Gospel Meditation # 181 The Twelve Apostles


The Twelve Apostles

Mark 3:13-21

  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. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. What mountain Jesus ascended before He called the disciples to be apostles is not known but could be mount of the Sermon.
  8. He “called to him” is a very key phrase. John 15:16 explains it also. On what basis is the call dependent? No one knows except that it is those who Jesus “desired.” It certainly was not based on skill, faithfulness, or grand future achievements.
  9. Jesus appointed the twelve, which is like saying “ordained” them and carries the idea of ‘setting aside.’
  10. Jesus named them “apostles” and this means ‘sent ones’ or missionaries. Their job was to proclaim the Gospel of the kingdom of God.
  11. But before the commission of sending the twelve would be “with him.” This is first and foremost. They would be disciples or learners before they would be apostles.
  12. Herein is the reason for the teaching ministry of the Church, that is to equip the Church for the work of ministry. (see Ephesians 4:11-16) This is why churches have Bible Studies, expositional sermons and the reason for Bible colleges and seminaries.
  13. Jesus sends them to “PREACH” and along with it to cast out demons. The connection is not apparent on the surface, but those sent to preach know how vital is the work of casting out of demons. The devil attacks the Church’s sent ones.
  14. The Twelve included Judas who betrayed Him. We will likely never understand why Jesus did this.
  15. The Adversary attacked Jesus and the newly appointed Twelve immediately – overwhelmed by needy people.
  16. Jesus’ family, probably including Mary, watching events, concluded their own was insane and made an attempt at an intervention. No one can grasp this stunning event.

Gospel Meditation The Gospel of Mark # 1


Introduction to Mark’s Gospel

  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. Mark, called John Mark. John his Jewish name, Mark his Greek name.
  8. John, son of Mary whose home it is thought was where the Last Supper took place.

(see Mark 14:51-52) It is thought Mark followed Jesus and the disciples to Gethsemane and witnessed the betrayal. He also was apprehended.

  1. The author of Mark is not so named, but sold tradition has it that it was John Mark.
  2. This is likely the first gospel written, and written from Rome while Mark was with Peter. The date may be as early as A D 49. Other reliable scholars say about 52. Mark was close to Peter, and Mark’s Gospel is often referred to as Peter’s Gospel.
  3. It is likely that Matthew’s Gospel followed Luke’s and both dependent upon Mark’s or both were at least familiar with it. About 91% of Mark is found in the two other synoptic (with the same view) gospels, Matthew and Luke.
  4. Mark was on the first missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas. (see Acts 13:5) But mid trip, Mark returned home for some unknown reason. (see Acts 13:13)
  5. Barnabas and Mark were cousins, not uncle and nephew, as seen in Colossians 4:10.
  6. Paul and Barnabas had a falling out when Barnabas wanted to take Mark with them on a second missionary trip, but Paul refused. (see Acts 15:36-41)
  7. There was a reconciliation between Paul and Mark as can be seen in Colossians 4:10 and 2 Timothy 4:11.
  8. Mark, not a leader necessarily, but a trusted and faithful follower and of both Paul and Peter — and more so a faithful follower of Jesus.
  9. Mark never gave up despite personal conflicts and his Gospel, the first, is written to gentiles and shows his missionary mindset.




In Sunday’s Washington Post, May 25, 2014, is a story about a Buddhist teacher/therapist who works with military veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her theory, as outlined by the Post journalist, is that keeping one’s mind on the here and now is healing.

            Focus, center on you right now, where you are, how you feel, right now, seems to sum up her approach. Question: Is this ego-centric? If you think about others or troubles you are presently facing, are you still being mindful? I suspect some will find a measure of relief while others will not.

            Perhaps being mindful is beneficial, and like everything else of course, it is debatable.      

            Mindfulness! I read this often, hear this often, after all I live in Mill Valley, California which is a bastion for Buddhist and yoga-style meditators. One of my friends at our local gym is the director of a Zen center and he and I have talked on and off over the years on the subject of mindfulness.

            Mindfulness! Sounds like one ought to be mindful. Sounds like a good thing, maybe even a virtue. Mindful of the moment, mindful in the moment; yes, a worthy goal I suppose. What if a train were bearing down of you, one would want to be mindful.

To ask — mindful of what — probably misses the point however. I don’t think it is about jumping out of the way of trains, planes, or automobiles, but it might encompass such. Seems like a koan, one of those sayings that leave a person scratching his or her head, like “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

This is now bordering on being silly; even I know it. I am not mindless. Let me get down to it: I am suspicious that what the mindfulness practitioner means is she has discovered something very large and that those who do not practice mindfulness are missing out.

I also wonder if the call to mindfulness is not a form of Buddhist evangelism. There is a Christian type evangelism which basically looks like this: Christians speak of their gospel which may be reduced to a three part formula: Law plus Grace = Gospel. The Christian evangelist points out that the Law of Moses, whose centerpiece is the Ten Commandments of Exodus chapter 20, when read will lead the reader to understand that they have sinned and fall well short of God’s demands. Bad News. The second part of the formula is Grace, which means that though God could send the poor Law breaker to hell, He instead pardons, forgives, and saves the miserable sinner. Good News. The result is Gospel, which literally means Good News. Shocking! Instead of hell there is now heaven.

So then, is there anything of a mindful nature here? It clearly is self focused to a considerable degree and it centers on really large issues that do impact the here and now; thus it is mindful and in a large way. What is more ultimate than a present relationship with the Creator? How much more significant, hey, even mindful can you get?

Mindfulness. The impression I often get is that the Buddhist, or perhaps the Hindu yogi, those who meditate and focus on the NOW are where one ought to be as opposed to those Christian types who are thinking only about the kingdom to come with the harps, angel wings, fluffy clouds, and much more in the sweet bye and bye, which is down the road someplace and certainly not in the here and now. Is mindfulness the Buddhist version of the good news and is it superior to the Christian version. Of course, like everything else, this is debatable.

Let me get down to it right now. I am mindful that living in the now is a good thing. No question, I embrace it, but is that all there is? Since there is a future, however short or long, there is more to life than now. I confess I do not get too excited about now all the time. Sometimes now is painful, discouraging, boring and I would rather not focus on it twenty four seven. Hope is a good thing, and hope is future oriented and centers on what may or may not come to pass. But it is nonetheless not now. Is this an acceptable state of mindfulness?


“Quiet Time” Christian Style

“Quiet Time” Christian Style

In the January 15, 2014 edition on the San Francisco Chronicle, in the Opinion section under the heading, ‘Open Forum On Meditation’, David L Kirp, a professor of public policy at UC Berkeley, who is the author of Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a great American School District and a Strategy for America’s Schools argues that America’s students, of all ages, do better when they observe a “quiet time” during the school day. Kirp states that students learn better, and more, are less rowdy, stressed, and restless, experience less suspensions, and show higher improvements than other students who do not have daily quiet times. Accompanying the article is a photo that shows Barry Zito (a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants baseball team), David Lynch, and Russell Brand meditating “with students during Quiet Time at Barton High.” Kirp describes the process: “Twice daily a gong sounds in the classroom and rowdy adolescents, who normally can’t sit still for 10 seconds, shut their eyes and try to clear their minds.”

There is no real sense in arguing this practice might be a violation of the separation of church and state. Of Course, a “prayer time” would not be acceptable, but a “quiet time” and “meditation” are not terms clearly and directly linked to any particular religious practice or group.

Maybe I should campaign for Christians to take up practicing “quiet time.” Wait a minute here though, the quiet time is nothing new to Christians who have in fact been doing the same for twenty plus centuries. We call it prayer, or devotions, or meditations as well, but millions of Christians have their daily quiet times.

At Miller Avenue Baptist Church where I am pastor we do have a quiet time built into each worship service: we have free form and written prayers; there is a time for silent prayers; we have a time for reflection. Then we listen in silence while portions of Scripture are read. A sermon is given, and here again is a time for quietly absorbing thoughts on our Faith and Practice.

As a new Christian, in 1963, I began a devotional discipline, usually in the mornings when my work schedule allowed. It included the reading of a number of chapters of the Bible followed by some minutes of prayer. I used a prayer list, also noting the date of the prayer, the specifics of the prayer, and an “answer” column. (Below is a sample of my prayer list.)

It is more than a quiet time; it is stillness, peacefulness, and focused consideration on the God I worship and serve.

I have tried the kind of ‘quiet time’ Kirp presents in the Chronicle article, and it does not work for me. A clearing of the mind is impossible for me to achieve, and if we would admit it, thoughts, sensations, and feelings constantly intrude themselves into our conscious mind. But the pleasant reflection on and consideration of the grace and mercy given to me in Jesus is rich and satisfying. The God who loves us immensely — we spend time in His presence, since we have the abiding and indwelling Holy Spirit; it simply cannot get any better. Sitting alone with our Bibles, mindfully focused on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, not needing music in the background or any other such artificial device, we close or open our eyes and have the most wonderful quiet time. I treasure mine and look forward to these special times.

After reading Kirp’s article in the paper this morning, I felt the desire to remind those of us who trust in Jesus that perhaps the age old discipline of the devotional time has been minimized in our experiences. Do you have a time when you are alone and look to Him who has rescued you from your constant self interest? If not, please do not feel guilty but challenged to take up the ancient ways or our forefathers in the Faith.



Date Prayer Answer






As you read, think about what you are learning. After reading each chapter determine what the main themes are and what may apply to you. Use critical thinking as well by asking the hard questions, and note the instances where you would like to have had more information.