Day Thirty-Six with Mark: Mark 9:30-37

When you read the Gospels consistently, you begin to really get a picture for who Jesus is and see some real things begin to emerge.  Listen to what we read in Mark 9:30-37:

Jesus Again Foretells His Death and Resurrection
30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” 32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Who Is the Greatest?
33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

follow-JESUS1When you read about Jesus, from beginning to end of a Gospel, you see what matters to Him, what is truly important, what is essential.  And here’s the deal.  The Bible tells us that Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God.  So when we see Jesus, we see who God is.

Who do we see today, and who have we seen?

Today, we see in Jesus that He knows He must die for the sins of the world.  When you read the Gospels, this is impossible to miss.  He tells them and teaches them that over and over again, and until after the resurrection, they never fully understood it.  But He continued to teach it.  He continued to point to it.  He continued to stress it to His followers.  He must be betrayed, be killed, and be raised again.

It is all heading towards the resurrection.  We can not take this part out of Jesus teaching. It is what it is all headed towards.  That is unmissable in the Gospels.

But look what else is unmissable.  In 33-37, he teaches that to be great in the kingdom of God, we have to be humble.  We have to serve.  We have to understand that it’s not about what we get, but what we give.  It’s about being the servant of all, not seeking power.  It’s about laying down our lives for His sake.

Those things are right there in front of us in the text today, and they are right there in front of us in the Gospels.  They are right there in front of us in the life of Jesus.

And as Christians, we are called to follow in the way of Jesus.  That means laying down our lives.  That means being humble.  That means serving. And that means understand that Jesus died and was raised for me.  And for you.  For all of us.  For the sake of the world.

These things are all over the Gospel.  And let’s not get so busy reading about Jesus that we forget what truly mattered and was important to Jesus.

He laid down His life to redeem us.  And He calls us to love and serve others.  Those things are in the forefront of Jesus’ ministry.  May they be in the forefront of our lives.

Friday we’ll look at Mark 9:38-41.

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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prayerPrayer is an experience.  It’s a conversation.  It’s a heartfelt movement of the spirit when God is drawing us closer to Himself.  Some prayers are prayers that expressions of the heart that flow from our mouths.  Other prayers are prayers that have been passed from generation to generation, that have been played by our parents and grandparents.  Some of these prayers are even prayers that have been passed down to us by Jesus Himself.  Other prayers are simply said in silence, with no words expressed.

No matter the prayer, no matter the place, no matter the movement, these prayers are precious.

And sometimes it feels like our prayers are bouncing off the floor of heaven, not ascending to God.  We’ve all been there.  And I think Jesus Himself even knows what that feels like.  Listen to what happened today in Mark 14:33-36:

33 He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. 34 And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” 35 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.”

Jesus, before He goes to the cross, goes to the Garden to pray.  And He knows what is coming.  He knows it’s going to be hard, and He knows it’s going to be necessary.  And He goes to pray.

And He says, take this from me.  But not what I want.  What you want.

And I think in this prayer, we learn a HUGE prayer concept.  Prayer is not just us telling God what we want Him to do, or who we want Him to bless.  Prayer is taking that attitude of Jesus.

Not my will, but yours.

Not my stuff, but yours.

Not my life, but yours.

That’s the key to a truly powerful prayer life.  It’s not just about us giving our requests to God.  But it is about us, receiving our directions from God.

In our prayer life, may we give to God our hurts, our loss, our fear, our worry, our doubts. But may we also take that attitude of Jesus.

Your will, God.  Your plan, God.  Your life, God.

May that be our attitude and our prayer today!

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Keep it Simple

One my mentors said this once, and it’s always stuck with me.  Jesus isn’t hard to understand, He’s just hard to follow.  That’s one of those statements that’s alway just kind of hung there with me.  Forgiving your enemies isn’t complicated.  It’s just hard to do, and something we can’t do apart from Him.

The Gospel isn’t necessary complicated.  It’s actually simple.  Listen to what Paul writes today in 1 Corinthians 2: 1-2:

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

When Paul comes to Corinth to preach, he says this – I will preach this simple message.  Jesus loves and died for us so that we could be brought back home to God.  He didn’t preach anything overly complicated or mysterious, just the simple word of God.

555390cc37bd22b75c366b7b_minimal-desktop-wallpaper-keep-it-simpleFirst, the Gospel at its core really is simple.  We are all broke and in need of saving.  God sent His son to die our sins and brokenness so that we could be saved.  By accepting Him and following Him, we will know life now and life forever.  We need Him, He came to us, He brings us to Himself.

We can debate lots of stuff about the Bible. Lot’s of stuff about faith.  Lots of stuff about everything. But this core, simple message of our need for God and the efforts He went through to save us, that’s the very heart of the Gospel.

That’s the simple message that Paul preached.

And second, is this.  It’s easy to worry about and fuss over the mysteries.  We can debate them all day long.  But here’s what I really believe.  I believe that God is not as worried about what we don’t know, as He is worried about what we do know, and what we do about it.

Do we know all the mysteries?  No.  None of us do. But we do know this.  We are called to love and to follow Jesus with all that we are.  We are called to forgive.  To serve.  To be faithful.  To show grace.

We don’t know the mysteries. But we do know these simple things.

Today, do we focus on what divides us the things that we don’t understand?  Or do we focus on the simple truths of God and live into those?

Today, may we keep it simple.

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What Mattered to Jesus

If you could ask Jesus what was the most important thing to do, what do you think He’d say?  What do you think he’d tell you is the most important thing for us to do as Christians?  Lots of choices, lots of options, huh?  Lots of things that He could say.

Well, you know what?  That scenario happened in scripture.  We actually know what He’d say.  Listen to what happened in Mark 12: 28-31:

28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ 29Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel:the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”31The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’

love-god-love-neighborHe was asked, what is the greatest commandment?  What matters most?  What is most important?

There were a lot of things that Jesus could say, lots of places that Jesus could go.  And what did He say?

Love the Lord with all your heart, your soul, your mind, and your strength.  In other words, love God with all that you are.  Love God with every fiber of your being.  With your intellect.  With your emotions.  With your body.  With everything.  Love God with every inch of who you are.

But that’s not all He tells us.  Love your neighbor as you love yourself.  So there, we see two more loves.  Love your neighbor.  And of course, we’ve seen Jesus tell us that this doesn’t mean our physical neighbor alone, but it means all the folks we come in contact with.

Love.  As Christians, we are called to love.  We have to love the people we come in contact with.  We have to show them that love.  It’s our command as Christians.  Love.

But, there is another love.  As you love yourself.  You matter.  You are important.  God loves you. That means you are to love yourself.  Stop beating yourself up.  God believes in you.  You believe in you.  You are His precious and His beloved.  And honestly, you can’t fully love your neighbor, until you love yourself.

CS Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

We are called not just to love God, love our neighbor, but love ourselves too.  Because God does.

So, we see what mattered to Jesus.  And we see what should matter to us.  Today, may we live out that love towards God, others, and ourselves, that He has called us to!

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The Forgotten Commandment

I’m a fan of checklists.  I always like to know what I’ve got to do, when I’ve got to be somewhere, what is on my plate for that moment.  I’m always looking to what is next.  That’s just how I’m wired.  Believe me, I’m not saying it’s good, I’m just saying it’s how I’m wired.

And today, as busy as many of us are, even if we aren’t wired like that, it’s sort of how we feel, isn’t it?  Even if we don’t want to go, go, go, go, we feel like our schedules, our lives, all that’s going on makes us that way.  That’s sort of modern life today.  Or at least that’s how it feels.

I think today that we can learn a lot from what happens in Mark 6:30-31.  Listen to what it says:

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.

rest-and-recoveryJesus had sent the Disciples out on a task, they had a lot that they were called to do for Him. They come back, they are excited, but they had been going, going, going, going.  And what does He tell them to do?

Come away and rest.

When was the last time you rested?  I mean, really?  When was the last time you let the concerns of work, of school, of life, of family, of everything, just go, if just for a moment, and rested.

We can’t go all the time.  Remember one of the Ten Commandments is to keep the Sabbath.  We have got to have times of rest.  We must.  We have do. We can’t go all the time.

Jesus understood it.

He made the Disciples live it.

What about us?  Do we live out this forgotten commandment?  Now, believe me, this is a do what I say, not what I do.  You can ask my wife, I struggle with this.  But the older I get, the more I’m learning that I can go and go and go without taking that rest.

So today, take some Sabbath.  Catch your breath.  Rest.  Trust.  Hope.

You can rest.  God has it all under control.  You can trust that.  He’s got it.  Remember that forgotten commandment.  Take Sabbath.  Take rest. And see how God uses it in our lives.

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But Not So With You

There are certain phrases in the Bible that are always powerful to me.  One of my pastors as a child used to talk about the phrase “but” in the Bible.  Anytime you hear that word in a passage you know that something big is going to come next.

Today’s passage in Luke 22: 24-27 has one of those phrases that always jumps out to me.  Listen to what it says:

24 A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

under-a-different-lightThe word “but” was a giveaway.  I love, love, love when Jesus says “But not so with you.”

I think no other phrase in the Bible sums up what the Christian life should look like more than that.  But not so with you.

Look what Jesus is doing there.  He is talking about how the world determines who is the greatest.  Those who are powerful are the greatest in the context of the world.  Those who are in charge.  Those who run things.  Those who have power.  They are the greatest.

But not so with you.  For us, for us a Christians, greatest does not come from power or position, or from any such thing like this.  Greatness comes from service.  From serving one another.  From laying down our lives for one another.  From putting each other first.

That’s what the Gospel-infused life should look like.  Different.  Different from the world.  A life driven by love. By grace.  By forgiveness.  Why?  Because we have been shown love.  Grace.  And forgiveness.

And we must show those same things to each other.  And to the world.

Today, greatness is in your hand. But not greatness the way that the world looks at it.  Greatness the way that God looks at it.  Jesus says this in John 15:13 – No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

So, today, we see what the world does.  That’s fine.  That’s great.  But not so with you.  Not so with me.  Not so with us.  We are the church.  We are the body of Christ.  We are called to live our His love and allow that love to change this world.  Today, let’s be obedient to that call. Let’s live that love out.

And let’s see what happens when we live that Gospel-infused life.  Let’s just see what God does with it!

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