Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dissing Jesus

In verses 1-6, we learn that Jesus is rejected not for the content of his learning and teaching, but for the disconnect his neighbors feel between Jesus' past and his present.

We all carry history and baggage with our peers, particularly in our hometowns.

How does this connect to people who are very well-respected and loved in their towns of origin?

This is a special circumstance and should be appreciated!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Outline of Mark 6

  1. Rejection in Jesus' Hometown
  2. 12 Disciples, 2-By-2
  3. Recap: John the Baptist's Execution

    1. Herod confuses Jesus with John the Baptist
    2. Mark reviews John's execution

  4. Jesus and the Disciples Go Into Seclusion
  5. Miraculous 5000-Man Buffet
  6. Jesus Walks on Water
  7. Jesus, Miracle-Healing Rock Star

Friday, August 29, 2008

Full Authority

In verses 41-43, Jesus demonstrates that he has authority over death.

If your boss had true authority over death, would you question any of his other decisions?  I wouldn't!

So why do I hold Jesus to a different standard?

Thursday, August 28, 2008


The people mourning for the little girl who had just died weren't able to contain their disbelief when Jesus arrived.

They "began laughing at Him" (NASB, v. 40a).

Would I do the same thing?  Would I be laughing derisively or hopefully?

Sadly, I think I'd just label Jesus a lunatic.

Until the girl woke up.

Then I'd be ashamed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Death is Not the End

In verses 35-36, we learn that the girl Jesus is going to heal has died.

From a human perspective, her death is the final step.  Nothing else will make a difference anymore.

But Jesus reminds the girl's father  that death is not the final step.  Jesus can conquer even death!

This is an amazing promise.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Woman Subject to Bleeding

In verses 25-34, we learn about a miraculous healing.

This poor woman has been bleeding constantly for twelve years.  I can't even begin to imagine the pain and hardship this would create.

On the surface, the woman appears to believe in the magical powers of Jesus' robe.

However, Jesus clarifies and teaches the woman and the crowds that it is her faith, not superstition, that leads to her healing.

Do I trust Jesus enough to accept his healing in impossible circumstances?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jesus Honors and Honored by Jairus

After Jesus leaves the man healed of demon-possession, he again travels by boat to a new region.

In no time, people discover his location and mob him again.

Jairus, a synagogue offical, risks condemnation of the Jewish leaders and goes to Jesus to request healing for his deathbed-ill daughter.  When your own child's life is on the line, your priorities and true beliefs come to the forefront.

Jairus wanted his daughter well more than he wanted the approval of his bosses.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jesus v. Legion

  1. Jesus and his disciples pull into shore after escaping the terrifying storm
  2. I wonder if people on the land recognized that Jesus had made the storm stop suddenly
  3. The man possessed by Legion came to meet Jesus as soon as he landed
  4. Evil is often more perceptive about spiritual matters than those who are uninterested
  5. This may be related to Revelation 3:14-16, in which Jesus tells the church at Laodicea that he wishes they were either hot or cold, not lukewarm
  6. Evil is physically powerful
  7. Kids who cut themselves are manifesting an ancient cry for spiritual help
  8. Legion begs Jesus not to torture them
  9. Jesus is responsible for torturing demons?
  10. Hell is clearly torture, and Jesus is a prosecuting attorney of justice, so this is a consistent picture of Jesus' holiness
  11. Jesus asked the demons' names
  12. Even when facing evil, it is important to learn its names
  13. What makes names so important?
  14. Genesis 2:19-20: there is great power and authority in a name
  15. Legion begs Jesus for mercy
  16. Do they realize that they'd shown the man they possessed no mercy?
  17. Do they care?
  18. Legion requests to be sent into a herd of pigs
  19. Pigs are an unclean animal to the Jews
  20. Legion limits their request to the immediate physical vicinity
  21. Why didn't they ask to be sent to, say, Africa or South America? Why stay local?
  22. Are demons limited by spacetime the way that humans are? I thought that spirits weren't bound in the same way as physical beings
  23. After the evil spirits possess the swine herd, the pigs stampede and drown in a local pond
  24. Where do Legion go after the pigs die?
  25. The man possessed by Legion experiences an immediate healing
  26. The townspeople are unimpressed by this miracle and beg Jesus to leave
  27. It appears that the people in this region were more concerned with pork profits than with the spiritual and physical health of the possessed man
  28. These priorities are messed up
  29. A single human is worth more than a whole herd of pigs
  30. A single human is worth more than any amount of profit
  31. A single human is worth more than x because humans are "created in the image of God" (cf. Genesis 1:27)
  32. Jesus sends the healed man away, despite his pleas to travel with Jesus
  33. Not every person who wants to serve Jesus in full-time ministry will be accepted, even if his motives are pure and his experience clear
  34. God's plans cannot be fully understood here on earth
  35. However, we can trust that God's plan is the best, no matter what life throws at us!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jesus Heals: An Outline of Mark 5

  1. Jesus Defeats an Unclean Spirt
    1. Jesus tells Legion to leave the man
    2. Legion announces Jesus' true identity and begs for mercy
    3. Jesus allows Legion to move to a herd of pigs
    4. The pigs stampede down a cliff and drown in a lake (so what happened to Legion after this? what is the interaction between demons and dead animals? was this a dumb move for Legion, or exactly what they wanted?)
    5. The swine owners rush to tell the town
    6. The townspeople freak out and beg Jesus to leave
    7. The healed man begs to follow Jesus
    8. Jesus refuses, but commands the man to tell his story all over
  2. Jesus Defeats Illness
    1. A woman has been bleeding for 12 years
    2. Doctors have been unable to help her
    3. She has no health insurance, so she's broke
    4. The woman has faith, so she sneaks up on Jesus and touches his robe
    5. Jesus feels power come out and stops to address the crowd
    6. I believe that Jesus stops not because he doesn't know the woman, but because he wants to teach the woman and the crowd a lesson
    7. The woman identifies herself
    8. Jesus explains that her faith, not the cloak, healed her (this is a strong case against the power of relics and icons)
  3. Jesus Defeats Death
    1. Jairus, the temple leader, goes to Jesus to beg for his daughter's life
    2. Mourners inform Jairus that his daughter has died
    3. Jesus tells Jairus to continue believing
    4. Jesus brings the dead girl back to life
    5. Jesus orders onlookers not to tell what happened

Friday, August 22, 2008

Whirlwind Wrap-Up of Mark 4

In verses 26-29, Jesus explains that the Kingdom of God grows mysteriously, just like a farmer's seed. It is not my job to explain Jesus' success but to help gather a harvest.

Then, in verses 30-32, Jesus elegantly describes his Kingdom as a mustard seed.  This is a simple way of saying that Christian faith began tiny but became huge.  What in my life starts tiny and seems to take on a life of its own?

Finally, in verses 35-41, Jesus freaks out his disciples by yelling at a dangerous storm to make it stop.  Cool!

I skipped verse 33-34 because it appeared to be a parenthetical comment about Jesus' use of parables.  Jesus' message is mysterious.  There is value in sharing lessons in a way that can only be decoded by the faithful.  How can this apply to my teaching at church?  Is it applicable to my teaching at school?  I don't think so, but I may be missing an important detail here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mark 4:24-25

Be careful how you judge and measure other people.  That is how you yourself will be judged and measured.

This demands an incredibly transparent, honest self-assessment.

Matthew Henry suggests that in verse 25, Jesus is making a "use it or lose it" spiritual comment.  If you have a great deal of spiritual insight and use it wisely, your investment will grow.  If you have little spiritual understanding and don't work to improve it, you'll lose what little you have to begin with.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Good Soil, Smart Lights

Verses 20-23 clearly indicate that the healthy Christian life naturally results in a powerful and public witness.

If I hide my light, I may as well be seed planted on lousy soil.

That's not the kind of Christian life I want to live.  It's not the kind of Christian I want to be.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Seed Among Thorns

In verses 18-19, Jesus lists the following barriers to responding to the gospel:

  • "worries of the world"
  • "deceitfulness of riches"
  • "desires for other things"

It is very easy to become sidetracked from the Christian life.  That's why it's so important to stay connected with a local church.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Rocky Ground

In verses 16 and 17, Jesus compares seeds which fall on rocky soil to people who initially respond to the gospel with joy but quickly lose heart as life's difficulties discourage them.

If you need an easy stretch to become a disciple, then you were not meant to be a disciple.  This is true spiritually and professionally.

Don't bother being a leader in the workplace if you're unwilling to face difficulties and challenges.

Don't bother being a leader in the church if you're unwilling to face severe difficulties and challenges.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Seed on the Road

In verse 15, Jesus interprets the first part of his parable.  Satan sometimes snatches away the good news.

How does this word functionally?  Is it as simple as having bad things happen toseekers on the way home from Sunday services?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Sower

In verse 14, we read that the sower is spreading the Word of God.

Jesus wants crazy farmers spreading his word all over the place, even if the words sometimes land on poor soil.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Parable of the Crazy Farmer

Pastor David Votaw called the story in verses 3-9 the parable of the crazy farmer.

Only a crazy farmer would throw seed around the way Jesus describes.  Normal farmers sow their seed in carefully-plowed rows.

  1. Farmers don't always hit their marks.
  2. Why does Jesus make an incompetent farmer a key character in one of his parables?
  3. There was a road next to the field.  This farmer is based in a more built-up area.
  4. Birds are happy to eat seeds that land on hard ground.
  5. There are immediate consequences for wasting seed on hard ground.
  6. Don't the birds need to eat?  What's wrong with feeding them?
  7. Birds are less important and have less intrinsic value than people.
  8. Rocky soil encourages seed to grow too quickly.
  9. How can a person respond to the gospel too quickly?
  10. This may be similar to generating false enthusiasm about new initiatives at school.  There needs to be reason and buy-in (head and heart) to consider a teacher a true participant in a new activity.
  11. The sun is both a source of life and death for plants.
  12. See 2 Corinthians 2:16
  13. Jesus is the litmus test of life and death for humans.
  14. More specifically, our reaction to Jesus' sacrifice is the litmus test.
  15. Roots protect plants from the harmful effects of the heat of the sun.
  16. Becoming rooted in Jesus protects humans from the harmful effects of unbelief.
  17. Becoming rooted in Jesus protects humans from the harmful effects of sin.
  18. Becoming rooted in Jesus protects humans from the harmful effects of stupid behaviors.
  19. Becoming rooted in Jesus is kind of like SPF 60 sunscreen.
  20. Thorns choke young plants.
  21. What role should parents play in protecting their children from "thorns?"
  22. Jesus seems to teach that it is a moral imperative that children be protected and shielded from "thorns."
  23. How am I at protecting my kids from thorns?  Am I a thorn in their sides sometimes?
  24. Seeds in good soil can yield a 30-60-100X crop.
  25. What is a 100-yield crop?  I know it's amazing, but how does that relate to typical seed and normal crop?
  26. I want to become a 100-yield crop.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mark 4:12 Cross-References

The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge compiled by R.A. Torrey from work by Thomas Scott says the following about Jesus' words:

"The expression appears to be proverbial; and relates to those who might see what they now overlook through inattention and folly."

There does not appear to be anything in the original Greek which indicates that Jesus is actively seeking to blind and deafen his listeners.  Rather, it is a restatement of old testament texts that highlight the Jews' rebellion against their God.

Going Deeper

Check out the following link:

I didn't realize that there was a mashup that allowed access to multiple translations and commentaries related to a single verse.  This is a neat tool.

I am especially intrigued by the cross-references.  This is the direction I will attempt next to understand Jesus' words in Mark 4:12.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Do You Not Understand?

In verse 13, Jesus emphasizes that if his disciples can't understand a clear parable like that of the crazy farmer, then they won't be able to understand more challenging stories, either.

This is a simple but important lesson: if you don't understand the basics, then you won't understand more challenging content, either!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Isaiah 6

Isaiah 6, especially verses 9-10, do not provide additional insight to interpreting Mark 4.

God appears to be blinding his chosen people from the Truth.

Why would God do this?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mark 4:11-12

I found that these two verses are largely ignored in most of the public domain commentaries.

One explanation, from the People's New Testament, is that Matthew 13 gives a fuller account of this parable.

This perspective does not entirely satisfy me.

Matthew 13:13-14 references Isaiah 6.

Tomorrow, I will read Isaiah 6 and see if this helps explain Mark 4:11-12 more clearly.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


On the surface, verses 10-12 seem to be teaching that Jesus is intentionally tricky and vague to prevent the wrong people from understanding his teachings.

That isn't consistent with the teaching that Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:3-4.  God wants everyone to be saved.

I think that this must be a tactical statement of some sort.  Jesus is sharing strategy with his disciples.

You don't give your adversaries too much of your game plan until it suits your purposes.  If God wants as many people as possible to join his family, but some people will use this information to harm the family, then the only responsible thing to do is withhold complete information.

I'm not particularly satisfied with this initial interpretation.  I'd like to explore some commentaries tomorrow to see how other Christians have addressed this passage.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Outline of Mark 4

  1. Jesus Tells Four Parables

    • The Crazy Farmer

      • Why Jesus uses parables
      • Interpretation of the Parable of the Crazy Farmer

    • The Flashlight Under a Box

      • The way I judge others is the way I will be judged myself

    • The Mysterious Sprouting Seed
    • The Tiny Mustard Seed

  2. Jesus Calms the Wind and Waves

Friday, August 8, 2008

We Are Family?

In verses 31-35, Jesus redefines the terms "mother" and "brother" to include people who treat him like he deserves.

Do I treat Jesus like family?  Do you, dear Reader?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A House Divided

The parable in verses 23-27 is an excellent example of Jesus' ability to humble his adversaries with a simple story.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Crazy or Miraculous?

In verses 20-22, I am reminded how unreliable the opinions of the masses can be.

It makes me pause and consider how much weight is given to public opinion polls these days.

Polls may be statistically reliable, but is the crowd a reasonable judge of quality?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Jesus' Team

Even Jesus didn't go it alone.  In verses 13-19, we learn the names of his twelve disciples.

If God felt it wise to assemble a team around him, how much more important that I develop a team, too!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Jesus in Secret

The crowds overwhelmed Jesus' ability to minister, so he called for a boat to get some space.

Additionally, Jesus forebade the unclean spirits to announce his true identity.

How interesting that evil spirits had a clearer, more immediate understanding of Jesus' importance and role than his own disciples!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Jesus' Rhetoric

In verse 4, Jesus humiliates his opponents with a simple, targeted question.

Jesus reframes the question of the Sabbath into a simple good versus evil decision.

When we debate today, it is wise to reframe discussions into simple, digital, obvious questions.

Don't get sidetracked by an opponent's incorrect control beliefs.  Always go back to the simple question of good versus evil.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Outline of Mark 3

  1. Jesus v. Pharisees (again)
    • The Pharisees look to criticize and condemn Jesus on the Sabbath
    • Jesus asks the Pharisees which is better, doing good or doing nothing
    • Jesus heals the man's hand
  2. Jesus Withdraws
    • He goes out on a boat
    • He heals people with unclean spirits
    • Jesus forbids the unclean spirits to announce his true identity
  3. Jesus Recruits
    • He brings all of his disciples to a hill
    • He picks 12 of his followers to prepare them for preaching
  4. Jesus Returns to Town
    • Overwhelming crowds surround him
    • His biological family questions his sanity
    • Scribes criticize him
  5. Jesus Responds to the Scribes
    • A kingdom divided cannot stand
    • Satan is not divided against himself
    • This implied that Jesus' ministry was of God
    • Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not beforgiven
  6. Jesus Responds to His Family
    • The same people questioning Jesus' sanity come back to get him
    • Jesus clarifies that his followers are his family

Friday, August 1, 2008

Jesus Turns Our Expectations Upside Down

In verses 23-28, the Pharisees criticize Jesus and his followers for picking grain on the Sabbath.

Isn't it important to follow the law?  Resting on the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments, for crying out loud!

But Jesus turns everything around.  The Sabbath was created for our good, not vice versa.

How does this apply today?

It seems that following God's guidelines for our behavior is for our own good, not for His benefit.