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Showing posts from September, 2019

Pay Attention

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Scripture:
He said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” (Mark 4:21–25 NRSV)
Observation:
Jesus had just presented the parable of the sower both publicly and privately. Now, it appears that was again speaking to the entire crowd, but by now, the disciples would have unique understanding and perspective. The English translation does not allow us to see the full nature of the discussion for in the original language it is not a lamp that is brought in, but rather, a lamp that comes. The reference is to Jesus Christ, directly. He i…

Sowing Seeds

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Scripture:
Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” (Mark 4:1–9 NRSV)
Observation:
There are two major parables in Mark’s gospel, and this is the first. Jesus is again seen a…

What Is Family?

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Scripture:
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:31–35 NRSV)
Observation:
Just a few verses previous Jesus’ family appears to try and rescue him from his apparent insanity. Now, we find them standing outside the house where he is teaching. Maybe, again, they are trying to get him and take him home. More than likely his teaching was having a negative effect on them all and they felt it was time to simply take him home. 
Jesus uses this scene as a teachable moment. Normally, your next of kin, your relatives, would be found in physical proximity. Jesus redefines family within the kingdom of God. He loo…

When the World Thinks You’re Crazy

Scripture:
Mark 3:19b  Then he went home; 20and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 21When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 22And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” 23And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
Mark 3:28  “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can ne…

Prayer and Decision Making

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Scripture:
Mark 3:13  He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. 14And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, 15and to have authority to cast out demons. 16So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, 19and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. 
Observation:
Jesus goes up to “the” mountain to pray. We don’t know which mountain but there is intentionality in the definite article “the.” Could it represent Sinai, the place where Moses went to be near to God and to receive further instruction? We don’t know the exact location but there is great symbolism in Jesus going up to the mountain and spending time in quiet…

Grieved by Hardness of Heart

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Scripture:
Mark 3:1   Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” 4 Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
Observation:
Jesus had just been asked about his followers eating grain on the sabbath. The thread of conversation regarding the sabbath now continues has he enters the synagogue. The “they” present assumes the Pharisees who stood at a distance to see what Jesus would do. Jesus had just declared that the sabbath was for God’s pe…

Protecting Systems

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Scripture:
One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.” (Mark 2:23–28 NRSV)
Observation:
The language at the opening of this section signals that this is another story which will reveal more of who Jesus is, which at the same time will be juxtaposed by increasing opposition to him and his ministry. It’s as if Mark’s Gospel is an on-going revelation of Christ and resistance of the Phari…

The New Disrupts the Old

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Scripture:
Mark 2:18   Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.
Mark 2:21   “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”
Observation:
Both John the Baptist and the Pharisees were living under the old system of the law. John’s activity was a call for repentance in preparation for something new that would come.…