The Lesson of the Fig Tree–Mark 11:12-14, 20-26

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 213

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

Mark 11:12-14, 20-26

  1. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  2. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  3. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  4. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  5. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  6. In between the two segments of this meditation about a fig tree is the story of Jesus cleansing the temple.
  7. Jesus “curses” the fig tree, not a good title for this story. He did not curse the tree, He did state it would not bear fruit. He was saying something far different.
  8. Israel is spoken of as a fig tree (see Hosea 9:10) and it is generally understood that Jesus, now within days of His crucifixion, stated that the ministry of Israel had come to end, even failed, and another people of God would arise to carry out the ministry that had been intended for the nation. See Jeremiah 31:31-34 on this point.
  9. A day later the fig tree had withered completely, a process that might have taken a year or more naturally.
  10. Jesus now makes a statement about prayer, indicating that rather than a curse, Jesus had said a prayer and this was why the fig tree had withered.
  11. Here now Jesus explains that prayer involves an utter trusting in God for answers to prayer, with no wavering or doubting, which is mostly impossible for even the most sincere and dedicated Christian. But the standard is there.
  12. Then we have a teaching that at first sight does not seem completely inline with what went before, but it must be absolutely connected. Here is another opportunity for Jesus to show how important it is that His followers be forgiving people.
  13. We are called to be honest about whether there is forgiving work to do.

 

The Triumphal Entry–Mark 11:1-11

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 212

The Triumphal Entry-Mark 11:1-11

(also see Zechariah 9:9 and John 12:12-19)

  1. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  2. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  3. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  4. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  5. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  6. Zechariah presents an interesting, even contradictory account, on the surface anyway, of the arrival of the Messiah—oddly both a king and also a humble man—at once.
  7. At the point of history under discussion, the potential arrival of the Christ, was at a fever pitch especially given the situation with the hated Romans.
  8. That there was a man who healed, cast out demons, and raised the dead (especially see John 12:9-10) on his way with throngs of followers to Jerusalem had everyone in an uproar.
  9. Jesus had arranged, without his disciples knowing it, for a young male donkey that had never been ridden be accessible to him, shows Jesus was thinking ahead.
  10. When the disciples saw what was taking place they must have thought, “This is it.” He is going to announce his kingship today.
  11. Jesus let the disciples and the crowd have their way. He accepted their praise and adoration since he was in fact was the Messiah and was doing exactly what the prophet Zechariah had announced centuries earlier.
  12. “Hosanna” even, Lord save us. The shout that the Messiah is now here was made loud and clear.
  13. For quite a time Jesus did as the people expected; he enter the gate, made his way to the temple, and merely “looked around at everything.” That is all he did.
  14. Mark says it was “already late” so Jesus simply returned to the Bethany, likely to the home of Mary & Martha.

 

Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus Mark 10:46-52, Gospel Meditation

GOSPEL MEDITATION #211

Mark 10:46-52

Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Note: Matthew has two blind men, Luke has the event taking place west of Jericho as opposed to east in Matthew and Mark. Interesting to speculate on the differences.
  8. Pilgrims by the thousands on their way to Jerusalem via the Jericho Road. On this road the good Samaritan came to the rescue of a man badly beaten by robbers. (Luke 10:25)
  9. Bartimaeus was doing what hundreds were likely doing—asking alms from the pilgrim–which was traditional.
  10. Bartimaeus was hearing reports that Jesus was on the road and heading his way. Amongst the crowd were likely some who thought Jesus might announce himself as Messiah.
  11. Though there were efforts to quiet the blind man, he refused to shut up and rather became even more persistent.
  12. He identifies Jesus as Messiah (Son of David) and believes Jesus can heal him. His cry, “have mercy on me” has been echoed down through the ages.
  13. Jesus called Bartimaeus to himself. We get out word “phone” from the Greek word for call. There is a major theology attached to the word call. See Romans 8:30.
  14. Jesus ask Bartimaeus what he wants and once he hears the request, without a touch or even a mention of anything like “be healed” Bartimaeus was healed.
  15. Jesus tells him to “go you way” but Bartimaeus does not do so. Rather, he joins the crowd and follows Jesus, apparently, into Jerusalem.

The Request of James and John — Mark 10:35-45

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 210

Mark 10:35-45

The Request of James and John

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. “Sons of Thunder” (see Luke 9:51-56), James the elder and John the younger brother, is the nickname Jesus gave them.
  8. Matthew (see Matthew 20:20-28) tells us that the mother of the young men approached Jesus with the request that one sit at the right and other at the left side of Jesus when he is the reigning King of glory. In an ‘oriental court’ these places were reserved for the chief power brokers.
  9. To harmonize the two accounts, either the boys or the mother was behind the request and my thought it was James and John, though we cannot be certain. In any event, it was a staggering move and unbecoming to the whole family. (James Zebedee would be the first Christian to die for his faith.)
  10. It does demonstrate that the Zebedee family had no doubts about who Jesus was. It would be only a matter of time before the kingdom would be established in Jerusalem, as they thought, and despite being warned now three times by Jesus personally that he would be killed, they must have ignored that information.
  11. The event provided Jesus a perfect opportunity to reveal the real meaning of being a follower of Jesus. As Jesus came to serve so they would servants as well.
  12. Jesus understood power, he was aware of Roman power of course and also of the power of his own religious rulers. The exercise of authority and power, this is the universal core to that which was sin.
  13. One more time Jesus reminds his followers that his chief service would be in his dying, the ransom, the supreme payment to the Father for our sinfulness.

 

Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time — Mark 10:32-34

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 209

Mark 10:32-34

Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time

(also read Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53)

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. For the third time now in Mark Jesus tells, maybe warns is a better term, His disciples what will happen to Him. It is now not long before the actual events will take place.
  8. Jesus is aware of this for any number of reasons: one, His dying as a sacrifice had been noted by any number of O.T. prophets; two, His enemies could not allow Him to go on much longer; three, His arch enemy, Satan, had long been working in the background; four, Jesus reasoned the signs of the times properly.
  9. The “chief priests” the “scribes” – likely reference to the Council of Israel, the Sanhedrin – who had the power to see to it the Romans would execute Him.
  10. Jesus spelled out exactly what would happen to Him, just as it was stated by King David 1000 years earlier and by the prophet Isaiah some 770 years earlier: Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 are replete with the events.
  11. The Gentiles – a wider grouping than merely the Romans at the time. Romans 3:23 expresses it more exactly: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The all is absolutely inclusive, both Jews and Gentiles.
  12. We cannot fully grasp why the Son of God should be abandoned (Psalm 22:1) by God the Father, but to say that the Son must receive the righteousness judgment for our sin. He literally suffered and died in our place.

 

The Rich Young Man — Mark 10:17-31– Gospel Meditation

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 208

Mark 10:17-31

The Rich Young Man

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Carefully read the passage of Scripture. Reread it.
  6. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. “Good Teacher” – “Good” is a term Jews used of God. Jesus wanted to know if the man was referring to Him as deity. Jesus continues not really expecting a reply. It may be assumed the phrase was intended to flatter Jesus.
  8. Jesus lists seven of the 10 commandments from Exodus 20:1-17 leaving out the first three which are focused on the proper relationship toward God rather than the seven which have to do with proper action toward others.
  9. Shockingly, the man claims to be keeping all of the seven.
  10. Jesus looked at the man, loved him, and the word is agape in the aorist tense meaning an immediate concern for him, one which transcended temporal well being.
  11. Jesus could see what the trouble was – the man wanted approval for his right acting and that was all. His religion taught him such made him fit for heaven.
  12. Jesus’ reply cut to the heart of the matter; the pride of wealth and the accompanying power that provided. The man would not give it up. Eternity in the presence of God did not mean much to him.
  13. “Follow me” would mean leaving all behind. Sadly, the man went away, retaining all his wealth and losing all he would ever have.
  14. The eye of a needle, in Luke the needle of a surgeon, no possibility of getting through such, an example of Jesus’ hyperbole, makes the story memorable. “How difficult” and twice, the emphasis is clear.
  15. Nothing a human can do is enough. God alone saves.

 

Mark 10:13-16–Let the Children Come to Me

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 207

Mark 10:13-16

Let the Children Come to Me

(Read also Matthew 19:13-15 & Luke 18:15-17)

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Parents, and perhaps other relatives, were bring children to Jesus. Luke uses the word “infants” thus small kids and of all ages.
  8. Was this a usual thing that children are brought to rabbis for a special prayer of blessing like Jacob blessed his sons as in Genesis 48?
  9. Jesus’ disciples, for reasons that are not explained, attempt to prevent Jesus from being so disturbed.
  10. Jesus sees it and is indignant, or angry, which is the literal meaning of the Greek word Mark uses. Again we are not told exactly why Jesus was not happy with what the disciples were doing. Notice, right in front of the crowds, Jesus expresses annoyance.
  11. Jesus insists that the children have a legitimate right to be brought to him. With strong words Jesus said, “Do not hinder them.”
  12. How it is that “such belong the kingdom of God” is not clarified for us. We can suppose that only those without power, or agenda, or strength, or knowledge, or platform, or righteous deeds – can receive or enter the kingdom.
  13. We know from numbers of other passages that salvation is based upon grace and nothing to do with anything an individual is or has. Clearly, salvation is based on a gift and not upon works or knowledge.
  14. Only the child-like enter the kingdom.

 

Mark 9:42-50, Temptations to Sin

GOSPEL MEDITATION #205

Mark 9:42-50

Temptations to Sin

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. The identity of “the little ones” is key: perhaps the child in the question of who is the greatest (see Mark 935-37) or maybe the unknown exorcist in 38-41, both and more. My idea is “more.”
  8. The millstone for offenders, above, tie the mill stone around their own neck, and this per the obvious Greek grammar.
  9. Cutting off a hand or a foot – if such cause one to sin. Gouging out an eye if such causes one to sin – we would all be blind and crippled.
  10. Jesus’ use of hyperbole, or exaggeration, to make a dramatic point is characteristic of His method of teaching. If Christians throughout the ages were to take such statements literally, then what a horrid state of affairs. And this is a point Jesus makes.
  11. To the people of Jesus day, to be without a hand, a foot, or an eye would render them unable, mostly and usually, to make a living, care for a family, and even survive. (Did Muhammad take this passage literally?)
  12. Undying worms, unquenchable fire – idioms that described Ghenna, a large garbage dump just outside the walls of Jerusalem, that was kept burning, always, and had nevertheless organisms that consumed rotten matter. This was not a place to be and meant that a person was without usefulness.
  13. It must be noted that verses 44 and 46, identical to verse 48, do not have the best manuscript support.
  14. Salt, and are we are the salt of the earth, (see Matthew 5:13) for salt is necessary to life, and it would be lost by striving for power, position, and scandalizing each other. This is Jesus’ teaching for those who follow Him.

 

Mark 9:38-41, Gospel Meditation # 204 Anyone Not Against Us is For Us

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 204

Mark 9:38-41

Anyone Not Against Us is For Us

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. John, the youngest of the disciples, reports to Jesus that “we” had seen someone casting demons out of some person who did so “in the name of Jesus.”
  8. Motivated by some impulse, sectarian spirit, clannish prejudice, jealousy, who knows, and they tried to stop it, apparently unsuccessfully, and complained to Jesus.
  9. It is assumed that the unknown person was able to do the “mighty work”; but was not amongst the immediate twelve.
  10. Could it be that the unknown person had seen Jesus cast out demons and had been with the large groups who had heard Jesus preach and teach? It is highly likely.
  11. This unknown disciple was not, like the sons of Sceva, doing paganistic exorcism. (see Acts 19:11-20). Apparently, he was emulating Jesus.
  12. Jesus is sharp and clear: “do not stop him.” It is strong enough to end the conversation.
  13. Jesus recognized the man was going a mighty work and it met the criteria of authenticity. The trouble is that the man was not a part of the Twelve, but he was for them nevertheless.
  14. Imagine if the disciples had not been taught such a lesson. Division, factioning, bias, jealousy, competition — all these and more might have dominated the early church. At least it took some couple of centuries for all this to emerge.
  15. Giving a “cup of water” – an idiom meaning the work of a servant – characterized or described what the man we doing.
  16. “A reward” – the unknown disciple would enjoy His presence in heaven as would the Twelve. There is no greater thing than to enjoy the presence of God for eternity.

 

Gospel Meditation # 203 Mark 9:30-37, Jesus Again Foretells His Death, Resurrection & Who is the Greatest

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 203

Mark 9:30-37

Jesus Again Foretells Death, Resurrection &

Who is the Greatest

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Now for a second time Jesus tells His followers that He will be killed and for a second time they did not understand. And why they were afraid to ask Jesus about it, we can only guess.
  8. The apostles were men of their time with the usual expectations of who the Messiah would be and what He would do. It would be much later that they would get it.
  9. Clues were all through the Hebrew Scripture and perhaps the best of it all are found in Genesis 22:1-14, Psalm 22, and Isaiah 53. The earliest hint is in Genesis 3:15.
  10. The writer of Hebrews (9:22) put it succinctly: “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”
  11. Since sin “brings forth death’ nothing is of greater importance. (see James 1:15)
  12. The “will to power” seems to continually ensnare us all. At the core of dangerous and cultic human affairs, including that which is religious and political and economic, is the lust for power. The apostles were not immune either.
  13. The religious leaders of Judaism saw Jesus as a threat to their power. The values of the kingdom of God run exactly counter to all else. The first is last, and even then the first are servants only.
  14. To receive a child was not highly regarded in that era, but was lowly work. This is what we are called to.