Monday, August 20, 2012

A Metamorphosis in Mark

Mark is an intriguing account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.  Even the world outside of Christendom has a point of view and perspective on the Gospels due to the fact that Jesus is such an intriguing character.  Look at what PBS says about the Gospel of Mark.

Our last class spent the bulk of its time period with a focus on the transfiguration of Jesus in Mark chapter 9.  The online reference site www.about.com has the following "analysis" of these sections of the Scriptures:

The Gospel According to Mark, Chapter 9 - Analysis and Commentary

The ninth chapter of Mark starts out with one of the most important pre-passion events: Jesus' transfiguration, which reveals something about his true nature to a select inner group of apostles. After this, Jesus continues to work miracles but includes further predictions about his coming death as well as warnings about the dangers inherent in giving in to temptations to sin.

Transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9:1-8) - Analysis and Commentary

Jesus appears here with two figures: Moses, representing Jewish law and Elijah, representing Jewish prophecy. Moses is important because he was the figure believed to have given the Jews their basic laws and to have written the five books of the Torah - the basis of Judaism itself. Connecting Jesus to Moses thus connects Jesus to the very origins of Judaism, establishing a divinely authorized continuity between the ancient laws and Jesus' teachings.

Reactions to Jesus' Transfiguration (Mark 9:9-13) - Analysis and Commentary

As Jesus returns from the mountaintop with the three apostles, the connection between Jews and Elijah is made more explicit. It is interesting that this is the relationship focused upon most of all and not the relationship with Moses, even though both Moses and Elijah appeared on the mountain with Jesus. It is also interesting that Jesus refers to himself here as 'Son of man' again - twice, in fact.
 
I posted this as "analysis" because you have to consider the source.  Don't get caught up in what the world has to say about Jesus or His Word.  When you see Newsweek and National Geographic, even Time Magazine, making references to Jesus and His ministry on earth, keep in mind the perspective from which they view Christianity and its followers.

What does the Word itself say about Jesus?

Use biblical references such as sites and software for analysis and commentary to assist you in your research once you have read and studied the Word itself.  These do not replace a thorough study of the Scriptures.  Include a view of a chain reference such as Thompson Chain Reference Bible available as a smart phone app and with some Bible software.

At some point, Christians like us will need to have a perspective on the importance of our belief in the accounts of the life of Jesus provided to us through the Gospels.  If we profess and confess Him to be Lord and Savior, the Son of God, then we should be able to point to what confirms our belief in the Scriptures.  IDK (I Don't Know) just will not do for us if we are trying to win souls for Christ.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Moving Along in the Book of Mark

In reading the Book of Mark, I try to keep in mind one major aspect of Bible observation methods; who is speaking to whom.  I try to keep that in mind from two perspectives:
  1. Who is (John ) Mark writing to as the author sharing with an intended audience?
  2. Who is speaking in the biblical text and who is it directed to as a listening audience?
Let's look at the second point.  Look at the end of Mark's chapter 8.

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. Mark 8:31 (NKJV)

Who is the them who He began to teach? The disciples of Jesus? The Twelve? The multitudes and the disciples? Who is them in this context?

Then, after you find them, go to the passage that reads: When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (v. 34).  We now have a full view of who He (being Jesus) is talking to at the end of the chapter.  Read it so that it can be understood.

No amount of theological school or seminary will ever wipe out such fundamental study practices like this.  It should be seen as necessary for basic Bible study to be conducted in such a manner to gain an understanding of what is actually happening within the text and who is actually involved, not who is assumed to be involved in it.

As we enter into chapter 9 of Mark, let us continue to keep our eyes attentive to what we read in the text.  See who is involved and how so.  Otherwise, we may start making some errors in interpreting what occurs from verse to verse, even in a straightforward biblical book like Mark.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Looking Back in Mark

Read Mark chapter 1 again.  Read that part between verses 16 through 20, the part where Jesus called them and they responded.  Look at verses 18 and 20.

Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.- Mark 1:18

Jesus called them.  They left their nets.  They left their fishing boats and gear.  They left everything to follow Him.

That was early during the Lord's ministry.  That was before He called them together as the Twelve and gave them power over unclean spirits.  That was way before Jesus fed five thousand or four thousand with fish and bread loaves, leaving baskets of fragments each time.  That was even before Peter spoke up and claimed Jesus to be the Christ.

In fact, that was even before Peter spoke up and said: "We have left everything to follow you!" (Mark 10:28).

Jesus could have called them on their initial response to His calling them.  He could have said: "Whoa, y'all! Wait a minute.  I thought you wanted to hang out with the Messiah.  I thought you wanted to be part of the change that's taking place.  Was that not real?" He sure could have said that to them.

What could he say to us?

Yo, ________________ (Insert Your Name), whatever happened with that stuff you said about it being about just you and I from here on?

Was that real or just something to say?

Let me know.


Yours truly,   Jesus (the Christ)   Think about it.  It doesn't make Jesus any less powerful.  He still has power and authority.  We just end up looking bad due to our failure to keep our promises to Him.  When we look back, can we have enough faith to stick it out and hang on a little longer with Jesus?   Or, do we have to get Jesus to rebuke us right after He gets done with the wind and the waves?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Jesus on the Go

Reading the Gospel of Mark reveals the many movements of Jesus in His ministry.  It shows just how mobile Jesus made His earthly ministry.  He kept things moving.  He managed to minister while on the move.

The woman with an issue of blood occurred while Jesus was on the move.  Jesus healing the deaf and mute man in Decapolis happened while He was moving from one place to another.  Much of what Jesus does in the Gospel of Mark shows us that ministry can be mobilized to reach people here and there.

Yes, the Lord does demonstrate how it can work outside of the church.  He shows us how we can serve others with our gifts and abilities as we come and go on this earth.  We see the Lord at work, serving men, woemn and children and meeting needs as He goes about His daily business.

Search through the Gospel of Mark and discover how to minister to others outside of the sanctuary.  See how we can do more outside of the church building to share with others and lead them to Christ.  Read it and see for yourself that the Lord wants us working.  In other words, He wants us serving.

This week we continue in Mark chapter 8 and see a blind man healed, Peter confessing Jesus to be the Christ, and Jesus predicting His own death at the hands of those who will reject Him.  Complete our latest pop-up quiz on Mark today.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Believing Beyond the Bread

Read what the Word says about bread.  It will stimulate your imagination.  Bread is a symbol of sustenance.   Our Lord's model prayer mentions the giving of daily bread by the Father.

The relationship with bread is throughout this section of the Gospels.

Think about these questions as we enter into Mark Chapter 8. . .

Compare the feeding in chapter 8 to the feeding in chapter 6. Beyond the difference in numbers, 4,000 versus 5,000, what are the:


a. Similarities in both feedings?

b. Differences in both feedings?



Look at how Jesus addresses the leaven of the Pharisees in Mark 8:12-16

a. What brings up the matter?

b. Why does Jesus chastise or criticize His disciples about their thoughts on the matter?



"Do you still not understand [who I am]?" (8:17, 21).

a. Why is this question of importance for Jesus’ disciples?
b. Why is it important for us to understand this, too?

Get ready for these and other questions as we go further into the Gospel of Mark this week.  God be with you.
 
Amen Me!