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-LESSON 11: Mark 10

by Dr. D ~

Lesson 11: Mark -Chapter 10

 

First read Mark 10 all the way through.

The ‘Supernatural’ Acts and Events in Mark 10

Things you don’t see everyday:

Verses 33-34:

-Jesus predicts his own death and resurrection

Verse 52:

-Jesus heals a blind man

Notes and Commentary:

I.  Jesus Teaches about Marriage and Divorce –Verses 1-12

     Verse 1: Jesus and his disciples left Galilee and traveled south into Judea and then east of the Jordan river. Huge crowds came to him there and he ministered to them. In Mark it tells us that he taught them as usual while Matthew 19 adds that he also healed some folks.

     Verse 2:  Again, religious leaders seek out Jesus looking for a way to trip him up. This time on the volatile subject of divorce.

They probably believe that they will get him one way or another. If Jesus comes out in support of the prevailing cultural tradition then he will be exposed as a ‘sinner’ opposing the Mosaic Law. On the other hand, if he supports the stricter ruling of Moses on divorce then he will upset many in the crowd and probably lose some of his  followers.

To fully appreciate the response of Jesus it helps to understand the cultural context.  It had become a practice in Judah for divorce to be in the hands of the husband only.  Notice that the Pharisees are not asking if it is lawful for a woman to divorce her husband.

It had become culturally acceptable for a husband to divorce his wife for any reason at all and he could do it by simply stating- "I divorce you" -three times and it was done and over with and he could kick her out of the house. Most no longer bothered with writing a certificate as Moses had required nor did they go before a judge or Rabbi. 

     Verses 3-5:  Jesus asked the Pharisees what the Mosaic commandment was on  Divorce. They respond by saying that he demanded that a certificate of divorce be written before a man could get rid of his wife. Jesus points out their hypocrisy in the manner and even that of Moses.

     Verses 6-9:  Jesus gives them a scriptural lesson here and concludes that divorce was not part of God’s original plan for marriage.  After all, it is God who joined the two together and no one really had the authority to end it.

     Verses 10-12:  The Pharisees were right to conclude that the teaching of Jesus on divorce might disturb his followers. It still disturbs many of us today.

His own close disciples ask him about it again privately. He then expands on his teaching and tells them that a man or woman who divorces their spouse and marries again are guilty of adultery (a very serious crime worthy of stoning in their culture). This would have been shocking to anyone in that nation and generation and obviously his own disciples had a hard time with this teaching. Matthew 19:10 tells us that they concluded that maybe it would be better not to marry at all.

Note here that Jesus mentions the possibility that a woman might divorce her husband which was against the prevailing cultural practice.  Also, it would seem from the language that a charge of adultery followed the man or woman who was responsible for the divorce and then remarries.

In that generation and culture it normally was the man who divorced the wife, usually against her will since it left the woman with no support. Today in our culture most of the divorces are mutual and supposedly ‘no-fault’ which in reality is a misnomer. Nevertheless, Christians today in the West aren’t anymore comfortable with the teaching of Jesus than his disciples were in the first century. Particularly since the divorce rate among those in the church is nearly the same as in the general culture.

The Gospel of Matthew (19: 3) records that the Pharisees added ‘cause’ to their question on divorce:

“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

After all, men were divorcing their wives for any old reason in those days- for burning the dinner, for not cleaning the house, or most of the time for not being as pretty as they once were. In answering the causal question in Matt. 19:9 Jesus teaches that it is unlawful- "…except for sexual immorality" (unfaithfulness).

II.  Jesus and The Little Children –Verses 13-16

The disciples try to keep the children away from Jesus.  After all, there is a whole lot of important stuff to do, and the children will just get in the way.  Jesus wants to see the children and uses this occasion as a lesson for the adults:

1.  The children are important. 

2.  The Kingdom is to be freely received like a child receives. 

3.  Children are closer to the Kingdom than the adults. 

4.  Jesus gives the children his blessing.

This scripture is commonly used in many Churches today who practice some kind of blessing or dedication of babies or young children in church services. However there is a real lesson here for adults.

III.  The Rich Young Man –Verses 17-22

The young man wants to know what he still needs to ‘DO’ in order to inherit Eternal Life.  The Mosaic Law listed all sorts of things to do and apparently he had followed through on those provisions. However, in the Older Covenant, one could never be sure of salvation.

     Verse 18:  It is interesting that the young man refers to Jesus as "good teacher",  But Jesus replies that:

“Why do you call me good? No one is good—except God alone." 

Some have cited this passage as a proof text where Jesus actually denied his divinity.  This is not the case, Jesus merely asked why he had called him ‘good’ not that he wasn’t. Then states that ‘only God is good’, without qualifying whether the designation applied to himself or not. 

One thing for sure, according to Jesus it did not apply to this young man though the man probably considered himself to be ‘good’ which was probably why Jesus set him straight. Gaining heaven and eternal wasn’t just about being good.

This passage brings to memory the occasion (Mark 8:27) when Jesus asked his disciples:

“Who do people say I am?” 

The young man could have replied: "You are the Christ, the Son of God", like Peter once did when Jesus had asked-"but who do you say I am?"  In that case (if the young man had faith in Jesus), Jesus could have confirmed that he would indeed inherit Eternal Life. However, the man did not know who Jesus really was else he would have probably left his wealth behind and followed him. 

     Verses 21-22:  Notice that it says here that Jesus loved him but unfortunately it was not mutual. The man was wealthy and in final analysis he loved his riches more than he actually loved God and in the process demonstrated a violation of the most important commandment of all- to love God more than anything else.

Jesus told him that if he really wanted eternal life all he had to do is give all of his money away and :

“Then come, follow me.”

The young man said he was concerned about eternal life and yet he left Jesus behind and went his own way. Sadly he left behind the very one who could have secured it for him- The King of the Kingdom of God. Sadly today many walk away from Jesus to do their own thing and in the process also leave behind the opportunity to receive the real abundant life and life everlasting.     

IV.  Can The Rich Be Saved? –Verses 23-27

     Verses 23-26:   It was a popular understanding in first century Judea that the rich had gained it all because God had blessed them for being ‘good,’ righteous, and for following the commandments of the Law.  It was assumed that the wealthy would be probably saved in the life to come since they had the time to study the Law and follow it more so than the poor. 

So when Jesus seemed to teach that it was impossible for the rich to be saved, the disciples are upset:

"who then can be saved?". 

     Verse 27:  Jesus was trying to show them that no one could be saved merely by their own efforts-  through things that they do or don’t do.  Salvation comes only as a gift from God after all we can do. So it is only with God that:

"all things are possible". 

Even a rich person can be saved. Without God, no one can enter into the Kingdom, even the rich, the good, and the self righteous. It is really all about having a relationship with God- loving him with all of your heart, mind, and strength.

If only the young rich man knew who Jesus really was he could have obtained his goal of eternal life by following Jesus and by having a relationship with the Son of God who actually holds the keys to the Kingdom and eternal life. Not only that, he would have received the joy of the Lord, peace and assurance of eternal life, and a far more abundant life than his riches could have ever given him.

One wonders what happened to the young man? The fact that he was unnamed may be ominous. He made an unfortunate choice here and he may have never gotten another opportunity to secure the very eternal life he was seeking.

People also have a choice today to accept a relationship with Jesus Christ the Lord of the Kingdom of Heaven or go their own way and do their own thing and miss out on not only receiving blessings in this life but the gift of eternal life to come. What is your choice?

V.  The Disciples are Upset and Concerned –Verses 28-31

     Verse 28:  Peter and the disciples are now concerned about their own positions in the life to come.  After all, if a rich and supposedly righteous man was not necessarily destined for the Kingdom of God, then what about poor fishermen from Galilee, who gave up everything to follow Jesus?

     Verses 29-31:  Jesus reassures his disciples that those who gave up all for him and the Gospel will be rewarded, even if they may face persecutions.  However, he also says, that many who are first will end up being last.

The implication here is that these poor fishermen and tax collecting disciples who were looked down on by the religious leaders of Judea would be among the first in the Kingdom while those who were now among the ruling class would not fare as well as they thought they would in the life to come. This could apply to the rich young man who did not give up everything to follow Jesus but went his own way instead. An unfortunate decision that people are still making today

VI.  Again, Jesus Predicts His Own Death and Resurrection –Verses 32-34

     Verse 32:  Jesus heads for Jerusalem and the disciples are surprised and afraid since they know that the religious leaders in the capitol are against them and waiting.

     Verses 33-34:  Once more he informs them of the events to come.  This is the third time (See also: Mark 8:31 & 9:30-31) that Jesus has predicted his own death and Resurrection. In spite all of the warnings the disciples aren’t really prepared for what is to come.

Notice, that Jesus says that the Jewish religious leaders will ‘betray’ him, but that it will be the gentiles (the Romans) who actually beat and kill him.  Somehow, the entire Jewish race gets unfairly blamed for death of Jesus while the Italians get a traditional pass as Christians. The Jewish religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus but they didn’t  have the legal authority to carry out capitol punishment so had to depend upon the Romans to get the job done. Despite the weak protests of Pontius Pilate, it was Roman soldiers, following the official orders of the Roman state and their commanders, who beat Jesus mercilessly, nailed him to a cross, and carried out and supervised his horrible and excruciating death.

VII.  The Boldness of James and John –Verses 35-40

James and John, the Zebedee bothers are hoping to be number 2 & 3 in authority, after Jesus rules the Kingdom.  There guys were pretty bold and Jesus called them the ‘Sons of Thunder’ (Mark 3:17). On one occasion recorded in Luke 9:54, the two brothers wanted Jesus to call down fire from heaven (like Elijah) upon a Samaritan village which refused to accommodate their traveling group.

James and John obviously did not understand or believe what Jesus had just told them about his coming death and Resurrection. After all Jesus had said they still believed in their cultural traditions about the Messiah taking over and ruling the entire nation eventually the whole world. When he did, James and John wanted to be sitting next to the Messiah in the throne room helping him rule.

     Verses 38-39:  Jesus asks them if they are ready to accept the same treatment that he was soon going to face.  Of coarse they say yes, without really knowing what they are saying yes to.

Jesus then confirms that they most certainly will face the ‘cup’ of persecution in the future. Nevertheless he didn’t have the authority to assign the seating in the throne room- that right belong to his Father.

In the future, James was among the first of the disciples and the twelve to be martyred.  John was later boiled in a vat of oil, and exiled to the isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation.  John was the last of the twelve to survive living into the turn of the next century, his death was unrecorded.

VIII.  True Leadership According to Jesus –Verses 41-45

The other 10 Apostles were upset with the Zebedee boys.  The whole group was jockeying for high positions within the Kingdom. Again this demonstrates that none of the disciples truly understood what Jesus had said at least three times about his coming death and Resurrection.

Jesus uses this as an opportunity to teach them about true leadership.

He uses the gentile rulers as an example of how not to lead–as ‘lords’ over the people.  Those who would be leaders in the Kingdom are called to be the servants of all.  Churches, denominations, and Christian organizations today should pay closer attention to the leadership guidelines taught by Jesus here.

IX.  Bartimaeus Receives His Sight –Verses 46-52

     Verses 46-48:  Jesus and the disciples are leaving Jericho with a large crowd following.  A blind man named Bar-timaeus was sitting along the side of the road begging when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.  He started crying out and then shouted even louder as folks around him tried to shut him up.  Notice that he  knows who Jesus really is:

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

This proclamation of Bartimaeus is one of the scriptural sources for the ‘Jesus Prayer’ (along with Luke 18:13) which is preeminent and popular among the Eastern Orthodox churches.

     Verses 49-51:  Finally, he is called by Jesus to come and is asked what he wanted Jesus to do for him. He wanted to be healed and receive his sight.

Today, anyone who recognizes who Jesus really is and asks for mercy, like Bartimaeus did, can still receive blessings and healing from the resurrected and living Jesus Christ. Many folks have found that the ancient Christian ‘Jesus Prayer’ still works and changes lives:

"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

  Verse 52:  Notice three things at the end of this story:

1.  He had faith. 

2. He was healed. 

3. He followed Jesus. 

Since his name is remembered here in Mark, Bartimaeus may have become a regular follower of Jesus and among the early members of the Christian community.

 

-Read: Mark 11 for the next lesson.

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-LESSON 10: Mark 9

by Dr. D ~

Lesson 10: Mark -Chapter 9

First read Mark 9 all the way through.

The ‘Supernatural’ Acts and Events in Mark 9

Things you don’t see everyday:

Verse 1:

-Jesus Prophesies

Verses 2-3

-Jesus- The Transfiguration

Verse 4

-Elijah and Moses Show Up

Verse 7

-Voice From Heaven

Verses 25-27

-Jesus Cast Out Demon

Verse 31

-Jesus Foretells Death and Resurrection

Notes and Commentary:

I.  The Kingdom of God…Comes “with power” –Verse 1

This verse has been debated over the years.  Does it mean that some of the Apostles would still be alive when Jesus established his Kingdom?  The disciples are all long gone and yet we are still waiting for the appointed time when history will be consummated and Jesus comes again to completely establish his Kingdom on earth.

Some scholars believe that the “Transfiguration” that follows these verses logically fulfills and demonstrates that the ‘The Kingdom’ or ‘Rule’ of God has come in power in the person and divinity of Jesus Christ. Others hold that the Resurrection demonstrates the ‘Kingdom power’ of Jesus.

Myself, I believe that all of these are partial fulfillments of this verse, but I hold that ‘The Day of Pentecost’ is the best demonstration of the ‘Kingdom’ coming in ‘power’ and authority.  This is really the beginning of the Church, which is the major representation of the Kingdom of God in this age.  

At the Ascension (Acts 1:8), Jesus told them that they would receive ‘power’ when the Holy Spirit came upon them, and then they would take his message to the world. Pentecost was a life changing event for everyone present.  Just look at the boldness in Peter’s address, no more denials there. After Pentecost, the Apostles picked up the mantle of Jesus and took the good news of the Kingdom to the ends of the Earth.

It should be noted that a few Christians over the years and a number of cults have speculated that the Apostle John never died based upon John 21:22-23. However, there is really no historical evidence to support such a claim and the Biblical reference cited does not actually confirm it.

II.  The Transfiguration of Jesus –Verses 2-13

Here, the divine character of Jesus is displayed to Peter, James, and John.  They were in the manifest presence of God–the ‘Shekinah-glory’ that use to fill the Temple and the old Tabernacle at times.

The typical human reaction to a major religious experience is to do something religious or form some kind of institution in memory of the event.  Christians like to make new denominations or associations in the wake of almost every revival. Peter and the boys were awe struck with the presence of Elijah and Moses. But soon The Father made it quite clear who the real VIP was on the mountain that day.

     Verses 9-10:  Jesus tells them to tell no one until after the resurrection.  They do not understand at this point what the ‘rising from the dead’ might mean.

     Verses 11-13:  Jesus interjects into the ‘Elijah’ conversation that it is also written that he (The Son of Man) would “suffer many things and be treated with contempt.”  He also informs the three, that an ‘Elijah’ figure had already come implying that it was fulfilled in the ministry of John The Baptist who had been beheaded through orders of Herod.

III.   Healing of a Boy with An Unclean Spirit –Verses 14-29

Jesus and the three come back to a scene of pandemonium. A large crowd, the 9 remaining Apostles, some opposing religious leaders, a father and a sick boy that the disciples were unable to heal–were all arguing. The condemnation that Jesus gives here is probably a paraphrase of Psalm 95:10.

     Verses 22-24:  In the end of explaining to Jesus about his son, the father says:  “If you can do anything…”.  Jesus picks up on the unbelief immediately and questions: “If you can!”? Finally the father says: “I believe; help my unbelief!”  The father realizes that he lacks faith and asks Jesus to help him believe. 

This was a great move  and one we all should remember, particularly when we are down and really have little hope of resolution.  We can always pray for an increase of faith.  Greater faith brings greater results.  In this case, Jesus heals the boy.

     Verses 28-29:  The disciples ask Jesus why they could not cast out the evil spirit.  Jesus responds by telling them that they needed to be fortified by prayer, and some manuscripts add fasting also.

A good message for us today. The disciples probably did pray but Jesus is indicating that they needed to go beyond the perfunctory traditional kind and actually ask God for greater preparation and spiritual power in order to deal with the evil spirits. Also it would be a good idea to ask God for greater faith like the father of the boy did in this story.

IV.  Again, Jesus Foretells of His Death and Resurrection –Verses 30-32

The disciples did not understand what he was speaking of and  they were afraid to ask or pursue the issue.  After all,  Jesus had condemned Peter when he contradicted him earlier on this issue. 

They were so convinced from their traditions that the Messiah was supposed to take over and rule the entire nation and eventually the whole world defeating the Romans in the process.  The traditions that they were raised upon did not allow for the possibility that the Messiah would be betrayed and rejected by his own people much less that he would be killed and later resurrected.

Their hopes remained in the traditions taught to them as children. What Jesus was  trying to teach them made no sense at all in the context of the common traditional cultural views about the Messiah. Nevertheless, it was important for them to know what was going to happen. 

It was going to be difficult enough for the Apostles to live through what was coming. They were going to need some foreknowledge of the events whether they believed them or accepted them or not. Later, they did remember that Jesus said he was going to rise again after 3 days. But they had a hard time believing it until the tomb was empty and he was standing right in front of them!

V.  Who is The Greatest? –Verses 33-37

The disciples revert to their favorite pastime, arguing over who was the number one disciple. Again this continuing argument was based upon their traditional understanding of what the Messiah was supposed to do. After all, when Jesus became King, the number one among them might become the Prime Minister, like Daniel or Joseph did, and the number two ruler in the kingdom and eventually the whole world. 

Notice, that they won’t admit to Jesus what they had been talking about. Obviously they did not accept what Jesus had taught them about his coming betrayal and death. Nevertheless, Jesus knew, and confronted their attitudes:  The first must be last and servant of all. They need to accept and treat even a child like they would treat Jesus the Messiah.

VI.   One Who is Not Against Us is For Us –Verses 38-41

John and other disciples observed someone ministering in Jesus name.  They were bothered by this, after all, this person was not part of their club or denomination.  However, Jesus gives it the green light. It is a matter of faith and action in the name of Jesus. Even if someone gives just a cup of water in his name will be rewarded.

VII.  The Consequences of Sin –Verses 42-50

Here, Jesus talks to his disciples about the seriousness and consequences of sin.  If one causes or teaches a child to sin, it is a very serious offence according to Jesus.  Jesus uses hyperbole here in order to demonstrate the seriousness of sin.  It is better to lose ones foot, hand, or eye–to suffer serious loss–and still enter the Kingdom of God than to be thrown into hell.

     Verses 49-50:  Salt is good, but if it is no longer salty, it has lost its purpose.  In ancient times, salt was a preservative.  Here Jesus is telling his disciples to stop their quarrelling and to maintain their purpose.  The disciples were supposed to be good examples to all they came in contact with as representatives of the Kingdom.  It would be well for them to cut out and cast off their competitive spirit.

 

-Read: Mark 10 for the next lesson.

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-LESSON 9: Mark 8

by Dr. D ~

Lesson 9: Mark- Chapter 8

 

First read Mark 8 all the way through.

The ‘Supernatural’ Acts and Events in Mark 8

Things you don’t see everyday:

Verses 6-9

-Jesus feeds 4,000.

Verses 22-26

-Jesus heals a blind man.

Verse 29

-Peter is inspired by the Holy Spirit to proclaim that Jesus is the ‘anointed one’, Messiah, or Christ (Greek).

Verse 31

-Jesus predicts his own suffering, death, & resurrection.

Verses 32-33

-Peter is now influenced by the wrong ‘spirit’, and rejects what Jesus just predicted.

Verse 38-9:1

-Jesus references his own future coming in power & glory.

Notes and Commentary:

I.  Jesus Feeds 4,000  -Verses 1-9

Jesus has compassion on the large crowd following him.  The people have been with him for 3 days without food and many have come from considerable distances.  He is concerned that many would suffer along the way if they were sent home hungry.

     Verse 4:  Again, the disciples seem to be clueless in spite of the miraculous feeding of 5,000+ recorded in Chapter 6. 

     Verses  5-9:  Jesus takes charge but has the disciple gather what they do have which in this case was only 7 loaves of bread and a few fish to feed 4,000. After giving thanks Jesus breaks up what they do have and gives it to his disciples to pass it out. In the process a miracle takes place and not only is there enough food to feed and satisfy around 4,000 people but 7 baskets of pieces of food were left over.

II.  The Pharisees Ask for A Sign –Verses 10-13

Jesus & his disciples had just recently left the scene of the feeding of 4,000, and now they come across a group of Pharisees sent to ‘test’ Jesus.  They are across the lake in the region of Dalmanutha (Magadan).  By this time, Jesus was known to have healed hundreds of people and cast out demons along with the miraculous feeding of thousands and yet they ask for some kind of sign? 

The pretense given by the Pharisees is that they only needed ‘a sign’ in order to support Jesus and his ministry. But Jesus knew their hearts and that it was nothing but a sham so snubbed them and got back in the boat and took off with his disciples.

The environment of doubt and offence among those religious leaders was similar to what Jesus had faced in Nazareth. Even worse, some may have had ulterior motives to  oppose him regardless. So  no ‘sign’ or major miracle or even any kind of healing happened in their company.  

No ‘sign’ or miracle can ever really satisfy those who have no faith and are fully vested in unbelief or opposition.  If Jesus had done a miracle in front of them they probably would have claimed that he did it through the power of the evil one. 

Many are like that today, so convinced that miracles and healings don’t happen that they can’t even accept them when they do. Then among some Christians, if a healing does happen they are concerned that it might be a deception by the enemy.

Meanwhile, among those who do believe and accept; lives are changed, people come to Christ, God is praised and His Kingdom is advanced.

III.  The Disciples & ‘The Yeast of The Pharisees’ –Verses 14-21

     Verse 15: Jesus tells his disciples to "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod."  ‘Leaven’ (yeast) was traditionally a symbol of sin. During religious rituals & the Passover in particular, only ‘unleavened’ bread was allowed.  Jesus is warning his people to beware of the influence of the Pharisees, their major sin here was unbelief, & theological blindness. They not only failed to see the current move of God in the ministry of Jesus but totally rejected it and in the process ending up rejecting their Messiah which God had sent to their nation and the whole world. 

     Verses 14, 16-21:  The disciples think he is criticizing them for forgetting to bring enough bread for the trip when he mentions yeast and miss what Jesus is really talking about. He reminds them of the miracles they recently participated in feeding first 5,000 and then 4,000 with food left over. Read between the lines and you can hear Jesus saying ‘oy vey’ in exasperation.

His own disciples don’t really get it, even though they have witnessed all the healings & miracles.  They too, have a prescribed and predetermined understanding of what the Messiah is supposed to do.  Jesus surprises them time and again. 

They probably expected Jesus to co-operate with the religious leaders and demonstrate his power and authority in some way.  They have seen him do all sorts of miracles and any little sign might have furthered the cause to have him accepted by the religious leaders of their nation.  After all, wasn’t the Messiah supposed to take over the whole country in a miraculous way?

IV.  Healing of A Blind Man –Verses 22-26

     Verse 22:  Jesus has healed the blind in the past by merely touching them. That is what he was asked to do here but the healing process is entirely different this time.

     Verses 23-26:  Jesus led the blind man completely outside of the village.  A blind person’s comfort zone would have been in the familiar surroundings of the village and his home.  Here, the man must depend totally on Jesus to guide him.  Not only is the man now in an unfamiliar environment, but Jesus spits in his eyes first and then touches him with both of his hands.  One wonders what the blind man was thinking at that point.

The blind man did begin to see after that but the healing was obviously not complete. He says that "people…look like trees walking around".  Perhaps at one time he did have eye sight but somehow lost it.  Or maybe he had run into enough trees in his life that it was easy to imagine what one might look like.  Nevertheless, the healing was only partial. 

It is instructive, that Jesus asks for feedback, and then continues to pray for his complete healing once more.  I have heard some well meaning Christians teach that one should only pray once for a person to be healed and then leave it in God’s hands.  Fortunately for the blind man, Jesus continued until a full healing was accomplished.

V.  Who Do People Say That I Am? –Verses 27-30

Jesus asks his disciples-  “Who do people say I am?” They answer him-  “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

Is he John The Baptist, Elijah, or just one of the prophets?  Then he asks them what they think.  Peter gets it right–"You are the Christ".

But Jesus is not yet ready for them to proclaim him as such, and he warns them to tell no one.  Why? The timing was not right for Jesus to be revealed as the Messiah. Besides even his own disciples did not understand what was going to happen to Jesus who was the Messiah but had a destiny which was far different than they expected as we will see in the next section.

VI.  Jesus Predicts His Own Death & Resurrection –Verses 31-33

Jesus tells his disciples that the time would come that he would be rejected by the leaders, suffer, be  killed, and raise again after 3 days.  Peter contradicts Jesus,  after all, this was not the scenario that they had been raised upon.  The Messiah was supposed to kick the Romans out and take over the nation.  The disciples thought that they were going to rule with Jesus.

Earlier Peter got it right, but here he is so wrong that Jesus rebukes Peter as a representative of Satan. Again Peter and the disciples do not understand God’s plan and destiny for his Son Jesus. Peter and the boys are looking for David’s kingdom to be re-established once more by Messiah Jesus with them as his right hand men in positions of honor and power.

VII.  Jesus: "Follow Me" –Verses 34-38

Jesus has hundreds of people, even thousands at times, following him and hanging on his every word. 

Peter and the boy’s are looking for positions of power and authority within King Jesus the Messiah’s kingdom. In fact, they are constantly arguing among themselves who is the greater and who will sit on his right hand and left when he takes over the nation.

Jesus shocks them here by saying- “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Jesus bursts their bubble here by indicating that they may have to give their very lives up for the cause.

Then he seems to put down the wealth and power that they are expecting  to gain in the future by specifically questioning whether it would be worth it to gain the whole world and lose their own soul.

Here he identifies what it means to be a ‘real’ follower or disciple and it is instructive for us today. Those who want to really be a part of his work, are called upon to set aside their own priorities in life, and live according to his guidance, both in the scriptures and by his Holy Spirit. 

     Verse 38:If anyone is ashamed of me and my words…” – Jesus says here that  anyone who was ashamed of him or his teaching would they themselves be shamed by Jesus when he fulfilled his destiny as Messiah and came in glory with the angels.

Jesus had recently snubbed a group of important religious leaders. Some of his followers might have been questioning how that occasion went and may have even been somewhat ashamed of the way Jesus treated those important Pharisees. They probably expected him to ‘wow’ those folks and gain their support. Jesus basically rejected them and took off instead since he knew the hearts and the real intentions of those self important leaders.

Even Peter had recently opposed the teaching of Jesus when he told his disciples about his coming death and resurrection. This was a warning even for his closest companions who did not understand or fully accept his teaching at times. Unfortunately one of the twelve is the greatest example of that category of shame- Judas. A man who was there when Jesus did all of his miracles and healings and even saw the dead raised and yet betrayed him. Obviously no sign was enough in his case.

That word is even for us today since he hasn’t come back in glory yet. We shouldn’t be ashamed to tell others about Jesus or his teachings. Many may call themselves Christians, but it is those who live by his teachings and have publically identified with him who will be honored to be with him when he comes in his glory with the angels.

-Read: Mark 9 for the next lesson.

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-LESSON 8: Mark 7

by Dr. D ~

Lesson 8: Mark- Chapter 7

 

First read Mark 7 all the way through.

The ‘Supernatural’ Acts and Events in Mark 7

Things you don’t see everyday:

Verses 29-30

-Jesus cast out a demon from a girl at a distance.

Verses 34-35

-Deaf & mute man is healed by Jesus.

Notes and Commentary:

I.  Jesus vs. Pharisees & Their Traditions -Verses 1-23

Groups of Pharisees & Rabbis were sent by the religious leaders in Jerusalem to investigate the ministry of Jesus who had become quite famous. 

An earlier group had claimed that Jesus was possessed & casting out demons by the prince of demons (3:22).  The group here in chapter 7 was critical of the disciples for not washing before they ate. 

This did not really violate God’s scriptural Law, but did transgress the ritual & oral ‘traditions’ of the elders about fulfilling the Law.  It is obvious that they were intent upon finding some kind offence or charge against Jesus & his disciples and anything would do.

     Verses 6-8:  Jesus quotes Isaiah 29:13 and applies it to his critics & concludes that they have abandoned the commands of God for the mere ‘traditions of men.’

     Verses 9-13:  The crowd was probably somewhat perplexed.  Jesus responds with an example here, demonstrating how some of the ‘traditions of the Elders’ actually violated the real intent of God’s Law.

Jesus points out that, while their rabbinical traditions might seem to fulfill the ‘letter’ of the Law, their motives behind their actions might be questionable and not so pure to the point of nullifying the real intent of God’s commands. I would be surprised if one of the more pious critics present hadn’t actually done the very thing that Jesus gives as an example here.

     Verses 14-23:  There are all sorts of regulations in the Mosaic Law about things which make one religiously ‘unclean’; for example-touching dead bodies or dead animals. 

Jesus seems to be running counter to those biblical teaching. However, Jesus is teaching that the inward ‘spiritual’ condition and motives of a person is as important as some external form or rule.  What comes out of a person is determined by ones heart or ones ‘spiritual’ attitude. 

Jesus was consistent in teaching that one’s thoughts were just as important to control as one’s actions.  Evil begins ‘inside’ with one’s thinking–this is what makes one really religiously ‘unclean’ according to Jesus.

The disciples needed Jesus to explain it to them since they were probably shocked by his teaching since it seemed to contradict prevailing religious thought & practice which emphasized only external actions and deeds that could be seen by others.  

     Verse 16:If any man has ears to hear, let him hear.” is not included in most modern translations, because the earliest manuscripts do not have it. Most modern Biblical scholars believe that it was a scribal addition reflecting 4:9 and 4:23.)

II.  The Faith of a Gentile Woman -Verses 24-30

     Verses 24-26:  Jesus goes to Tyre for some needed down time with his disciples only.  Soon the people find out that he is there and a local Gentile lady shows up & begs for him to cast a demon out of her daughter.

     Verse 27:  Jesus is intent on ministering only to the ‘children’ of Israel or closely related people who were believers in the one God of the Bible. This lady and her daughter were Gentiles who may have even worshipped the traditional ‘gods’ of that region.  The response of the woman shows that she has faith in Jesus and is rewarded with the healing of her daughter. After all, even pet dogs get to eat the crumbs that fall under the table.

It is hard for us to understand why Jesus seemed to reject the woman. Today the teaching of Jesus goes to every nation and people and he is the savior of all who believe in him regardless of whether they are Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, or men and women (Gal, 3:26-29).  But Jesus was specifically sent to Israel as the Messiah and the fulfillment of prophecy concerning that nation and people.

Later Peter and Paul and the Apostles were sent to the whole world after Jesus was rejected and crucified by his own people and nation. Even then, the apostles went first to peach and minister to the Jews and their synagogues everywhere they went and then later to everyone else.

III.  The Healing of the Deaf/Mute Man –Verses 31-37

     Verse 33:  It is interesting that Jesus take the man away from the crowd and privately ministers to him.  Many have tried to mimic the methods that Jesus uses in healing.  Here, Jesus puts his fingers into the guy’s ear, and spits and touches the man’s tongue.  Quite a scene.  An interesting technique, but if you take the time to catalog all of the actions of Jesus when he is healing, it is interesting to note that he seems to do something somewhat different every time.

     Verses 36-37:  Jesus continually tries to keep many of his miracles & healings secret, but the people cannot help but talk about what he has done, and his fame continues to spread. The ministry of Jesus is deemed to be amazing & very ‘good’ by all who observed him, just as creation was observed to be ‘good’ by the Creator (Gen.1:4).

Today we might question why Jesus wanted his victories to be secret. Wouldn’t it have been better to tell everyone about the miracles and healings in order to increase the number of believers in his ministry?

However, Jesus was in a far better position than us to know what possible consequences an increase of his fame might bring. He was concerned that the religious leaders might try to have him killed before his time. Also, if crowds of people had rallied and named him as their secular or military leader than the Romans might have stepped in to shut it all down before his ministry was completed.

 

-Read: Mark 8 for the next lesson.

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-LESSON 7: MARK 6

by Dr. D ~

Lesson 7: Mark- Chapter 6

First read Mark 6 all the way through.

The ‘Supernatural’ Acts and Events in Mark 6

Things you don’t see everyday:

Verse 5

-Healed a few sick in Nazareth.

Verse 7

-Gave Twelve authority over evil spirits.

Verse 13

-They drove out demons & healed many sick.

Verses 37-44

-Jesus feeds 5,000 men, plus women & children.

Verse 48:

-Jesus walking on the water.

Verse 51:

-Wind immediately dies down.

Verse 56:

-All who even touch Jesus are healed.

Notes and Commentary:

I.  Back to Nazareth- Verses 1-6

     Jesus teaches in his hometown synagogue. The people are amazed by his wisdom & his renown as a healer, and yet they are also offended.  You can just imagine what they might have been saying on that occasion:

"Who does this guy thing he is anyway, isn’t he just ‘the carpenter’ we always knew?  Now he thinks that he is some kind of ‘prophet’ or Rabbi.  We saw him grow up, he didn’t go to Temple school or nothing.  After all; his mother and brothers & sisters are all just regular folks like us– and besides, they all think that he’s crazy!"

     Jesus probably would have liked to help some of the people he knew growing up, but they did not ‘honor’ him or have any faith in his ministry.  He was only able to heal a few sick. Today we would think that was great. But what a disappointment for Jesus, to actually be rejected by those he was close to and the neighbors he had respected while growing up.

II.  Jesus Sends The Twelve On A Training Mission- Verses 7-13

     Verse 7

     a.  Jesus sent the Twelve out in two’s. At least with one companion they could support one another.

     b.  He gave them authority over evil spirits. Part of the mission was for the Twelve to do the same works that they had watched Jesus do.  Cast out demons & heal the sick.

     Verses 8-11:  Jesus gave the twelve authority and power to do the same works that he did.

I have heard some well meaning Christians propose that this should be the norm–missionaries stepping out without any clear planning or support. I have read some incredible testimonies about how God provided in the process. However, I don’t believe that Jesus was setting some kind of precedence here on how missionaries should be provided for. Later, at Gethsemane, he tells them to prepare & take all they have at their disposal, coats, money, swords & etc. (Luke 22:36).

I believe that Jesus is just giving his Apostles some needed experience & training here- by doing. The real lesson is that they can do the same works that Jesus did with his authority. A lesson that will come in handy once Jesus was gone.

     Verses 12-13:  Results:  They preached repentance, drove out demons, & healed many. Just like Jesus.

III.  John The Baptist Beheaded- Verses 14-29

     Verses 14-16:  Who is This Jesus? –A Prophet, Elijah, or John The Baptist?  Notice that ‘King’ Herod believed that Jesus must be ‘John’ back from the dead.–then vs. 17-28, tells the story of the beheading of John The Baptist.

     Verses 17-28: Tells the story of the beheading of John The Baptist. Notice how weak Herod actually was.  First he unwisely promises the girl ‘up to half my kingdom’.  Then he doesn’t back away from his promise, even though he really doesn’t want to have John killed.  Bottom line, he is more concerned about what his guests might think.

     Verse 29:  The disciples of John The Baptist bury him in a tomb.

IV.  Feeding of The 5,000 Plus- Verses 30-44

     Verses 30-32:  The disciples were reporting to Jesus about their missionary trip but they keep being disturbed by folk coming and going so they never had a chance to eat or complete their conversations.  Jesus suggested they go to a quiet place & rest.

     Verses 33-34:  Meanwhile a large crowd figured out where they were going and were waiting for them at the next location.  Jesus has compassion for them and taught them many things.

     Verses 35-37:  It was late in the day when Jesus finished his teaching, and everyone was hungry.  The disciples suggested that Jesus send the people away in order to get food.  Jesus tells them to feed the people.  The disciples are shocked–after all, it would take 8 months of wages to buy enough food to feed this huge crowd.

     Verses 38-40:  Jesus puts the disciples to work, first to find what was actually available (5 Loaves & 2 fishes) and next to divide up the people into groups and have them sit down.  ‘Groups of 100’s & 50’s’–similar to the divisions in the camp following Moses in the desert (Ex 18:21).

     Verse 41:  Jesus gave thanks to God & then divided the loaves & fishes among the twelve disciples.  It was the disciples that actually distributed the food, having a major part in the miracle.

Can you imagine how they felt when Jesus asked them to pass out the few morsels of food in the basket that each had to this huge crowd in front of them? Then how shocked they were when the little bit they had didn’t disappear but seemed to multiply as they handed it out and there was actually enough with more left over than had been there in the first place?

     Verses 42-44:  The results-

1. Everyone ate until they were full. 

2. There were twelve baskets full of leftovers. 

3.  There were 5,000 men in the crowd, this doesn’t count the thousands of women & children that were undoubtedly there and also ate with the men.

V.  Jesus Walks On the Water- Verses 45-52

     Verses 45-46:  Aftermath-

1.  Jesus sends the disciples to Bethsaida by boat. 

2.  He dismisses the crowd. 

3.  He then goes up into the mountainside to pray by himself. 

After a huge miracle, Jesus seeks to get recharged spiritually.  Many today, would choose to stay with the guys and celebrate after a successful ministry time. Wisdom & humility is demonstrated by Jesus here.

     Verses 47-52:  Jesus is walking on the lake, while the disciples are struggling to make headway in the boat. the wind is blowing and slowing their progress. They see him, but they don’t believe their own eyes.  Neither did they really accept the miracle they were actually party to–the feeding of thousands.  Even after all they’ve seen & participated in, the disciples still had so very little faith. 

Jesus tells them to have courage and not to be afraid.  He gets into the boat, and immediately the wind stops & it is clear sailing ahead. Again, they are amazed.  What an incredible day!

VI.  Those Even Touching The Clothes of Jesus Are Healed- Verses 53-56

     Verses 53-54:  They ended up Gennesaret.  Again the crowd recognized Jesus, he had become famous.

     Verses 55-56:  The sick were brought to him as they traveled throughout the region.  Notice, all who even touched the edge of his cloak were healed.  They must of heard about the woman who was healed by touching the hem of his garment. 

The level of faith among the people was raised to such a level that many were healed, by merely getting close to Jesus and touching him. What a far cry from the folks at Nazareth, where Jesus grew up, who were so unbelieving and actually offended by Jesus that nothing much had happened there.

 

-Read: Mark 7 for the next lesson.

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