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Showing posts from October, 2020

Who is this Man?

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No one recognized who Jesus was except the demons that he exorcised. Only in his death can his true identity be understood .  The disciples witnessed Jesus heal the sick, cast out demons, forgive sins, and most spectacularly, calm a violent storm, and all done with great authority. Yet among them and others, rather than faith in the Son of God, these powerful miracles produced confusion, fear, and the question -  Who is this man ? Only at his execution did someone begin to understand who he was - [ Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash ].

Authority over Sea and Storm

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Despite his tremendous miracle of calming a tempest on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples still did not recognize the Son of Man  –  Mark 4:35-41 .  After teaching the multitude near Capernaum, Jesus set out to cross the Sea of Galilee. But a violent storm descended suddenly, frightening the disciples. Storms were common enough on that body of water, and several of the men were fishermen familiar with its moods. Thus, their great terror indicated that this was an especially severe storm - [ Stormy Sea - Photo by Torsten Dederichs on Unsplash ].

Kingdom Parables

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Jesus taught several parables about the kingdom of God, its unexpected ways of expansion, and its status in the world - Mark 4:21-34 .  The gospel of Mark provides only a few examples of the many parables taught by Jesus, his primary method of teaching (“ Apart from a parable he did not speak to the crowds ”). The dominant theme in them is the kingdom, the reign of God that commenced in Christ’s ministry and has continued since as the gospel is proclaimed - [ Hay harvest p hoto  by Luca on Unsplash ].

Parable of the Sower

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The “Son of Man” sows the “seed” of the gospel in the world, where it grows unseen until the end of the age – Mark 4:1-20 .  The first parable in Mark is that of the Sower . Its proper understanding is key to understanding Christ’s other parables, and its point is that the kingdom began to invade the present age with his proclamation of the gospel by Jesus, the “ Son of Man ,” and ever since, it has been in the process of spreading throughout the world - [ Wheat Harvest  photo by Erik-Jan Leusink on Unsplash ].

Unpardonable Sin

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A line is crossed when the activities of God’s Spirit in the words and deeds of Jesus are attributed to Satan – Mark 3:22-35 .  Christ’s statement about the “ unpardonable sin ” was in response to the scribes from Jerusalem who came to examine his conduct and teachings. In the preceding paragraph, his “ friends ” had concluded that he was “ beside himself .” In the present story, the representatives from the Temple accused him of being in league with “ Beelzebul ,” the Devil - [ Crucifixion - Photo by Gianna Bonello on Unsplash ].

Twelve Apostles Appointed

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Jesus chose his Twelve Apostles from among a larger group of followers, including two surprising candidates  -  Mark 3:13-21 .  After preaching to the crowds near Capernaum, Jesus departed to a “ mountain ” and summoned his disciples, where he chose twelve men from among a larger group. The resultant company corresponded to the twelve tribes of Israel; effectively, he was reconstituting the covenant people of Yahweh, only now, around himself and not the  Torah  or Temple - [ Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash ].

Crowds Press, Demons Profess

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The crowds welcomed Jesus because of his miracles, only demons recognized him as the Son of God - Mark 3:7-12 .  Mark describes several incidents that occurred while Jesus was teaching in Capernaum. Eager to see his healing powers, the crowd thronged him to the point it became necessary for him to speak from a boat just off the shoreline. But in the middle of his preaching, demons began to declare that he was the “ Son of God .” - [ Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash ].

Authority over the Sabbath

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In response to Jewish leaders, Jesus demonstrated that he is Lord even over the “Sabbath Day” - Mark 2:23-3:6 .  One day, certain religious leaders objected to Christ’s looseness to their Sabbath traditions, but he used the opportunity to demonstrate that the “ Son of Man ” is “ Lord ” even over that day. God did cease His creative activities on the seventh day, but its formal establishment as a regulated day did not occur until the Torah was given (“ Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy ”) - [ Photo by Paz Arando on Unsplash ].

Tax Collector Summoned

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‘Forgiveness’ links the call of the tax collector to the preceding story, the Son of Man’s authority to discharge sins – Mark 2:13-17 .  When Jesus pronounced the paralytic’s sins “ forgiven ,” he offended the religious sensibilities of the scribes and Pharisees. In this next story, he alienates the men from Jerusalem further by reaching out to “ sinners ” that were considered especially unclean by the more scrupulously religious leaders from the Temple in Jerusalem - [ Photo by Olga DeLawrence on Unsplash ].

Authority to Forgive Sin

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Jesus healed a paralytic, demonstrating the authority of the Son of Man to discharge sins – Mark 2:1-12 . The present literary unit consists of five stories that highlight Christ’s authority and the conflicts between him and the religious authorities from the Temple, primarily over issues of ritual purity and Sabbath regulations. And there are parallels between the present story and the preceding one about the cleansing of the leper - [ Waterfall photo by Carlo Borella on Unsplash ].

Authority over Ritual Purity

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The touch of Jesus cleansed a leper, and the forbidden contact did not render him “unclean” – Mark 1:40-45 .  His touch cleansed a leper from ritual impurity, restoring him physically AND religiously. Remarkably, Jesus touched the man BEFORE he was cleansed of his ritual impurity, let alone its confirmation by the priests . Any concern over contracting “uncleanness” did not stop the Messiah from healing one of the sons of Israel - [ Photo by Robert Anderson on Unsplash ].

Authority over Disease

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Neither social conventions nor purity regulations prevented Jesus from ministering to the physical needs of men and women  –  Mark 1:29-39 .  Jesus did not allow scruples over purity regulations to prevent him from healing the sick and delivering the oppressed from demonic spirits. Neither Sabbath restrictions nor the Levitical rules governing ritual purity were ever intended to prevent human needs from being met, although that is effectively the result of some of the “traditions of the elders” - [ Jesus Heals the Sick - clipart.christiansunite.com ].

Authority over Demons

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Jesus demonstrated his authority over Satan by driving his forces out of the children of Israel – Mark 1:21-28 .  During his temptation , Jesus defeated Satan, and the effects of that victory are now demonstrated as he exercises authority over demonic forces in the village of Capernaum , which was located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. It straddled the major trade route between Capernaum and the city of Damascus - [ Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash ].

To Follow Jesus

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To follow Jesus “wherever he goes” requires a life of self-denial and sacrificial service for others  –  Matthew 20:20-28 .  When Jesus dispatched his disciples to announce the “ good news ” to the “ lost sheep of Israel ,” he warned that they would find themselves as “ sheep among wolves .” Hostile men would haul them before “ councils and whip them in their synagogues .” In reaction to Christ’s message, even “ brother will deliver up brother to death ,” and his followers will be hated “ by all men for my sake ” - [ Photo by  Karsten W├╝rth  on  Unsplash ].

Four Fishermen Summoned

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In Galilee, Jesus summoned four fishermen to leave their livelihoods to become his disciples  –  Mark 1:16-20 . The discipleship taught by Jesus differed from the practices of the rabbis. His followers were called to leave everything and dedicate their whole lives to his mission. And they were called  TO FOLLOW HIM . In contrast, students educated by the rabbis became disciples of the  Torah  and not of individual teachers - [ Four Fishermen - Photo by  Cassiano Psomas  on Unsplash ].

Arrest and Fulfillment

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Jesus began to proclaim the kingdom following the arrest of John the Baptist and in fulfillment of the Scriptures .  Jesus began to proclaim the Kingdom of God only after the arrest of John the Baptist. That dark event foreshadowed the opposition that would characterize his own ministry. At the time, Palestine consisted of three territories - Judea , Samaria , and Galilee , and the latter included a mixed population of Jews and Gentiles - [ Sea of  Galilee - Photo by Dave Herring on Unsplash ].

Christ and Caesar

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Satan offered Jesus unlimited political power to achieve his messianic mission if only he accepted him as his overlord.  Satan tempted Jesus by offering him political power over “ all the kingdoms of the world ,” but he refused the offer. Instead of power and grandeur, he submitted to the way of the ‘ Suffering Servant .’ Arguably, the most startling detail of the encounter is that he did not dispute the Devil’s claim to have jurisdiction over the political systems of the world - [ Photo by  Nemanja Peric  on Unsplash ].

Wilderness, Temptation, Spirit

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After his baptism, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested by the Devil. But he succeeded where Israel failed   –  Matthew 4:1-11 . After  his baptism , the Spirit “ drove  Jesus into the  w ilderness ” for “ forty days and nights ,” just  as  Moses  found himself alone  on Sinai whe re  he received the Law. And like Israel, Christ was “ tested ” in the wilderness. But unlike the Israelites, he overcame every test and emerged victorious from the desert “ full of the Holy Spirit ,” and thus well-equipped to proclaim the gospel - [ Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash ] .

Anointed King and Son

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Jesus is the promised Messiah, the King who reigns on David’s throne, and the anointed Son of God  –  Psalm 2:1-9 .  The second Psalm portrays the Messiah, the ideal king of Israel who is destined to reign on David’s throne. The Psalmist identifies him as “ Yahweh’s  anointed ,” “ my king upon holy Zion ,” and “ my son .” His enthronement marks “ the day that Yahweh has begotten you ”; he is the “ anointed one ,” the appointed ruler and son of God - [ Photo by Mike Lewis HeadSmart Media on Unsplash ].

Voice in the Wilderness

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John arrived in Judea to prepare the way for the Messiah and to herald the Good News of the Kingdom – Mark 1:4-8 .  All four gospels apply the same passage from Isaiah  to John the Baptist. He was sent to summon all of Israel to repent “ for the remission of sins ” in preparation for the Messiah’s arrival and the Kingdom of God, and all this was in fulfillment of key messianic promises in the Hebrew Bible - [ Wilderness Photo by Hendrik Cornelissen on Unsplash ].

Call His Name Jesus

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The name ‘Jesus’ means “salvation of Yahweh,” In him, the salvation promised to Israel by Yahweh has arrived  –  Matthew 1:18-21 .  An angel appeared to Joseph and informed him Mary was with child “ begotten of the Holy Spirit ,” and he instructed him to name the child “ Jesus .” That name was most appropriate. As the angel himself declared, “ he will save his people from their sins .” This name linked him to the saving act that God was about to accomplish for His people  as promised in Scripture  - [ Photo by  Eran Menashri  on Unsplash ].