15 October 2016

Stone 35 - Mark

The book of Mark is the second gospel account and it is no surprise that there is a great deal of similarity among them. Let's take a look at what mark has to say...

Hop Right In!
Mark starts out quoting the Old Testament about how a messenger will come (Isa 40:3, Mal 3:1) and immediately we read about John the Baptist, Jesus getting baptized, and a whopping two verses about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. So in 13 verses we have caught up through about four chapters of Matthew.

Mark does not recount the birth of Jesus but gets right to His ministry.

Jesus heads out and gathers a few disciples - Simon, Andrew, James, and John (Mark 1:16-20) and then we read about the driving out of an unclean spirit.

Mark is interested in establishing the authority of Jesus.

**I find this to be very interesting. Mark 1:24
The man with the unclean spirit says - "What do you have to do with us, Jesus - Nazarene? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!" What do you get from that...? Even the unclean spirits know who who He is! Nobody even had to tell them. The spirits, however, have a different ability to sense that perhaps... because an awful lot of people refused to believe it. So Jesus has barely gotten started with His ministry and the evil spirits have already publicly declared who He is. Fascinating!

Jesus responds by driving the spirit out of the man (Mark 1:25).

We then read some accounts of Jesus performing some healing and driving out of demons. People came in droves! (Mark 1:33)

Note that Jesus does all of these things but asks that it remain undercover (Mark 1:43-44). Yeah, well that would be pretty hard, I think, to keep something like that under wraps - being healed of leprosy.

More Than Expected
In chapter two we read about some more large numbers gathered around Jesus. Imagine the conviction of the five men - four of which carried their friend in on a stretcher because he was paralyzed! They believed that Jesus was someone who could do something about the paralysis. So convinced and so determined that they broke through the roof of the house and lowered him in because they could not get through the crowd of people (Mark 2:4).

**The visual is mind blowing to me. I cannot help but think what kind of lawsuit would come from that if it were to happen today...

Now consider carefully Mark 2:5  "Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

**Wait, What? Your sins are forgiven? I am guessing that is not why they came. They did not show up with their paralyzed buddy because Jesus was a forgiver of sins but because he was healing people and so "Hey Jesus! We got a guy here on a stretcher! He really needs some healing! Help us next! Help us next! And all the people in the room shouting "NO FAIR!", "I was here first!" or "Hey! He's budging." or "Hey! Who is going to fix my roof!?"

They got something they did not expect. Remember that these guys were determined. So convinced that Jesus could heal them that they busted through the roof to have that chance.

"Seeing their FAITH, Jesus told the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." (emphasis mine)

We often hear about how faith is some sort of blind belief without evidence but I think these guys were acting out of the same kind of faith that we have that the chair will hold us up when we sit on it and they acted on that faith. They probably heard many testimonies, saw others being healed, etc. They had good reason to believe.

They got way more than they expected. While everyone in the room is gazing upon this guy descending from the roof on a stretcher, there is probably not a whole lot of doubt as to why he was brought there. He was paralyzed - a physically visible characteristic of the man. I will go on record saying that I doubt he was simply a really good actor. There was also a lot of people there that could testify to the truth of his paralysis.

The condition of his heart, however, was not something that could be seen. The sin and corruption of his spirit could not be seen. Those are invisible attributes. Jesus begins by healing what everyone cannot see. He does this by forgiving the sins.

They got something they did not expect. In the same way, Jesus the King, was a kind of king that the people did not expect.

Continued Ministry and Rejection
Jesus continues to move about healing and driving out demons until he comes to his hometown (Mark 6:1-6).

**Something amazing to me is this idea we find here of being rejected at home. Jesus comes and wants to do some of the same miracles in Nazareth but gets shut down. In verse three we read about how the people know him as Mary's son and all his brothers and sisters. Simply by virtue of having lived around Jesus for many years as he grew, the people could not come to accept his teaching. As verse three concludes "So they were offended by Him."


It was not just that they didn't believe him or questioned where he learned it all. They were offended. I mean, right? How dare this guy we have known all our lives come back and try to preach at us. He is just the carpenter's boy.

Why is it that way? It is always so much easier to teach others outside the family. Spiritual matters aside - let's even look at something like algebra...

I can be so much more successful in teaching a stranger how to solve an equation than I can my own children or my wife. This has nothing to do with their level of intelligence - let me make that part clear. I think it has to do with feelings of inferiority - that somehow by nature of being in a position of "authority" as the teacher, that it places that individual on a higher level in the mind of the learner. Perhaps psychologically this is easier to accept if we do not know the person. However, if I have lived with you the last couple decades, we probably know each other and our problems and consider each other as peers or equals. When one or the other moves into a teaching or mentoring role, things change and in creep the feelings of "OH, he thinks he is better than me now." or "Why does she think she is so smart." And the heart and mind close up.

The truth can be offensive. This is no fault of the truth itself. It cares not. It simply corresponds with reality. It is a heart issue. Jesus can repair our hearts.  Just as the paralyzed man was forgiven of his sins - as his heart was cleansed - so our hearts can be cleansed.

Just as the paralytic had good reason for his faith, for his confidence, for his trust - so we have good reasons for believing that Jesus is who he says he is and that through him we may be saved.

I encourage you to seek out those reasons. Do the research. Do you reject the evidence and reasons? Perhaps it is all a heart issue then and not an intellectual one - like the people close to Jesus from Nazareth who were offended by the message.

In the end, the truth remains whether we believe it or not.

Please enjoy the video about Mark from our friends at Join the Bible Project.

Until next time...

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