Thursday, June 3, 2010

Revelation of Truth continued

Chuy, Hugo and Goyo showed up on Tuesday morning and continued to look at Chapter 8 and focus on the passage of the blind man who receives his sight which I have already referred to in previous posts...

Three principles that we've pulled out of chapter eight regarding the revelation of truth are..
1. (vv.11-13) The Pharisees were blind and could not see the truth nor understand it because they were so involved in what they were doing. Sometimes we can be blinded by what we're involved in and miss the truth altogether.
2. (vv.14-21) The Disciples were blind to understanding what Jesus was saying because they were worried about not having bread. Sometimes we can be blinded by the distractions in our life or what is worrying us the most and we miss the truth.
3. (vv.31-33) Peter was getting it, but didn't understand fully who Jesus really is. He affirmed him as the Messiah (he knew that part of the truth), but was unable to understand what needed to happen because of the way he had been brought up with the Jewish traditions; the Teachers of the Law taught what they thought was right to the Jews and the disciples understood details about the Messiah through the Pharisees teachings. Sometimes we can be blinded by what we've been taught in the past and we miss the truth.

In our next meeting, we'll be looking at contrasts in chapters 9 and 10 of blindness (wrong way of thinking) and sight (the right way of thinking).

Also, what does it mean to "take up your cross"?

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Revelation of Truth

It's been a while since we've been able to consistently meet. There's been a lot of work for the guys and it's hard to find time in the mornings. Martin and Ruben were able to make it last Tuesday and we talked about Mark 8. I have touched on this already in a previous post.

What an interesting passage! A transitional chapter in the book were Jesus begins to speak a little more clearly to his disciples and the people. The time is coming soon when he'll be crucified, and he knows it. He wants to make sure the disciples know that they need to be carful of what the Pharisees have taught and continue to teach (13-21) and demonstrates how truth is revealed in our lives by healing a blind man (22-26).

Some of said that this passage has to do with healing and that God sometimes chooses to heal gradually. I don't deny that, but I do not believe that is the point of the passage. If we look at the context and what's happening to the disciples, we see their eyes being opened to who Jesus really is. Truth is being revealed to them in their lives. They get it and claim Jesus as the Messiah (27-30). However, they are not completely understanding because right after Peter claims Jesus to be the Messiah, Jesus is rebuking him for not having the right teaching..or mindset (he is thinking through what he has been taught by the Pharisees in the past along with all the other Jews on how the Messiah is "supposed" to come). Jesus says, "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of man" (v. 33).

Truth is an interesting conversation nowadays. Not everyone believes in the same "truth." What was true for the Pharisees was true for them. That is the argument many take. However, you can believe something is true all you want, but it may not be truth! What traditions have you been taught and have grown up with? Is what you perceive to be true really truth? If your basis for truth is not in the Jesus Christ of the untampered Word of God, your "truth" may not be true.

May the Lord continue to reveal himself to us. Some say Christians are close-minded. I say Christians are open-minded towards allowing Christ to reveal himself to us. Jesus finishes the chapter sharply saying, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." We must be willing to give up our own "truth" in order to receive the real truth.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Syrophoenician Woman

Hugo and I took another look at the passage about the Syrophoenician woman which Matthew calls the Canaanite woman. The phrase that we focused on was when the woman said, "but even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs" in response to Jesus saying, "first let the children eat all they want, for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."

Jesus was referring to the Jews as the children and the "dogs" as Gentiles. The lady seemed to see that what the Jews were rejecting (blessings from Jesus-or Jesus himself), would be beneficial to her and her need. What she was grateful for and wanted, the Jews didn't.

We asked ourselves these questions, "Do I appreciate all the blessings that Jesus has given me?" "Do I take advantage of opportunities that he gives me to share with others?" "When Jesus blesses us with a gift, do we take care of that gift or let it waste away in a sense and forget it's value to us?"

The challenge to ourselves and even those reading this would be how do we take care of our possessions? How do we appreciate our wives/husbands? Do I back out of opportunities to share because of fear of failure or I'm embarrassed? If we don't appreciate the blessings and opportunities God gives us, they may be given over to someone else. It's true with our possessions, marriages, opportunities and talents. Hmm, time for self-examination.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Revelation of the Truth

The guys have been working a lot lately so they have not been able to come in the past couple of weeks.

As I continue to study Mark chapter 8, I see it becoming a transition in the book. It seems that the previous chapters have been working up to this moment. As you read the chapter, it starts with indirect teaching by Jesus, but using his surroundings to teach the truth. Then, right in the middle of the chapter is the progressive healing of the blind man. Then, it goes back to Jesus teaching them truth, but now it's direct. In a sense, he's showing that the Revelation of Truth is our lives is gradual; it's a process. Jesus waited until this point to speak directly into the lives of the disciples because he knew they probably wouldn't be able to accept it before. The chapter ends with one of the most direct explanations of what it means to really follow Jesus. It looks as if the Revelation of Truth is a process.

We'll continue to look at Mark 8 in the weeks to come, but this is a glimpse of what I've gathered so far.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Heart Condition Part Two

Martin and Ruben came this morning even though it was raining. The coffee was really good! I'm becoming a huge fan of home roasted coffee!

Mark 7:24-37

It's interesting how these next two passages (24-30; 31-37) relate to what Jesus was just talking to the Pharisees about in the previous passage. Even though these accounts took place in a different region (Tyre; Decapolis) rather than Galilee, the story continues to have a certain flow to it...

In the first section (24-30), a Syro-Phoenician woman (Matthew calls her a Canaanite in his gospel account) approaches Jesus asking for healing for her daughter who was possessed by an evil spirit. He responds to her, "First let the children eat all they want, for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." Without being offended, she responds, "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." Jesus liked her answer, granted her request, and sent her home. She found her daughter lying in bed and the demon gone.

I have always struggled with two things in this passage. I have understood that Jesus is referring to the Jews when he says children and the bread is his message. But what bothers me is
1. Why did he call her a dog? and
2. How can I apply this passage to my own life?

The word he uses for dog here is our word for a female dog, which is not very kind to say the least when you address a woman that way. But, what I have learned is that he chose his words within the culture as a soft address; it was not a harsh sting and the offense is not as we would take it. She knew her position amongst the Jews (Jews considered all Gentiles dogs) and accepted that, but she defended herself as if she knew the Jews were not receiving what he had to offer--which was quite true. In previous passages, we see the Pharisees rejecting him and even the Nazarenes in his hometown did not accept him. So, she was ready to accept what the Jews had "thrown away." If Jesus used a certain tone of voice in his wise choice of culturally influenced words, this was an opportunity for the woman to receive a blessing from the Saviour.

How can I apply this to me? I have come to the conclusion that it speaks to me in a simple way. Be thankful for what the Lord has given me and done for me, what I reject will be given to others. Who am I in Christ? What are my gifts? Am I using what he has given me?

Another interesting thing about this passage is WHERE he was. Tyre was an important port that had a lot of business. They rejoiced over the fall of Jerusalem because they would no longer have to compete against them in business (how many times do we do that?). Jesus was going to a place that the Isrealites did not conquer. The Canaanites were enemies of God and still held a residence in what belonged to Him. Jesus was not arriving amongst the "enemies" of God so much as he was entering a region that belonged to him. It was his inheritance. How many times do we see the Pharisees approaching "unclean" people (see the previous passage about their Heart Condition)? How many times do we still allow the enemy to reside in what belongs to Christ (our own life)?

The phrase that stood out to us in the next passage (31-37) was from verse 33. It says that Jesus "took (the deaf-mute man) aside, away from the crowd" and healed him. Why would he do that? Had it something to do with the fact that Jesus didn't want news about him to spread so quickly as he mentions in verse 36? Or was it that he had compassion on this man, more than likely a man full of low self-esteem. How do you feel when you do not understand (or hear in this man's case) when people are talking? This happens a lot in a foreign country when Americans come and speak in English to each other while a Spanish speaker is present. The Spanish speaker automatically assumes that the two (or more) English speakers are talking about him. Or how do we feel when there are a couple of people speaking really low when we are in the room? Doesn't the thought cross our mind that they might be talking about us? How much more a deaf man when he can see people talking, but not hear what they're saying...especially if there are certain facial expressions that could be mis-interpreted? It's highly possible that this man had some related issues and Jesus was simply taking account for this man's feelings.

What are your conclusions?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Heart Condition

Mark 7:1-23 has lots of stuff in it. As Martin and I re-read the scripture together this morning, we paused as things jumped out at us. Verses 6, 7 have always been amongst my favorite verses in the Bible. They challenge me to examine my Heart Condition.

We both were reminded about how we worship in song on Sundays. Do we do it just because it's part of the program? Why don't we "feel" his presence at times? Are we really focusing on what we're singing and what the song means?

This was one of our conclusions...
It is dangerous and wrong to worry about our reputation rather than our character. It is dangerous and wrong to set standards for others out of our own interpretation of the Bible. We need to focus on how Christ needs to deal with us and allow Him to deal with others in certain details of their own lives (I'm not talking about sin here, I'm talking about standards of living--or traditions). It is also dangerous and wrong to elevate ourselves and point out the wrong in others.

What it boils down to is what is in our hearts. "It is not what goes into a man that makes him unclean, it's what comes out of him." Being in the world is not sin. The manifested evil within our heart is sin. Jesus gives a list of 13 things that come out of man's heart that makes him "unclean" in verses 21 and 22.

What are your thoughts on this passage?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jesus is Near

From Mark 6:45-56

After Jesus fed the 5,000 people, he sent his disciples to the other side of the lake and he went off to pray. At about 3am, he saw them struggling at the oars with the wind against them. So, he went out to them.

This was pretty interesting to me because it says "he went out to them," but once he was close to the boat it says that "he was about to walk by them." Why? Why would Jesus walk all the way out there, then walk by the disciples who were struggling? I'm not sure I have the answer to that, but one thing did occur to me that when we are struggling with an issue whether it be death, divorce, career change, weighing big decisions, or finances, Jesus is Near! At times it may seem that everything is against us (just like the wind against the disciples)...Jesus is Near! Why would he just "walk by"? Maybe that is to show us that we need to call out to him, he is available to help us and once we invite him in our "boat," he will give us peace.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Believe me...really!

The guys saw a number of things in this passage; Jesus giving thanks for the meal, meeting with his disciples after ministering, the disciples' obedience to Jesus, Jesus' compassion towards the multitude, and Jesus' Leadership.

The one that spoke to me the most was Jesus' Leadership and how he led his disciples by
  1. Keeping them accountable: After the disciples returned from Jesus sending them out two by two to preach and evangelize, he met with them so they could "share with him all they had done and taught."
  2. Being sensitive to their needs: Jesus recognized that it's important to take a rest...we see this not only since the beginning of his ministry, but the beginning of time also.
  3. Showing compassion towards the crowd: When they arrived at the other side of the lake, there was a crowd waiting for him. Even though they were tired, the compassion Jesus had for the lost (sheep w/o a shepherd) called his attention more than what his desire to rest.
  4. Encouraging them to BELIEVE: This probably had the most impact on me because I've never seen this passage this way. The disciples said, "send them away so they can go and get something to eat." They saw their need...that's good. Then Jesus says, "YOU feed them." Sometimes, we like to see the need and expect someone else to meet it. The disciples couldn't fathom how they could feed so many people, they doubted their ability. Really, they couldn't do anything about it, but Jesus could. He told his disciples to give him what they had and he took it...and performed a miracle! You might think you don't have much to offer, but God will use what you have for His glory...if you give it to Him.
  5. Organizing them: I thought this was interesting how Jesus was able to accomplish this task and organize the huge crowd. He told the disciples to divide them into small groups of 50-100 and hand the food out.
After everyone had eaten and were satisfied the disciples gathered 12 basketfulls of left-over bread. God not only provided for the needs of the people, but there was more than enough. This looks like God saying "Believe me...really!"

Friday, January 8, 2010

"Los Errores de Herodes"

Los Errores de Herodes means "Herod's Errors" and in this passage we see them (6:14-29).

The first few verses connect to the last passage. After Jesus sent his disciples out two by two, Jesus' name became very popular. When Harod found out he said, "John, the man I beheaded, has been raised from the dead." Up until now, apparently Herod had not heard of Jesus and he still had the guilty conscience of killing John the Baptist.

The next 13 verses are a parenthesis in the passage. They do not flow with how the thought of the 12 disciples continues in verse 30. They tell of why Herod had killed John the Baptist and it's here that we see his errors.

1-The woman he married, Herodias, was already married to his brother Phillip and had a daughter. This is what John had confronted Herod on and Herodias held a grudge. But she was unable to kill him because Herod protected John.
2-Herod was greatly puzzled by John's messages, but he enjoyed listening to him. Herod grew up with an evil father...Herod the Great who killed all the little boys when Jesus was born and also killed three of his sons (Herod's brothers--one of which was the father of Herodias). Even with this background, it's evident he didn't change too much.
3-Herod had his step-daughter dance before him and his friends at his party. What kind of morals would allow a man in that time to have his daughter dance like that? Even her mother apparently approved.
4-Finally, when it came time to keep his word in front of his friends, he did. However, he didn't want to because it required killing a man whom he knew to be "righteous and holy." But, instead of letting what was right prevail, he didn't want his friends to make fun of him or lose respect for him, so he ordered John to be beheaded.

How many times do we choose friends over what's right?