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?