Category Archives: Mark
We have come to the end of another book. Mark 16 chronicles the resurrection. The women had come to the tomb, and they found the stone rolled away and an angel who told them that Jesus had risen.
The interesting part is that they came with the intent of anointing the body. However, they had a common sense consideration on the way.
Mar 16:1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
Mar 16:2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
Mar 16:3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
I point that out because we know that the women made it to the tomb. Even though they were clearly aware that three women would probably not be able to roll away the giant stone by themselves, they still continued walking to the tomb. It kind of makes you wonder what they were expecting when they got there. Jesus prophesied His resurrection reportedly as testified by the Pharisees in Mark 14:58, but it doesn’t seem like they were expecting that. The general assumption is that dead people remain dead.
All of that being said, the women followed through. Maybe they thought someone would be around and able to help them remove the stone. Maybe they thought it really wasn’t that heavy. We don’t know, so this is speculation, but the fact of the matter is that they knew they probably could not do it, and they still continued to go.
Because they went, they saw the empty tomb. That was clearly very important. Hypothetically, what if no one had been checking on the tomb? Jesus still would have risen from the dead, but someone had to spread the news. These women were there to fulfill that purpose. In a sense, they were the first missionaries.
I think that is then what we have to keep in mind. God knows each of us as individuals. He knew that these women would be the only ones who would come to the tomb, so He used them. Perhaps there was even divine intervention. Despite the doubts that they might not be able to do what they intended, maybe there was some voice inside of them telling them that they had to follow through. That is not recorded, but there was something that motivated them to continue, and because of the purpose that God had for them, it would seem to make sense that perhaps He was the motivation behind it.
Pontius Pilate was a man who was put into an interesting position in Mark 15. On one hand, he knew that the chief priests had only delivered Jesus to be crucified because they were envious of Him. However, he was also afraid of the people. He did not want a riot on his hands if he decided to release Jesus.
Mar 15:12 And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?
Mar 15:13 And they cried out again, Crucify him.
Mar 15:14 Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.
Mar 15:15 And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.
Interestingly, the people had no response for what evil Jesus had done. I wonder why nobody even made one up. Pilate asked for a reason, and all they said was that they wanted to crucify Him.
I think that happens so many times today. People don’t have a rational reason for rejecting Christianity. Many times, the response is emotional. Of course, this is often times that problem of evil in a nutshell. Even though it is generally accepted that it is logically possible that God could have sufficient reason for allowing evil to exist, many people will take the emotionally driven position that it is not experientially possible. That is like the crowd in this situation.
Then we come to Pilate. He wanted to do what was popular, and in many academic circles, the popular decision is to reject Jesus. Even though they might have reservations like Pilate did, many people seem to be pressured to go along with the crowd.
I think then this is instructive for us. We clearly do not want to be like the crowd. We don’t want to reject Jesus on purely emotional grounds. They never gave a reason which leads me to wonder if they had one outside of pure emotion. However, we also don’t want to be like Pontius Pilate. We don’t want to be pressured into rejected Jesus one we have our own suspicions inside. If it is possible that Jesus Christ was everything He said He was, then we better do our homework because that decision could have enormous consequences.
Mark 14 begins with the familiar story of Jesus’ feet being anointed with a very costly ointment. Some of the disciples grumbled that the ointment could have been sold and the profits donated to the poor. However, here is how Jesus responds.
Mar 14:6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.
Mar 14:7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.
This is interesting because I, and most other people, would affirm that charity is a good thing. I think the Bible reinforces that as well. It is a good thing to take care of the poor, and I think that Jesus would have agreed.
However, in this particular situation, Jesus tells the disciples that they should not criticize. Certainly, He was aware that the money could have been donated to the poor. He defended her action nevertheless because what she had done was clearly even more important than charity.
I think about this in relation to all of the great things that we can do here on earth. Charity is still a great thing, and I would hope that we can all agree on that. However, honoring God is our top priority.
If honoring God is our top priority, then I think that charity is a natural outgrowth of that. If we are living in the way that God wants us to and are honoring Him with our lives, I think that we will be generous with our neighbors and be willing to lend a helping hand. After all, those are attributes that the Bible says are good. That will come out of having our priorities in the right order.
Could the ointment have been sold? Certainly. Could the money has been donated to the poor? Yes it could have. However, is it more valuable to have a one-time donation, or is it more valuable to have a person who was willing to honor Christ and live in a lifestyle that cultivates Christian values including charity? If this lady was willing to put of Jesus in such high esteem, her life made a bigger impact than that money ever could have. She can speak to every one of us about how valuable Jesus is.
In Mark 13, Jesus begins to speak about the future. Interestingly, in each of the synoptic Gospels, Jesus mentions the point that the temple is going to be destroyed.
Mar 13:1 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!
Mar 13:2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
I wonder at this point how many people took Jesus seriously. After all, the nation of Israel was part of the Roman Empire. The Romans were pretty good at protecting their own territories, so barring some type of natural disaster, I would’ve felt pretty safe about the temple standing.
However, after the Jewish rebellion and the siege of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the temple was torn down by the Romans. All that we have left is the Wailing Wall, and that was not even part of the temple. It was part of the wall that went around the temple. The temple was literally destroyed.
After Jesus said this, His disciples pulled Him aside and asked Him what He was talking about. When would all of these things happen?
I think that this is telling for all of us. We think about the institutions that are in the world today. We think about things that will always be there. We simply assume that they will always be there, but we don’t always know the time that God has planned. I would have assumed that the temple was not going anywhere. With the Roman Empire as a protector, no one would have expected that the same would have torn it down the temple approximately 35 years later. However, Jesus knew it was coming. That has to tell you something about His prophetic abilities.
Mark 12 begins with a parable. Jesus talks about a man who planted a vineyard far from his home, and husbandmen were working the vineyard for him. However, at the time of the harvest, the master wanted his profit, so he sent a servant to collect it. The husbandmen beat up the first servant, beat up the second one and killed the third one. Apparently, more servants received the same treatment, and the master decided that he would send his own son to collect.
Mar 12:6 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.
Mar 12:7 But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.
Mar 12:8 And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.
Mar 12:9 What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.
It seems rather obvious that Jesus is prophesying his own death at the hands of the Pharisees who were supposed to be taking care of the vineyard. However, verse seven stood out to me distinctly because of what the husbandmen were after.
This is almost the Garden of Eden again. Humans wanted control. They wanted the inheritance, and they thought that they could take the place of the only son. It is kind of similar to that temptation of Adam and Eve in the sense that they were told that they would be like God. They clearly did not anticipate the reaction of the master.
We all have a tendency to exaggerate our own importance. Humility is so admirable because so few people have it. It is a rare commodity.
It seems as if the party line on this issue comes back to personal choice. If only we disregard what God told us, we are going to be that much better off because we are that much more independent. It is a blatant lie.
Humility is our proper response rather than trying to usurp the order that God has established.
In Mark 11, it seems as if the Pharisees are being incredibly reactionary. They were interacting with Jesus, but rather than take a firm stand for their beliefs, they wanted to cater to the people.
Mar 11:28 And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?
Mar 11:29 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
Mar 11:30 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.
Mar 11:31 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?
Mar 11:32 But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.
Mar 11:33 And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.
It seems rather clear that the Pharisees wanted to choose the option in verse 32. They did not believe that the baptism of John was legitimate, so they should have answered honestly. However, they did not because they were afraid of the people. They were afraid because the people thought that John was a prophet.
I suppose that there was reason for their concern because John was a prophet. They people were right for the record. As a result, they would not have been happy, but you would hope that the Pharisees would have the integrity to state their opinion.
Now, we translate that to us today. As Christians, we might be in a similar situation where we are being challenged about our beliefs. I hope that we would have the integrity to say what we believe. Of course the situation is a little bit different because we are on the side of Jesus and not trying to make Him fall like the Pharisees were doing, but I think that the lesson is instructive for us.
Jesus clearly had a reputation for several things while He was on earth. He was a miracle worker without a doubt. He was a wise teacher. He was a skilled public speaker. Therefore, when we come to Mark 10, it is no surprise that the blind man knew exactly what to ask Jesus for.
Mar 10:51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.
Mar 10:52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
He obviously knew who Jesus was. He knew that Jesus was the one who had cured the blind. I am sure that he did not cry out to every person that happened to pass asking for a miracle. He specifically knew that this was the one who could do what no one else could.
Beyond that, he also was not afraid to ask for what he wanted. When Jesus asked him what he wanted done, he did not beat around the bush. He knew that this was his one opportunity with Jesus, and he made it count. He knew that Jesus’ time was incredibly valuable, and it seems that he took that privilege very seriously.
I think that we can learn to become more like this man. First of all, we can recognize Jesus where He is. I don’t know about you, but it is easy to fall into a trap where we get so wrapped up in the events in life that we don’t recognize when Jesus is right there. Then, when we don’t recognize that, we forget to take advantage of the amazing privilege we have to have a relationship with God. For this man, the beginning of that relationship was a miracle, and while I don’t know that most of us have had something that dramatic take place, I do know that we have the same amazing privilege to be in touch with Jesus Christ.
Jesus was a miracle worker, and He was able to do things that I think we all dream about being able to. After all, if I was able to heal people with a touch of my hand, I would certainly not be working as an underwriter right now. I would want to share that with as many people as possible.
In Mark 9, Jesus was just about to throw out a particularly difficult demon, and He says the following:
Mar 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
Mar 9:24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
Mar 9:25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.
Verse 23 says that all things are possible if you can believe. I think experientially this one is a little bit difficult for us. I know that I certainly believe that God can do anything. However, it seems that a lot of things happen in the world that don’t work out in my way.
I think that we misinterpret possible here in our own almost excitement. Certainly, everything is possible with God, but also it is similarly true that everything that we want might not necessarily line up with the perfect will of God.
I think about it like this. I try my best to have faith that God can do anything, and I know I’m not perfect in that regard, but I try to remember that. I think that we all have moments where we put God in a box. However, even though we understand that God can do anything, that does not obligate Him to do what we want. God has a divine plan, and His answers might not always be what we like to hear. I think that makes the most sense of the above passage. God can do miracles, and God still does miracles. However, it is important to remember what Jesus is saying here. All things are possible through God, but that does not obligate God to do everything that we want.
Reading through the Gospels, I have been thinking about the radical commitment that we are called to have as Christians. I feel that particularly in America, we can end up in a state of complacency. Mark 8 does not use easy language for what we are called to do.
Mar 8:34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Mar 8:35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
We’re not supposed to simply follow Jesus. This passage certainly implies that the burden of denying ourselves and taking up crosses comes along with the journey. The interesting part about carrying out a cross is that you know what the end result is.
Think about Jesus on the Via Dolorosa. He was not dead yet, but He knew where He was going. He knew that He was ultimately going to be crucified on that cross. Nevertheless, He continued doing what He had to do.
This passage tells is a very similar story about us. We might see the consequence that some people will get upset with us if we advocate for a Christian worldview. I know that is a minor thing, but it is a realistic consequence of following Jesus in America. However, even though we see the earthly result, we don’t put down our cross. We don’t give up on the way. We persevere.
Again, I think we can be kind of complacent in America, but this is a reality for many of our brothers and sisters around the world. Christianity can realistically cost them their lives, and they pick up that cross every day and carry it. They persevere, and they do so because that is what we are all told to do. Jesus doesn’t promise that being a Christian will always be easy.
“It’s not my fault. I am a victim of my circumstances.” I don’t know how many times I have heard that phrase. Jesus did not seem to have much time for that type of thought in Mark 7.
Mar 7:14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand:
Mar 7:15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
Mar 7:16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
In context, the religious leaders were upset that Jesus’ disciples were not following the handwashing rules prior to eating. That made the disciples defiled in their minds.
However, Jesus, in what seems to be a precursor of what God showed Peter later, indicated that it is not what you eat or put in your body that is the problem, but the real problem is the human heart itself. As he typically did, Jesus elaborated to the disciples later on.
Mar 7:21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
Mar 7:22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
Mar 7:23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
I was thinking about how today we put a lot of weight on society to produce the kind of people that we want produced. However, I don’t believe that anyone can be conditioned to give up evil by a better society. In fact, all it takes is looking at what happened when society entirely eliminated religion from their culture (Soviet Union, China) to see what happens when secular society operates without restraint.
The problem with the world is the problem of sin, and sin comes directly from human beings like you and me. We do things that are wrong, and that is why Jesus came to earth. He came to redeem. Even though we are fallen, He came to transform people through the renewing of their minds.
The answer is not to make rules. The answer is not to make laws of man like the Pharisees were doing. The answer is to come back to Jesus and live by His teaching. Through transformation, one person at a time, society can change.