Thursday, December 30, 2010

Our Praying Priest - Mark 1:35

"And in the early morning, while it was still dark,
He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place,
and was praying there."
(Mark 1:35)

I don't know about you, but prayer is a struggle for me. It is the hardest part of my Christian walk. I wrestle like a dog in this discipline. It is in the moment of moving through this means of grace that my doubts grow the greatest, that my exhaustion seems insurmountable, and that my thoughts scramble and discombobulate like wheat in a whirlwind!

I want to pray. I pray to pray. I fall on my face over and over and over as I attempt to pray. Understand?

That's why passages like this are precious to me. In them I see the priority that Christ puts on prayer and am reminded that inspite of the difficulties I must press on and pray on.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Doctor is Always In - Mark 1:29-34

"And immediately after they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law was lying sick with fever; and immediately they spoke to Him about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.

"And when evening had come, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city had gathered at the door. And He healed many who were ill with various diseases; and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was." (Mark 1:29-34)

Today's text is a pretty straightforward one. In times past it would be one that I probably wouldn't even bother to blog about. But I am sort of on a personal mission here with the book of Mark. I am really trying to soak up and meditate on every single thing I can about my Jesus. I don't want to miss even a morsel right now, so bear with me as I take note of several simple truths from this passage.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Authority in Word and Deed - Mark 1:21-28

"And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

And just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, 'What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who You are - the Holy One of God.'
And Jesus rebuked him, saying, 'Be quiet, and come out of him!' And throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice, and came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves saying, 'What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.'

And immediately the news about Him went out everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee." (Mark 1:21-28)

One of the things that is so clearly evidenced in the gospel accounts is that Jesus both spoke and acted with great authority. No wonder! He is God come in the flesh. HE is the Authority on authority!! He is omniscient wisdom. He is omnipotent ability. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is Creator of all that is and He spoke this world into existance with only a word.

Authority? No doubt!!

In this passage we see the authority of Christ playing out in His words and in His works. He has come to Capernaum and, as was His custom, He has entered the synagogue and is teaching the people.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Grandest Title a Minister Can Own - Mark 1:17

"And Jesus said to them,
'Follow Me, and I will make you
fishers of men."
(Mark 1:17)

Pastor. Evangelist. Preacher. Elder. Shepherd. Overseer. Minister.

I have to admit that when I pause to think on the various titles given to those set apart to proclaim the good news of the gospel these 7 always pop into my mind long before the title that Jesus gives. Yet, this title, "fishers of men" is the first title, the earliest title, mentioned in the gospels. It is the title that Jesus Himself uses and it tells us a lot about the role, duty, and calling of those who have been ordained to serve our Savior. It also tells us of our need to stand in the gap, fervently praying for those who are striving upon the sea of souls. A faithful pastor's work is never done. I know, I'm married to one!

J. C. Ryle writes beautifully on this idea of ministers as fishers. He says:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Immediately - Mark 1:16-20

"And as He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.' And they immediately left the nets
and followed Him. And going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. And immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him." (Mark 1:16-20)

Each year as I read over this passage I am convicted by the use of the word "immediately" as it is used to describe the actions of these first disciples. Jesus calls and "immediately" Simon and Andrew get up and leave everything they have ever known to follow One whom they have just now met. The same thing is true of James and John. "Immediately" Jesus calls and they show no sign of hesitation in leaving their father, their friends, their home, their job, their possessions, their life. "Immediately" they set off following this Carpenter turned Prophet.

There is much to be learned and much to be emulated in the actions of these brothers of ours. They teach us, as Matthew Henry says, that "those whom Christ calls must leave all to follow Him and by His grace He inclines them to do so. We must sit loose to this world, and forsake everything that is inconsistent with our duty to Christ."


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Sermon That Jesus Preached - Mark 1:14-15

"And after John had been taken into custody,
Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
and saying, 'The time is fulfilled
and the kingdom of God is at hand;
repent and believe in the gospel."
(Mark 1:14-15)

I've sat under quite a few sermons in my time. Some good. Some not so good. Many of those sermons have referenced the gospel. Sadly, few have explained it. 

Here in Mark 1, we have a cliff-note version of a sermon that Jesus once preached. It is said in the text that He came preaching the gospel of God, and in a mere 18 words we see that the heart of the gospel is covered. Well,should we expect anything less from the Son of God?!

The passage tells us that Jesus has come to Galilee and He's come on a mission. In Him, the "time" prophesied from Genesis 3:15 forward was being fulfilled. Jesus, the promised Messiah, has come. 

He is the One whom Isaiah said would bear our griefs, sorrows and sins. He is the sacrificial Lamb who would be "pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities." His mission was to come and ransom sinners from the prison of their sin. He came to die and He came to rise again from the dead, exactly as the prophets of old had foretold. His resurrection would usher in a kingdom where the sting of death would be eradicated and where the Satanic serpent's head would be completely crushed, just as Moses foretold (Gen 3:15). Jesus came to make paupers princes and sinners sons! Truly, in Jesus "the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In The Wilderness - Mark 1:12-13

"And immediately the Spirit impelled Him
to go out into the wilderness.
And He was in the wilderness forty days,
being tempted by Satan;
and He was with the wild beasts,
and the angels were ministering to Him."
(Mark 1:12-13)

The temptation of Jesus is a very well known New Testament story. It's recorded in all of the gospel accounts except for the book of John. Both Matthew and Luke give much more detailed descriptions than does our friend Mark. The latter succeeds in summing up the whole experience in only two verses and gives a solid cliff note of Christ's "crisis". Two verses covering 40 days!

Now, with that said, I must admit that everything in me wants to run to those other gospel accounts and share with you the lessons I've learned in times past from the "extended-play" versions. Matthew and Luke's renderings are truly deep mines containing many precious jewels. They are rich with insight into the schemes of Satan. They are full to over-flowing with pictures of the three-fold Achiles' heel that dwells in all of our hearts (the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life). And they abound with examples of how to properly defend ourselves with the sword of the Spirit against those wicked and dastardly devilish schemes. Oh, how I want to go there! But I have made a promise to myself that I am going to stick like glue to Mark and focus on what he deems necessary for the moment.

So, what does Mr. Mark have to teach us this day? Well, I have personally learned 4 things from these 2 verses.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Well Pleased - Mark 1:9-11

"And it came about in those days
that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee,
and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
And immediately coming up out of the water,
He saw the heavens opening,
and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him;
and a voice came out of the heavens saying:
'Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased.'
(Mark 1:9-11)

John the Baptist was not only privileged to verbally proclaim the coming of Christ, he was privileged to physically anoint Christ as He entered into His public ministry. John the Baptist was given the honor of baptizing Jesus Christ, the Son of God!

So, here in these verses we have the account of the baptism of Christ.

Much could be said.
Much could be debated.
I'm not into all of that at the moment.
For now I'm simply looking for Jesus in the various sections of this gospel account and the thing about my Savior which most attaches itself to my head and to my heart this day springs forth from the Father's words about the Son.

A voice from the heavens speaks and it says: "Thou art my beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased."

There is a LOT of good news about Jesus packed in those eleven words - good news for struggling sinners like you and like me!

Making Ready the Way - Mark 1:1-8

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
who will prepare Your way;
the voice of one crying in the wilderness,
'Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.'
John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness
preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
And all the country of Judea was going out to him,
and all the people of Jerusalem;
and they were being baptized by Him
in the Jordan River confessing their sins.
And John was clothed with camel's hair
and wore a leather belt around his waist,
and his diet was locusts and wild honey.
And he was preaching and saying,
'After me One is coming who is mightier than I,
and I am not fit to stoop down and 
untie the thong of His sandals.
I baptize you with water;
but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.'"(Mark 1:1-8)

Every really good story has an introduction. An introduction consists of those prefacing words and descriptions that will set the stage for all that is to come. Chapter 1 verses 1-8 are the introduction for the good story of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God as told by Mark.

There are several interesting revelations made in these 8 verses, but the thing that most grabbed my attention was the idea of the very introduction itself!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Introductory Comments on A Book About Jesus

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, 
the Son of God..."
(Mark 1:1)

Recently I have found myself with a deeper need to dig into Jesus. (Honestly, God has sort of providentially backed me into the corner of deeper need! OK, so that's a vast understatement.)

In the past month I have truly begun to ask, "Who is this Savior of sinners and do I REALLY know Him or do I just know a decent bit about Him?" In striving to answer the question and answer it well, I found myself drifting to the gospel of Mark. There's a reason for that.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jesus Does All Things Well

I haven't posted any notes in a while. There's a reason for that. The God of the universe has been working overtime on me - very personally, very providentially, very profoundly and I've just needed to sit down and shut up.

My loving heavenly Father has been making me stare down my past, making me learn to rightly rest in Him for my present, and teaching me to trust Him with my future. It's been a pretty big deal and the good news is that, much like Eustace Scrubb in C.S. Lewis' "Voyage of The Dawn Treader", the dragon scales are falling off of this stubborn saved sinner, and the far too often blind eyes of a redeemed doubter are beginning to be focused much more clearly... not simply on the abstract idea of a theoretical Christ who saves sinners but on the real Person of Jesus - Immanuel - God with us - the Lamb of God who died for this sinner.