Day Thirty-Three with Mark: Mark 8:14-21

Today we look at Mark 8:14-21:

The Yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod
14 Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” 16 They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.” 17 And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

Computer-CodeWhat do you see?  Friday in Mark we talked about seeing miracles everywhere when we believe.  Today, we see Jesus talk about something very similar.  Today He’s talking about sight.  But it’s not necessarily the sight of miracles.  It’s the deeper truth that can be found.

And I think today this is especially true with scripture.  I subscribe what Wesley called a simple reading of scripture.  You need to understand context, you need to understand the bigger picture with scripture, but for most of scripture, it simply means what it says.

But, there are times, lots of times, many times, where there is a deeper truth right there in plain sight.  Sometimes there is something right in front of us that we may or may not be able to see.  Look at today’s text. The Disciples are talking about bread and Jesus basically says, guys, you are missing the point.

Do you not see the deeper meaning and deeper truth here.  He recalls the feeding of the 5000 and the 4000. And then He asks how many baskets were left over.  For the 5000, there were 12.  For the 4000 there were 7.  And then He says, do you not understand?

What should they have understood?  What may we be missing?

Twelve and seven are very important numbers in scripture.  Twelve in particular is important in two main places.  There are 12 tribes of Israel (the 12 sons of Jacob).  And there are 12 Apostles.  The Old Covenant and the New Covenant.  So this number is seen many times in scripture (a lot in Revelation) to mean everyone or a completeness.  This number is many ways a number that is almost a code word for “all.”

Everyone that would have seen Him feed 5000 and then see 12 baskets left over would have understood that 12 was a big deal.  He has come, preaching to the Jews first, so that they would complete their calling from Genesis 12 to be a light to the world.  As God’s people, their mission would be the point others to who God is and be that light.  This 12 means that the

The 5000, that crowd was mostly like all Jewish.  The fact that Jesus recovered 12 baskets meant that God would call from His people a group that would finish the calling of Abraham.  And that is what happened.  How many Jewish disciples did Jesus have?

Twelve.

And where did they go?  Everywhere.

And that brings us to the seven.  Seven is another important number in scripture, and is often seen is as the “perfect” number.  Think the seven days of creation.  So it’s a word that associated with that creation account.  The 4000, that crowd would have mostly included Gentiles within it. So on a day when a crowd including Gentiles in it was feed, there were seven baskets left.  The number of creation.  A creation that was made God.  A creation that Jesus was coming to redeem.

In other words, Jesus didn’t just come to feed this crowd, He came to save them, and all (Jew or Gentile) that would believe.

That’s why He says, do you not get it?  Do you not see the bigger truth?

This is why it’s so important to read the Bible together.  Because together we can see the bigger truths that we may miss, just looking at the text.  There are deeper truths that Bible study and shared conversation can teach us.

That’s one of the many, many reasons we need each other and need the church!

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 8:22-26.

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 Ten with Mark: Mark 3:13-19

Today in our journey through Mark, we look at Mark 3:13-19, where Jesus appoints His twelve disciples:

13 He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, 15 and to have authority to cast out demons. 16 So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

sending_twelveA couple of things that we notice in this passage.  First, some clarifications of language.  Here it says that He appointed “Twelve.”  They aren’t given a title.  Before the Resurrection, these twelve are called Disciples and after they are called Apostles.  Same people, though. The definition of an Apostle is one that Jesus appeared to and gave a specific task. That’s why Paul is an Apostle, even through he was not one of the Disciples.

Another thing is that there are different “levels,” if you will, of people who follow Jesus. There are the general crowds that follow Him when He preaches, but those crowds go back to their homes when the day is over.  Then there are the women that followed and supported His ministry, like Mary Magdalene.  And in this culture this is extraordinary.  Women didn’t leave the home, much less follow an itinerant preacher around Galilee.  But Jesus included them in His followers and it was Mary that was the first tell anyone that He had risen from the dead.

Then you have the 72 that Jesus sent out to do ministry as well.  This would have been those that were close to Him, that were faithful and that followed Him.   He had a large group with Him at almost all times.

But we see in this, the Twelve. There is great symbology about the number twelve, remember there were twelve tribes of Israel, in appointing twelve, Jesus is showing that His ministry stands fully in line with the Old Testament and that all the promises of the Old Testament were ultimately pointing to Him.

Notice, though who He calls.  Not many were educated.  They were fishermen.  They were common.  In fact, we don’t know a lot about many of them.  But let me tell you my favorite thing about the Twelve.  There is Simon the Cananaean.  And there is Matthew (or Levi) who we saw Jesus call earlier.  Matthew as a tax collector.  Simon was a member of a group known as the Zealots.  The zealots were a group of Jews that wanted to drive out the Romans. They HATED the Romans. They would often carry a dagger in their belt so that they could kill a Roman when the chance came.

And you know they only people they hated more than Romans?  Tax collectors.  Why?  Because tax collectors where traitors. They betrayed their people to work for the Romans.  Man on man, did they hate tax collectors.

And who were two of the Twelve?  Matthew, a tax collector.  And Simon, a zealot.  Through Jesus they could move past their hatred, their distrust, all the baggage that they brought to this group.

Through Jesus they could.  Through following Him, through making Him their Lord, they could.

If they focus on their “stuff” they would have killed each other.  If they focus on Jesus, they have unity.  When Jesus is in the middle, He brings life out of our diversity and difference. When we put our “stuff” in the middle, it tears us apart.

Jesus was able to bring unity out of such great difference.  And He can do the same today.

May we find our unity and purpose, today and each day, in Jesus Christ.

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 3:20-30.

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Day One with Mark: Mark 1:1-8

As we start our journey through Mark together, today we are going to look at Chapter 1:1-8:  In the NRSV this section is entitled The Proclamation of John the Baptist

1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

stjohnA few things that jump out to me in this passage.  First, in verse 1, the “good news.” That’s what the word Gospel means.  It is good news.  Jesus is Good News.  The grace of God is good news. When we tell folks about God, we are telling them about good news!  God loves you!  Do we communicate that “good news” like it is actual good news?

In verses 2-3, we see a quotation from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah.  Mark’s Gospel doesn’t have as many Old Testament quotations as Matthew does, but he does quote from the Old Testament a good bit.  Why? Well, a couple of reasons.  First, this shows the Jewish believers that this “new” Christian faith is really the same faith that their ancestors were pointing to.  It is actually what Abraham and Moses and others were hoping and longing for.

And second, it shows us non-Jewish (i.e. Gentile) believers that God was at work for a long time.  We aren’t the first believers in God ever.  God was working all of history towards the coming of Jesus Christ.  And we as Christians, we should not forsake the Old Testament. We should treasure it and read it as well.  It is our story as well. We believe that all the Bible is inspired.  The Old Testament matters to us as well!

In verses 4-8, we see the entrance of John the Baptist.  Can’t you just picture him with this description. And you know what?  He looks different, doesn’t he?  Mark makes it clear to us that he is not like the other religious leaders.  Not in his dress, not in his actions (baptism of repentance) and not in his message – the savior is coming.

John was different. But what was his purpose?  To prepare the way for Jesus.  To get folks ready for Jesus.  To make sure that people knew Jesus and were ready to follow him.

In fact, you and I have the same purpose.  To make Jesus known.  So, we too have a different message and a different purpose.  Just like John, we are called to be different. And we are called to point folks to Jesus.

Today, we share that same mission as John.  To point folks to Jesus.

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 1:9-15.

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The Fields are Ready

Yesterday we talked about how part of what we are called to do it to join into what God is doing. There are opportunities; there are so many things that God is doing!

He is at work in ways that we can’t even think about or realize. He is doing things that our brains can’t fathom. He is at work in different ways and places that are literally too much for us to handle.

And, to restate. He wants to us me and you to accomplish His goal and purpose. Listen today to what it says in Matthew 9: 35-38:

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

landscape_shutterstock_120849595The harvest is plentiful. As a Christian, everywhere you look, you will see someone.

Someone broken.

Someone in need.

In need of Jesus. In need of hope. In need of someone to care. In need of just a chance today.

They are there. They are. They are waiting. They are. They are needful. They are.

And God will bring them into your path today. He will. God will bring someone into your path today that only you can influence. Only you can speak to. Only you can effect.

Only you.

God will bring them to you today.

The fields are ready. There are needs all around us. What will we do? We will meet them; we will see them.

What will we do. Today, may we work in the fields that God has placed us in.

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We Need Each Other

We need each other. We were not created to live this life alone, we were not created to walk the road of life alone. We need each other.

We need each other in our good times, we need each other in our bad times. We need each other to accomplish the things that God has for us to do.

Listen to what happens today in Luke 10:1-3:

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.

We see in this passage that Jesus sent out His followers to preach, to teach, to heal, to bring His word. But He did not sent them out by themselves. He sent them out two by two. He sent them out with someone to help them. Support them. Work with them?

Why? Verse three said that this work would be hard – they were lambs among wolves. It was going to be a challenge. It was going to be hard. They were going to have times where they were going to want to give us. They needed each other to do what God had called them to do.

So do we. There will be times when we want to give up. Times when we want to quit. Times when we want to just stop and go home. We need each other. We need each other to challenge, to support, to carry.

Jesus sent them out two by two. He did not create us to walk alone.

Today, who do you have walking with you in the tough times? Who can you count on?

And just as importantly, who can count on you? Who is it that can look to you as a help?

Today, may we make sure that we have those in our lives what we can count on for support. And may we seek to be the kind of people that others can count on to support them!

We really do need each other!

Go

Jesus calls His 12 Apostles together in this passage, and He gives them a simple; yet profound command.

Go.

Listen to what He tells them in Matthew 10:5-7:

These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Go out into the world and proclaim the Good News. Go and tell them that the Kingdom of God is at hand. Salvation has arrived. Hope has arrived. Peace, mercy, and a plan for life has arrived. Go and tell.

Now, there are reasons why we could talk about why He didn’t send them at this time to the Gentiles and Samaritans. There are reasons that Jesus did what He did when He did it. After the resurrection, He specifically sends them to the Gentiles and the Samaritans. But now, at this time, that is not where they are going.

But, they are going. They are going out. They are leaving the comfort zone. They are going out telling the Good News. They are going.

Today, so should we. We are too go. Leave our comfort. Leave what we have always done. Go.

Go to where there is hurt. Pain. Loss. Confusion. Go. Take His good news. Take His hope. Take His peace. Take His plan. Take His life.

Go.

And maybe the place you need to go isn’t across the world. Maybe it’s across the road. Across the room. Across the cafeteria. Maybe the place you have to go isn’t far.

But for you it might be. Go. Take the Good News. And know that God goes with you.

On a Mission

Paul didn’t always have an easy time. In fact, if you looked at his life, especially after he became a Christian, you’d see that he had more hard days than easy days.

It is not at all uncommon for Paul to come into a town, preach, and then be beat and throw out-of-town.

It was not at all uncommon for Paul’s life to be threatened, sometimes even by people who used to be friends and associates of his.

It was not at all uncommon for Paul to be alone, despised, mistreated, abused, laughed at, mocked, arrested, placed into chains, and hated by the people of the towns that he was coming to preach.

But, he did it anyway. He kept going. He kept preaching. He kept walking He kept working. He kept trying. He kept being faithful.

He kept doing what was right, in spite of pain and opposition.

Why?

Because God had given him a mission. He was on no less than a mission from God. He was sent out to preach salvation, and to see as many come to saving faith as possible. He was going out among people who might be hostile, because he knew that God had called him to be faithful.

Listen to what Paul says today in 2 Timothy 2:8-10:

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

He called by God to something specific, and he was going to keep doing it. In spite of the trouble. Because he was on a mission.

Today, God has called you to something. It might not be easy. It might be very hard. It might be challenging. You might not thing that you can do it.

You can. If God has called you, He will give you strength and courage. You can do it.

Paul was faithful to his calling and mission. God gave him strength.

Today, in your calling. In your life, God will be faithful to you. He will give you want you need. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Don’t stop.

God will be faithful to you. May we be faithful to Him. And to the mission He has given.