, notorious for his unsocial and presumably dangerous behavior, is dramatically healed. But the details are initially strange, unusual, and for some a little disturbing. Why should it be that Jesus would allow the demons to go into a herd of pigs? There is symbolism at work. The man is possessed by a large number of demons who call themselves “legion.” Note the detail: the Roman military power was notorious for its military “legions.” And these pagan, military conquering, definition of unclean, “legions” are thrown into pigs—the very definition of unclean animals to the Jewish religion. Mark is showing us how Jesus had come to expel the real spiritual uncleanness from Israel, not by military conquest (in that way to throw out the military legions), but by spiritual conquest—through the...

Continue Reading

April 11, 2017: The Potency of the Seed

Today’s Bible Reading: Joshua 24, Psalm 81, Mark 3:20-25, 1 Corinthians 8: Mark 4:21-41: The power of Jesus’ Word is now made evident in several parables, and one extraordinary miracle, that illustrates the reality of what Jesus has been teaching. First, the lamp under a basket: it is not normal to turn a light on in a house and then immediately cover it up. Similarly, those who have the light of God’s Word are to go about shining that light, in word and in deed. Then, with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. In God’s order of things, gifts, graces, and opportunities multiply through being well used and earnestly practiced. If you want to do great things for God, start by doing small things for God with great faithfulness. Before too long, in God’s providence, you will find that you have more and more and more great things that require greater...

Continue Reading

April 10, 2017: Good Soil

Today’s Bible Reading: Joshua 22-23, Psalm 80, Mark 4:1-2, 1 Corinthians 7:17-40 Mark 4:1-2: Jesus now teaches his famous parable of the sower. The contours of it are familiar enough for many. What is surprising to many is Jesus’ rationale for telling parables (4:11-12), where he seems to explain his parables in precisely the reverse way to how it is normally explained. Typically, we are told that Jesus told parables as a way of making his teaching easier to understand. But Jesus, quoting from Isaiah 6, teaches that the parables actually—in some way—are told that people may see but not perceive, hear but not understand. Parables, then, function like a sieve; those who understand will receive the kingdom: “to you has been given the secret of the kingdom of heaven.” Those who do not understand will be left “outside,” and everything will remain “in parables,” not clearly understood. This is the lesson that Jesus drives home...

Continue Reading