Mark 6

Greetings!

This reading is Mark 6

People who knew Jesus from his youth were amazed at his teachings and miracles.  The Bible records very little of his youth.  This passage notes that Jesus had at least four brothers and two sisters.  

Yet some people were offended by his message (this hasn’t changed in 2,000 years!).  When it says Jesus “could not” do miracles there, it is in the sense of not being able to do them because he chose not to.  He was God in flesh, so He could do miracles at any time.  He only did them where there was faith, though.  And Jesus was “amazed at their lack of faith.”  Pay close attention to what really brings joy to Jesus and you’ll see that faith is the #1 thing.   

Note the singular message that the Disciples took to the villages: Repent (v. 12).  To repent is to turn away from our sins and turn towards God.  Many parts of the Bible can be difficult to understand, but our core problem is that we are sinners in need of a Savior.  Repentance is a critical part of being reconciled to God. 

King Herod was tricked by his wife into beheading John the Baptist (No one said the Bible wasn’t PG-13 or even R-rated at times.  It records what really happened.) 

The famous miracles of the loaves and fishes is recorded here.  Assuming the 5,000 men had families with them, roughly 20,000 people were fed by the 5 loaves and 2 fishes.  Jesus did what they thought was impossible, and once again showed his power over nature.

Jesus walked on water and amazed his disciples.  The Gospel of Matthew records how Peter walked on water (temporarily) as well.  Jesus told them, “Don’t be afraid.”  Trivia fact: The Bible says, “Do not fear” 366 times – one for each day of the year, including leap year.  Keep that in mind when the world makes you fearful. 

In closing, think about Jesus’ words to his disciples in v. 31: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  Jesus wants us to spend time with him alone and He knows the importance of rest for us.

Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

The next reading is Mark 7.

When was the New Testament written?

There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about how and when the Bible was formed. Some skeptical historians try to date the Gospels and other New Testament writings as far from the death of Jesus as possible because it supports their hypothesis that they were largely made up. Of course, if the Gospels really were dated 70 AD or after, there is no reason they couldn’t still be the inspired Word of God. Yet a late dating obviously plays into the hands of heretics who strive to discredit the authority of Scripture.

But the facts point to all or nearly all of the New Testament books being written within 40 years of Jesus’ resurrection. Consider the following:

  1. Jesus died and rose again around 33 A.D.
  2. The Apostle Paul was killed in 64 AD. This is a well attested historical fact. All his writings obviously occurred before then, and 1 Corinthians and Romans were written well before then. Paul testified that Jesus rose from the dead, among other things, and he did so within 20-30 years of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
  3. The book of Acts, written by Luke, ends with Paul was in prison in 62 AD. Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke before he wrote Acts, so it was presumably written in the late 50’s.
  4. Most scholars agree that Luke was not the first Gospel. Therefore, the earliest Gospel must have been written no later than the mid to late 50’s. If Matthew and Luke used the ‘Q’ document (a lost early church writing) as a source, then of course ‘Q’ would have been written even closer to Jesus’ death and resurrection.
  5. If the Gospels were all written after 70 A.D., why wasn’t the destruction of Jerusalem mentioned anywhere (especially in Matthew)? This was one of the most dramatic events in history, and was predicted by Jesus.
  6. Since these accounts were written within 20-30 years of Jesus death and resurrection, it is highly unlikely that they would have been myths. There would have been too many people alive to dispute the findings. And keep in mind that many thousands of people died believing these words to be true. Martyrs will die for a lie if they think it is true, but I don’t know of anyone who knowingly dies for a lie. If Jesus didn’t really have a bodily resurrection, why would the disciples live unnecessarily hard lives and die horrible deaths for something they knew to be a lie?

Also see Debunking the DaVinci Code

Hat tip to Stand to Reason for much of the above. Click here to learn lots more about the origins of the Bible.

Mark 5

Greetings!

This reading is Mark 5.

From the end of chapter 4 through chapter 5 Jesus displays his awesome powers over nature (calming the waves), evil spirits, sickness and even death.  Among other things, He was proving his nature as God and the expected Messiah.   

The man was possessed by many demons.  Some Bible critics claim that when the Bible mentions demon possession it was really epilepsy or some other disease.  While people have often attributed mental and physical illnesses to the wrong source, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t guide the Bible writers to pass along an old wives’ tale.  And in this case, Jesus wouldn’t put epilepsy in the pigs and have them run over a cliff.  And even if it was epilepsy, it was a pretty big deal for Jesus to cure it!

Jesus often told people he healed not to tell anyone, as that would gain the wrong kind of publicity for him.  Yet this man was a Gentile (non-Jew) in a non-Jewish area.  He told the man to tell his family how much the Lord has done for him, and how he had mercy on him.  One of our jobs as Christians is to tell others what the Lord has done in our lives.  We don’t have to know everything about Jesus and the Bible, but we do have our story to tell and we can point them to other sources if we can’t answer their questions.  Also see, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” for how to respond when you aren’t sure of the answers.

I always wondered why Jesus answered the demons’ request to be put into the pigs.  Perhaps it was to show how the local people were more concerned about their pigs than about the healed man and the power that Jesus has. 

Note that the demons recognized Jesus as the Son of God.  Just because someone knows about Jesus doesn’t mean they have trusted in him for their salvation.  As James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”

The woman had great faith and was healed by merely touching Jesus’ garment.  Jesus often asked questions He already knew the answer to.  He knew who had touched him and why.  Imagine the woman’s plight: Sick for twelve years, getting worse and now poor because she spent all she had on doctors.  And due to Old Testament laws, she could not have fully participated in worship for twelve years. Yet Jesus healed her in an instant. 

Jesus showed his power over death when he brought Jairus’ twelve year old girl back to life. I don’t know if there is any symbolism to the woman having a disease for 12 years and the girl being 12.  I can’t imagine the grief of losing a child or the joy of having one brought back. 

Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

The next reading is Mark 6.

Background information on the Bible

This blog will consist of roughly 95% posts on specific chapters of the Bible, posted every other day including Sundays and holidays.  The other 5% will be cross-posts here and at the 4Simpsons Blog on the following topics:

  • How the Bible was put together
  • The reliability of the Bible: Can we trust it?
  • Tips on reading the Bible
  • Etc.

These posts will appear on days in between the Bible Study posts. 

Some of you may already be convinced of the reliability of the Bible and are just here for the study, which is great.  And I do believe the Word of God has the power to stand on its own.  Many people have been converted to a saving faith in Jesus just by reading the Bible itself. 

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

A good figure of speech I heard related to this compared the Bible to a caged lion.  How can the caged lion best defend itself?  By being let out of the cage!  The same is true with the Bible.  Just turn it loose. 

Yet I didn’t become a believer until I had worked through a lot of tough questions about why this book was something I could rely upon to tell me the truth about God and life.  It can really strengthen your faith to have a better understanding of how the Bible was put together and why we can trust it.

Having said that, if your time is limited and you have to make a choice between reading something I or someone else wrote versus reading the Bible, always pick the Bible. 

Mark 4

Greetings!

This reading is Mark 4.

Jesus often taught in parables, which are short stories that have settings familiar to the listeners.  The parables typically had one major point.  Some thought and reflection is required to understand them (I don’t know if I understood any parables the first time I heard them).  They often seem to go against the wisdom of the world, but upon further study they reveal great truths about God and his plan. 

Jesus wasn’t trying to trick anyone by saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  He was pointing out that unless you truly desire to know the truth you won’t be able to understand him.

The four soils is one of the many farming illustrations in the Bible.  The seed of God’s Word is spread all over, but the results vary:

  • Some ignore it completely.
  • Some receive it with joy but have no roots, so they fade away.
  • Some hear it but let the worries of life choke it out.
  • Some hear it and accept it and produce a great crop.

Which kind of soil have you been?  Remember, this is a parable.  Just because you ignored the Word of God once doesn’t mean you can’t hear it now and let it thrive in good soil. 

I understand v. 25 to be saying that if we have faith we will be given more, but if we don’t have faith we’ll lose what we have already.

The message of the mustard seed is probably one or more of the following:

  • An image of evangelism (spreading the Word of God)
  • A metaphor for spiritual growth in Christians
  • The coming of God’s kingdom

The chapter ends with an astounding miracle.  Jesus has already been healing many people from serious diseases.  Now He shows his power over his creation by calming a storm.  Can you imagine what the disciples were thinking after that?  Remember that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He lives, and He can help you with the storms in your life today. 

Reflect on what stood out to you in this chapter and share your comments if you like. 

The next reading is Mark 5.

Mark 3

This reading is Mark 3.

This chapter begins with something you’ll find throughout the Gospels: Jesus healing someone on the Sabbath.  The Sabbath was Saturday, a Jewish Holy day set aside by God.  There were various Old Testament laws prohibiting work on the Sabbath, and the Pharisees (a group of devout but often hypocritical Jewish leaders) had added many rules themselves.  Instead of being overjoyed that the man’s shriveled hand was healed, they were so jealous and angry that they wanted to kill Jesus.

Note that most of Jesus’ miracles are of the visible variety.  Leprosy disappears, eyesight is returned, paralyzed people walk, etc.  These weren’t things you could fake.  Try finding that with the “healers” you find on TV.

As Jesus’ fame grew, his family initially thought he was crazy (v. 21).  His brother James, who wrote the book of the Bible of the same name, didn’t follow Jesus until he saw him after the resurrection.

The teachers of the law accused him of being possessed by Satan.  Jesus is ever the clear thinker and exposed their foolish reasoning. 

Some people worry that they have blasphemed the Holy Spirit (v. 29) and cannot be forgiven.  This is sometimes called the unforgivable sin.  As a rule of thumb, if you are worried about having committed that sin you probably haven’t committed it.  It is typically considered to be an ongoing and complete rejection of the Holy Spirit of God.  God the Father reaches us through God the Holy Spirit so we will put our faith in God the Son (Jesus).  So if you completely reject the Holy Spirit you won’t get the message.  It isn’t too late to turn to Jesus if you haven’t done so already. 

Enjoy the chapter and feel free to post any thoughts or questions you have!

The next reading is Mark 4.

Mark 2

This reading is Mark 2.

The story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man is powerful on many levels.  There is the dedication of the friends who went to great lengths to bring the man to Jesus, even carrying him to the top of the house to lower him through the flat roof. 

There is Jesus’ compassion for the man, forgiving his sins because He knew that was a bigger problem than his paralyzed state.  Consider how the world focuses so much more on physical healing than spiritual healing.  Of course we want to heal people physically, but if they don’t get healed spiritually by following Jesus then their eternity will mean separation from God in Hell.

Then there is Jesus’ implicit claim to be God.  As the teachers of the law rightly noted, to forgive sins as Jesus did was to claim to be God.  Jesus knew their thoughts and explained how his power to forgive sins was even greater than his power to heal.  Then, for good measure, He healed the man completely.  

V. 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Can you imagine how the healed man felt that day?  Going from being paralyzed and convicted by his sins to being able to walk and being completely forgiven?  Where did his life go from there?  One day in Heaven believers in Christ will meet this man and many other people from the Bible and be able to hear “the rest of the story.” 

Jesus was criticized for dining with sinners and the hated tax collectors (Jews who profited greatly by collecting taxes for the Roman Empire).  I find one of the challenges of being a Christian is to interact with non-Christians socially so we can develop relationships and share the Gospel of Jesus with them.  It is too easy to shrink back solely into the Christian community where I am more comfortable. 

V. 17 teaches how Jesus came for sinners, not the righteous (though we are all sinners, which means He came for everyone who will repent and believe in him).  Parts of the church teach the lie that Jesus came to make us prosperous or to just tell us to help the poor.  Those aren’t bad things, of course, but He came primarily to save lost sinners. 

Any comments or questions about this chapter? 

The next reading is Mark 3.