Mark 16: “Including Peter”

If you’ve never failed God, this reflection is not for you. But if you’ve ever promised God something, but not done it; if you’ve ever resolved to overcome some persistent sin, only to mess up repeatedly; if you’re plagued with guilt over sins that have defeated you; then, this reflection is for you.

Although Marks reflection of the resurrection is short by comparison, it’s not without a powerful and profound moment. If you’re not careful in your reading, you could run right past the two most hope filled words in the whole chapter, especially for those who have failed God.

Mark 16:5-7 (NLT) When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”

A question to ask is, why did the angel add, “including Peter?” You better believe that the risen Lord made sure to specifically include these words, knowing they would eventually get back to Peter. Peter, who just a few short days earlier had fallen completely on his face and denied Jesus to his face, was now included in the list of disciples. Now that’s grace!

Can you imagine the scene when the women got back to the disciples? The disciples are sitting in a small room; looking at each other wondering, what now? Suddenly the women barge into the room, out of breath, talking about the angel they met who was sitting inside the open tomb. I’m sure Peter was thinking this can’t be, but then he heard them say, “including Peter!”

What did you say? The angel said, “including Peter,” really? Are you sure that’s what the angel said? Tell me, what were his exact words?

As we’ve already discussed in a previous reflection, scholars agree that Mark’s Gospel was written primarily under Peter’s influence. Picture Mark, quill in hand, writing, “Go, tell His disciples.” There’s Peter looking over his shoulder, saying, “‘including Peter!’ Mark, don’t forget to write, ‘including Peter!’” Remember, this is the same Mark who had failed Paul on the first missionary journey. You can be sure that the words are accurate. Those two short words say to us:

The Resurrected King offers hope to all who have failed God

How have you failed God? What have you done to disappoint Jesus? Now think about this, was it as bad as what Peter did right in front of Jesus the night he betrayed him? You may think so, but Peter would probably disagree.

Now think about not only what Jesus did on the cross, but that today he makes it a point to say…”now go and tell his disciples…” including (insert your name here).

Mark 14: “Broken and Spilled Out”

Mark 14:1-11 (NLT)

 

Nard

The first thing we see is Mary entering the scene in verse 3. She shows up with an “alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard.” I’m pretty sure perfume companies aren’t lining up to name their next scent “NARD!” Can you imagine?

“Oh my, what are you wearing? You smell great!”

“It’s the latest scent, it’s called Nard.”

So the question we need to ask is, what is this Nard and what is it used for?

The Alabaster Jar

The Alabaster Jar would have been made of white, semi-transparent stone which was used as a container for precious perfumes and ointments. Nard was a highly perfumed ointment used in a couple of different ways:

  1. Cosmetic use for hot climates
  2. Anointing the dead for burial
  3. Ritual uses for anointing priests and kings
  4. Would have been considered a wonderful gift for a king because of its worth
    (Hmmm, sounds like we should be paying attention here)

But this still doesn’t tell us what this stuff is.

 Well, “Nard,” which defines the kind of ointment in the vial, was a plant found way up in the Himalayan Moun­tains. The reason it was very expensive was because it was very difficult to get. Ac­cording to (verse 5), “It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages.” An amazing fact to understand is the average working man made roughly one denarii a day. So what she poured on Jesus this day was worth an entire year’s wages!

If we were to stop here and only focus on the worth of the ointment, we would only be telling half the story. Mary not only had an expensive jar of ointment, but she did something with it.

We read what she did in (verse 3), “She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. John 12 adds that she anointed His feet and wiped His feet with her hair.” The reference to breaking the jar is significant because it showed her whole-hearted devotion to Jesus. Having served its purpose, the jar would never be used again”.

Her actions not only demonstrated her deep devo­tion and love for the Jesus, but it also demon­strated her understanding into His true identity and purpose.

This is made clear by Christ’s own interpretation of her actions. What did she understand that the others had been insensitive and blind to?

This Act revealed she knew Christ as:

  1. King: Such an extravagant gift was only lavished on a king. This was very appropriate in view of the fact that on the next day He would proclaim Himself the King of Israel through his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
  2. Priest: John 12:3 and Mark 14:8 define this as an anointing. As priests were anointed, this is in keeping with the fact that Christ was a Royal Priest and was about to make atonement for His people.
  3. The Savior Who Must Die: Although the disciples had a hard time understanding Jesus’ teaching that he must die, Mary believed the teaching and demonstrated her belief by what she did.

She un­doubtedly recognized her sin and need of a suffering Savior. She understood the reason for His death was her sin, and the significance of His death was for her salvation. Nothing has changed about the facts of why Jesus died:

The reason for His death was for our sin,
but the significance of His death was for our salvation.

(Verse 8) reads, “She did what she could.” The truth is:

She did what she could, not what she should!

Many on the room would argue with Jesus, telling him that she had no business doing what she did. But she led by example and did what she could, not what she should.

Today I feel like I need to ask you, at the end of your story will people say, “you did what you should” or will they say, “you did what you could?”

Holiness

I believe Mary’s story is an incredible examples of holiness. It’s allowing God to set the bar and then for us to break the jar. It’s living a life of full surrender, holding nothing back from God. It’s living and knowing it’s different from the worlds view, but you don’t answer to the world.

Mark 13: “The Olivet Discourse”

Known at the “Olivet Discourse,” if you’ve already read Mark 13, you’re probably scratching your head wondering, “What does all this mean?” I’m sure the disciples were experiencing the same thing hearing what they heard. Things like, “you’ll be handed over to the local councils,” “beaten in the synagogues!” That one really gets to me. Beaten in the synagogues? The place where we worship will become places of beating? This is hard to take in.

Never one to miss a “teachable moment,” Jesus has a rather poignant and frank conversation about the future with his disciples, specifically Peter, James, John, and Andrew. They’ve just left the temple in Jerusalem and are now on their way to Bethany where they’ve been staying during the Festival of Passover. Along the way, one of the disciples makes a remark about beauty of the temple which led Jesus to share a startling prophetic statement regarding the temple.

Just as Jesus doesn’t miss a “teachable moment,” the disciples don’t miss an opportunity to ask Jesus some curious questions regarding the prophecy:

  1. When will these things happen?
  2. What will be the sign?

As Jesus began to share with the disciples he was preparing them for the tough road ahead. He was able to warn them about false messiahs, natural disasters, persecution, and that they needed to be ready. Probably recognizing the concerned look on the disciples face, he also shared with them that through it all, he would be with them.

As we too notice the warning signs and experience the “birth pains ” of the end, Jesus isn’t just speaking to the disciples in Mark 13, but he speaks to us today. He proclaims to us that we too shouldn’t panic, or be afraid of what to say, instead trust and know that the Jesus will be with us through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

As we look forward to his return:

  • We must be ready.
  • We must continue to proclaim the gospel.
  • We must endure great trials.
  • We must wait patiently.

Ultimately what we learn out of Mark 13 is that Jesus warned his disciples about the future so that they could learn how to live in the present. Jesus didn’t make this predictions so that we would sit around guessing when it would happen, but rather to help us remains spiritually ready and prepared at all times. As we wait for his return we live each closer and closer to Christ, always mindful that ultimately he’s the only one in charge of the timeframe.

Mark 12: “It’s All Yours”

Mark 12:41-44 (NLT) 41 Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. 42 Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. 43 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. 44 For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”

Giving during this time was an event at the temple. It would be like us having a box in the lobby of our church and you would give after the service was over. On this particular day, Jesus sat down across from where the offering box and watched the giving for the day. You say, how did we watch the giving? Well, the Pharisees would parade to the offering box with their long robes and make a big deal about how much they were giving. Their offering became more about the show then the heart. But then he watches a poor widow come and drop two small coins. The amount is insignificant, but to her, it’s all that she has.

John Wesley, “It’s All Yours”

We have a wonderful example of what this looks like in our doctrinal father John Wesley. If you’re not familiar with John Wesley he was an Anglican preacher who led incredible revivals in 18th Century England and was the founder of the Methodist church and subsequent holiness movement.

Author, Charles Edward White wrote an article about the spending and giving practices of John Wesley:

In 1731 Wesley began to limit his expenses so he would have more money to give to the poor. He records that one-year his income was £30, and his living expenses £28, so he had £2 to give away. The next year his income doubled, but he still lived on £28 and gave £32 away. In the third year his income jumped to £90, again he lived on £28, giving £62 away. The fourth year he made £120, lived again on £28 and gave £92 to the poor.

Wesley preached that Christians should not merely tithe, but give away all extra income once the family and creditors were taken care of.

In 1744 Wesley wrote, “[When I die] if I leave behind me ten pounds… you and all mankind [can] bear witness against me, that I have lived and died an thief and a robber.”[1] When he died in 1791, the only money mentioned in his will was the miscellaneous coins to be found in his pockets and dresser drawers, he’s given everything else away.

Imagine the difference we can make in the world if we lived on less and gave more away. Just recently I had the opportunity to attend the Willowcreek Global Leadership Summit where saw an interview with Melinda Gates.

Bill and Melinda Gates, “It’s All Yours”

Bill and Melinda Gates are the Co-founders of the Gates Foundation. A Foundation that exists to put poverty and world disease into extinction. My favorite line of her’s was when she said, “It’s a hard job when you wake up every morning thinking how you’re going to spend Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s fortune.” The Gates Foundation has already received commitments from 128 other millionaires and billionaires to spend their increase.

The Takeaway

This story stands in contrast to the story of the widow in Mark 12. In fact, what she gave could have equalled the amount that you would find under the floor mat of your car. But here’s the good news, that’s not true in God’s economy. In God’s economy it’s not the amount you give that matters, it’s the heart you give it with. When you look at the examples of extravagant gifts in the bible, it’s never about the amount, but instead, it’s always about the heart.

You will never truly give unless God changes your heart.

 

Mark 11: “For All Nations”

I’m not sure why everyone was so surprised that Jesus walked into the Temple and set things straight. The prophet Malachi told them this would happen:

Malachi 3:1-3 (NLT) “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

2 “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. 3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.

Like we’ve seen before, no matter how many prophecies Jesus fulfilled, it didn’t stop the Pharisees (Levites) from plotting to kill Jesus.

Mark 11:18 (NLT) 18 When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him.

But this still doesn’t answer the question why Jesus was so upset. Until further study, one of the things I never realized was the actual location Jesus cleared out.

Court of the Gentiles

Located in the outer court of the Temple was the location called the Court of the Gentiles. This is the furthest point that a Gentile could go in the Temple. In fact, there were signs in both Hebrew and Greek warning that Gentiles would be executed if caught past that point.

Here’s the other thing about the Court of the Gentiles. It was the only place where Gentiles could observe the Jewish worship of God. If you attend a church, picture a room off the sanctuary where non-believers could gather and watch to see what was going on during the service. So basically the Jewish religious leaders took up the one location where Gentiles could see their interaction with God.

It’s important to note what Jesus says while he’s “cleaning the Temple.” We hear people say that Jesus declared, (v. 17) “My house shall be called a house of prayer.” Now, this is true, but we tend to leave off one of the most important part of his statement. His full statement is, (v. 17) “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations.

This declaration by Jesus would not have set well with the Pharisees. In their mind there, and the mind of others as well, Jews were the only ones who could truly worship God. In fact, it made the Pharisees irate when they heard that Jesus was extending grace to both Jews AND Gentiles.

 

What Do We Learn?

I can’t tell you what to learn from this story, that’s the role of the Holy Spirit. However, I can tell you what I learned. I learned that still today as a church we struggle with making it harder for people to follow Jesus in the church. Yes, there was major corruption with the money changers and sellers of doves, oil, wine…etc, but at the root level, they ended up cluttering up the only area were Gentiles could experience worship of God.

The question to consider today is this: How have we cluttered up or made it more difficult for people to experience worship today in our churches?

Mark 10: “He Threw Aside His Coat”

This is an interesting story in the gospels. In Matthew there isn’t one blind man, but two. In Luke, there’s one, but he’s not named. It’s here in Mark that we get not only the name of the blind man, but we also get the name of his father. Now, that’s not hard to do considering his name literally means, “Son of Timaeus.” But who is Blind Bartimaeus?

Blind Bartimaeus

When we dig deeper into the story there are a few things that we learn about Bartimaeus.

Persistent
The first thing we learn is that he is persistent. Mark indicates the persistence of Bartimaeus by mentioning multiple times that he wanted mercy.

This reminds me of the persistence we ought to have in prayer. We too have the opportunity to cry out to God for mercy EVERYDAY! We may not be physically blind today, but Mark doesn’t include this story based solely on restoring a persons physical sight. One of the things we can learn from this story is to be persistent ourselves.

Charles Spurgeon once said, “Take the gates of Heaven and shake them with your zeal as though you would pull them up—post, and bar, and all! Stand at Mercy’s door and take no denial. Knock and knock, and knock again, as though you would shake the very spheres, until you obtain an answer to your cries! “The kingdom of Heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force (Matt. 11:12).” Cold prayers never win God’s ear. Draw your bow with your full strength if you would send your arrow up as high as Heaven.”

Beggar
The second thing we learn is that Bartimaeus was a blind beggar. I know, shocker… We can tell that Bartimaeus is a beggar simply by the location he was begging. We know that Jesus and his entourage were “leaving town” (v. 46). We also learn that Bartimaeus was, “sitting by the road” (v. 46). This is the posture and location of a person who would have been a consistent beggar. I believe, and I can’t back this up, but I believe they knew Bartimaeus name because they he was a notorious beggar. In fact, maybe he had a reputation for being a little aggressive with people when asking for alms (money). Look at the reaction of the people; “Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him.”

But Bartimaeus wasn’t just a beggar of alms, but rather in this story, he’s a beggar of mercy! Twice he shouts out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” During his ministry on earth, Jesus couldn’t physically heal every person who was blind or lame. This meant that there were times he would simply have to walk by. But on this particular day he heard something interesting, “Son of David!”

The title “Son of David” isn’t just an endearing title, it’s a title the would only be bestowed upon the Messiah. It’s a title that indicated to Jesus that Bartimaeus believed in the Messianic promise of Isaiah 61:1, that “the blind will see.”

Knew What He Wanted
We may think it strange that Jesus would ask a blind man what he would want with the Messiah, but none the less, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you (v. 51).”

Truth is, Jesus asked because he wanted to know from Bartimaeus. He knew Bartimaeus wanted to see… it was obvious, but in that moment Jesus was testing his faith. In fact, it wasn’t Bartimaeus’ persistence that saved him, yet it played a part, but it was his faith!

v. 52 “Go, for your FAITH has healed you.”

He Threw Aside His Coat

The last thing I want to touch on regarding this story is probably the most overlooked. Finally when Bartimaeus was given permission to see Jesus he, “threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.”

Throwing aside his coat would have been a very symbolic moment. That coat would have been placed in front of him everyday to collect the alms that would help him live. It would have been his only worldly possession! Think about what was going on in that moment!

The man abandoned everything, left it all behind, came running to the feet of Jesus with the faith to believe that Jesus would heal him; and that’s exactly what Jesus did.

 

Mark 9: “I Believe… But”

One of the most important things we can do in scripture is to place ourself in the story. Especially when you’re looking at the stories of Jesus, place yourself in the scene. What do you see? What do you smell? What do you hear? And not just that, ask yourself, who are you in the story? Ask yourself, when Jesus heals the demon possessed man in Mark 5, which character are you? A disciple, a farmer watching the scene unfold, the demon possessed man, or maybe you place yourself in the shoes of Jesus and see what he sees.

The story for today is one of my favorites. As you can tell, I have a lot of favorite bible stories. This is the story of the father with a demon possessed boy who he first bring to the disciples then to Jesus. 

The most important thing I want you to do today is to place yourself in the story. I don’t want us to just read it as words on a page, but rather while you read, I want you to place yourself right in the middle of the scene that’s unfolding.

 

Mark 9:14-29 (NLT)

Something to Consider

So let look at the people and their significance to the story

  • Disciples – trying to heal the boy
  • Teachers of the Law – arguing as usual
  • Crowd – watching in anticipation
  • Jesus – Jesus is… well, Jesus
  • The Father – brings his sick son
  • Son – Possessed by an evil spirit

Some of Us…

You see, I believe this passage sheds incredible light into the message of transformation and freedom. I also believe it’s important for us today to realize that each of us fit into one place or another in this story.

Some of us today are Disciples:
We are trying so hard, but just aren’t seeing any results.

Some of us are the teachers of the law:
We stand around and argue talking about how it should be done, but aren’t willing to do anything to make a difference.

Some of us are in the crowd:
We see something is going on, we are anticipating something will happen, but we want the proof first before we will really commit.

Some of us today are the desperate Father:
We have friends who don’t know Jesus
We have family members who don’t know Jesus
We have reached a point of utter desperation that the church or God, or something would get a hold of them and change them.

And some of us today are the son:
I’m not suggesting that some of us are possessed by an evil spirit, but realistically what’s the difference when you’re living a life of sin. The sin in your life is so great that it has manifested into something other than yourself.

Go back to the story and look at the life-shaping transformational process that’s happening in this story!

After a little dialogue between the father and Jesus, the father cries out 24 , “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

How many times have you thought this thought? Lord I believe, but you don’t understand what I’ve been through… We’ve all prayed this prayer at some point, Lord I believe, but its so hard… What incredible permission we have to allow God to take our unbelief and ask for help when we struggle to believe.

Picture this with me: Everything is a frenzy, Jesus is there, the father is an emotional wreck, the crowd is pressing in, the disciples are watching in anticipation, the son is being thrown around by the evil spirit…

Then This Happens…

Mark 9:25-26 (NLT) 25 “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!”

26 Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.”

27 But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up. 

Mark 8: “The Test of the Pharisees”

Unfair Test

A young college student had stayed up all night studying for his zoology exam the next day. As he entered the classroom, he saw ten stands with ten birds. A brown paper bag was over each one of the bird’s heads and only the legs were showing.

He sat right in the front row because he wanted to do the best job possible and maintain his 4.0 grade point average. The professor announced that the test would be to look at each set of bird legs and give the common name, habitat, genus, species, and identifying characteristic.

The student looked at each set of bird legs. They all looked the same to him. He began to get very upset. He had stayed up all night studying, and now he had to identify birds by their legs. The more he thought about it, the madder he got. Finally, he couldn’t stand it anymore.

He went to the professor’s desk and said “What a stupid test! How could anyone tell the difference between birds by looking at just their legs?” With that the student threw his test on the professor’s desk and started to walk out of the door.

The professor was surprised. The class was so big that he didn’t know every student’s name, so as the student reached the door, the professor called out “One moment, son, what’s your name?”

The enraged student pulled up his pants at the leg and said, “You guess buddy! You guess!

The Test of the Pharisees

Tests, just the word to some sends shivers down your spine. On the other hand there are some who hear the word test and get all giddy. I don’t understand these people but I do know they exist. Tests are interesting if you think about it, because you are at the mercy of answering the test based on the desire of the person giving the test.

It’s here in Mark 8 that once again Jesus is being put to the test.

Mark 8:11-13 (NLT) 11 When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had arrived, they came and started to argue with him. Testing him, they demanded that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority.

12 When he heard this, he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why do these people keep demanding a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, I will not give this generation any such sign.” 13 So he got back into the boat and left them, and he crossed to the other side of the lake.

Now before we jump all over the Pharisees we have to as ourselves, how often do I test God in this way?

  • “God, if you love me, you’ll…”
  • “God, just                                             and I will                                       
  • “God, if I could just see a sign, then I’ll believe

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s true. At one point or another in our lives, we too have gotten to the place of testing God. But here’s what’s strange about the Pharisees. They have been traveling with Jesus for a while and he was performing miracles right in front of their eyes, but what they were looking for wasn’t a miracle, it was an astrological sign from the heavens.

Jesus’ Response

The thing that scares me about this scripture isn’t that the Pharisees were demanding a sign, we anticipate that. Instead, it scares me that Jesus got so frustrated he got in the boat and left them. He had enough. He was angry, frustrated with their faithlessness.

The Zondervan Illustrated Bibles says, “The English translation misses how sharply Jesus refuses (v. 12). The text reads literally, “If a sign shall be given to this generation.” It comprises part of a vehement oath formula that would begin or conclude: “May God strike me down” or “May I be accursed of God” if a sign is given to this generation. Only false prophets will give signs to this generation.”

I’m a firm believer in God’s omnipresence (his ability to be everywhere at one time), but I’m also astute enough to realize that there were times that “God’s glory has departed (1 Samuel 4:12-22).”

Takeaway 

The thing about this story, or even God’s glory, is not the God ever “leaves” us. It’s the exact opposite. Instead, we leave God. Jesus got in the boat and left because the Pharisees didn’t want to believe. If you too are fearful of this today, cry out to God, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief (Mark 9:24)!” More on that tomorrow…

Mark 7: “It Starts With You (Part 2)”

Recap from Tuesday

If you remember from Tuesday’s reading, we talked about the “Pattern of Influence” found in scripture: (Here’s the example we see in scripture)

  • You
  • Your Family
  • Your Community
  • Your Church

I mentioned in that reading that you would have to wait till today in order to see how the demon possessed man’s “Pattern of Influence” ends. So here’s some context to set you up.

Mark 5:18-20 (NLT) 18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him.19 But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” 20 So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them.

So the instruction to the Demon Possessed Man were simple: Go home to your family, tell them what I’ve done. Unfortunately this is not what the man does. Instead, he begins to travel around the Decapolis (Ten Cities) sharing what Jesus had done for him. So the Demon Possessed Man’s Pattern of Influence looks like this:

  • You = Demon Possessed Man (v. 2)
  • Your Family = Instructed to back and tell his family (v. 19)
  • Your Community = Travels around to the Ten Cities (v. 20)
  • Your Church (see below)

Your Church

Here in Chapter 7 we see the magnitude of the Demon Possessed Man’s influence. We pick up the story right at the tale end of Jesus healing a local deaf man.

Mark 7:36-37 (NLT) 36 Jesus told the crowd not to tell anyone, but the more he told them not to, the more they spread the news. 37 They were completely amazed and said again and again, “Everything he does is wonderful. He even makes the deaf to hear and gives speech to those who cannot speak.”

Wait! What? These people are declaring that “Everything he [Jesus] does is wonderful?” This may seem like a common statement until you look at where Jesus was when they said this.

Mark 7:31-32 (NLT) 31 Jesus left Tyre and went up to Sidon before going back to the Sea of Galilee and the region of the Ten Towns. 32 A deaf man with a speech impediment was brought to him, and the people begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man to heal him.

The first time Jesus went to this region he was asked to leave! Mark 5:17 says, And the crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave them alone.” Now there’s not asking him to leave, they’re praising literally everything he does! We need to ask ourselves, what happened, why the change?

The changed happened because the Demon Possessed Man was still possessed, but this time it was by the Spirit of Jesus! The scripture indicates that he, “started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them (Mark 5:20).” It’s true! They were so amazed that the next time Jesus showed up they were ready to experience his glory! The power of one voice, one testimony, and one transformed life, opened up the door to an entire region to do a complete 180°!

I understand that there’s a lot of great content in the seventh chapter of Mark (ritual laws, food issues, defilement…etc), but my hope is to not loose the magnitude of this particular revelation.

Challenge

Do your words or your testimony have the power to prepare they way for God’s Spirit to move in people? Have you gotten so far away from your salvation that you stopped sharing the power of what God did in you? Be challenged today to recognize your own Pattern of Influence in the world around you!

Mark 6: “Take Courage, I am Here!”

 

Prayer

As we begin to break this passage down, it’s important to start at the top. No, not at the top of the passage, but the top of the hill! Jesus just got done Feeding the 5,000 (v.30-44) and saying goodbye to all the people who were there. After sending the disciples out to cross over to the other side, Jesus does what Jesus does, he goes off alone to pray.

If you go back further than this story, you’ll see that Jesus desired to be alone with his disciples sooner, but was interrupted by the crowds of people. He was also hadn’t had the opportunity to truly mourn the loss of his cousin John the Baptist (v.27-29).

We can learn from Jesus that even in the midst of the business of life, it’s important to be intentional about prayer.

He Saw Them

I’m sure the disciples were asking themselves, “How are you going to get across the lake, Jesus?” I’m sure their next thought was, “Why does he keep asking us to cross the lake AT NIGHT!” Just like before, a storm pops up on the lake and yet again the disciples find themselves fighting against the wind and the waves.

What’s interesting in this account is the acknowledgment that Jesus “saw that they were in serious trouble (v. 48).” The parallel passage in John 6 indicates that the disciples had rowed 3-4 miles out into the lake. That’s a pretty good distance from the shore if you think about it. None the less, Jesus saw them in their struggle! The good news for us is that Jesus sees us in our struggle as well, but he has an interesting way of making himself known.

He Intended to Go Past

It’s wonderful to know that Jesus sees the disciples in their struggle, but it’s a little concerning that he was just going to stroll right on past them. The scripture indicates, “He intended to go past them” (v.48). This isn’t the only place in scripture that we find Jesus intending to keep walking. Just look at the story of the two men on the road to Emmaus. Luke 24:28 (NLT) says, “28 …Jesus acted as if he were going on.” The ultimate question we have to ask ourselves is, why? Why did Jesus walk towards them, just to walk by?

The reality for us today is this: Jesus will never go where he’s not invited.

In both situations Jesus came near, Jesus pursued, Jesus showed up in the midst of the storm, but in both situations Jesus wasn’t going to force his will over the will of the disciples. They needed to acknowledge the presence of Jesus and realize he’s the only one that can help them.

Don’t think this is only in reference to the disciples. Truth is, we need to recognize that even during the storms of our life, Jesus draws near, Jesus pursues, Jesus shows up; but we need to choose to acknowledge his presence!

Don’t be Afraid, I Am Here!

The greatest words that we can hear in the midst of the storm is, “Don’t be Afraid, I am here! (v. 50)” Jesus even throws in a “Take courage (v. 50)!” I know it’s difficult for us, but we need to trust in the promise throughout scripture that says, “Do not fear, for I am with you.” One of the things I tend to think is, easy for you to say… Although it’s easy for Jesus to say, it doesn’t take away the power of the promise.

In my mind what Jesus does next is incredibly significant…

Then He Climbed Into the Boat

“Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped!” Allow that thought to wash over you a second. Jesus climbed into the boat! But it’s important to remember that Jesus wouldn’t have climbed into the boat; and Jesus won’t enter your situation unless you acknowledge your need for him today. Trust Jesus in the midst of your storm today.

No matter the storms that come my way
No matter the trials I may face
You promised that you would see me through
So I will trust in you
– Michael D. Popham, “I Will Sing Praise”