Archive for June 26th, 2017

Mark 13

Mark 13 has Jesus talking with His Twelve about the future.  Peter, James, John and Andrew, the two sets of brothers, pull Jesus aside and ask Him about the end times.  Jesus describes some of the things that will be part of that period of time, but in this chapter really focuses on what we need to do in order to be ready.  “Be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and  kings for my sake, to bear witness before them”.  He doesn’t focus on the things of the world that will be happening as much as on the mindset and preparation we need to have as Christ Followers to be prepared to deal with the persecution that will come.

He does go on to tell us one of the requirements that must be complete before He returns.  “And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations”.  Jesus isn’t coming back until every nation has been proclaimed the gospel.  There are several organizations that track progress in this process, and while there are still many people groups that haven’t been reached, with the advent of technology and new ways to share the gospel, that number is actually dwindling rather quickly.  It is possible that every nation will have had a chance to hear the gospel in our generation.

Jesus goes on to explain what will happen as His return approaches. Christ Followers will be rounded up and brought before the rulers to give account for their belief. “And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit”.  God won’t leave nor forsake us.  The Holy Spirit will be with us.  We have a loving God who will be right beside us providing us the words we need to deal with whatever comes our way.

Yet over and over Jesus tells us to “be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand”.  He uses the words ‘be on guard’ three times in this chapter alone.  We are to pay attention to what is happening around us.  A bit later in the discussion with His disciples He says again “Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come”.  He adds another request – that they stay awake.  And He reinforces that as He tells them “Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come….what I say to you I say to all:  Stay awake”.  Jesus is coming back.  We need to be on our guard for the false teachers that will try and claim they are Him.  But we also need to stay awake and be ready for that time because it is coming soon!

Mark 12

Mark 12 has Jesus telling a parable about the owner of a vineyard and how the workers continually beat or killed the people that the owner sent to get some of the production thinking they would just keep it all for themselves.  It was a parable about the way the religious leaders responded to God’s messengers – the prophets and leaders He anointed and sent – who for centuries had been mistreated by those who claimed power in the synagogue.  Jesus makes it pretty clear, and they almost get it.  “And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them”.  Not the quickest bunch in the world, but they are starting to catch on.

The religious leaders come and ask Jesus what the most important commandment is.  “Which commandment is the most important of all”?  There’s quite a bit of scripture out there, but Jesus doesn’t hesitate at all.  “The most important is, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”.  What’s the most important thing for everyone of us – our relationship with God.  That’s the bottom line – God wants us to love Him and be in a deep and living relationship with Him.  Not in just a casual acquaintance kind of way – but with ALL of us in every way!

But He doesn’t stop there.  He gives them the second as well.  “The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment  greater than these”.  So the commandment doesn’t end with our relationship with God.  It continues to those in our patch, and Jesus defines ‘neighbor’ in other places in scripture.  The two commandments are tied together by one word – LOVE.  God wants us to love Him as He has loved us, and to love those around us.  That should describe our life – we are lovers of God and lovers of people.  It is the heart of God.

Jesus wraps up His teaching by talking about giving.  “He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two  small copper coins, which make a penny”.  So you have some putting in large amounts, and this widow who gives a penny.  The world would say it is obvious which is more important to the work of the ministry.  Pennies don’t fund much.  But Jesus sees it differently.  “This poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on”.  It isn’t the amount that matters, it is the heart. Just like the two great commandments – it is all about the heart.  Where is your heart when it comes to God?

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