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.

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

Day Twenty-one with Mark: Mark 6:1-6

Today we are looking at Jesus’ homecoming in Mark 6:1-6.  It really doesn’t go well for Him:

The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth
6 He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief.

JeffWatkinsJRejectedatNazoilJesus had gone to many different places in Mark’s Gospel and one of the things that we have seen over and over again is His power and His authority.  Folks are amazed at it.  And today, we seem Him go to His hometown of Nazareth, and they too see that authority.  They too see His power, they hear of His mighty deeds.

And they took offense at Him.  Wow.  They knew His family.  They knew His “mama and them” and just couldn’t believe that this was the same person that they knew.  I just can’t get over that phrase.  They took offense at Jesus.  So because of that, Jesus wasn’t able to do any deeds.  So, a couple of things.

First, why did they take offense?  Scripture doesn’t say, but perhaps they were thinking a couple of things.  Why Him?  I mean, what’s so special about Jesus.  We know, but they didn’t.  Or perhaps why not them?   I mean, aren’t they just as able to those things as Jesus?

Maybe it comes down to jealousy.  They missed what God was doing. So often in the Bible, so often in Jesus ministry, that’s one of the things that we see.  People miss what God is doing.  Most times it’s because they are not looking.  This time, it’s because they are looking, and they don’t like what they see.

Today, let’s look with discernment.  Let’s prayerfully look.  Let’s take all that we see under the grace of God.  Let’s not look past anyone.  And let’s not be jealous of anyone.  

The other thing about this is that Jesus couldn’t do any miracles because of their lack of faith.  Miracles aren’t “invoked” because of faith.  It’s not like we can make them happen by having “enough” faith.  That’s not the way that God works.  But, that said, in the order of salvation, we have a part to play.  We have to respond.  We have to do our part.  God’s grace doesn’t do us any good if we won’t accept it.

Perhaps Jesus couldn’t do any miracles there, because they weren’t willing to receive them. 

Today, may we be open to whatever God wants to do.

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 6:6-13.

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

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

Day Eighteen with Mark: Mark 5:1-19

Yesterday we looked at some of the big picture issues of location and context and fear within Mark 5:1-19.  Today I want to look at little bit a the people involved in this story:

Jesus Heals the Gerasene Demoniac
5 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. 3 He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; 4 for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; 7 and he shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; 12 and the unclean spirits begged him, “Send us into the swine; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.

14 The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. 17 Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But Jesus refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.”

734215_10152379208205043_756632953_nFirst, we see the man.  Look at the torment he had been through.  One of the things that we see Jesus do over and over again in the text is bring healing.  This man needed physical healing, he was cutting himself, harming himself, in great pain, but his physical needs came from a spiritual place.

Jesus cast out the demons and in doing this it brought spiritual and physical healing to this man.  Healing always starts with the spiritual.  In this life, the physical may, or may not, be healed.  But, through Jesus, the heart and the soul can be healed.  Jesus wants to bring healing.  He wants to bring grace.  He wants to bring forgiveness.  Forgiveness for us, and our ability to forgive others.  He longs to restore our soul and restore our life.

Jesus saw this man in pain, and He brought healing.

And look what the man wanted to do.  He said – let me follow you.  And Jesus said, no.  Do something even harder.  Tell your friends what God has done for you.  Why?  Why didn’t Jesus let him go with them?

Look at the reaction of the people in 17.  The people begged Jesus to leave.  Why?  Why did they want Jesus to leave?  Well, we see that their swine had been destroyed (By the way, sidebar – why did the demons want to go into the pigs?  Lots of opinions on this, but I’ll give you mine.  They were destructive.  They wanted to destroy as much as they could. When they could no longer destroy this man, they wanted to destroy something else).  They saw Jesus’ power.  And they were scared of it.  It was bigger than them.

Jesus was other.  And the didn’t know what to do with Him.  So they asked Him to leave.

We would never do that, would we?  Well, how many of us have felt God calls us to something, we know, we know, we know that there is something that God is calling us to.  And we run.  We run from it, we run from God.

Why?  A thousand different reasons, different reasons for all of us. But for me, and probably for many of us, its control.  We like being in control and to let God and follow Him with abandon means losing control.  Giving Him full control. And that’s terrifying.  Even though we know He is good and only wants the best for us.  It’s still scary.

And that’s why we’ve got to trust Him and follow. And sometimes we follow not to far away places. But to our own town.

Today, no matter where He calls, may we faithfully follow.

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 5:21-43.

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

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

Day Seventeen with Mark: Mark 5:1-19

Today’s passage has A LOT going on, so we are going to spend at least two days looking at it.  We are looking at Mark 5:1-19:

Jesus Heals the Gerasene Demoniac
5 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. 3 He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; 4 for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; 7 and he shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; 12 and the unclean spirits begged him, “Send us into the swine; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.

14 The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. 17 Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But Jesus refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.”

Ok, look who meets Jesus on the other side of the sea.  A guy (the other Gospels say was naked) living a cemetery.  Demon possessed.  And with pigs in the area.  This is literally the worst Jewish nightmare you can think of.  One of the things that I wondered about for the longest time is why there were pigs?  I mean, this is Israel.  Jews don’t do pigs?  Why were their pigs in this story?  Where did they come from?

734215_10152379208205043_756632953_nThis city across the sea of Galilee, you know what it was?  It was a Roman city.  It was a Gentile city.  That’s why there were pigs there. Gentiles (i.e. non-Jews) didn’t mind pigs at all. So that’s why there would have been pigs there.  By the way, the picture to your right was one that I took from the actual place where the pigs jumped off of.  Things have changed since Jesus’ day, but that’s the spot!

This place on the other side of the lake would have been forbidden for Jews. They wouldn’t have wanted, or really, been allowed to go there.  Many of you may have had grandparents say to you – don’t go outside (or wherever) that’s where the boogie man is!  They would tell you “don’t go there” because they wanted to keep you away from that place.

So, good Jewish mamas would tell their kids – don’t go across the lake.  You’ll find pigs!  And naked men!  In cemeteries!  That are Gentiles!  That’s how bad Jesus wanted rest, He went to this place He would have been warned not to go, because He knew no one would follow Him.

And they get across the lake and what do they find?  A naked guy, in a cemetery, demon possessed, who is Gentile.  Oh, and pigs!  Turns out, mama was right!  It would have been everything that they feared!  It was literally the worst combination of what they feared.

And what does Jesus do?  He brings calm.  He brings peace.  He brings restoration.  He brings life.  He brings hope.

Tomorrow, we’ll look deeper at what exactly Jesus did. But today, know this.  Jesus encountered the thing that His Jewish followers would have feared teh most.  And He triumphs over it.

Jesus is greater than whatever it is that you fear.  Always believe that.  Because it is truth.  Always hold tight to that.

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 5:1-19 again.

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

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

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.

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

Day Thirteen with Mark: Mark 4:1-20

Ok, today’s reading from Mark is going to be a “two-parter.”  We are going to look at Mark 4: 1-20, which is the parable of the sower, as well as Jesus’ explanation for why He uses parables, and then an explanation for what this parable means.  So, we’ll chew on this for at least another day.  Here’s Mark 4:1-20:

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.[b] 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_1I said before when we started this journey together through Mark (or any Gospel) we’ll see that Jesus isn’t always who we expect, or want Him to be.  He is who is He.  He is the Alpha and Omega, beginning and the End, first and the last.  But when you look at Him, here’s one thing that I’m always drawn to about Him.

He makes you make a decision.  Will you follow, or will you not?  Will we accept His offer of grace or will we not?  He comes to us and make us choose.  And gives us the free will to choose.  But He (and we) know that there are consequences for what it is that we choose.

So we see in verse 12 He says, some folks will not accept the teaching that He offers.  In fact, that’s why He teaches like He does, so that they will not be able to understand.  Now, that’s one of those passages that has never made sense to me.  Why would Jesus teach in a way, on purpose, where people would not be able to understand it?

The reason why is this.  Those that have followed Him, that accept Him, that walk with Him, they are taught, they understand.  To those that reject Him, they are not given the key to understanding Him.

To put it another way, the Bible is an interesting book to all people.  You can learn history, culture, philosophy, so many different things within it’s pages.  But apart from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Bible will never “make sense” to you, or to me. It’s the Spirit that speaks, it’s the Spirit that moves, it’s the Spirit that inspires.

It’s the Spirit that makes it makes sense.  Teachers, preachers, others can help us understand, but it’s the Spirit that truly makes the text come alive.

If if we reject that Spirit, we’ll never really understand the text.

Those that have rejected Jesus never understood Jesus.

The reason that He taught like this was this.  He wants us to make a choice.  To follow Him, or not.  If we choose to follow, these parables will come alive and makes sense.  If we chooses to reject, they never will.

So, we choose.  They choose. That’s why He taught like this.

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 4:21-32, but dig into exactly what Jesus is talking about in this parable.

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

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