Mark 15

Jesus continues to drink from the cup of the wrath of God. He was stripped of His disciples. He was stripped of His “religion.” He was stripped of His closest friend.

Jesus Before Pilate- Jesus is stripped of His last recourse in the law of the land: The Romans.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus- Jesus is stripped of His dignity.

The Crucifixion of Jesus- Jesus is stripped of His life.

The Death of Jesus- Jesus quoted Psalm 22:1. If you have never studied Psalm 22, IT’S TIME!  Bryan did a video on this psalm last week. Here is the link: Wednesday Morning Blessings 4-1-20

I would like to point out a few things:

  1. Jesus quoted the first verse and the last verse from the cross. It may have been how He passed the time. It was certainly the way for us to know that His job was completed. What began in the garden was finished on the cross. Jesus had drunk the entire cup of wrath. It was all now in Him and when He died, EVERY sin from Eve to the last person on earth went to the GRAVE! What a miracle!!! It goes SO BEYOND our capacity to understand.
  2. Every devout Jew would have, at least in his mind, continued the text. It was a well-known psalm which pointed to the coming Messiah.
  3. Several prophecy verses were fulfilled that day:
    1. Verses 7-8, the insults. Matthew 27:39-44
    2. Verses 14-15. A description of crucifixion. History tells us that a person became extremely dehydrated from loss of blood, thus very thirsty.
    3. Verse 16, pierced hands and feet. John 20:27
    4. Verse 18, casting lots. Mark 15:24
    5. Verse 31, righteousness declared to a people yet unborn. This verse is being fulfilled TODAY!
  4. The psalm ends with the Hebrew word, “Asah,” which means “to accomplish or fulfill.” “Tetelestai,” which means, “It is finished,” is used in John 19:28 and in verse 30 for Jesus’ statement on the cross. It was also used in Greek business for the completion of a contract meaning, “Paid in full.”
  5. The relationship of God the Father and God the Son is way beyond our comprehension. Did God forsake God? Was it a rhetorical question, which was a technique that David used in many of his psalms? Based upon verse 24, I think so. Could it be that Jesus the Man was so overwhelmed by our sin that He couldn’t “sense” the Father? Does that mean that God the Father had turned away? Based upon verse 24, I say no. Instead, just the opposite! It is the prophecy of this psalm–WHICH JESUS WAS QUOTING–that testifies to what was to come because of His obedience. Verses 25-31 bear this truth out.

As we look at the cross today, Good Friday, let us “keep our eyes on the prize,”


5…Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Let us PRAISE THE LORD for such a loving Father and devoted Son. Because of His sacrifice, we are CHILDREN OF GOD and beloved by the Father. 1 John 3:1.


Mark 14

We now turn to Jesus’ preparation for the cross.

Jesus Anointed at Bethany- Jesus was in Bethany at Simon the Leper’s house–we can assume that he is no longer a leper– when a woman (we find out in John that it was Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ sister, who all lived in Bethany, too) poured a year’s wages worth of perfume on His head and feet and wiped the excess with her hair–totally inappropriate in that day, but completely appropriate for preparing Jesus’ body for burial (His own words). It was an act of abject humility, where Judas’ response was one of complete selfishness. Both are remembered in history, but for opposite reasons: Mary for her act of selflessness; Judas for his betrayal. For a closer look, go to Jesus Anointed at Bethany

The Lord’s Supper- The account of the Last Supper is in all the Gospels and we learn details from each Gospel. If you have not read all four accounts at the same time, here is a link to do so. It is a neat experience to get it all at once. The Last Supper in Chronological Order

The greatest thing I learned was verse 24, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many.” From it, we learn that there is a new covenant in the making:

31 “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” Jeremiah 31:31-34

This passage is the covenant of which Jesus spoke! But wait, there’s more! Just as the LORD took responsibility for both parties in the covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:17-18), Jesus took responsibility for both parties in the covenant He made with us on the cross. From then on, all who look to the cross for redemption receive a FULL PARDON for their sins. “God made Him who had no sin to become sin (the sin sacrifice) for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial- The revealing thing about Peter’s denial is how easy it is to be caught up in circumstances. We all do it. We are all “Peter” in that regard. He had expectations of Jesus and how he thought things should go; we do, too. The redeeming thing is that Jesus not only forgave him, but restored him! My Bible heading says, “Jesus Reinstates Peter.” I like that!

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. John 21:15-17

We all have hope in this passage. Jesus restores us and reinstates us, too.

Gethsemane- Three things to know:

  1. The request for the boys to “watch” with Jesus is from Exodus 12:42, Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the Lord for the generations to come.” Jesus was about to “save” Israel again just like He did in Egypt. He was keeping vigil just as He did the first time. It was also a custom, although the disciples didn’t take it very seriously–or, they had partaken of too much food and wine at the supper…
  2. The Holy Spirit desires us to be like Jesus. We, in our flesh, are too weak to do anything spiritual on our own. To depend upon our own “right arm” is foolish, senseless, and dangerous!
  3. The time for Jesus to drink from the cup of wrath began in the garden. He continued to drink through His betrayal, arrest, trials, abuse, and crucifixion. From the cross, He said, “It is done. Finished. Completed. Paid In Full.”

Jesus Arrested, Before the Sanhedrin, and Peter’s Denial- Each Gospel has a unique perspective. Be sure to read them all pertaining to the events of that night and the day of crucifixion. More than likely, the supper was Wednesday evening and the crucifixion on Thursday*. The first day of The Feast of Unleavened Bread began on Friday that year and it is a high sabbath (it has a fixed day on the calendar, but the day of the week varies each year) as stated in John 19:31. High Sabbaths (wikipedia) We Gentiles have a hard time differentiating between the high sabbath and a regular sabbath. The actual day, though, is not as important as the actual event. His propitiation (substitutionary death) for our sins is the KEY to our salvation! He truly IS the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world!

Let’s put our faith and trust in Him today.

*See Did Jesus Really Die on Good Friday?


Mark 13

As Jesus was leaving the temple, His disciples called His attention to Herod’s Temple, which was quite magnificent–not like Solomon’s, but still a feat for that time. Jesus’ response wasn’t what they were expecting! Privately, they asked Him about when its destruction would happen. WE know it happened 40 years later in 70 AD. Jesus also broadened His prophecy to include what would happen to them (verses 9-11) and events leading up to His Return. Let’s look at some of them:

Nation Against Nation- Even though these events picked up steam throughout the next two millennia, it isn’t time for His Return. Earthquakes and famines abound even today, but they are “the beginning of birth pains.” v.8

Before Governors and Kings- Jesus wasn’t having to look very far into the future to see the floggings. They happened to Peter and John several days after Pentecost (see Acts 5:40). The key verse is 10, “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.” This verse must be fulfilled before Christ returns. Note that there are 195 countries today whereas there were 153 known countries in Jesus’ day (based upon the number of fish caught by the disciples in John 21:11). The Gospel is reaching more and more people groups through the internet and radio than ever imagined. It is possible that we could reach the entire word population with the Gospel very soon! Every person who will respond to the Gospel WILL “HEAR” the Gospel in some form or fashion. When that happens, THEN Christ will come. In the meantime, the Gospel must be preached everywhere. Before kings and magistrates is one way to get the Gospel out quickly and overtly–whether they accept it or not! SOMEONE is always listening and ready to spread the word. I love this:

11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

Wow! That’s walking in faith and in power, His power!

Family against Family- We have seen this happen personally, haven’t we? Jesus said that He did NOT come to bring peace (the peace spoken of by the angels at His birth was in reference to peace with God through Christ’s coming sacrifice) but a sword (Matthew 10:34). The Gospel would and does pit family members against each other. It is the proverbial “line in the sand,” and sometimes a great gulf between brothers. Jesus gives this encouragement, “the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” v13.

The Abomination that Causes Desolation- Daniel prophesied about him in 9:27, 11:31 and 12:11. One of these was Antiochus Epiphanes:

Scholars generally agree that the first reference of these prophecies is the Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes IV, who ruled Palestine from 175-64 B.C. Antiochus treated Israel with such violence and contempt that they rebelled against him. When he came to suppress the rebellion, his forces entered the temple, stopped the regular sacrifices, set up an idol of or altar for Zeus, and apparently offered swine there as a sacrifice. The Abomination that Causes Desolation

Since Jesus was referring to a coming abomination which hasn’t happened yet, we can draw the conclusion that when the next temple is built (preparations are already being made for it), the anti-christ will set up a throne in it and accept the people’s worship for himself.

The verse to hang onto is 20, “If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them.” There are two ways to look at this verse:

  1. Persecution will get so bad that Jesus returns before all believers are wiped out.
  2. The world is about to blow up and He comes back before it does. When we look at the destruction in Revelation, we see the world continuing on its demise that began with the Great Flood. Jesus will stop it before it destroys itself, just as He did during the Flood (see Genesis 8:1-2).

Our encouragement is that He Does Come Back!

This Generation- The key to this verse is the word “generation.” It can also be translated as “time” “age” and “nation”. IF Jesus was talking about the state of Israel, then the return of Israel as a nation in 1948 is significant. IF Jesus was talking about that particular generation, then He had to be referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Both are within biblical guidelines.

“Heaven and Earth will pass away”- Compare these two verses:

31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. Mark 13:31

18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Matthew 5:18

Jesus ties it all together right here. The Words of the Law are HIS WORDS!

The Day and Hour Unknown- This verse is a reference to a wedding where the Father makes the decision as to when the bridegroom leaves to get his bride. The key is, “Be on guard! Be alert!” v33 and “Watch!” v37

Those of us who study the Scriptures and enjoy constant fellowship with the LORD are being alert both for His Coming and also His command to go and speak and give testimony and be His witnesses wherever we are and in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, whether at our neighbor’s house, the courthouse, prison, or the execution block. IT’S ALL ABOUT HIM. 

NOTE: Lord’s Supper tonight at 6:30. See OKC Brookwood on YouTube, or Brookwood Baptist Church on FaceBook.

Mark 12

This day was a day of contention. Jesus had cleared the temple, a graphic demonstration of His rejection of the religious leaders’ authority and leadership. He had refused to acknowledge their authority by answering their question, which was a power-play on their part. Today, Jesus continues to press the attack on their leadership.

The Parable of the Tenants- This story was actually a history lesson of how God’s prophets had been treated by Israel’s leaders. He then became prophetic in describing how they would treat the Son. It revealed what the leaders were trying to do and what they would eventually accomplish. Jesus also told what would happen to them, their leadership, and the nation of Israel:

“He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” v.9

The leaders of Israel would revolt against Rome and, in 70 AD, would cease to be a nation. Jesus spoke Daniel’s prophecy of this event (Daniel 9:26) in Luke 19:41-44 where Jesus wept as He entered into Jerusalem; Daniel’s prophecy also spoke of the Messiah’s death that same year, and indeed, it took place that very week. Jerusalem was rebuilt and renamed Aelia Capitolina, in 135 CE. Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina. The names never really stuck, but it shows the lengths that Rome went to obliterate Israel. The “vineyard,” so to speak, was given to the Followers of The Way, or Christians, led by Messianic Jews: Peter, James, John, Jesus’ half-brothers James and Jude, and Paul, among others.

Jesus then quotes a very specific messianic prophecy and applies it to Himself,

22 The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad. Psalm 118:22-24

Here, again, Jesus was condemning the religious leaders for rejecting Him.

Paying Taxes to Caesar- The Pharisees and Herodians (supporters of Rome and the current ruling system) tried to trick Jesus. It was a good plan–but, with a fatal flaw, and Jesus nailed it. The specific tax was universal and heavy, and all Jews hated it; it was expensive, and it reminded them that they were not a sovereign state. Everyone was interested in Jesus’ answer. He told them to bring a denarius, which is what everyone had to pay. They brought one–checkmate! The picture was of Tiberius Caesar, and the inscription was of Caesar Augustus, the divine. In other words, it was an idol! They were carrying around an idol in the temple courts!!! Then, Jesus amazed everyone with His wise answer, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” v.17 The implication was that the Pharisees and Herodians were in the pocket of Rome, which was true. A real double-whammy.

Marriage and Resurrection- The religious leaders weren’t about to give up. They had too much to lose. Also, in their own little minds, they thought they were right. One group, called the Sadducees, who believed that once you were dead, that was it: no resurrection (that’s why they were “sad, you see?”), asked Jesus a hypothetical question. Wrong move! Jesus reprimanded them, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?”  Wow! They were relying too heavily on “the traditions of men,” their own version of the law. Jesus set them straight using His Word. “You are badly mistaken.” They were warned.

The Greatest Commandment- One of the teachers of the law got it right. His question was open-ended and allowed Jesus to answer as He saw fit. He quoted Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and Leviticus 19:8. Note that to do the first means that you will do the second. One flows into the other. The teacher commended Jesus (which probably brought a smile to Jesus’ face). He answered along the lines of 1 Samuel 15:22, which says,

“Does Adonai take as much pleasure
in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as in obeying what Adonai says?
Surely obeying is better than sacrifice,
and heeding orders than the fat of rams.

Jesus finally found ONE leader who got it. He actually understood the difference between obeying God and His Word and following the traditions of men. He may have had a problem with the current leadership and recognized Jesus as the Messiah. I’m hoping to meet him one day.

Whose Son Is the Christ?- Jesus continued to apply messianic passages to Himself. He was a son of David (twice, actually, through both Joseph and Mary), which qualified Him for the position.

He also warned the people to beware of the teachers of the law–who didn’t really teach the law, but rather their own traditions. Jesus gave an example of their hypocrisy and a good reason not to trust them. “Such men will be punished most severely.” v.40

The Widow’s Offering- Jesus was the Champion of the people. He came for the sick, the suffering, the downtrodden and the oppressed. Here, He commends a widow woman for giving much more in percentage than all of the rich. It was a great object lesson.

Jesus was done teaching in the temple area, but He wasn’t done teaching, yet. Tomorrow, we look at His prophecy about Jerusalem and the end times.


Mark 11

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. For an indepth look of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, go to Sunday’s Cool 4-5-20. Today, I want to point out a revealing fact that the Jews of that day missed-or ignored. Jesus’ Triumphal Entry was a direct fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. There is disagreement on whether it was 33 AD, 32 AD, or 30 AD, but the date is close enough that any discrepancy is an error on our part and NOT the Prophecy, Christ, or the Word of God. For details, go to Daniel’s Prophecy

The Triumphal Entry- The prophecy of Daniel was that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem on the very day Jesus rode into Jerusalem. THAT’S HUGE! We find in Luke 19 that even as the disciples and the people shouted messianic phrases, the religious rulers tried to exercise their power and authority by telling Jesus to tell His disciples to shut up. Jesus not only ignored their command, He told them that “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Notice that He said, “will” and not “would.” The second indicates a hypothetical situation where the first indicates a sure thing!

The Clearing of the Temple (again)- The next day, Jesus cleared the temple. He had done this once before at the beginning of His ministry (see John 2:12-16; He made a whip of cords that time). He was exercising His authority as Messiah. The religious leaders didn’t like it one bit. They looked for a way to kill Him–which was precisely what Jesus had in mind.

The Withered Fig Tree- The fig tree is symbolic of Israel. The day before, Jesus had inspected it expecting fruit since it had leaves, but it only LOOKED like it had produced fruit. Instead, it was only green. Jesus basically told it, “Since you only look like you produce fruit, from now on you will never produce fruit as you are.” The next day, the tree was withered from the roots up. What does this graphic illustration tell us? In the same way, Israel would “rot” from the roots up. Their stubborn belief in their good works according to the law of Moses could not save them. They would never be able to produce the fruit of salvation and would die in their sins.

The Authority of Jesus Questioned- If Jesus wanted to make the religious leaders mad, this next event proved it. They demanded for Him to tell them by what authority He had acted. Jesus not only did not answer their question, He bartered with them, which put Him on their level of authority. His question: “Was John’s (the Baptist) baptism of God or of men?”

The importance of their answer went like this: If they said that it was of God, then they would be admitting that John was, indeed, the forerunner of the Christ as prophesied in Malachi 4:5-6, and, therefore, Jesus is Who He says He is, the Messiah. If they said that it was of men (man’s idea), then the people would stone them–they would, at least, lose face in the people’s eyes, and their opinion was precious to the leaders. At this point, the people believed that John WAS the Forerunner of the Christ and that Yeshua (Jesus) was the Christ, the Messiah, the Long-Awaited One. In not answering, they were wise, but they were made a laughing-stock in the public’s opinion. Jesus was provoking them with truth. How sad…

Jesus had already answered their question, but not at this festival. Previously, He had made this profession, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.” John 8:54. He couldn’t have gotten any clearer than that. Personally, I think they asked in order to establish their authority. Jesus would not have it. Only HIS authority stands.

It gets worse tomorrow, but we must wait until then…

Mark 10

This chapter could be entitled, “A Day in the Life of Jesus.”

The Question of Divorce

The Pharisees had their own version of allowable divorce. They also knew that the 10 Commandments said not to commit adultery. They wanted to know where the line was so that they could get as close to it as possible without edging over it. Typical of all of us, no? They also wanted Jesus to trap Himself in either upholding the 10 Commandments and making Moses out to be wrong, or upholding Moses and abolishing (annulling) the 10 Commandments. Jesus did neither, but rebuked them because of the hardness of their hearts toward God’s ways. He then explained how it was supposed to be. When the disciples asked Him about it, He explained further. Matthew 19:10-12 gives a raw account of the disciples’ reaction.

10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” OUCH!

11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

Marriage back then was arranged. Marrying for love was a bonus at best and a pipe dream at worst. It was a commodity that one used to one’s advantage. The problem was that men had it much better than women. The new paradigm that Jesus gives reveals the true nature of mankind. We are so wrapped up in our feelings that we disregard God and His commands.

  1. Some people are born with physical disabilities and will never bear children.
  2. Some were made eunuchs to serve in the king’s house.
  3. Some choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. What??? You mean, sex is not #1 on everyone’s list? Culture would sure seem to make us think it is! When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the first thing that happened to them was they became aware of each other’s bodies. If they were like the rest of us, desire was awakened. What did they do? They covered themselves. We should take a lesson! Our relationship with God must transcend even the most basic desires of our bodies. Eventually, we will move beyond the physical desires of the body and they won’t be needed anymore. The framework given in marriage keeps the physical relationship pure; it needs to stay that way in thought and deed. Single folks, you’re already on your way to heavenly thinking! Be pure for God!

The Little Children and Jesus

Jesus loves children! He told us that we must become pure in our faith–like them– in order to enter His kingdom. Children don’t need to know everything and then make an informed decision. They simply trust the Shepherd. We should, too.

The Rich and the Kingdom of God

This man was sincere. He hoped that Jesus would bless him because of his sincerity. Instead, Jesus revealed the one thing that kept his heart from being pure: Greed. He may not have been a bad ruler; he may not have wanted everything, but he DID want what he had: plenty of food, nice clothing, money to throw around, servants, position, prestige, etc. Jesus looked at him and loved him. I believe He looks at everyone that way. For this man, he missed the opportunity of a lifetime–or did he? We really don’t know. He may have gone home and done exactly what Jesus told him to do. Since Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to die, the man may never have had a chance to catch up with Him. One of these days, I hope to meet this man.

The prevailing thought of the day was that the rich were blessed and the poor were cursed. Jesus changed all that when He said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (25). Instead, Jesus called sinners, beggars, and lepers to follow Him. He made it a matter of the heart instead of outward “blessings.” Following Jesus above everything else is paramount. Verse 30 is that promise.

Jesus’ Third Prediction

Jesus told them a third time specifically what was going to happen. Wow!

Even then, James and John (their mother may have been involved-Matthew 20:20-28) came and asked for the privilege to sit at His right and His left in His coming kingdom. Double WOW! Did they not hear Him when He warned them about what was coming? Did they not understand that He was going to die?!!! They did, indeed, get to drink from the same cup of persecution, but the positions for which they asked were meant for others in heaven. Jesus then reiterated to them the need for them to serve rather than be served. Why? Because He wanted them to be like Him: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (45).

Blind Bartimaeus

Jericho is a few miles east of Jerusalem. Jesus was almost there! Everyone from Judea was headed to Jerusalem, also, to celebrate Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Picking up Bart on His way created quite a stir as Jesus entered Jerusalem. The celebration had begun!

Tomorrow, we begin the last week of Jesus’s life. TODAY is the day we celebrate His entry into Jerusalem. We will look at that during SS this morning and tomorrow, as well.

Mark 8

The reMARKable thing about this miracle is how closely it resembles the first one. I love the description of Jesus’ compassion on the crowd. He KNEW that some would collapse on their way home. Again, there were fish and bread. This time, there were 4,000 present, and seven (large) basketfuls were gathered, which were possibly a representation of the seven nations represented in the area. If so, then the first miracle, which included 12 baskets, represented Israel, and this miracle represented the Gentiles. Jesus came for BOTH!

v.11 The Pharisees asked for a sign. For this explanation, we turn to John 6.

30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”  They wanted Jesus to produce manna! Jesus told them that the only sign He would give them was the sign of Jonah:

39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:39-40. 

Jesus did two things here: The first was to validate Jonah as a real person and a real event; the second was to tell them how long He would be in the grave. Despite public opinion, Jesus did NOT die on Friday, but Thursday (my opinion). The Sabbath referred to is a high Sabbath that begins the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread, which that year was on Friday, and not the regular sabbath. For more information, see Did Jesus Die on Good Friday? The whole point is the sign. What about all the miracles? Jesus even told John the Baptist’s disciples to “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Matthew 11:4-6. THESE WERE SIGNS!

The Yeast of the Pharisees and Herod

The disciples showed their youth (Peter was the only one married; the rest were probably teenagers). They were a little slow getting Jesus’ meaning. Yeast symbolizes sin in the Passover meal; they knew this. I love Jesus’ response, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand?” (17). He even reminded them of the two miracles. He never did explain it to them. They figured it out (Matthew 16:12).

The Blind Man at Bethsaida

The miracle of the bread and fish were like the first, but the healing of the blind man was entirely different than any other healings. Jesus took him outside the town. Evidently, the man’s faith had to be his own and it took some “building up” in order for his faith to come to fruition. “Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.” (v25). I suspect that this verse is referring to more than just his physical sight! Then, Jesus sent him home without going into the village. Why? Probably so that he could ponder what had been done for him without distraction.

The rest of the chapter begins the March to the Cross.

  1. Caesarea Philippi. Gates of Hell It is known as the birthplace of the world, was the worship center for the god, Pan, and stood for all things worldly, including a cave that was supposed to be the “the gates of hell,” or, the entry into hell. Jesus uses this phrase in Matthew 16:18. Peter wisely declared Jesus as Messiah.
  2. Jesus began to predict His death. He told the disciples plainly and specifically what would happen. They had other plans for Jesus. Boy, did He set them straight! The “gentle and humble Jesus” dissolved real quick when they crossed Him concerning God’s Plan. He then laid it all out for them:
  3. The Way of the Cross– “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (v34). It’s the first mention of a cross and a great predictor of how Jesus would die. Peter didn’t know it, but he, too, would die on a cross. According to historical tradition, Peter requested to be crucified upside down because he wasn’t worthy to die as Christ did. WOW! How Did Peter Die?

Jesus warned them pretty sternly. It’s a warning that we should take seriously, too. ANYONE who is ashamed of the LORD, which can mean living a worldly life–or even a selfish one–so that no one identifies a person with Christ, Jesus will be ashamed of him when He comes “in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (v38). We must also deny ourselves and take up our cross DAILY (Luke 9:23) and follow Jesus. LET’S DO THIS!

Mark 9 Jesus’ March to the Cross

Jesus has “set His face (has resolutely set out for) Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51. This verse begins with “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven,”. Notice that Luke did NOT emphasis the cross, but the ascension. The CROSS is the goal of Jesus for the payment of sins as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29),” but it is the RESURRECTION and subsequent ASCENSION that give us victory over the grave!

Peter ends yesterday’s teaching by telling the disciples that some of them “not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” 9:1. This event happens six days later on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter, James and John were with Jesus when heaven came down and mixed with earth (just like Eden). Jesus was transformed and Moses and Elijah showed up to talk with Him. The disciples were astonished, to say the least, and petrified! God the Father even showed up in a cloud (to keep the disciples from seeing Him and “leaving their earthly bodies behind”). WOW! We learn several things about heaven from this passage:

  1. We keep our earthly identities. Moses and Elijah did.
  2. We see the timeline in its entirety. Moses and Elijah knew what was coming and why. Of course, they had had visions of it while on earth, so no surprise there.
  3. The disciples knew intuitively who Moses and Elijah were. We will know everyone intuitively. “We shall know fully, even as we are fully known.” 1 Cor. 13:12

The kingdom of God came with power. With direction comes conviction; with conviction comes empowerment. Jesus talked with Moses (representative of the Law) and Elijah (representative of the Prophets) about upcoming events. God’s Presence and blessing was His conviction and empowerment. Why Moses and Elijah? See Matthew 5:17-18.

The Question of Elijah (11-13)- Malachi 4:5 tells us this: “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.” Jesus pretty much tells them that John the Baptist was Elijah. In fact, Matthew records Jesus telling the crowd that John was: For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.” Matthew 11:13-14. Jesus then asked His own question, “Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer and be rejected?” (12). Jesus is referring to Isaiah 53:3, which says just that. Interesting note: If you ask a Jew this question, he will probably not have heard it before because their prayer books skip over chapter 53 about the Suffering Savior. Jesus was once again trying to redirect their thinking about what He was about to accomplish. They didn’t get it. It’s still the same today– although, more and more Jews are coming to Christ than ever before! And people are using Isaiah 53 to get their attention. Apocalyptic? Could be!

The Healing of the Possessed Boy- The nugget to pull out of this passage is in verses 21-24,

21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!

Did Jesus not know how long? Sure! I think He was asking the father to examine how long he has waited for an answer to his prayers. Now that the chance for his son to be healed had arrived, he was still dealing with doubt and cynicism. “IF” is a big give-away. Jesus immediately calls him on it. The boy’s father answered wisely. Here’s the nugget: When our doubt and cynicism grow big in our lives, are we willing to put our faith and trust in Jesus? Are we willing to ask Jesus to help us with our unbelief? To give us first the desire and then the power to do His will (Phil. 2:13)? We grow during times like these.

Jesus’ Second Prediction- The disciples were still vying for position in Christ’s new kingdom. He tried to set them straight again. The first time, He called them to die to self and take up their cross and follow Him. This time, He called them to become servants, even slaves:

25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28

Whoever Is Not Against Us Is For Us- Jesus was/is all about obedience (see John 14:23). If this person was being obedient to the Holy Spirit and casting out demons in Jesus’ name, then GREAT! What we must keep in mind is Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ The key is relationship. Everything points to knowing Him.

Causing to Stumble- This passage can be described as hyperbole. Here is how I break it down:

  1. If your hand causes you to stumble = what we do.
  2. If your foot causes you to stumble = were we go.
  3. If your eye causes you to stumble = what we see.

It’s better to do without some things in this life than to allow them to drag us down into sin and possibly hell.

Verse 49 is interesting. If our lives are “sweet-smelling sacrifices” to God, then we will have been salted on the altar:

  1. Exodus 30:35- Salt in incense;
  2. Leviticus 2:13- Salt in grain offerings;
  3. Numbers 18:19- Covenant of salt from the holy offerings.

Why salt? The more impure the salt was, the less effective it was. Jesus was asking them to remain pure and to keep each other pure by holding each other accountable. Great lesson here! Let us do the same! Have integrity even with family and friends. It’s important. How do we remain pure? By applying verses 43-47. Simple, right? EASY TO SAY; HARD TO DO. That’s why we need each other along with the Holy Spirit!


Mark 7

If we ever wonder if Peter really did dictate this letter, we need look further than verse 18, “Are you so dull?” he [Jesus] said.” Who would ever paint himself in such a bad light if he were making it up, or even exaggerating the story?!

Peter shares with us today three ways that Jesus broke with the traditions and taboos of His day.

That Which Defiles

Ceremonial washing was part of the oral tradition: “According to Rabbinic Judaism, the Oral Torah or Oral Law (Hebrew: תורה שבעל פה, Torah she-be-`al peh, lit. “Torah that is on the mouth”) represents those laws, statutes, and legal interpretations that were not recorded in the Five Books of Moses, the “Written Torah” (Hebrew: תורה שבכתב, Torah she-bi-khtav, lit. ” (Wikipedia).

“The Written Law”—Torah Shebichtav, “The Oral Tradition”—Torah Shebaal Peh 

There were 613 Oral Commandments! Learn more at 613 Commandments

Jesus waited for the Pharisees to bring up the “parting of the ways” between Jesus (and His disciples) and the leaders of the day…then He lowered the boom! “Hypocrites!” Jesus then jumped directly into the written law–Torah Shebichtav- to redirect their thinking. By the way, He does this with us routinely when we read/hear His words, which is why it is important for us to expose ourselves daily and often to the Word of God, i.e. reading it, listening to it, listening to teachers talk about it, and praying it.

Jesus called them on one specific case that contradicted God’s express command and especially His heart, which was the taking care of  elderly parents. Jesus made two references to the written law, Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16, to show them the error of their ways. And, just in case they missed it, He said, “Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.” And then the damning part, “And you do many things like that.” Ouch! If they didn’t hate Him before, they sure hated Him now! We can only hope that there were more like Nicodemus who were open to what the Scriptures truly said.

Jesus then quit addressing the Pharisees directly and called out to the crowd around Him. It wasn’t technically a parable (a story that explains a larger truth–see v.17), but an actual explanation. Jesus went into greater detail with His disciples and explained that, what we eat physically passes through our digestive system and then out. What He was referring to was what comes out of the heart. THAT is what defiles us, and THAT is why He came: to give us new hearts! 

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone [a dead heart] and give you a heart of flesh [a living heart]. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezekiel 36:26-27

33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:33-34

To give us new hearts is what He came to do! Hearts for Him to inhabit!!!

The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith

Jesus went to the tip of Israel; to meet a Gentile in that area was not uncommon. In fact, the area around Galilee was shared with Gentiles. It makes me wonder why Jesus refused her entreaty. The “tete a tete” (private conversation) between Jesus and this woman reads more like a running joke were the subject not so serious. I still think Jesus smiled at her because of her quick comeback. She proved her faith by not giving up so easily, and was rewarded accordingly: He healed her Greek daughter–a parting of ways with the traditions of the day. We would do well to do the same! Many times, Jesus doesn’t answer us right away to crystallize the need to us; sometimes He simply wants us to turn our attention solely on Him when we ask, rather than being nonchalant about it. Good lesson!

The Mute Man Healed

So, Jesus wouldn’t grant the Greek woman’s request initially because She wasn’t a Jew, but He WOULD go to the Decapolis–10 cities of Gentiles and Jews–and heal there! Obviously, Jesus was testing the woman to grow her faith. In this case, we have no idea if the man was a Jew of a Gentile. All we know is that Jesus healed him.

Once again, Jesus commanded him and those who witnessed the miracle not to tell anyone, but that just made the story all the juicier (v36)! Jesus was constantly being interrupted, diverted, and impositioned by people in need. and, guess what: He took time for everyone! One might think that people were His objective. WAIT…PEOPLE WERE HIS OBJECTIVE! May we remember this nugget of wisdom the next time that we become impatient with our loved ones because they “interrupted, diverted, or impositioned” us.

Lastly, the people were in love with Jesus. He was their hero (v37). The way that the religious leaders manipulated the crowd into crucifying Jesus lets us know that the crowd was seeded with antagonizers and that people are sheep (easily deceived, easily led). May we know the Scriptures so that we will not be led astray. Let’s stay close to our Shepherd, Jesus, “that great Shepherd of the sheep.” Hebrews 13:20.

Mark 6

Peter covers some ground in this chapter!

Jesus visits Nazareth- These people knew Jesus and His family. They didn’t take into account that Jesus COULD be the Messiah. I wonder why they didn’t check the prophecies: Born in Bethlehem to the house of David (on both sides), born of a virgin (if they believed the story); also, He was announced by angels, visited by wise men, spent time in Egypt, and lived a sinless life. They should have known He was “different.”

The interesting thing to me is the absence of Joseph. Had he died before Jesus began His ministry? If so, we can take great comfort in His sharing in our grief when we lose a loved one.

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve- There are two things about the twelve that I would like to point out:

  1. They were to take no provisions–not even an extra shirt. It hints that they weren’t gone very long. It also speaks to the fact that Jesus wanted them completely dependent upon the Spirit’s provision for them. We would do well to learn this lesson academically BEFORE we have to learn it experientially!
  2. They anointed the sick with oil and healed them. Oil is the physical representation of the Holy Spirit. Here again, they were dependent upon His provision, this time it was in order to heal.

John the Baptist’s Story- Peter included the events of John’s demise. I’m glad he did! The one thing we learn from Herod is the fact that without the conviction of the Holy Spirit, a person cannot be saved. “When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.” v20b. Herod’s heart was not open to the Gospel, therefore, he never responded to John’s call to repent. For the end of Herod’s story, read Acts 12:19b-24.

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand- This is twice now that Peter mentioned that they didn’t have time to eat because of all the people to which they were ministering. Evidently, that was the norm. Jesus called them to “come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” v31b. To see Jesus’ heart, let’s look at verse 34. It explained Jesus’ viewpoint–and Peter got it! “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” So he began teaching them many things.” 

The miracle of the loaves and fishes:

  1. Jesus used whatever the disciples came up with, which was the boy’s lunch (see John 6:9).
  2. There was order to the event. I think the groups were for counting. There was no need to estimate to the number that was there!
  3. Out of 5,000 men plus women and children (there may have been up to 15,000 people there), they collected only 12 small basketfuls. THAT’S NOT MUCH! It was probably the disciples’ lunch the next day :). The fact that there were 12 tribes in Israel should have been significant to all who attended. The miracle of the feeding of the 4000 gathered 7 large basketfuls, which could have represented the seven nations represented in the area on the east side of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus Walks on the Water- This miracle was one of convenience. The disciples were on their way to the East side of the Sea of Galilee; Jesus was going to meet them there. Notice that the wind was against them–there was no storm like there was in 4:37. The other thing left out of this story was the fact that Peter walked on the water. We get that part of the story from Matthew 14:22-33.

Interesting verse: “51b They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.” We get great insight from this verse concerning the hardening of hearts. Did God harden their hearts? No; culture did. They had expectations about reality that were being blown away. Their concept of Messiah shows up later, as well. The hardening of their hearts is more of disbelief than willful contrariness. They didn’t intend to be sinful; they just wanted Jesus to do things their way. It’s the very thing that Jesus laments for Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37-39).

Do you remember the demon-possessed man in chapter 5? Gennesaret is where he is from. It’s called the Decapolis (Ten-Cities). Verses 54 and 55 give testimony to the faithfulness of the man! That’s exciting! The man had wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus had him go home instead. Jesus had plans for him–when will we get it into our heads that Jesus has plans for us, too? Instead of hardening our hearts to the way Jesus wants to do things (like using Coronavirus to bring revival), let’s praise Him for His Plan and watch Him do miracles that bring Him glory–even with our meager “lunches”!

Mark 5

Peter describes two events. The first one has to do with individual foreknowledge and design. The second one has to do with His ultimate goal, which is the defeat of death. Let’s look at each.

Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man

Did you know that God has a specific plan for your life? Whether we accept His plan and participate in that plan is up to us. God can use us willingly or unwittingly. What I mean is, if we choose to allow God to use us in His plan, we get all the benefits, like His Presence, His Pleasure, and His Blessings. If we choose NOT to allow God to include us in His plan, then He uses us for the benefit of others and to further His plan, but we don’t get the blessings, nor do we receive the pleasure of His Presence–in fact, if we deny Him altogether or long enough, we are destined to spend eternity WITHOUT Him (hell). HELLO! [I kept typing “hell” and hitting the O without capitalizing it. “hell0” is what it kept spelling :))]

Let us consider these verses:

Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Jeremiah 1:4-5 The Word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Luke 1:13-15 But the angel said to him [Zechariah]: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth,  for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.” 

All three of these people accepted God’s plan, and they were included and blessed because of their decision. 

Those who chose not to accept the LORD’s leadership and plan didn’t finish well.

Samson was chosen from birth, but chose to do things his own way. Eventually, his sinfulness betrayed him and he revealed the secret of his strength to Delilah (Judges 16:17). He did have this one last hurrah: He prayed and toppled the main pillars in the temple where all the Philistine leaders had congregated, thus killing more when he died than when he lived (Judges 16:29-30).

King Saul was afraid, and he let fear guide his actions (1 Samuel 15:24). It cost him the kingdom (v28).

The biggest example is Judas Iscariot. Jesus chose him as one of His disciples. He COULD have been a great man of God, but he continually chose poorly (John 12:6, Luke 22:3-6). It cost him his soul (Matthew 27:5, John 17:12).

You, too, have this choice. Will you accept His will and plan for your life? Daily? Our task is to ask, seek, and knock (Matthew 7:7-8). Ask Him to reveal Himself and His plan to you; seek Him and His plan in His Word (the Bible); knock (pray) each time you see an opportunity to share Him with others, minister in His name, or be a witness for Him.

Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman

We learn from the other Gospels (Matthew 9:18-26, Luke 8:41-56) that Jesus waited a few days until He traveled to Jairus’ house. Why? So that the girl would be declared officially dead, which took three days. You might remember that Jesus stayed in the tomb three days. Why? For the same reason! He had to be declared officially dead. This event with the child was a picture of what was coming. He did indeed have the power over sin (Mark 2:9-10), over nature (4:41) and now He demonstrated His power over death!

In the meantime, a woman showed incredible faith and gumption by touching Jesus and was healed. To touch a man was forbidden; to touch a man while unclean was unheard of! Yet, she did. Listen to her faith: “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” (28)  Wow! If you doubt that Jesus will reveal His will to you or that He would use you in His plan, just think of this woman and have faith. Believe that Jesus will. How can we have such faith? Because of this story. You are important to Him, just as this woman was. I can hardly wait to hear her story in person!

Here again, Jesus gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this (43); He still had to make it to the cross. And so, the saga continues…

Mark 4

So far, Peter has told us explanations given by Jesus. Today, he tells us parables, which are stories designed to help us grasp larger concepts. 

  1. The Parable of the Sower (1-20)- Israel was primarily an agricultural society, so everyone understood the mechanics of this parable. There are four basic categories into which people fall concerning the Gospel;
    1. Seed that fell on the path: birds came and ate it up. A mind that is unwilling to consider God and His plan of salvation can never receive the Gospel. He is a mocker. We must sit back and wait for him to soften his opinion. Often, life is a pretty good tenderizer for hearts.
    2. Seed that fell on rocky places: the seed had no root system and wilted. People who “try Jesus” never really give Him their heart and life. Consequently, the Gospel never takes root in their lives. Are they actually saved to begin with? I doubt it. I believe that He stands at the threshold of their heart until they are willing to give Him the deed to their “house” and the master key to every room.
    3. Seed that fell among thorns: The weeds choked the plants and they bore no fruit. Trusting Jesus is a daily thing–not unto salvation, but unto sanctification, which is becoming like Christ. When we are concerned with “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things,” we take our eyes off of Jesus and lose our way. We become unproductive and must have our lives “trimmed” (see John 15:2 concerning pruning).
    4. Seed that fell on good soil: It produced fruit according to its environment (calling). Genuine salvation involves a personal, continuous relationship with the Risen Christ. We become His disciples, wanting to be just like Him, obeying His every command, and being His hands, feet, arms and mouthpiece to the world. We produce according to the environment in which we are placed. Some people have a great harvest, some a moderate harvest, and then others a hard-fought, hard-won harvest. Don’t be fooled by numbers; God knows how difficult some fields are!
  2. The Lamp on a Stand (21-23)- Jesus is indirectly telling them that He has come to disclose sin in their lives. NOTHING is hidden from Him. Later on, He will announce Himself as the Light of the World (John 8:12), which was another way of claiming that He is God, for only God knows people’s hearts. See 1 Chronicles 28:9, Proverbs 5:21 and 15:11.
  3. The Measure (24-25)- What measure? Faith! Believing that Jesus is Messiah and trusting Him enough to do what He says is how we will be judged. In fact, the more we are faithful, the more faith we have, which allows us to be even more faithful, etc. This parable pertains to what Jesus said in verses 11-13. Those who were looking for Messiah with open hearts received the interpretation of the parables through His Spirit. What they learned increased their faith. Those who were looking for a certain kind of  Messiah, one that fit their idea of what a Messiah should be and do, missed their opportunity to become the true Messiah’s disciple and whatever faith/hope/desire they had was snatched from them (see verse 4 and 15). It’s the same today.
  4. The Parable of the Growing Seed (26-29)- There are two truths that I see:
    1. The kingdom of God is growing in the hearts of people. God is working in us and in the world growing His crop of souls. 
    2. There will come a time of harvest. May we “consider carefully” our faith in Jesus. We want MORE of Him, and not have “even what we have taken away” (v25).
  5. The Parable of the Mustard Seed (30-32)- This parable is a picture of how the Gospel is infiltrating the entire world. It started with 120 disciples in an upper room and exploded across Europe and is headed to every corner of the world! We certainly want to be part of His expanding kingdom.

Verses 35-41 tell of an event that illustrated Jesus’ Lordship over nature. It’s a proof of His divinity. WE know it to be true because we read it in Colossians 1:15-17 and Hebrews 1:2-3. He is implied in Proverbs 8:30 as the Craftsman. Jesus was urging His disciples to put their faith and trust in Him. It was their little miracle! I have always wondered what would have happened if they hadn’t awakened Jesus. Would the boats have swamped? Would they all have walked on water back to the shore? I guess we’ll never know.

What can we take away from this chapter?

  1. Everyone has a choice concerning Jesus.
  2. Our preconceived ideas of the Messiah make a world of difference in how we interpret Jesus’s words and actions.
  3. Our faith is built by believing Jesus and acting on His promptings in our hearts. Our faithfulness increases our faith, which increases our faithfulness, which increases our faith, etc.
  4. Jesus is Who He says He is. Believing THAT will change our lives!

Mark 3

Today, we get to see Jesus’ heart. It grieved Him deeply that the leaders of the law would not believe in Him (v5); even His miracles didn’t persuade them. They simply were NOT INTERESTED in anyone coming in and being their leader–Messiah or not! They wanted power. There may have been a few who adhered strictly to the Scriptures for Scripture’s sake and their interpretation of it, whom Jesus must have offended greatly. Let’s take a look.

v1-6 Jesus provided several things when He healed the man’s shriveled hand on the Sabbath:

  1. He provided healing for the man. That miracle in itself should have proven that He was God in the flesh!
  2. He provided an illustration of creation. Jesus sped up the healing properties already within the man’s body. In an instant, he grew a new hand! Jesus had made the man–and us!–with stem cells so that the information for the hand was already there. He did the same for every plant, animal, planet and star in the universe. To do it in six days was nothing to Him, and He proved it with this man.
  3. He provided the Pharisees and the Herodians with sufficient reason to begin the process of killing Him. Like I said, they weren’t interested in a Messiah, especially one like Jesus!

v7-12 Jerusalem was in the northern part of Judea. Idumea was east and southeast of Judea and included the Dead Sea 

area down to the gulf of Aqaba. The regions across the border of the Jordan included the Decapolis, which was a 10-city area up and down the east side of the Jordan. It was both Jewish and Gentile. Tyre and Sidon were at the extreme northern part of Israel north and east of Galilee. In other words, people came from all over Israel to see Jesus. We know from Luke 6:19 that Jesus healed all who came to Him. It must have been exhausting! Whenever He cast out a demon, He again gave them strict orders not to tell who He was.

v13-19 Jesus chose twelve men into whom He poured His teaching and ministry. He mentored them. Why 12? It was His 

plan. I’m sure it had significance in that there were 12 tribes of Israel. Jesus even makes reference to it in Matthew 19:28. Why did He choose Judas Iscariot? Everyone gets a chance to get it right. Jesus knew He wouldn’t, but chose Him anyway. Jesus didn’t cause Judas to fail, but He used the circumstances of his failure to His glory and our salvation.

v20-35 The press of the crowd must have been almost oppressive. They were eager to learn from Him, to be healed, to be blessed, and to just be in His presence! Wouldn’t you?! Yet, many didn’t believe in Him.

  1. The teachers of the law didn’t believe in Him and accused Him of driving out demons by the prince of demons, Beelzebul (Satan). Jesus called them on it because it was the Holy Spirit who was the power behind the miracles and the exorcisms. Jesus told them to say what they want about Him, but to refuse the saving power of the Holy Spirit is to turn down salvation itself! Against this sin there is no forgiveness. Why? Because the Spirit is our Seal of Salvation. He IS our salvation. See Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30. 
  2. We know His brothers didn’t believe Him to be the Messiah. We read about it in John 7:5. I wonder if Mary, who was with them (v31) wasn’t shaking her head at them for their foolishness. I hate that Jesus had to include His own mother when He “disowned” his own kin. Jesus was creating a new family, the family of faith in Him.
  3. Jesus challenged the teachers of the law using logic. One would think that they would receive that kind of teaching, but it didn’t compute in their equation. Jesus challenged his family by referring to whoever does God’s will is his brother, sister and mother. What is God’s will? Jesus tells us in John 6:29, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” He sent Jesus!

Let’s be wise and become part of His family by doing God’s will: to believe in the One whom He sent. Jesus is our LORD and Savior. Let’s worship Him, obey Him and serve Him all the days of our lives.

Mark 2

Peter has had 30+ years to hone his testimony. He has told and retold the story of his life with Jesus and who He is, which is why he quickly cuts to the chase concerning Jesus’ mission and objective. Jesus’ mission is reconnecting people to God through Himself; His objective is the cross, because it is through the cross that He will ultimately connect all who want to come to God. 

v1-12 The first thing that Jesus does is establish His deity. The teachers of the law were correct when they thought, “Why does this fellow talk like that? Who can forgive sins but God alone.” (7). What they missed is the fact that HE IS GOD. He proved it by healing the fellow. Jesus’ logic is sound, “Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” (8-11). The same power can do both.

The other thing Jesus did that probably irritated the leaders is His use of the term, “The Son of Man.” It is in reference to Daniel 7;13-14, which is a Messianic passage. By taking that moniker, He was declaring that He is God and Messiah. Pretty in-your-face, don’t you think? Jesus was going to call into account every wrong teaching. In the case of the paralyzed man, the thinking of the day was that the man was being punished for some sin he committed or that his parents committed. He DID have sin in his life, but not the way the leaders thought he did. Jesus set them straight by forgiving his sin and proving it by healing him!

v13-17 Jesus established who He was after: The lost sheep of Israel. He declared, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” There’s a catch to this declaration. NO ONE IS RIGHTEOUS. Psalms says it; Isaiah says it; Ecclesiastes says it. The leaders had to know it as the truth. They simply ignored it. Levi/Matthew threw a big party and had his fellow tax collectors and other “sinners” come and dine with Jesus. I look forward to the day I get to meet all who were at the party who trusted Him as their Savior.

v18-22 One of the things that Jesus routinely corrected was the “oral law” that was so popular in that day. Moses supposedly brought down the written law, but also a bunch of oral laws that were never written down. The tendency of these supposed oral laws was for people to add to them (there were over 500 at this time) and use them to manipulate. Jesus came to free people from such restrictions. Fasting was one of them. People still fast, but it’s according to the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than a religious necessity. Jesus called Himself the Bridegroom, another Messianic term. Jesus then expanded the meaning of His answer to include all of the oral law. Anytime He is asked about a point in the oral teaching of the day, Jesus answered, “It is written…” He always directed them back to the WORD of God. Matthew 5-6 is full of Him telling the people how the religious leaders did something, but they were NOT to do it that way. Ouch! We are to take the same attitude and go by what the Word of God SAYS and not just how someone interprets it.

v23-27 Jesus establishes Himself as LORD of the Sabbath. In other words, He was claiming to be God and that HE established the Sabbath, therefore He has the right and power to change it. In this passage, He is saying that the observance of the Sabbath is subservient to the needs of people. Was it license for people to do what they want? No, but it redirected the use and importance of the Sabbath and washed away all the little rules that had been set up by the religious leaders. One such law was walking more than a mile on the Sabbath, which was not allowed. A person could draw a circle in the dust, sit in it for one hour, and then continue for another mile. That’s manipulation and completely missed the purpose of the Sabbath!

We will see Jesus do many things on the Sabbath. It is His to rule. The religious leaders of the day would eventually kill Him for usurping their power and revealing their carefully crafted control. That’s okay, because that was His plan all along. He told us so in 8:31, 9:30, and 10:32. Aren’t we glad for 16:6, “He has risen!”

Mark 1:9-45

The baptism of Jesus was an inauguration as well as fulfillment of Scriptures. The anointing of the Holy Spirit physically represented as a dove coming down from heaven and lighting on Jesus’ shoulders directly fulfilled Isaiah 61:1. We will read in chapter 6 that Jesus goes to His hometown of Nazareth. What we get from the other Gospels is that He read Isaiah 61:1-2 as part of His proclamation of the start of His ministry (Luke 3:14-30). It wasn’t received well… But, the LORD had a plan and He was working His plan.

  1. v14-15 He began to preach that the kingdom of God has come near. How is that? Well, HE is God and He has come near! Pretty straightforward, really.
  2. v16-20 He began to call His disciples: Peter and Andrew, James and John. For a more detailed account, read John 1 and Luke 5:1-11 (in that order).
  3. v21-28 Jesus began to “prove” His deity by performing miracles. Note verse 27, “He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.”
  4. v29-34 Jesus healed all who would come to Him. He still does! The statement in verse 34 about Jesus not letting the demons speak because they knew who He was is important. It lets us know that Jesus’ mission was secret and was to be kept from the evil one. We learn in 1 Corinthians 2:8, “None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
  5. v35-39 We can learn a lot from verse 35 by doing likewise. Connection with the Father is EVERYTHING. Jesus would receive His “daily bread” (orders for the day) during this time. Hence, His desire to move on to other villages.
  6. v40-45 This passage has a sad ending. It was a near-impossible command not to tell people what Jesus had done for him, especially when they asked! At the same time, there was fall-out in that Jesus could no longer move about freely. I love the last line, “Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.” Why? Because HOPE had come!

I find verse 44 interesting where Jesus told the leper to go to the priest and go through the ritual of being declared clean. IT WAS A PROCESS! It was an 8-day process that included shaving all of his hair off of his body–including eyebrows! See Leviticus 14:1-20 for details. Jesus was NOT there to “abolish” the law, but to fulfill it by becoming the ULTIMATE SACRIFICE for all. 

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Matthew 5:17-18

11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! Hebrews 9:11-14

Well said!

Mark 1:1-8 Intro

Mark, the writer, is actually John Mark from Acts 12:12. He traveled with Paul and Barnabas (his cousin) on their first missionary journey. Peter knew the family well and it is supposed that he knew Mark well. Peter had Mark write down his memoirs concerning his walk with Jesus, a story Mark had probably heard many times over the thirty years that had passed. They were in Rome at the writing of this Gospel, and Peter would not leave Rome–in the flesh. He was executed soon thereafter.

Peter tells what happened and includes lots of “discoveries” about Jesus. Even though Peter didn’t know that he was talking about himself in this next verse, he is included in its category, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20-21.

When compared to the other Gospels, which were written later, we find that Peter didn’t dictate everything in order, but how he remembered them. So, don’t get hung up on the “when” of events. Just know that they happened. Folks, WE ARE READING A FIRST-HAND ACCOUNT OF THE LIFE OF JESUS!

Let Us Begin:

1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,

    who will prepare your way”—

3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,

‘Prepare the way for the Lord,

    make straight paths for him.’”

Mark begins with the introduction of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, Jesus the Messiah, SON OF GOD. He got that straight right away! He then quoted a passage that every Jew knew to be Messianic, Malachi 3:1. John the Baptist is referred to by Jesus as Elijah (Matthew 11:14), which makes Malachi 4:5-6 about John the Baptist–the last words of God to His people before He went silent for 400+ years–then John the Baptist came!

4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Best verse: Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. WE are baptized with the Holy Spirit!

May we revel in the fact that Christ lives/dwells/rules in our hearts through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Thank Him for such a great salvation!