February 28, 2017
Jesus often used hyperbole to make a point. After taking a child onto his lap, he warned against anyone who would cause such a little one who believed in Him to stumble. He told them it would be better that such a one have a millstone hung around their neck and be cast into the sea. Then, he warned against allowing anyone or anything to cause us to sin as well. He illustrated this with three parts of the human body, the hands, the feet and the eyes, in his warning to drive home the extreme seriousness of sin’s penalty. He taught that it was better to enter heaven missing a hand, a foot or an eye, than to go to hell with them. Perhaps the apostle John had these three warnings in view when he wrote, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16). Do not let anyone or anything, no matter how dear it may be to you, cause you to choose sin over believing in Christ.
February 18, 2017
Jesus selected the twelve disciples that “He Himself wanted.” Choosing them was preceded by His going up on the mountain alone to pray. It was there that He discussed each of the twelve candidates with His Father. Surely, the Father must have warned Him about the pros and cons of each, yet Jesus replied, “Father, I want them.” And so, knowing their hearts and their propensity for pride and rebellion, the Father sent Jesus down the mountain to call them, that they might be with Him and follow Him.
Today, I want Jesus. As the song lyric goes, “You can have all this world, but give me Jesus!” Yet, the only reason I have this burning desire for Jesus is because He first “wanted” me. For me to want Him is easy, for He is all beauty and grace. But that He wants me is astounding. For He knew, as the Father’s love sent Him down from heaven, the high cost He would pay to purchase “those He Himself wanted.” O how much He wants us for Himself that He would die for our redemption!
You are not unloved, nor unwanted. Jesus wants you for Himself.
February 16, 2017
What friends these were! Neither the crowds nor the barrier of the small house stopped them from getting their paralytic friend before Jesus. This is no doubt the same house, which belonged to Peter’s mother-in-law, where Jesus had stayed in Capernaum before. Perhaps Peter reflected back to when he had let Jesus use his boat and how it nearly sank with the huge catch of fish. And now, he was letting Jesus use his house and it was so full of people that they were crashing through the roof! Jesus commended the faith of the paralytic’s friends, he forgave his sins and healed him. So that the cripple who had been lowered on a mat through the roof, now picked up his own bed and walked out the front door a new man.
Two applications questions:
1) What kind of friend am I? Am I willing to overcome every barrier to get people in front of Jesus?
2) Am I willing to let Jesus use my stuff (my house, my car, my possessions) for His kingdom purpose?
I wonder if Jesus later helped repair the roof? He was a carpenter after all.
February 15, 2017
“And immediately” (Greek: “καὶ εὐθέως, kai eutheós”) is a recurring phrase throughout the gospel of Mark. The phrase moves the story along with an intensity unique among the gospels.
Each gospel reveals a different aspect of Christ:
– Matthew (The Lion) – Christ is King.
– Luke (The Man) – Christ is human.
– John (The Eagle) – Christ is God.
– Mark (The Ox) – Christ is Servant.
Written in the present tense, the gospel of Mark presents Jesus as a man of action, doing everything “immediately.” If the gospels were presented in movie form, the gospel of Mark would be an action film!
When Jesus saw the fishermen, Peter, Andrew, James and John, as He walked along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, He immediately called them. “And immediately,” they left everything and followed Him. He made them men of action too.
March 12, 2016
On the first Easter morning, the women who went to anoint the Lord’s body worried about moving the stone that sealed His tomb. Arriving there, they found that the enormous stone had already been rolled away, revealing the empty tomb. Do you know someone that seems close to believing, yet there is a kind of immovable stone standing in the way? You can lead them to the cross and to the tomb, but only God can move the stone. Pray that the stone of blindness and unbelief is removed from their heart, so that they might receive the Risen Lord Jesus.
March 11, 2016
Roman soldiers were expert executioners. They had seen men die in the cruelest of ways. They had witnessed their various human responses to torture and death. Yet, this officer had never seen anyone endure suffering as Jesus did. What was it about Jesus that moved this hardened death squad centurion? Was it his dignity and demeanor amidst such ugliness and disdain? Was it his care for the thief crucified beside him or his forgiveness of the taunting crowd? Perhaps it was the darkening of the sky or the ground that shook when he cried out his last? Maybe there was a way that he looked at the Roman leader with compassion in his eyes even as he was dying? Whatever it was, this officer was moved to affirm Christ’s identity. His normally sarcastic, biting tongue was moved to childlike wonder. I wonder. What became of this Roman officer? Did he turn in his sword for a seat at the Lord’s table? Did he exchange his Roman helmet for one of salvation? Will we see the soldier who once stood at the foot of the cross, someday a servant bowing at the feet of the Christ?
March 6, 2016
Jesus “watched” to see who was putting money into the Temple offering box. His observation is notable. He not only sees the amount of the gift, but He sees the heart of the giver. The rich that gave out of their “abundance” would be most impressive to others, but the widow who gave out of her “poverty,” most impressed Jesus. For she gave all that she had. Jesus still watches our giving. He is still looking for one that would entrust all that they have to Him.
March 4, 2016
What is a “parable?” The word parable is from the root word “paraballo” or in the Greek “parabole.” This compound word comes from “para” which means “to come along side or compare” and “ballo” which literally means “to throw.” So, a “parable” is a simple story that stands “alongside” another story and “throws” towards, or points towards, a deeper meaning.
To whom was this parable directed? The chief priests, scribes and elders who had come questioning His authority.
What was this parable’s meaning? The “vineyard” pointed to Israel and the “winepress,” to the temple. The “tenants” were those chief priests, scribes and elders that the owner had left in charge. The “servants” who the owner sent were the prophets. And of course, the son of the owner, that the tenants killed, was Jesus. With this parable, Jesus was actually answering their earlier question concerning by what authority he acted. He was telling them that He was the Son of God and predicting that they would reject and kill Him. And that because of this rejection they would suffer God’s judgment.
He answered them with a parable. But they didn’t understand.
February 27, 2016
This is the confession of a man who desperately wanted to believe, but still had doubts. This isn’t the greatest of confessions, yet Jesus healed the man’s son nonetheless. Jesus still answers the prayers of those who have a mixture of doubt and belief. The important thing is to confess the doubt, saying, “Jesus, help my unbelief! Increase my faith!” We all begin our journey with Jesus with a “mustard seed” of faith. Following Him, the seed grows into a tree, overshadowing all our doubts, so that only our believing remains.
February 25, 2016
The crowds that followed Jesus as He passed through the Decapolis (“Ten Cities”) were “astonished beyond measure” at Him. These cities were founded by Greek colonists and were given favor under Roman rule. The gospel writer Mark tells this story after sharing a previous encounter Jesus had with a Greek woman in Tyre and Sidon who begged Him to free her daughter of a demon. These stories are predictive of how the gospel will go out from Jewish to Gentile lands and be more quickly accepted in the latter. People who have no knowledge of Jesus are still “astonished” when they hear the good news about Him. For He “has done all things well.” This is why we must carry the gospel out to every people group, so that everyone has heard.