Wednesday, February 10, 2016

40 Days of Jesus ~ Day 1 (Mark 1)

Welcome to the first day of the 40 Days of Jesus challenge! I'll be experimenting a bit with how to run this here on my blog; and don't forget that the conversation is also being held on the Facebook group

For now, this post will be arranged like this--the heading for the chapter is a link to Bible Gateway. But I will also paste part of the chapter (in the NKJV, simply because it's what I use most often) into the post. It will be indented. Below the quoted section, in regular margins, will be my thoughts/questions. Then more of the chapter, more thoughts, etc. If you like this format, let me know--if you'd prefer just a link to the chapter and then my thoughts, let me know. ;-)

Mark 1

 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets:
“Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.”
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.’”
John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.
Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Last spring, we studied baptism and what it means. I think for most Christians, we have the pat answer of "it's an outward symbol of the inward change of accepting salvation." But that answer doesn't fit with this passage, does it? Because John's baptism was not one of salvation--it was one of repentance.

Do you see the difference there? It took me a while. But repentance is saying, "I'm sorry." It doesn't involve being forgiven. It's a crucial step, but not the whole story.

It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11 Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
This right here is super-important. This is showing us quite clearly that Jesus, from this point on, was not operating under his power--he's operating with the Holy Spirit. Which means that we, who now are filled with that SAME Spirit, can do what Jesus does from here on out.

12 Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. 13 And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.

I had never noticed before that it's the Spirit that drove Him into the wilderness. Does the Spirit ever draw you away? Or more, drive you away from your ordinary life? That seems like something we might resist. And if we obey it . . . well, it wasn't a cup of tea for Jesus. Mark doesn't go into detail, but forty days in the wilderness, being tempted by Satan . . . that might make most of go, "God, did you really want me out here? Seriously? Did I hear you wrong??"

But this was important. For Jesus, absolutely. And for us. This is where angels ministered to him. I'm going to take note of where else in the Gospels we see that.

14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

16 And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
19 When He had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets. 20 And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him.
 So Jesus's message begins like John's: REPENT.

As for calling his disciples to him . . . I heard recently that it's a safe bet that these fellows knew Jesus. He grew up near them, they would have known each other as boys. So they weren't being asked to follow a stranger. 

Which kinda makes it even more of a leap of faith in some ways, doesn't it? Would you follow Jack from down the street if he asked you to leave everything and go with him to preach? A prophet is definitely without honor in his hometown . . . but the nature of Jesus had always been apparent, and these men didn't hesitate.

21 Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. 22 And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
23 Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”
25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him. 27 Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” 28 And immediately His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee.

I love this section. =) He taught with authority, and not as the scribes. As someone who teaches a variety of subjects to her kids, I know well the difference between teaching from words on a page and teaching from knowledge. The scribes could recite the words--verbatim, probably forward and backwards and with their eyes closed. But they were just that--words.

They weren't just words to the Word. He knew the spirit behind every letter, and so he wouldn't have just been reciting. He would have been teaching. The reasons, not just the facts.

And casting out an unclean spirit! I've never paused to wonder before what Jewish practice would have been with unclean spirits, but it's clear no one in this particular gathering had ever even heard of someone having the authority to cast one out.

29 Now as soon as they had come out of the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and they told Him about her at once. 31 So He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her. And she served them.

32 At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.
 I've often wondered why some things are healed and others not. This doesn't provide a definitive answer, but when he healed Simon's mother-in-law . . . we're not told she was deathly ill or anything. It just says a fever. It could have been a serious fever. Or it have just been a regular, passes-in-a-day-or-two fever. Right now, in my mind, it doesn't matter which. What matters is why.

Because she wanted to serve Him.

Because the people needed to know they weren't bound by their infirmities.

Jesus wasn't ready for everyone to hear him proclaimed the Christ, though--or rather, they weren't ready--so he wouldn't let the demons he cast out speak. So interesting. And it's also worth noting that though he cast out the demon earlier and healed Simon's mother right away, the majority of these healings occurred after the Sabbath was over, officially the first day of the week. I think Jesus was using this time as a building-up, not a challenging. He's not rocking the boat . . . he's demonstrating the power to calm the waves.

35 Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. 37 When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”
38 But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.”
39 And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.

 Quiet time of prayer . . . Jesus was always so faithful in taking that time!

40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”
41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. 43 And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
45 However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.

Okay, quite a few things jump out at me here. First of all, the faith of this leper! Had he heard some of the stories that were going before Jesus? Is that what sent him seeking the Lord? Something must have stirred within him--something more than just a passing, "Well, it's worth a try." This man was begging. Imploring. Kneeling down in the dirt. Such perfect humility. If You are willing...

And Jesus--moved with compassion. Overwhelmed with love for this man. I love seeing that--and more, seeing His humility. He didn't want fame. Didn't want fortune. He just wanted to do the work of God.

That's the end of chapter 1. I'll try to leave you with a question each day; feel free to answer it, or to talk about any other part of the chapter that jumped out at you!

Question ~ Mark 1
In verse 15, Jesus says "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." We know "gospel" literally means "good news." And we as Christians identify it as Jesus dying for our sins and rising again, defeating death. What did "gospel" mean to these people, before Jesus had died or been resurrected? What is the good news that walks with Him? 

1 comment:

  1. The good news was evident in his demeanor and outpourings, be they utterings or acts of compassion and power. His presence clearly signified that the common people had access to the power of the Father through Jesus Christ. The good news was not solely for the rich, holy or educated but for all Jewish persons.