Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chapter Two...The Questions (Part 4)


The question has to do with breaking the law.  The law was set up to bring light to sin and guide us to do what's right.  Jesus points out the incident when David had eaten the consecrated bread because they were hungry and in need.  The law Jesus was "breaking" was "working" on the Sabbath day, he finishes his answer saying, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

The Sabbath day rest was a gift from God in order for us to enjoy, not a demand to fulfill requirements and thus be accepted.  So it is with the law.  The law was made to help us, it was not meant to be a burden.

The Sabbath day is a gift to us from God in order to rest from the business of life.  It's not meant to be a burden or a rule that needs to be kept.  It's beneficial; it's needed.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chapter Two...The Questions (Part 3)

Heart Condition...(18-22)

The question centers around fasting.  The Pharisees were so caught up in their weekly rituals that they seemed to be more concerned about doing it than why they did it.  As Jesus is explaining to them why, he is exposing their heart condition.

What is the "new wine" and what do the "wineskins" represent?  Jesus, the bridegroom, was with his disciples; investing in them, feeding them, helping them grow, teaching them about his Kingdom.  All this was going on because the disciples' hearts were open.  They were willing to listen and be taught.  Their hearts were as "new wine skins."  Ready for the "new wine" or Jesus' teachings.  The condition of the Pharisees' hearts were as "old wineskins"--hard and not fit for "new" things.

I asked the guys how they would describe their heart condition.  I ask myself how I would describe my own heart condition.  Is it hard and unwilling to receive correction as was the Pharisees'?  Do I get caught up in my own "traditions", "habits", or "my way of thinking"?  How do I accept change or new ideas from my colleagues/co-missionaries with whom I work?  Am I a team player?  Do I allow Christ to teach me things when I'm struggling?  Or do I just get mad at the situation or others?--oops!

I really want to have an open heart, ready for Jesus' "new wine."  He will make my heart a "new wineskin" ready for his "new wine."

How is you're heart condition?

One of the interesting things about this passage is how it connects to the last passage.  The Pharisees couldn't understand why Jesus would reach out to someone who was a "sinner".  That was new and unacceptable to them.  That is new and unacceptable to the "old wineskins."

This also ties into the next passage; a debate about the Sabbath Day.  The Pharisees had a tough time accepting Jesus' correction of what it meant.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Chapter Two...The Questions (Part 2)

The Neglected...(12-17)

The key verse in this passage..."It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (v. 17)

As Jesus is walking along the shore, he calls out Levi to be one of his disciples.  Why Levi?  He's a tax collector and nobody likes those guys!  Here in Mexico, a lot of people pay for things little by little.  Trucks full of merchandise (furniture, bedding, plastics, etc.) come into town and rarely does anyone pay full price up front.  So, the "company" who sells their product needs to send someone on their motorcycle to collect payments in increments of whatever they can afford.  I have been in houses when these collectors come and the people actually hide from them.  Generally they have money, but they don't want to pay.  If they do pay, it's usually around 10 to 20 pesos (one or two dollars).  That was Levi.  No one liked him.  The tax collectors would charge a little extra for collecting the money in order to make a living.  Usually the tax collectors would charge a lot more than they needed, in turn they would be making a lot of money and be able to live a very comfortable life.  Maybe you know certain kinds of people who do similar things where you live??

No one, including the Pharisees, liked these tax collectors.  But, Jesus chose him.  He chose the person who was neglected in society; the person that no one liked.  Levi met Jesus and wanted to tell all his friends.  Of course, they collectors and "sinners."  This was unheard of for the Pharisees.  They would never associate themselves with "sinners."  And now, this guy who thinks he's God is eating with them.  How could that happen?

So, the question arises, "why does he eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"  Jesus responds with a very thought-provoking statement.  "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

It looks to me like Jesus is saying that he didn't come for those who don't think they need help.  That is one of the first step towards repentance--recognizing one's need for Christ.  If we don't think we need Christ, then that means we're "healthy" least our own eyes.  The fact is, WE ALL NEED CHRIST.  To say otherwise is a road to perdition.

Two questions to reflect on...
  1. Do I follow Christ's example and seek out those who are neglected or not liked by others?
  2. Do I recognize my need for Christ?
Lord, please show me who my neglected neighbors are and bring to light the areas where I need you.  I need you!

Chapter Two...The Questions (Part 1)

In all four of these passages, their common bond is a question.  In each passage, Jesus is questioned by the Pharisees and teachers of the law.  Not always do they voice their question, but Jesus knows exactly what they're thinking.

Deity of Christ...

There are a number of things to see in this first passage (vv. 1-12).  
  1. Jesus notes the faith of the friends who lowered the paralytic through the roof.  
  2. Jesus tells the paralytic that his sins are forgiven instead of just healing him.
  3. Jesus confronts the thoughts (questions) of the teachers.
  4. Jesus proclaims his Deity.
  5. Jesus brings glory to God.
1.  This is an amazing story about four guys taking their paralyzed friend to be healed by Jesus.  Once they got to the house, they noticed that it was so jam packed that there was no chance for them to get their friend inside.  But, the most exciting thing is, is that they DID NOT GIVE UP!  They didn't look at their situation and say, "oh well, I guess we'll have to try it another time."  No, they LOOKED FOR other options.  They were not going to give up and be discouraged...there HAD to be a way!  And they found it!  They went up to the roof and dug through to lower their friend down.  Then it says, "when Jesus saw their faith".  He saw it!  It wasn't just something in their mind they believed, they took action and made their faith alive!  James says, "faith without works is dead."  I think Jesus was pretty impressed with how determined these guys were and that they did not give up.  They did everything they could to get to Jesus.
2.  "He said to the paralytic, "Son your sins are forgiven."  Why didn't he just heal the guy?  Was it because he knew that it was about to stir some things up with the teachers of the law who were present?  Maybe.  Could it have been that Jesus was dealing with the root of the problem?  Maybe.  I think it could have been both.  The Jews believed that if someone had a sickness such as this, it was because that person had sinned or someone in his family had sinned.  It appears that Jesus was cleansing the wound instead of putting on a band-aid.
3.  The teachers of the law were sitting there "thinking to themselves, 'Why does this fellow talk like that?...Who can forgive sins but God alone?'"  Jesus knew what they were thinking.  He had an opportunity to clarify what was going on, and let the disciples know that he IS God, or just ignore their thoughts and continue ministering.  Jesus dealt with the issue.  How many times do we just let "issues" in our life get ignored?  Jesus wasn't about to let that happen here, he knew their THOUGHTS and confronted them.
4.  "So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins."  In the teachers' minds only God can forgive sins.  Jesus was letting them know that God was actually incarnate in front of them touching peoples' lives.  
5.  The healing of the paralytic "amazed everyone and they praised God..."  Jesus' work and ministry always pointed to his Father.  God ALWAYS deserves the glory in whatever we do or say.  Jesus brought glory to God.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Chapter Two...

We divided this Chapter into four sections just as the NIV does...
  1. Verses 1-12
  2. Verses 13-17
  3. Verses 18-22
  4. Verses 23-28
The first thing I had the guys do here was to look for what repetitive circumstance occurred in each of the four passages.

What do you see?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chapter One...Preparation BY Jesus (Part 5)

His Place...(40-45)

Jesus healed a leper who had come to him and was "begging on his knees."  "If you are willing..." the man said, and Jesus "filled with compassion" TOUCHED him and made him clean.  

Jesus TOUCHED a leper!  In those days, that was absolutely not the right thing to do.  Lepers were to stay away from people and were considered an outcast in the community.  Touching them was even worse!  Jesus "filled with compassion," touched the guy.  That's compassion in action, that's LOVE!

How many times do we see the outcast people of our community who need love--who need to be touched?  People need to be connected, they want to be heard, they want to be accepted, they want to be...TOUCHED.

As soon as this man was healed, Jesus told him not to say anything, but to go to the priest and follow what Moses commanded.  Instead, the man went and "began to talk freely, spreading the news."  As a result, "Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places."

This, to me, is the most ironic thing I've seen in Mark so far.  Jesus touched and healed the leper--an outcast who could not enter town.  As a result of the leper not following Jesus' instructions, Jesus became the outcast who could not enter town!

Some questions come to my mind...
Do I need to be TOUCHED?
Who around me needs to be TOUCHED?
What is my testimony of Jesus; do I follow his directions and obey what he tells me?
What kind of "place" does Jesus have in my "town"?

Chapter One...Preparation BY Jesus (Part 4)

His Purpose...(35-39)

This passage starts out with Jesus waking up really early in the morning and taking off to go pray.  Then, the disciples show up saying, "everyone is looking for you!"  Jesus then suggests they go somewhere else to preach, "that is why I have come."

First of all, Jesus just had very busy evening with people bringing him "all the sick and demon possessed" (v.32).  It says that the whole town gathered at the door...can you imagine?  I wonder what time it was when the last person went home?? I wonder how he told them, "could you please leave, I have to get up early tomorrow morning while it's still dark so I can pray."  That is not in there, but that's what I would have been thinking.

Jesus knew that he needed to pray.  He knew that he needed to “get out of the house” to find a “solitary place” where there was no distraction.  He saw prayer so important that even after a long night, he got up early because he knew the value and importance of prayer.  Here are some questions I had the guys think about...
  • If Jesus, being Divine himself, needed to pray, how much more should we, being human and prone to sin, need to pray?
  • What was the advantage of him taking off and finding a solitary place?
  • Why do you think he got up early?
  • In general, do you think Christians today know the value of prayer like Jesus did?
  • What is the value of prayer in your own words?

Jesus knew how to respond to distraction.  The disciples went out looking for him; he did not even have time to pray…or time alone.  After a long night of healing and ministering to others, he gets up early to pray.  He must have been exhausted.

  • What was his response to the disciples?
  • What other possible responses could he have chosen?
  • In all honesty, how do you think you would have responded if you were exhausted? 

Jesus knew why he was here.  He had a purpose and he kept his focus.  He prepared himself in prayer and took action. 

  • What did Jesus say was his purpose?
  • Why do you think he described his purpose in this way?

After this study, we did a survey of the people in our church and others we knew who are Christians.  The questions were 1) do you spend time in prayer? 2) How long and when am/pm?

The results were actually surprising to me.  We either have a bunch of people who are really spiritual here, or a bunch of people who answered with their goals of how long they would like to pray.

Out of 53 Christians surveyed; 25 said they spend more than an hour in prayer every day,  20 said they spend 30 minutes or less, 8 people said they don't spend time in prayer.

I spoke with a young man whom I know has accepted the Lord and asked him if he spent time in prayer and reading the Bible.  He said, "well, the truth is, no."  I challenged him to start out with just a couple of minutes a day before he does anything to sit, read, and pray.  I prayed with him right where we were at (in the kitchen of the restaurant he works in).  Today, he is praying and reading his Bible.

How much time do we really spend in prayer...honestly?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Chapter One...Preparation BY Jesus (Part 3)

His Work...(21-34)

When we talked about this passage, three of the four guys showed up.  I had asked them to come up with what they thought the "theme" of verses 21-34 would be to them.  This is what they said:
  • "The Authority of the Believer"
  • "The Word being Extended"
  • "Our Saviour Jesus, on the Rescue for Us"
It was interesting to me to see how these three comments were tied together...

Martin's comments about the Authority of the Believer had to do with how one does not get distracted by the enemy.  When Jesus was teaching the enemy was trying to distract Jesus and bring attention to himself.  Jesus was strong and firm saying, "Be quiet! Come out of him!".  He was not distracted nor did he fear the enemy.  As a result, the enemy could do nothing.

One of the guys was vulnerable enough to say that he was impressed with how Jesus handled the situation.  When being challenged, Jesus knew what to do and had the words to say.  This student said he probably wouldn't know what to do if that happened in front of him.  He recognized that it's important to know how to handle tough situations...the result could be huge.

Which leads to what another student said about how fast the Word of God was spread after Jesus drove out the demon in verses 25,26.

Each one was different, they all got something out of it and they all saw it from a different perspective.  

In these verses, I see Jesus establishing his Authority in the area of the mind as he "taught with one who had authority", in the area of the Spirit world as he "drove out many demons", and in the area of Physical needs as he "healed many who had various diseases".

The most interesting to me happened in verses 29-31.  1) The disciples showed their trust in Jesus as they shared their need with him.  2) What Jesus did in the home was the same thing that he had been doing in public--he maintained his Integrity wherever he went.  Also, 3) Peter's mother-in-law got up after being healed and started to serve.  She didn't stay in bed and complain about how sick she was.  Her servants heart encourages me.

So, to wrap it up...Jesus has authority over the mental, spiritual, and physical aspects of life.  I guess that pretty much covers it.  How can we learn from the example that he sets by teaching with authority, knowing how to handle tough situations when the enemy wants to distract us, and having faith that what we do and teach can be spread quickly--by the Power of God.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Chapter One...Preparation BY Jesus (Part 2)

The second thing Jesus does is establish his companions (16-20).  Once he started preaching his simple message, he started to look for some guys who would eventually be the ones to continue the work he started (sounds like a missionary).

"Come follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."  What stuck out most to the guys on the morning we talked about this was that Jesus was calling "ordinary men."  Not only that, these guys dropped what they were doing to follow Jesus.  They left their jobs, their family, and probably some of their friends.

An interesting thing to me was that Jesus was not calling them to a fun glorious life, he was calling them to work!  "Fishers of men" to me suggests that there's work involved and not a life in the hammock.  I know some fishermen and they love to fish.  The fish don't always bite, but their love for the sport and the hope and faith that some day one will bite continues to drive them.  They're consistent...even if the big one does get away!

This is a message for us...what do we need to give up in order to become "fishers of men"?  It might not be something materialistic, but then again it might be?  It might not be our family's opinion, but then again it might be?  It might not be our attitude or fear of man, but then might be?

This is a message for us..."Come follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you Fishers of Men."

Who wants to go fishing?