Posts Tagged ‘Obedience’

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 10

Mark 10 has Jesus addressing the way that we need to come to faith in Him.  “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it”.  Faith is not about anything more than a heart that believes that Jesus is the Christ and came to save us from our sin.  There was a young man who came to Jesus asking what he needed to do to be saved.  “You know the commandments: Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother”.  Jesus starts by telling the young man that obeying God’s commandments is the foundation.

The young man says “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth”.  This was a guy who was keeping track of how he lived and was intentionally following the law, at least to the best of his ability.  But that isn’t the only requirement.  “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me”.  Being saved is about more than just keeping the law.  No one can truly do that.  So that means we have to have a saving relationship with Jesus.  He alone can set us free from the penalty of sin.  He alone is our way to eternal life.

The young man was unwilling to give away his stuff and follow Jesus.  He was trying to go through the motions of the law without the heart.  “Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions”.  Following Jesus is an all or nothing thing.  You can’t sort of follow Him.  It takes complete trust, belief and a willingness to give up self. Jesus tells his disciples a very difficult truth.  “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter  the kingdom of God….It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter  the kingdom of God”.

The disciples were arguing about who would get to sit next to Jesus when they entered heaven.  Jesus rebukes them for their focus on self and teaches us the truth of servant leadership.  “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be  slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”.  Servant leadership is all about who is being served, not the person who is leading.  It turns traditional leadership thinking upside down but putting the person or people being served above the leader who is doing the serving.

Mark 9

Mark 9 begins with Jesus and His three closest disciples up on the mountain where Elijah and Moses appear.  It was quite a shock to their system, but after they were gone God tells them “This is my beloved Son; listen to him”.  Here is some great advice – we need to listen to and obey Jesus.  Seems pretty basic but we often struggle with the simple stuff.  Jesus was sent by God to this planet for a specific purpose – to provide a way for us to deal with our sin problem that will lead us to eternal separation from God someday if not addressed.  We need to listen to Jesus and the Words He shared in scripture.

The disciples come down with Jesus from the mountain and see a crowd gathered with the scribes and other disciples engaged in an argument.  Jesus comes along and asks what is happening.  The issue seems be around a young child who had a demon possessing him that the disciples couldn’t cast out.  The father pleads for Jesus to help.  “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us”. He doesn’t hesitate and “Jesus said to him, If you can….All things are possible for one who believes”.  There is power if faith.  We need to recognize that the limit is us, not Christ!

As they left this place and were traveling down the road, the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest among them.  Sounds like something normal people might do.  Jesus asks “What were you discussing on the way”?  It wasn’t that He didn’t know, but He wanted them to verbalize it.  “But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest”.  They knew they were talking about the wrong things, but they weren’t about to admit it.  So Jesus gives them the truth about their discussion: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all”.  You don’t get to the top of the heap by claiming to be greatest and rushing to the front of the line.  Greatness comes from serving others.

Jesus gives them another principle as this chapter closes.  “Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again?  Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another”.  As Christ Followers, we are to be the salt of the earth.  But in order to do that, we must be careful we don’t lose our saltiness.  You and I, as Christians, are called the salt of the earth because our lives enhance and give meaning to this existence we call life. Before salvation, we were like grains of sand, too numerous to count. But after receiving Christ, we were transformed – no longer a piece of sand, but something distinctive in taste, texture, and aroma.  We need to remain different than the world from which we came.  We need to be salty!

Mark 8

Mark 8 has Jesus once again having compassion on a group of people – 4000 men this time plus their families – and instructing His disciples to feed them with the seven loaves of bread and a few fish just like they had previously with the 5000.  The disciples were again surprised that Jesus expected them to do this, as their plan was to send them away.  It’s amazing how short the memory was of the disciples.  They had witnessed Jesus’ ability to do whatever was needed to care for the people around him.

They again demonstrate their inability to understand as they are traveling with Jesus.  The group was short on food – with only one loaf of bread between them.  They are having a discussion about what to do when Jesus intervenes.  “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread?  Do you not yet perceive  or understand?  Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke  the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And  the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand”?

Are we different than the Twelve when it comes to realizing the power Jesus has?  Unfortunately we probably aren’t all that different.  We forget that there are no limitations to what God can do.  Jesus begins to teach the Twelve what is coming as He began to teach them that the Son of Man must  suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again”.  This had to be a huge revelation and not something they expected.  In fact, “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him”.  Peter would have none of this teaching.  But Jesus turns the tables and “he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man”.

Jesus goes on to talk about what was expected for anyone that wanted to follow Him.  “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and  take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul”?  Jesus makes it clear that following Him is not about us, but it’s all about Him.  We have to be willing to give up ourself to be a Christ Follower.  The cost is great, but the outcome is even greater!

Mark 5

Mark 5 has Jesus doing miracles of healing and setting people free from their tormented lives.  It begins when He arrives across the sea and is greeted by a guy who was possessed by evil.  He had lived this way for years and was widely known as uncontrollable.  The evil “Legion” within him immediately recognizes Jesus and begs that they not be sent away but allowed to enter some pigs feeding on the hillside.  “And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the pigs, and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned in the sea”.  Jesus sets this man free from a life of torment.

But the people from around the area came rushing to see what had happened as news traveled fast, even in those days.  “And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs”.  There were plenty of eye witness reports of how Jesus had cast out the demons and set this guy free and rather than being a ranting and out of control lunatic, he was now sitting quietly and calmly in their midst.  But the people weren’t focused on that, but rather the one thing that causes us to often miss the important – fear. “And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region”.  Jesus had just done an amazing miracle and the response of the crowd was to ask Him to leave.  Seems like a poor decision given His power to do good, yet the crowd mentality wasn’t focused on the positive but the unknown.

So Jesus does exactly what they ask and climbs into the boat and goes across the water again.  This time, as He lands and is greeted, “one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly” to come save his little girls life.  Jesus immediately agrees and they begin walking toward his house.  As they went, a woman who had a medical issue for over a decade managed to get close enough to touch Jesus’ clothes and was immediately healed.  She knew it, and so did He.  So Jesus asks who touched Him and she sheepishly fessed up.  “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well”.  There is power in Jesus and His name.  This woman demonstrated it.  We need to latch onto it.

They continue toward Jairus’ house and the group is greeted by someone from his house who told them his daughter had died.  Jairus tells Jesus He can change direction as it was too late.  But Jesus teaches us an important lesson here – it is never too late for the power of Christ.  He tells them “The child is not dead but  sleeping”.  That seemed a bit crazy given the fact that many who were at the house knew the kid was dead, at least from their perspective.  But Jesus enters with a few chosen people and takes the girl by the hand and she gets up.  A miracle by any standard, and “they were immediately overcome with amazement”.  Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  His power is still alive and available.  We merely need to seek Him and believe!

Mark 2

Mark 2 has Jesus in a packed house preaching and teaching.  It was jam packed and so full no one else could enter.  Four guys had carried their paralyzed friend to the house hoping to get Jesus to heal him, but they couldn’t even get close.  “And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd”.  We’re talking epic failure here.  They carry their friend to Jesus only to find out they can’t get near Him because of the crowds.  It had to be a huge letdown.

But they don’t give up.  They are determined to find a way and “they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay”.  That’s determination.  They were not going to be stopped from getting their friend to Jesus.  Can you imagine the impact we could have on the world if we were as determined as they in getting those we know to Jesus.  Remember, He is busily preaching and teaching to a standing room only house full of people.  So what does Jesus do?  “Ad when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, Son,  your sins are forgiven”.  He heals him.  Just like that he changes his life forever.  “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home”.  The persistence of his caring friends sets him free from his paralysis.

Jesus was later walking down the road “And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, Follow me”.  Remember that Jesus had already gathered four fishermen as disciples – Peter, Andrew, James and John.  And now the invites this tax collector to join them.  Matthew does exactly that, which certainly adds some diversity to the group.  He invites Jesus to come to his house for a meal and the scribes of the Pharisees, “when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners”?

They were beside themselves seeing Jesus mingle with people they felt were unworthy.  They complain that He’s keeping poor company and hanging with people unworthy of His time and attention.  But Jesus makes it clear why He came to earth.  “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”.  Jesus didn’t come to earth to spend His time with the religious and righteous.  He came to set sinners free and to have a relationship with them that would lead to salvation.  That’s what Jesus is all about.  He came to save the lost, and that means you and me!

Mark 1

Mark 1 begins the second author’s version of Christ’s life.  Mark begins with John the Baptist. He had a simple message and was doing God’s work in a very powerful and specific way: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” was the purpose of what he was doing.  And in the wilderness he spent his days “proclaiming  a baptism of  repentance  for the forgiveness of sins”.  John was a different man.  “John was clothed with camel’s hair and  wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey”.  He didn’t ‘fit in’ to the mainstream culture of the day.  He lived his way but did God’s work.  His mission was to prepare the way of the Lord.

John preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit”.  He obviously wasn’t a favorite among the religious leaders of the day either.  But God makes clear who Jesus is as part of John’s work. God introduces His son, sends Him out to be tempted, and prepares Him for the ministry ahead. “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased….The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness….he was in the wilderness forty days, being  tempted by  Satan.

When Jesus comes back from the forty days of wilderness time and Satan’s attempts to tempt Him, He reinforces what His mission is here on earth.  He came to lead people to “repent and believe in the gospel”.  Jesus’ life is about leading people from sin to life.  He begins assembling His team that would become disciples or Apostles and would carry the message of the gospel with Him.  He sees Peter and Andrew, and then James and John and invites them with “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men”.  Ten short words that literally change the world forever.  He leads them to the Synagogue in Capernaum, and he began teaching and “they were astonished at his teaching,  for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes”.  Jesus is who they have been waiting for as the answer to their prayers, but they don’t know it.

He begins ministering to people through teaching and healing.  “At once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee”.  People came from all over to see and hear Him, and to have Him heal those who were in need.  The world pressed in on Him, so “rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed”.  Jesus didn’t ever lose sight of the fact that His power and ministry were connected to God.  He had the spiritual disciplines in place, and was faithful to stay connected to the Source of all.  He tells His disciples how important that discipline is, and we need to follow it in our lives if we want to walk with Him.

%d bloggers like this: