RE Verse reading–Mark 12:28-34 (day four)
Jesus was in dialogue with the religious leaders. They knew the law…they knew the source of Jesus’ authority, but they refused to accept it. When asked if John the Baptist’s message was from God or from man, they knew the correct answer but would not believe it…so they said they didn’t know. They were so disoriented to God that their hearts and minds were hardened to the truth. Now in verse 28, one of the Scribes came to Jesus and recognized that He was answering correctly. The Scribe’s heart was open to truth. Jesus said, “you are not far from the kingdom of God”. How far are we? We spend day after day in the world…assaulted by its attacks on truth…becoming completely disoriented in our heart, mind, soul, and strength. That is why God gave us one day a week to pull aside and refocus on Him. Do you acknowledge the authority of Jesus? How have you responded to that authority?
RE Verse reading–Mark 12:28-34 (day three)
“And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.” Songwriters often fear performing their songs for an audience. Painters often dread exhibitions. Actors languish in profound anxiety waiting on the critical reviews after opening night. Their music or their canvas or their character are extensions of themselves, and it’s not uncommon for them to view critique of their art as a critique of who they are or who they’re becoming. So it is with belief. If we really believe something, that belief is part of who we are. To understand that we have believed something that turns out to be false is a prospect of which we are very much afraid. So if we never seek truth from the Lord, we don’t have to fear that we’ve been wrong all along, do we?
Mark 12:28-34 (Day two)
Mark rarely tells of someone from the religious establishment being commended by Jesus. “You’re not far from the kingdom of God” is a glowing commendation. What made him different? Was it his knowledge of the Bible? He clearly knew not only the facts of the Old Testament but also the intention behind it. Possibly. But there were other Jewish teachers who discerned a deeper significance. Mark notes two characteristics unique to this man. First, he is the first of the scribes to approach Jesus alone. Coming to Jesus requires the courage to come alone if necessary. Second, he “heard…and saw that Jesus answered them well.” These details appear insignificant, but they mark out the characteristics of a true disciple. A follower of Jesus must hear, see and understand. Not to have these abilities is evidence of a “hardened,” unbelieving heart (8:17-18). So check your heart. Do you have courage to follow Jesus “though none go with me”? Do you perceive that Jesus answers “well” the questions of our day?
RE Verse reading–Mark 12:28-34 (day one)
“Hear , O Israel, the Lord our God is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all of your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (vs 29) It seems strange for Jesus to say that God is one. Isn’t Jesus the proof that God is two? Two persons, the Holy Spirit being three as we speak of Trinity? Jesus means one in essential being, one in life, one in mind, nature and value. A brief review of paganism (ancient and modern) will demonstrate the importance of this doctrine. What if attention to “the sun god” had the possiblity of offending the “moon god”? Endless cycle of jealousy if ultimate reality is many parts. Jesus declared what the Jews knew. There is ONLY ONE ultimate reality. One person to be satisfied. We do not (and should not) divide our attention. ONE God. ALL of me. Simple. True. Life-changing.
RE Verse reading–Mark 6:45-52, 8:1-21 (day seven)
“He came towards them. . . walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by.” (6:49) It is not God’s purpose to remove all struggle from life. Even for His children. Problems can have positive educational effect. “If I never had a problem, I wouldn’t know that God could solve them”, sang Andre Crouch. “Whom the Lord loves, He disciplines” says the writer of Hebrews. Not every struggle is caused by Christ, but every struggle is useful to Christ as He conforms us to His image. Sometimes He intends to pass us by as we stuggle, knowing that the time is not right to remove it. Our hearts still have something to learn. In the storm and in the stuggles, we come to know Him better, and ourselves. “Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)
RE Verse reading–Mark 6:45-52, 8:1-21 (day six)
“After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray” (6:46) When Scripture says “be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger”, (James 1:19) it makes a huge requirement. None of us does this easily. A certain caution is required. It makes me wonder. What was Jesus praying about that night when he sent the disciples ahead? Just speculation, but surely it was already obvious to Jesus how SLOWLY they were understanding His words. Was He frustrated? Was part of the night of prayer dedicated to knowing what He should say and when? A lesson for both home and church. I never regret taking time to pray about the things and people who disappoint before I say anything. I appreciate the same when I am the one needing correction. “I have prayed for you”, Jesus told Peter before his great/public failure. (Luke 22:32) A wise step for us all, I think.
RE Verse reading–Mark 6:45-52, 8:1-21 (day five)
What was it the disciples didn’t “see”? What was it they didn’t “hear”? What was it they didn’t “understand”? What was it they didn’t “remember”? What was it they were missing? They stopped at the point of “what” Jesus was doing instead of “Who” He is? They were perceiving Him as a “cosmic waiter”, there to meet their own needs and demands. (Sounds so much like American Christianity these days) In this passage, Jesus is trying to get them to see that the bigger lesson was on the power, compassion, and generosity of the living God. In scripture the “what” (God does) is designed to teach and point to the “Who” (He is). The goal of this perspective is a personal, growing, intimate relationship with God, where we discover more about His nature, character, and kindness. I’m asking Him to help me learn (see, hear, understand, and remember) a little more about Him every day!!
RE Verse reading–Mark 6:45-52, 8:1-21 (day four)
It was a stinging question! In verse 8:17, Jesus was amazed at His disciples. They had first seen Him feed over five thousand people with a few loaves and fish. Then, He did it again and fed over four thousand the same way. Now they were worried about a dozen people having something to eat. What was it that kept the disciples from understanding who Jesus was? Why did they not comprehend His power over the physical? These men were the closest ones to Jesus…they were with Him all the time…they heard Him teach every day. Maybe it was their expectations…maybe it was their selfishness…or maybe it was self-sufficiency. Whatever it was, it was sin. It so disoriented them to Jesus, that they could not recognize the truth. What is it in our life, that keeps us from seeing and understanding? Ask God to ‘open your eyes’ to see the Master!
RE Verse reading–Mark 6:45-52; 8:1-21 (day three)
“Don’t you remember?” (8:18) From time to time, scarce food became plenteous. Fierce storms would recede. Those who witnessed Jesus pushing back on what they saw as a cold and menacing universe thought that surely here was someone worth following. But they had it wrong. Jesus was not winning an occasional skirmish with a cruel cosmos. He was Maker of heaven and earth. If they would pay attention, they would see that he carried himself as a man who knew intimately everything about “summer and winter and springtime and harvest; sun, moon and stars in their courses above.” Jesus is unafraid of this universe because it is his. Here is someone worth following indeed—not because he bullies the universe into submission, but because he is its Maker, its Lord. And yours.
“Why are you discussing that you do not have any bread? Do you not yet understand or comprehend?” Jesus sensed the great struggle for power at work all around him. The Pharisees wanted it through religious compulsion. The Herodians wanted it through political action. Both groups were chasing popular opinion through compromised integrity. Where did Jesus’ followers side in this epic struggle for power?! They were just worried about who was going to have to skip the next meal! If only we were gripped with the cosmic struggle for power all around us! If only we were engaged in confronting and redeeming the culture all around us. If only we would get hungry for “your kingdom come!” But sadly, I think we are much too like the disciples…hungry for immediate comfort instead of hungry for lifelong transformation.