Day 10: Mark 4:35 to 5:20-The storm and the demoniac

As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 He was already in the boat, so they started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm arose. High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water. 38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. Frantically they woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are going to drown?” 39 When he woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Quiet down!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 And he asked them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still not have faith in me?” Continue reading

Day 9: Mark 4:26-34-Further stories

26 Jesus also said, “Here is another illustration of what the Kingdom of God is like: A farmer planted seeds in a field, 27 and then he went on with his other activities. As the days went by, the seeds sprouted and grew without the farmer’s help, 28 because the earth produces crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. 29 And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle.” 30 Jesus asked, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? 31 It is like a tiny mustard seed. Though this is one of the smallest of seeds, 32 it grows to become one of the largest of plants, with long branches where birds can come and find shelter.” 33 He used many such stories and illustrations to teach the people as much as they were able to understand. 34 In fact, in his public teaching he taught only with stories, but afterward when he was alone with his disciples, he explained the meaning to them.

Continue reading

Day 8: Mark 4:1-25-The Story of the Farmer and the Soils

4 Once again Jesus began teaching by the lakeshore. There was such a large crowd along the shore that he got into a boat and sat down and spoke from there. 2 He began to teach the people by telling many stories such as this one: 3 “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. 4 As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. 5 Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The plant sprang up quickly, 6 but it soon wilted beneath the hot sun and died because the roots had no nourishment in the shallow soil. Continue reading

Day 7: Mark 3:20-33-Jesus and evil spirits, Jesus’ family

20 When Jesus returned to the house where he was staying, the crowds began to gather again, and soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. 21 When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him home with them. “He’s out of his mind,” they said. 22 But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.” 23 Jesus called them over and said to them by way of illustration, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 A kingdom at war with itself will collapse. 25 A home divided against itself is doomed.

Continue reading

Day 6: Mark 3:7-19-Jesus, the crowds, and the apostles

7 Jesus and his disciples went out to the lake, followed by a huge crowd from all over Galilee, Judea, 8 Jerusalem, Idumea, from east of the Jordan River, and even from as far away as Tyre and Sidon. The news about his miracles had spread far and wide, and vast numbers of people came to see him for themselves. 9 Jesus instructed his disciples to bring around a boat and to have it ready in case he was crowded off the beach. 10 There had been many healings that day. As a result, many sick people were crowding around him, trying to touch him. 11 And whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, they would fall down in front of him shrieking, “You are the Son of God!” 12 But Jesus strictly warned them not to say who he was. 13 Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him. 14 Then he selected twelve of them to be his regular companions, calling them apostles. He sent them out to preach, 15 and he gave them authority to cast out demons. 16 These are the names of the twelve he chose: Simon (he renamed him Peter), 17James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder”), 18Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the Zealot), 19Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).

Points of Interest :

*   Jesus has become very popular. There are huge crowds coming to him from all over Israel and even the neighboring regions. Almost like a rock star who has to have the limo ready for a quick escape, Jesus has the disciples prepare a boat to save him from being crushed or drowned. It’s clear that Jesus cares about the crowd: he’s healing everyone he can touch. Yet, interestingly, in the midst of this moment of immense popularity, he decides to slip away with a few friends. He particularly chooses twelve to be apostles, which means, ‘sent ones.’ These sent ones are intended to go out and preach and cast out demons-in other words, they will be sent to do what Jesus has been doing. But before they get sent out, they have to do something else first: be his regular companions. Jesus withdraws from the crowd for the sake of the crowd. He realizes that he can’t reach everyone who needs to be touched; so he selects twelve people to be his agents, to multiply his reach. His plan works only if 2 things happen: the twelve stay close enough to him to learn from him; and then they go out to do what he does. For us too, being a follower of Jesus can only work with both of these things: intimacy with Jesus and his people; and compassion for the world. We need to be with Jesus, and we need to do what Jesus does. Each is incomplete without the other.

Continue reading

Day 5: Mark 2:13-3:6-Discussions about religion

13 Then Jesus went out to the lakeshore again and taught the crowds that gathered around him. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax-collection booth. “Come, be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up and followed him. 15 That night Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners. (There were many people of this kind among the crowds that followed Jesus.) 16 But when some of the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with people like that, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” 17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor-sick people do. I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.” 18 John’s disciples and the Pharisees sometimes fasted. One day some people came to Jesus and asked, “Why do John’s disciples and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don’t fast?” 19 Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. They can’t fast while they are with the groom. 20 But someday he will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. 21 And who would patch an old garment with unshrunk cloth? For the new patch shrinks and pulls away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger hole than before.

22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. The wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine needs new wineskins.” 23 One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples began breaking off heads of wheat. 24 But the Pharisees said to Jesus, “They shouldn’t be doing that! It’s against the law to work by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.” 25 But Jesus replied, “Haven’t you ever read in the Scriptures what King David did when he and his companions were hungry? 26 He went into the house of God (during the days when Abiathar was high priest), ate the special bread reserved for the priests alone, and then gave some to his companions. That was breaking the law, too.” 27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made to benefit people, and not people to benefit the Sabbath. 28 And I, the Son of Man, am master even of the Sabbath!” 3 Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. 2 Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely.

Would he heal the man’s hand on the Sabbath? If he did, they planned to condemn him. 3 Jesus said to the man, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” 4 Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Is it legal to do good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing harm? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him. 5 He looked around at them angrily, because he was deeply disturbed by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Reach out your hand.” The man reached out his hand, and it became normal again! 6 At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to discuss plans for killing Jesus.

Points of Interest :

*   ‘I have come to call sinners’-Jesus’ call of Levi follows the pattern of the call of the other disciples: he sees and calls Levi; Levi gets up, leaves what he is doing, and follows; and they end the night at Levi’s house for dinner (just like they did with Peter, whose mother-in-law cooked once she was healed). The difference here is that Levi falls into a much different social class. Tax collectors were wealthier than fisherman, but far less respectable. They were considered traitors, because they were collecting taxes for the Romans, and they gained much of their wealth through extortion. Perhaps the best modern-day analog would be the mafia, making money off of ‘protection’ schemes. Fisherman like Andrew and Peter would be decent, hard-working small business owners. Levi got rich over extorting people like Andrew and Peter. And he hung out with a bad crowd, the kind of people Andrew’s mom would warn him about. Now, Jesus the rabbi is bringing them over to Levi’s for a party. When the religious teachers ask the disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” The disciples might be tempted to respond, “We were wondering the same.” While they hem and haw, Jesus rescues them by answering himself. They must have felt relieved at first, and then shocked-if they really understood what he was saying to them. Jesus says that he is like a sin-doctor; he goes to those who are sick with sin, not those who are healthy. “I have come to call sinners,” he says. But four out of the five people he has called are decent, up-standing fishermen. Jesus seems to be saying that they, just like the Mafioso Levi, were called not because of their goodness, but because of their need for him.

When Jesus said to Andrew and Peter, James and John, and Levi, ‘Come, follow me,’ he was really saying, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.’ To follow Jesus requires that we admit we are sick with sin. We follow Jesus, not because he needs us, but because we need him to make us spiritually well.

Continue reading

Day 4 : Mark 2: 1-12-The healing of the paralytic

Several days later Jesus returned to Capernaum, and the news of his arrival spread quickly through the town. 2 Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there wasn’t room for one more person, not even outside the door. And he preached the word to them. 3 Four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. 4 They couldn’t get to Jesus through the crowd, so they dug through the clay roof above his head. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. 5 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there said to themselves, 7 “What? This is blasphemy! Who but God can forgive sins!” 8 Jesus knew what they were discussing among themselves, so he said to them, “Why do you think this is blasphemy? 9 Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up, pick up your mat, and walk’? 10 I will prove that I, the Son of Man, have the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, 11 “Stand up, take your mat, and go on home, because you are healed!” 12 The man jumped up, took the mat, and pushed his way through the stunned onlookers. Then they all praised God. “We’ve never seen anything like this before!” they exclaimed.

Points of Interest :

*   ‘Seeing their faith’-This paralyzed man could not get to Jesus on his own. He needed the help of his friends. Sometimes our own faith and our own strength are not enough to get us to Jesus. That’s okay. The faith of a group of people can accomplish what the faith of only one person cannot. That’s why we think small groups are such an important part of what we do as a church. Jesus recognizes the faith of the paralytic’s friends and credits that to the paralytic. We don’t need to get to Jesus completely on our own steam, and we can carry friends to him that could not get to him on their own.

Continue reading

Day 3: Mark 1: 29-45 – The healing of many in Galilee

29 After Jesus and his disciples left the synagogue, they went over to Simon and Andrew’s home, and James and John were with them. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away. 31 He went to her bedside, and as he took her by the hand and helped her to sit up, the fever suddenly left, and she got up and prepared a meal for them.

32 That evening at sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. 33 And a huge crowd of people from all over Capernaum gathered outside the door to watch. 34 So Jesus healed great numbers of sick people who had many different kinds of diseases, and he ordered many demons to come out of their victims. But because they knew who he was, he refused to allow the demons to speak.

35 The next morning Jesus awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 They said, “Everyone is asking for you.”

38 But he replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too, because that is why I came.” 39 So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and expelling demons from many people.

40 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you want to, you can make me well again,” he said.

41 Moved with pity, Jesus touched him. “I want to,” he said. “Be healed!” 42 Instantly the leprosy disappeared -the man was healed. 43 Then Jesus sent him on his way and told him sternly, 44 “Go right over to the priest and let him examine you. Don’t talk to anyone along the way. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy, so everyone will have proof of your healing.” 45 But as the man went on his way, he spread the news, telling everyone what had happened to him. As a result, such crowds soon surrounded Jesus that he couldn’t enter a town anywhere publicly. He had to stay out in the secluded places, and people from everywhere came to him there.

Points of Interest :

*   ‘The fever suddenly left her’-Yesterday, we saw that Jesus’ kingdom is a spiritual kingdom-he displaces evil spirits by the power of the Holy Spirit. We see here that Jesus’ arrival isn’t just good news for those with spiritual problems. He has as much authority over disease as he has over unclean spirits, and sickness has as little place in his kingdom as demons do.

Continue reading

Day 2 : Mark 1:14-28 : Jesus Begins His Ministry

Later on, after John was arrested by Herod Antipas, Jesus went to Galilee to preach God’s Good News. 15 “At last the time has come!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Turn from your sins and believe this Good News!” 16 One day as Jesus was walking along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother, Andrew, fishing with a net, for they were commercial fishermen. 17 Jesus called out to them, “Come, be my disciples, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 18 And they left their nets at once and went with him. 19 A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat mending their nets. 20 He called them, too, and immediately they left their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men and went with him 21 Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum, and every Sabbath day he went into the synagogue and taught the people. 22 They were amazed at his teaching, for he taught as one who had real authority-quite unlike the teachers of religious law. 23 A man possessed by an evil spirit was in the synagogue, 24 and he began shouting, “Why are you bothering us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-the Holy One sent from God!” 25 Jesus cut him short. “Be silent! Come out of the man.” 26 At that, the evil spirit screamed and threw the man into a convulsion, but then he left him.

27 Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!” 28 The news of what he had done spread quickly through that entire area of Galilee.

Points of Interest :

•  “At last the time has come!”-John the Baptist’s message was, “Wait! Something great is coming soon.” He’s pointing to something beyond him. Jesus unabashedly points to himself. His very first sermon is basically, “Now is the moment you’ve been waiting for-I have finally arrived.” When Jesus says, “The Kingdom of God is near!” he is not saying that it is coming soon; he’s saying it is here now. A more precise translation would be “The Kingdom of God is within grasp.” Now that Jesus has arrived, you can reach out and grab the Kingdom of God, because you can reach out and touch him. That’s what’s so incredibly good about the news that Jesus is here.

Continue reading

Day 1 : Mark 1:1-13

1Here begins the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.
2 In the book of the prophet Isaiah, God said,
“Look, I am sending my messenger before you,
and he will prepare your way.
3 He is a voice shouting in the wilderness:
‘Prepare a pathway for the Lord’s coming!
Make a straight road for him!’ ”

4 This messenger was John the Baptist. He lived in the wilderness and was preaching that people should be baptised to show that they had turned from their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. 5 People from Jerusalem and from all over Judea traveled out into the wilderness to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptised them in the Jordan River. 6 His clothes were woven from camel hair, and he wore a leather belt; his food was locusts and wild honey. 7 He announced: “Someone is coming soon who is far greater than I am – so much greater that I am not even worthy to be his slave. 8I baptise you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit!” 9 One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and he was baptised by John in the Jordan River. 10 And when Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens split open and the Holy Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with you.” 12 Immediately the Holy Spirit compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness. 13 He was there for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.

Points of Interest:

•  ‘Here begins the good news . . .” – in these first several verses, Mark is connecting the new story he is about to tell with the stories of God’s relationship with his people in the Old Testament. These 13 verses are packed with references to the old stories. More than anything, what Mark is trying to communicate is that the stories that have been told for so long, that seemed lost in a golden past, are coming alive right in front of their eyes.
Continue reading