Day Sixty-Two with Mark: The End of Mark 16

Today we look at the end of Mark’s Gospel.  We’ll start with Mark 16:1-8, so read it, and then let’s talk:

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

The Shorter Ending of Mark

[[And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.]]

holy_bibleOk, before we get to what actually happens, let’s look at what we see right at the end of verse 8, what’s call the “Shorter Ending of Mark.”  If you have what is called a “modern” version of the Bible, that’d be the NKJV, NIV, NLT, NRSV, ESV, NAB, NASB, any of these modern translations, they will have that, along with a not such as this – “Some of the most ancient authorities bring the book to a close at the end of verse 8. One authority concludes the book with the shorter ending; others include the shorter ending and then continue with verses 9–20. In most authorities verses 9–20 follow immediately after verse 8, though in some of these authorities the passage is marked as being doubtful.”

What does all this mean?  There are two terms in regards to Biblical translation.  One is “autograph” and one is “manuscript.”  The autograph is the original document.  This would be the actual letter that Paul wrote to the Roman church or the actual Gospel that Mark wrote.  The actual first documents.  A manuscript would be a copy of the original document.

We don’t have any of the original documents.  We do, however, have literally thousands of manuscripts. We have more manuscripts of the books of the Bible than we do any other ancient work.  We have more manuscripts than we do any other text, anything from that time period.

Within that, the fact that there are so many manuscripts there, that gives so much added authority and trustworthiness to the Bible.  When you understand the sheer number of documents that are available, it gives more weight to the Bible.

There’s no way it’s just “made up.”  It was there, and believers from the earliest days of faith understood how important it was to their faith.  Understood it’s authority, and understood it’s trustworthiness.

Through the years, the more I have come to know and understand about how we got the Bible, the more I trust it.

So what is happening here in Mark is this.  All of the ancient manuscripts, they have that first part of verse 8.  Some have that “shorter ending” of verse 8.  And some have a “longer ending” that is in verses 9-20. What does this all mean?

I take all that we have in Mark 16: 1-20 as authoritative, because that is the tradition of the church.  That is the church for the longest has regarded as authoritative.  It is what we have regarded as the whole of the book.  I do think it is important through for everyone to be able to understand how God put the bible together that different manuscripts differ on how Mark ends.  Verse 9-20 is the most common ending, the one that most have, but there are some that end after verse 8.

Why is that?

Great question.  Come back tomorrow and we’ll talk about it.

Tomorrow, we’ll spend some more time talking about the text we just read and then we’ll finish up Mark on Wednesday.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

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Day Fifty-Four with Mark: Mark 14:43-52

This will be our last day in Mark for a while.  From January 3-13, I am going to be in the Holy Land, and I intend to put up some daily thoughts from my time there.  I also will attempt to upload pictures and videos here to my blog.  It will be about 8 hours ahead, so these won’t come in the morning.  But hopefully they will come!  Pray for us while we are there, and I look forward to sharing as much as possible with you from there!

Today we are looking at Mark 14:43-52:

43 Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. 47 But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 48 Then Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 All of them deserted him and fled.

51 A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.

q4305230Today, we see Jesus betrayed, and we see much what we talked about yesterday.  They came for Him with swords and clubs.  One of the disciples reacted with anger (John tells us it was Peter) but we see that Jesus doesn’t react that way.  He willing goes and says in fact, you know you didn’t have to come to me in this way.  I taught openly, you come in secret.

One of the spiritual points I always take away from this is we see that as humans how afraid, our worried, how angry everyone was when this was happening, can’t you always get a sense of calm from Jesus?  Don’t you almost get a sense of Him being in control in the midst of this?  I alway do.  He is the calm in the midst of this storm.  We see Peter attack.  We see others run.  We see Jesus full of peace.

Remember, He is peace, in the midst of the storm.  He is calm in the midst of the storm.  When the winds are blowing and the waves are rocking, He is our calm.

Trust Him.

One last thing, you know one of the reasons why I know the Bible is true?  If I was going to write something and make up these stories, you know what I’d do?  I’d make myself look GOOD.  I mean seriously, if I was going to invent all this, I’d be that man.

And look at everyone, except for Jesus.   They are imperfect.  They make mistakes. All their mistakes are cataloged, for all of us to see.  All their failures.  We see a young man get so scared, he ran away naked, which was even more embarrassing then, than it would be now.

Know who that man was?  Mark.  The author of this Gospel.  Believe me, I wouldn’t have included that.  But he did.  Why?  Because it shows that Jesus is the only perfect one, He is the only capable saving.

One of the many reasons why I believe the Bible is this, it is the story of God’s perfection and humanities imperfection.  It shows the love that a perfect God has for His imperfect creation.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

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Day Fourteen with Mark: Mark 4:1-20

Today we are looking again at Mark 4:1-20.  Yesterday we talked about why it is that Jesus taught in parables.  Today we are going to look into what exactly He is talking about in this passage:

The Parable of the Sower
4 Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

The Purpose of the Parables
10 When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; 12 in order that
‘they may indeed look, but not perceive,
and may indeed listen, but not understand;
so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’”
13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. 17 But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. 20 And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

092208_1552_TheParableo1_1We see Jesus tell a parable, much like an illustration or example, about someone sowing seeds.  Some seeds he sows feel on path and birds carried them off.  Others on ground that was rocky, they sprouted up and then without depth, withered.  Others among thorns and they choked them off.  And finally some seed fell on good ground and brought forth lots of yield.

In verses 13-20 Jesus explains to us what exactly is happening here.  I think for us the thing that we need to notice about all these scenario is that in each of them, the seed lands upon the ground, and in some cases begins to show some growth. But then something happens.  Either birds (Satan) take them, or the lack of depth, or the thorns, cause them from fully blossoming.

The seed is that faith, that grace of God given to us.  Grace is not just given to Christians, but through prevenient grace, grace is show to all.  All people, even those that reject God, as shown His goodness.  The bible says that all good gifts from God, so if it’s in your life, and it’s good, it’s from God.

So, the seed is sown, grace is given, and what happens next?  We need to be aware of 3 things when God’s grace is given:

First, we aren’t able to even process we’ve been given it.  Spiritual warfare, distractions, things come against us and before we can even process that we’ve been given grace, we’ve moved on.  So, in other words, pay attention to God’s grace given you.

Second, it is received and it is good. But, there is no depth.  And trials come.  Troubles come.  And it dies on the vine.  So, it isn’t just enough to “believe” and get excited about Jesus.  We’ve got to get deep roots.

Faith isn’t just a matter or excitement of joy.  We need discipline.  Because it’s going to be hard at times.  There’s going to be challenges at times.  There’s going to be troubles.  If we don’t have those roots we will fade.  How do we develop roots?  We attend to things of God.  We read.  We pray.  We stay connected to God’s people.  The way I put it is we read our Bible, we pray, we go to church.  Faithfully doing these things give us roots to survive troubles.

And the third thing we see is the seed is sown and thorns choke them off.  The concerns of the world draw our focus from God, to the world.  Stay focused.  Remember what matters.  Focus on what counts.  Keep your mind on the things of God in all things.  

And last we see ground that is receptive, that is good, that is ready.  Good dirt.  That’s what we want to be.  Receptive to God’s word and focused on seeing it grow when it’s given to us.

Today may we be good dirt!

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 4:21-32.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

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Day Eleven with Mark: Mark 3:20-30

Today in Mark, we look at Mark 3:20-30, and we find some unexpected things happen:

20 and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 21 When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” 23 And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. 28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

In today’s passage, we see Jesus go home.  And it really doesn’t go well.  Folks back home aren’t really happy to see Him.  A couple of things to notice about all that is happening here.  First, in our minds, didn’t we think that everyone loves and affirms Jesus?  I mean, everyone loves Jesus, right?

Look at what happens in this passage.  I mean, really look what happens here.  His family is starting to think He may be crazy or demon possessed. They go out to restrain Him.  That is not what we expect to see happen.  That is not the way that life is supposed to God for Jesus.

When we see Jesus, as told to us in the Gospels, He is not safe.  He is not ordinary.  He doesn’t leave people be.  He brings to the ones that are broken and afraid, He brings them grace.  But to the ones that are comfortable and spiritually asleep, He yells WAKE UP!

Where would we be in this story?  Would we welcome Him?  Or would we want Him to calm down?  When you look at how people react to Jesus in scripture, it really isn’t what we expect, is it?

unforgivable-sin-full-v2We see Jesus teaching today about what the unforgivable sin is.  In the text, He says that blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is eternal (often called unforgivable).  In my ministry, I’ve had people come to me and say, “Andy, I think I’ve blasphemed.”  My response is always, do you feel bad about it?  And they say, yeah, I feel terrible. And then I say, well then you haven’t blasphemed.

Blasphemy is unforgivable for this reason.  You won’t ask forgiveness for it.  That is the reason why.  You’ve got so far, that you won’t confess and repent.  Every sin that is confessed and repented of will be forgiven.  But if you’ve blasphemed, then you won’t do that?

Why?  Look specifically at what Jesus says.  He says, “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit.”  And notice this conversation is in relation to works of the devil.  Basically what He is saying here is when you take the works of God (i.e. what  Jesus is doing and teaching) and say that they are the works of the devil (what the Pharisees are doing), you are saying that God and His power are evil.

You are making the Holy Spirit a work of evil.  You are calling God a liar.  You are undercutting the work of the Spirit.

Why is that unforgivable?  Because it’s through the spirit we are drawn to repentance.  It’s through the spirit we are convicted, we are called, we are brought home.  But if you deny that the spirit is good, if you harden your heart to it, then you’ve cut yourself off from any means of conviction and repentance.

But, if you feel bad about what you’ve done or said, then you’ve not blasphemed. Because you haven’t hardened your heart to what God is doing.  As long as you desire to be forgiven, you will be forgiven.  You will.

That’s why blasphemy is unforgivable.  You don’t want that forgiveness.  And that’s why in my ministry, I’ve never actually met anyone that’s done it.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 3:31-35.

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Where Do I Start Reading the Bible

godwin_bible460I’ve been doing this daily blog for over a decade now.  It started out as an email and then has morphed a lot into several forms. But basically what I’ve always done is this.  I follow the Morning Office out the Book of Common Prayer.  Here’s a link to the website I use.  Each morning there are three passages (an Old Testament, a New Testament, and a Gospel. There are also Psalms and other readings.

I read from them, and then whichever one speaks to me, I write a devotional on it.

But I’ve had something happen a few times recently, and it’s made me one to do something a little different.  I’ve had different people in different places come to me and ask, Andy, how do I start reading the Bible?  Where do I start?  What do I do?

And this is the thing that I tell them, and I want to be honest, it’s my suggestion.  I’m not saying it’s perfect for everyone, it’s just what I suggest.

I alway say this.  Start with Mark.  Don’t worry about starting in Genesis.  We can get there later.  Start with Mark.  I say start with a Gospel, because if you want to know who God is, you need to know Jesus.  He is the visible image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15).  When you see Jesus, you see God.

So, start with a Gospel. But why Mark?  Like I said, this is just me, I like starting with Mark because it’s the shortest and quickest-moving.  Most scholars think it was the first Gospel written.  And I think it’s the easiest to understand.

Some folks say start with John, and that’s perfectly fine.  John’s got some of the passages that we love the most.

But I like starting with Mark.  To me, it’s the easiest to understand of the Gospels.

So, that’s what we are going to do. For the next, oh, I don’t know, until we are finished, we are going to read through Mark together.  Each morning, there will be a passage of Mark, and I’ll offer my own reflection from it.

I’m thinking about doing a podcast with it perhaps, and maybe even a vlog.

But I think this will be a nice change-up, and a way for us to really get into the Bible.

So, starting tomorrow, we’ll read through Mark. I’m going to be pulling the readings from and I’ll be using the NRSV, mainly because that’s the most commonly used Bible at the church I serve.

But the great thing about this website is you can read for any number of translations.

So, starting tomorrow, Mark 1.  If you want to get a head start, we’ll be looking at Mark 1:1-8.

What do you think?  I’d welcome any feedback.  Shoot me an email or connect with me through Facebook or Twitter!

If you’d like to receive these thoughts by email, be sure to click here and join my email devotional group!