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Showing posts from December, 2019

Have Mercy on Me!

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Scripture:
Mark 10:46   They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
Observation:
This is the second blind man to be healed in Mark’s gospel. Each of the blind men depicts the disciples — or the pathway for disciplesh…

Lobbying for a Place of Power

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Scripture:
Mark 10:35   James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39 They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
Mark 10:41   When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and th…

When You Think You Have Everything

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Scripture:
Mark 10:21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Observation:
This story of the rich young man gives us pause. He is a good man and has been doing all he can to follow God’s laws, and as a result, believed that he had everything. Seeking Jesus’ affirmation he came and told the Lord all the good that he had done. He is shocked by Jesus’ response, because he had become dependent upon his wealth, and probably the lifestyle that came with his resources. Jesus was asking him to be counter-cultural and to become entirely dependent upon him. This was more than the young man could handle.
Application:
I was doing a little checking-up on our finances this morning. I have to confess that sometimes I get a little distracted when I’m reading and studying the w…

Christmas leads us to Children

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Scripture:
Mark 10:13   People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
Observation:
Interestingly, Jesus’ comments on divorce are immediately followed by these regarding children. Many have suggested that there was a direct connection being made by Jesus because he knew that it was the little children who would be hurt by divorce. Jesus wrapped these children in his arms, elevating their status before the whole community, and loved them.
The picture of the day would have been poignant. Sixty percent of children did not survive to the age of sixteen and the parent…

Discipleship and Marriage

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Scripture:
Mark 10:2   Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Mark 10:10   Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
Observation:
Jesus’ teaching on discipleship continues as the Pharisees challenge him on …

Temptation — It’s Real

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Scripture:
Mark 9:42   “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
Observation:
Jesus continues to teach his disciples what it means to follow him. There is great responsibility in following after Jesus, a responsibility to live a life that points toward Christ. No excuses were provided for those who were a pa…

When We Try to be Exclusive

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Scripture:
Mark 9:38   John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 Whoever is not against us is for us. 41 For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
Observation:
Until this time the only people who were ministering in Jesus’ name were those whom he had personally called. The disciples were terribly troubled by someone outside of their group who was casting out demons. Notice that John says, “he was not following us.” The problem is that John didn’t understand the source of power. Jesus had been trying to teach the disciples this lesson becausepower only came through prayer and connection to the Source. This wasn’t about following the right group, but about being connected …

Check our Posture

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Scripture:
Mark 9:33   Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
Observation:
Jesus has been revealing his identity and his authority to his disciples but they still fail to comprehend God’s kingdom. Clinging to the ideas of earthly power and authority, even after Jesus announced that he would die, the disciples argue about their positions within Jesus’ system. They think they understand what he’s talking about but they are limited to their own vision of power.
Embarrassed, they relu…

“If You Can?”

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Scripture:
Mark 9:21 Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” 23 Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Observation:
The inability of the disciples to heal the boy seemed to have shaken the father’s confidence in Jesus’ power. Jesus’ response is either a statement of exasperation, or a question: “If you can?” or “If you are able!” Whichever way you interpret it, Jesus is incredulous at this man’s lack of faith. Something had happened to make his faith stumble because he had come to this place believing that his son would be made well.
Jesus reassures the man that this miracle is not beyond his capabilities. The father cries out a statement with which most would reson…

The Future Has Already Begun

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Scripture:
Mark 9:9   As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. 11 Then they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 12 He said to them, “Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? 13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.”
Observation:
Coming down the mountain from the transfiguration, the disciples were trying to understand what they had experienced, and what it meant for them. Elijah had been seen up on the mountain and they knew that this had to have some special meaning for them. The scribes often quoted passages of scripture about the role of Elijah and there were d…

Is It Good for Us to be Here?

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Scripture:
Mark 9:2   Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
Observation:
This is the scene of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ. He takes Peter, James and John up the mountain with him and they witness something beyond their imagination. Just six days prior Peter had declared that Jesus was the Messiah, but he was …