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.

Gospel Meditation # 202 Mark 9:14-29 Healing of a Boy with an Unclean Spirit

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 202

Healing of a Boy with an Unclean Spirit

Mark 9:14-29

  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. Jesus, Peter, James, and John descend the mountain and find the nine apostles arguing with religious leaders. Perhaps the issue was the debacle of a failed exorcism.
  8. Jesus asks a questions and learns of the trouble. (Jesus asks other questions in this story. A clue to his humanness?)
  9. The boy seems to be an epileptic; the father, and Jesus as well, believe the physical problems have a demonic root cause.
  10. The unclean spirit appears to be attempting to kill the boy.
  11. When the boy is brought to Jesus, there is another terrible episode with the boy, and that perhaps convinces Jesus the problem really is a demonic one.
  12. The father is not sure he has enough faith for there to be a cure. He pleads with Jesus that whatever faith he has is enough. Jesus has compassion upon him.
  13. The crowd that had witnessed the argument between the nine and the scribes rushed over to the main event, which prompts Jesus to act. He commands the unclean spirit to come out. A spiritual battle takes place, but the demon leaves. The boy is so exhausted it seems he is dead.
  14. Jesus refreshes the boy and he is is restored to his family.
  15. The disciples are wondering why they were not able to help. Jesus says such a demon cannot be driven out except by prayer, a direct appeal to God and not by any magical ministrations. (Fasting in some manuscripts is absent in the oldest and best.)

 

Gospel Meditation # 201 The Transfiguration Mark 9:2-13

AGOSPEL MEDITATION # 201

The Transfiguration

Mark 9:2-13

  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. Peter, James, and John, the ‘inner three’ accompany Jesus on the mountain. (Mt Hermon?) (see Exodus 24:15-18)
  8. Suddenly Moses and Elijah are present, and present in body not a ghostly or soulish presence. Here resurrected, come from the presence of God, indicated by the whiteness and the overshadowing cloud, Moses likely representing the Law and Elijah likely representing all of that which is prophetic, they are speaking with Jesus.
  9. Peter is so clear about the real and actual presence that he wants to provide shelter for the three.
  10. “This is my beloved Son, listen to him” is the central message and reason for the transfiguration. (see Mark 1:9-11) The words are for the three apostles as well as for Jesus Himself; they are words of affirmation and confirmation.
  11. Once the words from the Father are heard, the glory cloud as well as Moses and Elijah are suddenly gone.
  12. It is probable that the ‘inner three’ needed the experience given the recent announcement of the killing of Jesus by the religious leaders. The ‘three’ were vulnerable and given to error as we see in many places in Scripture. But they would never forget what happened on the mountain.
  13. Typical of Jesus, He did His best to keep the three from broadcasting what they now knew.
  14. They did as told, yet wondered about the incredible truth of resurrection they had just witnessed. Obviously, Moses and Elijah had been raised form the dead.
  15. The question about Elijah indicates the three did not yet fully understand so Jesus patiently explains more to them. It is not surprising such would be most difficult to grasp.

 

 

Gospel Meditation #200 Mark 8:34-9:1 Jesus’ Four “Fors”

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 200

Mark 8:34-9:1

Jesus’ Four “For’s” or A Different kind of kingdom

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Recite 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 If in verse 34, “If anyone would come after me” is a 3rd class condition meaning there may be those who do.
  8. The maybe nature to following Jesus is because it is costly: self-denial, taking up of the cross, losing his or her life, and not being ashamed of Jesus.
  9. Self-denial–to turn from that which is unholy and to seek to serve and please God rather than ourselves, both of which are contrary to our natural instincts and nature.
  1. To take the cross is to identify with the death of Jesus, His dying in our place and for us, in order that our sin be covered. What an odd message indeed, to be washed in the blood of the Lamb.
  2. Losing one’s life rather than seeking health, wealth, fame, fortune, honor among people, and much more. It is seeking first the kingdom. It is giving all to obtain the pearl of great price and that treasure hidden in the field.
  3. Not being ashamed to identify with Jesus and His Gospel means among other things, not being afraid to say the Name of Jesus when we know it will likely bring unfavorable reaction.
  4. An adulterous and sinful generation is not a fan of that which is holy and righteous. And the pressure to conform to it is great indeed.
  5. To be ashamed of Jesus now only will result in His being ashamed of us when the kingdom of God arrives in power. And this event’s advent is merely a matter of time.

 

Gospel Meditation #199 Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection, Mark 8:31-38

GOSPEL MEDITATION #199

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

Mark 8:31-38

  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. It is assumed this story takes place in Caesarea Philippi; Jesus is not alone with His disciples, but others are nearby.
  8. Isaiah, chapter 53, had spoken of the rejection the Messiah would receive culminating in the death of the suffering servant of Israel. Jesus knew the passage was about Him.
  9. Jesus explained all plainly to the Twelve, but Peter, perhaps speaking for himself as well as the rest, protested the meaning of Jesus’ words. The Messiah would reign as king was their mindset.
  10. Redemption, Salvation, eternal fellowship in heaven was the object and not the things of men. Jesus knew that Satan was behind the misunderstanding.
  11. Not an idiom, “Get behind me, Satan!” as Jesus knew Satan’s deception was behind Peter’s exclamation as it is with every suggestion or doctrine that denies the cross and resurrection. There is nothing new under the sun.
  12. Genuine conversion, real discipleship meant followers of Jesus would deny themselves (as to worldly goals), take up the cross (of suffering and shame), and follow Him however troublesome, humiliating, and painful that might prove to be. These do not save a person but do illustrate that genuine conversion is in place.
  13. The issue is nothing less than eternal life.

GOSPEL MEDITATION #198 Mark 8:22-30 Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida & Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

GOSPEL MEDITATION #198

Mark 8:22-30

Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida &

Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

(also read Matthew 16:13-20 & Luke 9:18-22)

  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. People brought a blind man to Jesus. They thought Jesus could heal the man. Our work is to bring people to Jesus.
  8. Being blind, Jesus spoke to and touched the man. Interesting that the healing was not completed at once and when it was the man saw clearly. Jesus did not want the healing to be widely known; Jesus did not need the publicity or further interruptions since now the priority was to teach the apostles..
  9. Some distance north of Bethsaida was Caesarea Philippi, a Greek city, a place were Jesus’ enemies would not travel.
  10. Now about half-way in Jesus’ earthly work, He enquires about what His followers, and others, were saying as to who He was.
  11. The disciples gave three replies: John the Baptist; Elijah, or one of the other prophets, like, maybe, Isaiah or Jeremiah.
  12. Though Herod had beheaded John, in his paranoia he supposed Jesus was John come back to life. Elijah, was known to come before and herald the Messiah, and others, for no sound reason, thought Jesus was one of Israel’s noted prophets coming at an auspicious time.
  13. But the disciples, as announced by Peter, had a clearer understanding, one revealed only by God Himself. (see Matthew 16:17)
  14. Characteristically, Jesus does not want this announced.

 

Gospel Meditation Mark 8:11-21, The Pharisees demand a Sign & The Leaven of the Pharisees

GOSPEL MEDITATION #197

The Pharisees Demand a Sign &

The Leaven of the Pharisees

Mark 8:11-21

  1. Find a quiet place without 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. “Show us a miracle and we will be satisfied.” Then one more would be requested, and then another. Heal someone, cast out a demon – then we will believe. But they did not.
  7. Seems like a miracle would be enough but it never is. Faith is always a gift, blind eyes must be opened, deaf ears must be made to hear.
  8. Jesus had feed 5000 then 4000 and yet the apostles were worried about the apparent lack of bread. Did they want to see another miracle?
  9. The guys somehow had forgotten the two most incredible miracles ever, one which showed up the fundamental law of nature – new energy or matter cannot be created. We live in a closed system.
  10. Right in front of them, as it had been for the religious leaders, they beheld the miraculous. It was not enough.
  11. As yet there was no inner working of the Holy Spirit, who alone confirms forgiveness and salvation. It is a miracle unseen, which is far superior to even a resurrection from the dead.
  12. There would be the resurrection of Lazarus, which was like casting pearls before swine; then Jesus’ own resurrection was denied.
  13. The Pharisees are like all those who trust in doing good works. Theirs is despair and a longing for proof undeniable.
  14. Good deeds are observed while real faith cannot be.

Gospel Meditation — Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand Mark 8:1-10

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 196

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

Mark 8:1-10

  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. Matthew’s account, 15:32-39, reads almost identical to Mark’s. 4000 this time, 5000 last, and this crowd without food for 3 days. They had bread but of a different kind. When this is available, nothing else matters much.
  8. Jesus, not the disciples, see the need. He has compassion but the disciples do not have. Do we?
  9. 7 loaves only, and these are seed cakes, flat bread. Also a few fish. Jesus maintains order, has the people sit down on the ground, not green grass as before.
  10. Jesus gives thanks, twice, once for the loaves and then for the fish. Possible the fish were presented later on. The prayer was one of thanksgiving not a “blessing” on the food.
  11. The miracle, as in the 5000 feeding, must have occurred in the hands of Jesus as He broke the bread cakes and fish. Imagine the strength and patience it must have required.
  12. Everyone was satisfied, content, as it always is when Jesus feeds us.
  13. 7 baskets were needed to collect the leftovers. But the word for baskets is different from that used in the 5000 feeding. There the word means small baskets, the kind most travellers carried with them. Here it means a hamper, a large basket, the kind used in Acts 9:25 to describe the basket Paul was lowered down in.
  14. Jesus then flees with his disciples via the boat again.

 

Gospel Meditation: Jesus Heals a Deaf Man Mark 7:31-37

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 195

Jesus Heals a Deaf Man

Mark 7:31-37

  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. Jesus retreats to the Decapolis (ten cities) on the eastern side of the Jordan River. He encounters another Gentile.
  1. To be deaf and have trouble speaking makes sense.
  2. Those who brought the man to Jesus are not identified. This has become a pattern for us; this is what we do too.
  3. They “begged Jesus” to heal him. This reminds us of what happened in Mark 7:26. The idea is that, for whatever reason, Jesus did not respond immediately.
  4. Jesus shows courtesy to the man by taking him aside. However, might Jesus have wanted this encounter to remain quiet?
  5. We must ask then, if the healing was private how do we know of it now?
  6. Jesus often spoke a word to heal, now a touch. Would not a spoken word have achieved the desired healing?
  7. Jesus must have touched the man’s ears, then a second action, He spit and touched the man’s tongue with a wet finger. Might this have looked differently?
  8. In Aramaic, “Be opened.” Here now was the word.
  9. The man spoke plainly (incredible, a multifaceted healing), and Jesus wants the man to be quiet.
  10. The man simply could not obey.
  11. Jesus does do all things well.