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Archive for August 2010

Mark study 3

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Mark 1:28-45

Where we left the story, Jesus had just performed a miraculous spiritual healing on the back of some incredible teaching. His fame, from this moment on, had really started to spread all around the region of Galilee. Obviously he was going to get noticed a bit for the great wisdom of his teaching and being able to back it up with miracles; but the interesting thing to notice is not that Jesus was getting famous, but where it was happening. Verse 28 explains that his fame was spreading throughout Galilee. This is unremarkable in that it is where he was at the time, but remarkable in that it was where Jesus had grown up, since returning from Egypt as a small boy. This is where Jesus had always been, but had never before been famous. At best guess he was in his early thirties by this point, which means he had spent some twenty five years in Galilee unnoticed up until now. Fame, it seems, was quite different then than it is today. Jesus became famous when he started saying and doing things that set him apart from others – he lived out the Kingdom and that appealed to people. He was becoming famous because what he said and did was important. In society today, we seem to glorify people and then start taking note of what they say and do. This is the opposite way round; what they say and do is important because they are famous. This has led to some very strange ideas in modern culture. We seem to put people up on pedestals and assume that they are positive role models because they are rich and famous; but the reality is that these people sell magazines because they have lives which are often, sadly, far from reputable. If it is your desire to live out the Kingdom life, it’s a hard road and one on which you’ll not get noticed that much – but will you quietly stand, while those around you fall for the lures of the world around them?

 vv29-31

If you read the last study, you’ll remember that Mark is keen on recounting everything happening in quick succession. It’s no surprise then to read of Jesus ‘immediately’ leaving the synagogue. It seems not to indicate that Jesus wanted to get out of there straight after driving out the demon, but that it is just one of the ways that Mark likes to progress the story. This is why the disciples ‘immediately’ tell Jesus about Simon’s mother-in-law and her illness. Mark again doesn’t go into much detail about the healing – there are notes in the previous studies about Mark’s lack of intricate detail, so I won’t go over it again! But I ask you to think on two points that Mark does make. The first is that it is Simon’s mother in law. Mark doesn’t tend to name people who aren’t key players in his book (as we will go on to see, if they’re extras; they don’t get speaking parts or name credits). Alright, he doesn’t name this woman either, but he does make it clear who she is. He must find it important to do so, otherwise he wouldn’t bother. So why does he do it?

I’ve gone to a new paragraph so that you will have had time to answer for yourself. I have a theory, but it’s just my theory, so don’t assume it is correct. Remember what we know about Simon so far? All we know is he was a fisherman and he dropped everything to follow Jesus. Now we also know that he’s married and that his wife’s mum is sick. In his preparedness to follow Jesus, Jesus displayed an equal preparedness to honour him by healing his family members. How cool is that? No sooner had Simon given everything to Jesus than Jesus had paid his family back with the healing that they wanted for mum-in-law! It was in Simon’s faithful response to Jesus that the blessing was poured out in return. Making that faith decision paid off for Simon, because he actually entrusted to God his family’s future the day he gave Jesus his everything. For anyone who has been challenged to drop stuff for God; this story is here to encourage you – the blessings can roll in in real and unexpected ways!

Point two is that Jesus took her by the hand and lifted her. Bear that in mind as we go into the third section of the bible study. As she gets up, she serves the others in her house. This may be reflective of the thankful response she has towards Jesus. This is the fitting response – when Jesus saves a life, that life should then be lived out serving him.

 vv32-39

Your bible probably separates this section into two. It probably inserts a new heading before verse 35. When you read the passage through, you probably stopped and moved into a new section, because that is what the bible translators wanted you to do. It is sometimes useful to remember that the original manuscripts of the biblical texts don’t have these little headings. Read it again but ignore the heading. The passage changes when you do this, and we get a better idea of the point Mark is making here. With the heading in place, one day ends, another begins with Jesus praying; you safely assume everyone had a good night’s sleep. Without the heading, Jesus seems to have been up almost all night healing people, and takes a moment out (whilst the disciples are just too shattered to stay awake) to pray to his father. This is a more accurate picture of what Mark was originally writing about. We should note obviously that Jesus went out to a place where he was alone to pray. He built his ministry in prayer. It was the time he spent with his father that charged him for what he needed to do; and also directed him into what he needed to do. A healthy prayer life was essential to Jesus, and is so much more essential to us.

Next we get to the bit where this passage shocks the disciples, and should impact us most. The disciples find Jesus and say “everyone is looking for you.” I used to work in a toy shop, and we got occasional coffee breaks down in the basement. Once the boss thought you’d had long enough to make and drink half a cup of coffee, the next person would come down and say “everyone’s looking for you upstairs.” What they’re saying is “you’ve had your break, now get back to work” and this is what the disciples meant when they were talking to Jesus. Jesus’ response must have knocked the disciples for six – “let’s go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so that I can preach there also…” Having just witnessed Jesus pretty much pulling an all-nighter of healing people and casting out demons, they’re jonesing to see what miracles he’s going to perform today. But Jesus responds more like a teenager who’s seen everything on TV and is forced to find some other activity. “Let’s go somewhere (‘anywhere’) else…” They think he’s just warming up and are completely underwhelmed by the response; but hold on, have they horribly misjudged the situation? Jesus explains “… that is what I came for.”

The disciples know that they have let themselves in for a ride, but aren’t even sure what sort of a ride it will be! Like they got to Alton Towers and joined a queue without looking. In the end, it turns out that they were queuing up for ‘Oblivion’ (insert the name of your favourite ride here) so no worries; but they spend the entire time in the queue unaware of just what it was going to be for. The whole way through Mark’s gospel, they just don’t get it! They think they know when Jesus starts casting out demons, then when he starts doing miraculous healings, but they don’t understand Jesus’ clear purpose is to preach the Kingdom. Jesus is focussed on this mission, as he receives his instructions straight from God in prayer. So we reach the debunk which I so dearly love to share with anyone who will listen.

Francis of Assisi said this: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” Debunk #1: Francis of Assisi has had this quote attributed to him, it is doubtful that it is actually a quote of him, link here to look at some evidence. Either way, whether he said it or not, it is unimportant as it is a philosophy that people hold very dear. Debunk #2: this statement is useless. Ray Comfort rephrases it this way: “Feed starving children; where necessary, use food.” Preaching the gospel was Jesus’ ministry. He used miracles of healing and cast out demons because it served the afflicted people so to do. So tied up was this act with simply serving people that Jesus, we read in verse 34, would not let the demons acknowledge him as the Son of the Most High God. This is a big part of the Messianic Secret that we started to explore last time. Jesus ministers to people in order to embody the kingdom – to put flesh on the bones of the words that he had preached to them! Please if you only take one thing from this bible study let it be this: “preach the gospel at all times; it is necessary to use words!!!”

vv 40-45

 Nearly there; just a little bit more mental athletics, and some bible surfing left. You’ll notice that verse 40 introduces a ‘leper.’ This is a term used in the New Testament for many different skin afflictions, more information can be seen in Leviticus 13.

You skipped past that bit, didn’t you? You thought about it, and then you went “Leviticus? I can’t be bothered reading that!” I would have done the same. But it is important that you read it, or you won’t understand what happens next. So here’s the link again, you’re welcome!

 So now you understand that this guy was unclean. He was religiously unclean. This meant he was socially unclean. He was shunned by society, unable to come into contact with anybody physically, verbally (except to inform people that he was unclean), mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Your bible probably says Jesus was moved by pity, or filled with compassion; the original Greek manuscripts tell us that Jesus’ emotion was ὀργισθεὶς (orgistheis) which means angry. Jesus was moved by anger to help this man. Was he angry at the man, or at being interrupted? Or is it more likely that anger burned inside of him at the contemptible and shameful way he had been treated because the religious leaders had ensured it, and society followed. So aware of his own ‘uncleanness’ was the man that he even doubted that Jesus would want to heal him. Of course Jesus wanted to heal him, but so much more. Jesus “stretched out his hand and touched him,” which is important in so many ways. Firstly, you’ll remember Simon’s mother-in-law received healing with the loving application of touch, and Jesus too does it for this man. Secondly, for the man himself, it is the first contact he has had with anybody for years, in the one touch Jesus heals so much more than just the obvious skin disease. Thirdly, Jesus did not care for the rules that had caused this man to be treated so inhumanely. To him, the rules had been used terribly, and Jesus could see beyond that – and he loved him. That is not to say that Jesus did away with the law; he asks the man after healing to go and make the appropriate sacrifices. But it is clear from Jesus that to love is greater than to keep the rules and regulations.

Some points to ponder:

 What examples do you follow? Think about your role models and why they are important to you.

What can you learn from Simon’s faith experience and God’s provision for his family after he’d committed to Jesus?

Does your prayer life get you the answers you need to be focussed on what God has for you? If not, it’s time to get thinking and talking about how to improve it!

Do you preach the gospel? If you don’t use words, you’re just a nice (but maybe a bit ‘boring’) person…

What can you do to treat those around you, especially the afflicted and downtrodden, better?

laters,

two5two

Written by two5two

August 12, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Posted in Bible Studies