Mark 4:1-20 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 4:1-20

  • Mark 4:1-2
  • Again he began to teach by the sea, and a very large crowd gathered around him. So he got into a boat on the sea and sat down, while the whole crowd was by the sea on the shore. 2 He taught them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them,
  • Jesus and the use of Parables
    • Jesus was prepared to use new methods. He was willing to take religious preaching and teaching out of its conventional setting in the synagogue into the open air and among the crowds of ordinary men and women
    • There must have been many among the religious leaders of the day who regarded Jesus’ methods as sensationalism ((especially in journalism) the use of exciting or shocking stories or language at the expense of accuracy, in order to provoke public interest or excitement); but Jesus was wise enough to know when new methods were necessary and adventurous enough to use them
      • I see this often today when someone is attempting to adapt methods to reach a crowd that doesn’t know Jesus yet…We’ve never done it that way before…the message stays the same but the method in which the message is presented can and needs to be updated
    • Jesus chose to use a new method of speaking in parables
      • A parable is basically a comparison
      • It is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning
    • Why did Jesus choose this method? And why did it become so characteristic of Him that He is known forever as the master of the parable?
      • Jesus chose the parabolic method simply to make people listen
        • I hear it all the time “the church shouldn’t try to be entertainment”. And I agree with that for the most part (too many things to compete with)
        • But, there is an element in which we need to do things in such a way that we catch people’s interest or we are never going to reach them with the message
        • That’s why I use things like humor, stories, videos at times, and other elements in my sermons when they fit 
        • Jesus was talking to a crowd out in the open. If He didn’t catch their attention, they would just leave
      • Jesus was using something with which Jewish teachers and audiences were entirely familiar
        • Other Rabbis were using parables as part of their teaching method, so the Jewish audience was used to this
        • OT contains parables as well; maybe the most famous being the story of the man who steals his neighbor’s only lamb that Nathan told David when confronting him about his sin with Bathsheba
      • Jesus was making an abstract idea concrete
        • Few people can grasp abstract ideas. Most people think in pictures
        • There is a sense in which every word must become flesh
      • Jesus was compelling people to think for themselves
        • If you really want to help someone grasp an idea or a lesson, you don’t do it for them. You give them the tools to figure out how to do it themselves
  • Mark 4:3-9
  • 3 “Listen! Consider the sower who went out to sow. 4 As he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it grew up quickly, since the soil wasn’t deep. 6 When the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it didn’t produce fruit. 8 Still other seed fell on good ground and it grew up, producing fruit that increased thirty, sixty, and a hundred times.” 9 Then he said, “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen.”
  • The Sowing of the Word
    • Jesus started from the here and now to get to the there and then
      • He started with the simplest of things in which even a child could understand
    • Jesus showed that He believed that there was a real kinship between earth and heaven
      • It was possible to see God in the ordinary, common, everyday things of life
      • Archbishop William Temple “Jesus taught men to see the operation of God in the regular and the normal—in the rising of the sun and the falling of the rain and the growth of the plant”
      • Romans 1:20 “For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.”
    • The very essence of the parables is that they were spontaneous, of the moment, and unrehearsed
      • Their supreme greatness is that Jesus composed these immortal short stories on the spur of the moment
      • In its most characteristic use the parable is a weapon of controversy, not shaped like a sonnet in undisturbed concentration but improved in conflict to meet the unpremeditated situation
      • When we bear in mind that the parables of Jesus were fleshed out spontaneously, their wonder is increased a hundredfold 
    • They were meant to be heard, not read and studied
      • The parables must never be treated as allegories
        • In an allegory, every part and action and detail of the story has an inner significance
      • An allegory is something to be read and studied and examined
      • A parable is something which was heard once and only once
      • It was a situation in which one great idea let out and shone like a flash of lightening
      • It is always wrong to attempt to make every detail of a parable mean something. 
      • It is always right to say: What one idea would flash into someone’s mind on hearing this story for the first time?
  • Mark 4:10-12
  • 10 When he was alone, those around him with the Twelve asked him about the parables. 11 He answered them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those outside, everything comes in parables 12 so that they may indeed look, and yet not perceive; they may indeed listen, and yet not understand; otherwise, they might turn back and be forgiven.”
  • Why Jesus Used Parables/The Secrets of the Kingdom
    • The Secrets of the Kingdom
      • It means something which is quite unintelligible to the person who has not been initiated into its meaning, but is perfectly plain to the person who has been initiated. It does not mean that the kingdom is remote and hard to understand; but it does mean that it is quite unintelligible to those who have not given their hearts to Jesus, and that only those who have taken Jesus as Mater and Lord can understand what the kingdom of God means
      • I Corinthians 1:18 “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved
    • Quotation from Isaiah 6:9-10
      • Some will always hear but for whatever reason refuse to understand
      • If we read this hearing not a tone of bitter exasperation but a tone of regretful love, it will sound quite different. It will tell us not of a God who deliberately caused blindness and his His truth, but of people who were so dully uncomprehending that it seemed no use even for God to try to penetrate the iron curtain of their lazy incomprehension. 
  • Mark 4:13-20
  • 13 Then he said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand all of the parables?14 The sower sows the word. 15 Some are like the word sown on the path. When they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word sown in them. 16 And others are like seed sown on rocky ground. When they hear the word, immediately they receive it with joy. 17 But they have no root; they are short-lived. When distress or persecution comes because of the word, they immediately fall away. 18 Others are like seed sown among thorns; these are the ones who hear the word, 19 but the worries of this age, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 And those like seed sown on good ground hear the word, welcome it, and produce fruit thirty, sixty, and a hundred times what was sown.”
  • The Parable of the Sower Explained
    • Four types of soil 
      • The hard ground beside the road
        • Fields were in the form of long, narrow strips. They were divided by little grass paths which would become hard as stone as people walked on them
        • There are some people into whose hearts Christian truth can find no entry
        • This is due to their lack of interest; and that comes from a failure to realize how important the Christian decision is. Christianity fails to make an impact on so many people not because they are hostile to it, but because they are indifferent
      • The rocky ground
        • This was not ground full of stones; it was a thin soil over a shelf of limestone rock that was prevalent in Palestine
        • Seed which fell there sprouted all right; but because the soil was so shallow and held so little nourishment and moisture, the heat of the sun soon withered the sprouting seed and it died
        • It is always easier to begin a thing than to finish it (finish well)
        • Someone once said “We have learned that it takes about five percent effort to win a man to Christ, and ninety-five percent to keep him in Christ and growing into maturity in the church”
        • Two troubles
          • The failure to think the thing out and to think it through, the failure to realize what it means and what it costs before the start is made
          • There are thousands of people who are attracted by Christianity but who never let it get beyond the surface of their lives
          • The fact is that with Christianity it is a case of all or nothing. We are safe only when we have given ourselves in total commitment to Christ
      • The ground full of thorns
        • It is easy to pack life with such a multiplicity of interests that there is no time left for Christ
        • I’m sure we can all think of someone who was once faithful that fell away because they let the world distract them
      • The good, clean, deep soil
        • If we are really to benefit by the Christian message, the parable tells us that we must do three things
          • Hear it
          • Receive it
          • Put it into action
            • Many people hear it, fewer receive it, and even fewer put the message into action
            • Life on Mission
            • If the Word of God is not changing you, then you haven’t let it penetrate your life
    • What’s the one big idea that someone first hearing this parable would get?
      • Although part of the seed never grew, the fact remained that at the end of the day there was a splendid harvest. This parable was meant to end despair. 
      • It may seem that much of our effort achieves no result; it may seem that much of our labor is wasted
      • But this parable says “Patience! Do your work. Sow the seed. Leave the rest to God. The harvest is sure.”

Mark 3:20-35 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 3:20-35

– Mark 3:20-21

– 20 Jesus entered a house, and the crowd gathered again so that they were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard this, they set out to restrain him, because they said, “He’s out of his mind.”

• Jesus’ own family doesn’t understand what He is all about

• In fact, they think that He has lost His mind

• Matthew 10:36 makes even more sense when we realize this (“a man’s enemies will be the members of his household)…Jesus lived this out Himself

• What led His family to think this?

– Jesus had left home and the carpenter’s business at Nazareth

– Jesus was obviously on the way to a head-on collision with the religious leaders of the day

– Jesus had started a little society of His own—and a very strange society it was

• Most organized their lives around three things…and Jesus had shown that these really meant nothing

– He had thrown away security

– He had thrown away safety

– He didn’t care what society thought of Him

• H.G. Wells “the voice of their neighbors is louder than the voice of God”

– What appalled Jesus’ friends was the risks that He was taking, risks which, as they thought, no one with any sense would take.

– Mark 3:22-27

– 22 The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and, “He drives out demons by the ruler of the demons.” 23 So he summoned them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand but is finished. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house.

• A House divided against itself will fall

– The religious leaders of the day never questioned Jesus’ ability to cast out demons…they questioned by what power He did these things

• Jesus’ argument is straightforward…if Satan casts out other demons, then a civil war has begun, and he will fall.

• You don’t rob a strong man without first tying up the strong man

• The defeat of the demons did not show that Jesus was in alliance with Satan; it showed that Satan’s defenses had been breached. A stronger name had arrived; the conquest of Satan had begun

• Two things emerge here

– Jesus accepts life as a struggle between the power of evil and the power of God

• Didn’t argue about where evil came from…just dealt with it in the most effective way…You don’t argue about the origin of fire while your house is burning

– Jesus regarded the defeat of disease as part of the conquest of Satan

– Mark 3:28-30

– 28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for all sins and whatever blasphemies they utter. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

• The unforgivable sin

• This was said by Jesus when the scribes and Pharisees had declared that the cures He performed were performed not by the power of God, but by the power of the devil. These men had been able to look at the incarnated love of God and to think it the incarnate power of Satan

• The Holy Spirit revealed God’s truth; second, He enabled that truth to be recognized

– The Holy Spirit enabled men and women to recognize God’s truth when it entered their lives

• But if people refuse to exercise any God-given faculty they will in the end lose it.

• If people refuse the guidance of God’s Spirit often enough they will become in the end incapable of recognizing that truth when they see it

• Evil becomes good and good evil

– Why should such a sin have no forgiveness?

• H. B. Sweet says, “To identify the source of good with the embodiment of all evil implies a moral wreck for which the Incarnation itself provides no remedy”

• 1920’s Bishop of Darby A. J. Rawlinson calls it “essential wickedness”

– Consider the effect of Jesus on people

• The very first effect is to make them see their own utter unworthiness in comparison with the beauty and the loveliness of the life of Jesus

• If people have got themselves into such a state, by repeated refusals to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, they they cannot see anything lovely in Jesus at all, then the sight of Jesus will not give them any sense of sin; because they have no sense of sin they cannot be repentant, and because they are not repentant they cannot be forgiven

• So, it’s not that they cannot be forgiven. It’s that they have gotten to a point that they see no need in being forgiven, therefore, they will not be forgiven. Hebrews 6:4-6 comes to mind

– Mark 3:31-35

– 31 His mother and his brothers came, and standing outside, they sent word to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him and told him, “Look, your mother, your brothers, and your sisters are outside asking for you.” 33 He replied to them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 Looking at those sitting in a circle around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

• True family

• Being family is more than just being related by blood (we talked about that in the life of Joseph)

• Common experience

– It has been said that two people really become friends when they are able to say to each other, “Do you remember?” And then go on and talk about the things they have come through together

• Common interest

– Christians have that common interest because they are all people who desire to know more about Jesus Christ

• Common obedience

– “Band of Brothers”

– Tax collector (Matthew) and fanatical nationalist (Simon the Zealot) should have and probably did hate each other at some point

• They were bound together, however, because both had accepted Jesus Christ as Master and Lord

• Common goal

– We are all trying to introduce others to Jesus

Mark 3:1-19 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 3:1-19

  • Mark 3:1-6
  • Jesus entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a shriveled hand. 2 In order to accuse him, they were watching him closely to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 He told the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand before us.” 4 Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 After looking around at them with anger, he was grieved at the hardness of their hearts and told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 Immediately the Pharisees went out and started plotting with the Herodians against him, how they might kill him.
    • There was a dispatchment from the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem
      • They would have been unmistakeable, sitting in the seats of honor
      • They were not there to worship or learn
      • They were only there to keep tabs on Jesus, and He would have absolutely understood this
    • In the synagogue was a man with a paralyzed hand
      • The Greek indicates that this was not a birth defect…an injury or illness had occurred to cause this man’s disability
    • If Jesus was a cautious man, He would have made sure not to have interacted with this man, as it was the Sabbath
      • As we talked about in the last section, all work was forbidden on the Sabbath
      • Healing was considered work
      • Medical attention could be given only if a life was in danger
        • A woman in child birth could be helped
        • Infections of the throat could be treated
        • If a wall fell, enough could be moved to determine if anyone was alive…alive could be retrieved and helped…dead were to be left until after the Sabbath
        • A fracture could not be attended to
        • Cool water could not be poured on a sprain
        • A cut finger could be bandaged with a plain bandage (no ointment)
        • An injury could be kept from getting worse, but could not be made better
      • A strict Jew would not even defend himself on the Sabbath
        • Wars of the Maccabees
          • Jewish rebels took refuge in caves.
          • Syrian soldiers offered them a chance to surrender, but they refused
          • Syrians attacked on the Sabbath, burning the caves, without even having to close off the entrances
        • Pompey, Roman general besieging Jerusalem
          • Defenders took refuge in the Temple precincts
          • Pompey built a mound on the Sabbath that gave him the ability to overlook and bombard the area
          • They did nothing to stop him, because it was the Sabbath, even though doing nothing signed their own death warrants
        • Rome had a compulsory military service
          • Jews were eventually exempted from this because they refused to fight on the Sabbath
    • Jesus knew this man’s life was not truly in danger
      • He brought the man out to where everyone could see
      • He asked the scribes two questions
        • Is it lawful to do good or evil
          • They had to admit it was lawful to do good and unlawful to do evil
          • Healing the man was obviously a good thing
        • To save a life or to kill
          • In a sense, Jesus was saving this man’s life by giving him back his livelihood 
          • All while they were plotting to kill Him
    • Jesus then healed the man
      • The Pharisees immediately left and started plotting with the Herodians
      • No Pharisee would normally have anything to do with a Gentile or someone who did not keep the law (unclean)
      • The Herodians were the court entourage of Herod; they were continually coming into contact with Romans
      • They were prepared to enter into what was for them an unholy alliance. In their hearts, there was a hate which would stop at nothing
    • This passage shows the clash of two ideas of religion
      • Pharisees
        • Religion was a ritual
        • Obeying certain rules and regulations was the only thing that mattered
        • Jesus broke this, which made Him a “Bad” man
      • Jesus
        • Religion was service
        • Love God and others
        • To Jesus the most important thing in the world was not the correct performance of a ritual but the spontaneous answer to the cry of human need
  • Mark 3:7-12
  • 7 Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a large crowd followed from Galilee, and a large crowd followed from Judea, 8 Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and around Tyre and Sidon. The large crowd came to him because they heard about everything he was doing. 9 Then he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, so that the crowd wouldn’t crush him. 10 Since he had healed many, all who had diseases were pressing toward him to touch him. 11 Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God!” 12 And he would strongly warn them not to make him known.
    • The crowds are continuing to come to see Jesus due to His power of healing…and they are coming from 100+ miles away in some cases
    • Demon possessed were identifying Him as the Son of God
    • Continued theme of Jesus warning/not allowing anyone to tell others that He is the Messiah
      • Why?
      • It was not time for the cross yet, so He is helping to control the timeline
      • To show that He is the Messiah, He must first explain to the people what the Messiah was actually supposed to be
      • They had the wrong idea of what the Messiah was going to be and do.
  • Mark 3:13-19
  • 13 Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, to send them out to preach, 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 He appointed the Twelve: To Simon, he gave the name Peter; 17 and to James the son of Zebedee, and to his brother John, he gave the name “Boanerges” (that is, “Sons of Thunder”); 18 Andrew; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
    • Jesus chooses His disciples
    • He is established in His ministry, with His message and method
    • He’s been preaching throughout Galilee and His impact has been considerable
    • Two practical problems have now emerged
      • Finding a way to make His message permanent (if and when something happens to Him)
      • Finding a way of spreading His message far and wide in a time with no social media, print, news, etc.
      • To solve this problem, He chose those on whose hearts and lives He could write the message and who would go out from His presence to carry that message abroad
    • It’s significant for us that Christianity began with a group
      • From the beginning, the Christian faith is something that had to be discovered and lived out in fellowship
      • This was the complete opposite of the Pharisees (they separated themselves from those they were trying to teach
        • Pharisee literally means the separated one
      • The whole essence of Christianity from the beginning is that it bound men and women together and presented them with the task of living with each other and for each other
    • Christianity began with a very mixed group as well
      • Two extremes met in the disciples
        • Matthew the tax collector (Therefore an outcast)
        • Simon the Zealot (men that were pledged even to murder and assassination to clear their country of the foreign yoke)
        • The man who was lost to patriotism and the fanatical patriot came together in that group, and no doubt between them there were all kinds of backgrounds and opinions
      • Christianity began by insisting the most diverse people should live together by enabling them to do so, because they were all living with Jesus
    • By worldly standards, the men Jesus chose had no special qualifications
      • They weren’t wealthy, no special social position, no special education, not trained theologians, not high-ranking religious leaders, they were 12 ordinary men
      • Two special qualifications
        • They had felt the magnetic attraction of Jesus
        • They had the courage to show that they were on His side
      • These 12 had all kinds of faults, but whatever else could be said about them, they loved Jesus and they were not afraid to tell the world that they loved Him—and that is being a Christian
    • Jesus had called them to two purposes
      • He called them to be with Him
      • He called them to send them out (be on mission) (saved people serve people) (had been won to win others)
      • For their task, He equipped them with two things
        • He gave them a message
          • They were to be His heralds
          • A wise man said that no one has any right to be a teacher unless he has a teaching of his own to offer, or the teaching of another that with all the passion of his heart he wishes to grow
        • He gave them power
          • Because they were with Him, something of His power was on their lives

Mark 2:13-28 (Wednesday Night Bible Study)

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

Mark 2:13-28

  • Mark 2:13-14
  • 13 Jesus went out again beside the sea. The whole crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 Then, passing by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, “Follow me,” and he got up and followed him.
    • Jesus has transitioned from preaching in the synagogues to preaching outdoors
      • This is mainly because the religious establishment has started to not allow him in anymore
      • He is also teaching like all of the other rabbis (the most common teaching style was to teach while walking the roads, and your disciples would follow you and listen while walking)
    • This is still taking place in Galilee, which is actually a hub of travel
      • “Judea is on the way to nowhere; Galilee is on the way to everywhere”
      • Palestine was the land bridge between Europe and Africa
        • The great “Road of the Sea” led from Damascus, through Galilee, through Capernaum, down past Carmel, along the Plain of Sharon, through Gaza, and on to Egypt. It was one of the great roads of the ancient world
        • Another road through Galilee led from Acre on the coast across the Jordan out to Arabia and the frontiers of the Roman Empire
      • Palestine was ruled by different groups at this time
        • Judaea was Roman under a Roman governor
        • Galilee was ruled by Herod Antipas (son of Herod the Great)
        • To the east was ruled by Philip (another son of Herod the Great)
        • On the way from Philip’s to Herod’s, the first city you would arrive at was Capernaum
          • It was by very nature a frontier town
          • It was a customs center
          • In those days, there were import and export taxes, and it appears that Capernaum was the place those taxes were collected
          • This is where Matthew (Levi) worked as a chief tax collector
            • This means that he worked for Herod Antipas, and not for Rome, but he would have been despised and hated none the less
    • This story tells us some things about Jesus and Matthew
      • Matthew was a well hated man
        • Tax collectors made their living by extracting as much as they could over and above what the law required
        • Greek writer Lucian ranks tax collectors with adulterers, panderers, flatterers, and sycophants.
        • Jesus wanted the man no one else wanted
      • Matthew was longing to change
        • Matthew had more than likely been listening to Jesus’ teachings as he went along, and was just waiting for an opportunity to follow Him
        • He would not have been able to go to the good people of the day, because they would not have accepted him
        • There was a woman that had been living with a Chinese man and had a baby by him. She came to a women’s meeting in London, bringing the baby with her. She enjoyed the meeting, and continued to come. After a while, the leader came to her and told her that she could not attend anymore. When she questioned him, he told her that all of the other ladies were going to quit coming if she continued. Thankfully, the lady was found by the Salvation Army and came to Christ
        • That is the attitude that Matthew would have faced with the “good” people
      • As Jesus walked along the shore, that is when He called Matthew
        • Jesus was always looking for an opportunity to point someone toward God
        • What a harvest we could gather in if we looked for men and women for Christ as we walked!
      • Of all the disciples, Matthew gave up the most
        • The others could always return to the boats and return to fishing
        • Walking away from a tax collectors booth, he could never return to that job
        • At some time in every life there comes the moment to decide, and we have to be big enough to make the big decisions
        • Matthew was a man that staked everything on Jesus, and he was not wrong
      • Matthew got at least three things by choosing to follow Jesus
        • He got clean hands
          • Yes, life might be more difficult, but it would be better
        • He lost one job, but he gained a far bigger one
          • Being a disciple
          • Recording the ministry of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew
        • It brought him immortal and worldwide fame (not that that is the goal)
  • Mark 2:15-17
  • 15 While he was reclining at the table in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who were following him. 16 When the scribes who were Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
    • Jesus continues His defiance of the religious norm
    • Matthew invites Jesus to eat with him and his friends (other tax collectors and sinners)
    • Jesus gladly accepted the invitation 
    • The religious elite were not happy to see Jesus interacting with the “sinners”
      • It was forbidden for anyone following the law to interact with those that were law breakers
        • They were not to fellowship with them; not to speak to them; not to do business with them if at all possible; not to travel with them; not to marry them; and certainly, not to share a meal with them or accept hospitality from them
        • By going to Matthew’s house and sitting at his table, Jesus was defying the orthodox convictions of the day
      • Sinner (hamartolos) had a double meaning
        • Those that were breaking the moral law
        • Those that did not observe the scribal law
        • They considered murder and not washing your hands in the prescribed way as the same thing
    • Jesus answered their objections quite simply
      • It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
    • Verse 17, at first sounds as if Jesus does not have any use for good people
      • But the point is that Jesus can’t help those that think they are too good to need His help
      • To have no sense of need is to have erected a barrier between us and Jesus; to have a sense of need is to possess the passport to His presence
    • The attitude of the orthodox Jews to sinners was really compounded of two things
      • Contempt
        • Rabbis taught “The ignorant man can never be pious”
        • The scribes and Pharisees despised the common people; Jesus loved them
        • The scribes and Pharisees stood on their dignity of formal piety and looked down on sinners; Jesus came and sat beside them, and by sitting beside them, lifted them up
      • Fear
        • They were afraid that by spending time with and around “sinners” that they would “catch” sin as well
        • They were like doctors who would refuse to treat someone with an infectious disease because they were afraid they would catch it
        • Jesus was the one who forgot Himself in a great desire to save others
        • C.T. Studd “Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I wast to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell” “I pray that when I die, all hell will have a party to celebrate the fact that I am no longer in the fight.”
  • Mark 2:18-20
  • 18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. People came and asked him, “Why do John’s disciples and the Pharisees’ disciples fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the groom is with them, can they? As long as they have the groom with them, they cannot fast. 20 But the time will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.
    • Fasting was a regular practice of the stricter Jews
    • Day of Atonement was the only day of the year that fasting was required
    • The strictest Jews fasted two days a week (Mondays and Thursdays
    • Not as tough as it sounds (Fast would be from 6 AM to 6 PM and then any food could be consumed)
    • Jesus is not against fasting if done for good reasons 
      • Self-discipline
      • Focus on God
    • Fasting of the Pharisees was for self-display
      • They did things outwardly to make sure others new they were fasting
      • Whitened their faces and wore disheveled garments
      • They were fasting so that everyone would see and admire their devotion
      • It was to call the attention of God to their piety
    • Jesus uses a vivid picture to explain why His disciples were not fasting
      • Jewish weddings, the couple would not leave on a honeymoon afterward. The party would continue for a week with close family and friends
      • The party of the bridegroom would be exempt from any religious duties that would lesson their joy (thus, fasting was not required for the party)
    • The characteristic Christian attitude to life is joy. The discovery of Christ and the company of Christ are the key to happiness
      • Tokichi Ishii 
    • The mark of his rebirth was a smiling radiance. The life that is lived in Christ cannot be lived other than in joy
    • The story ends with dark clouds on the horizon
      • Jesus knows the cross is coming, even this early in His ministry, and He has already chosen to follow this path
  • Mark 2:21-22
  • 21 No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new patch pulls away from the old cloth, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost as well as the skins. No, new wine is put into fresh wineskins.”
    • Jesus knew His message was different than anyone of His day was expecting
    • He also knew how hard it is for us as humans to accept any new teaching 
    • He uses two illustrations to show how necessary it is to have an adventurous mind
      • He speaks of the danger of sewing a new patch on an old garment
        • A new, unshrunk patch, would tear away and damage the old garment
      • He speaks of the danger of putting new wine in old wineskins
        • New wineskins had elasticity while old were rigid and would break easy
        • New wine was still in the fermentation process and would continue to give off gasses. In a new skin, it would stretch and accommodate the new wine. Old skins could not do this and would crack and break, ruining both the wine and the skin.
        • Jesus is pleading for a certain elasticity in our minds
        • As they grow older almost everyone develops a dislike of that which is new and unfamiliar
        • Christ is urging us to be open to change (not the message, but the way it is presented has to be elastic)
  • Mark 2:23-28
  • 23 On the Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to make their way, picking some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 He said to them, “Have you never read what David and those who were with him did when he was in need and hungry — 26 how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest and ate the bread of the Presence —which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests —and also gave some to his companions?” 27 Then he told them, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. 28 So then, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
    • Jesus is again taking on the norms of the scribes and Pharisees
    • His disciples were picking and eating the heads of grain as they passed through the fields
      • This was legal according to the law, as long as they were not using equipment, they could pick and eat what they wanted
      • Except that this was the Sabbath 
      • Thousands of petty rules and regulations had been put in place by the scribes and Pharisees about the Sabbath
      • All work was forbidden
      • Work had been classified under 39 different heads
      • Four of these were reaping, winnowing, threshing, and preparing a meal (Just to prove how petty, you couldn’t even walk with a sandal on held together by a nail, because the weight of the nail was considered work)
      • By their action, the disciples had technically broken all four of these rules and were to be considered law-breakers by the Pharisees
      • They expected Jesus to make the disciples stop when they confronted Him, but that’s not the reaction they god
      • Instead, Jesus reminded them of the story found in I Samuel 21:1-6, when David and his men ate the bread that was reserved only for priests, because they were hungry and it was the only food to eat.
      • Jesus is making the argument that the Sabbath was made to benefit man, not man made for the sake of the Sabbath.
      • This passage confronts us with certain essential truths which we forget at our own peril
        • Religion does not consist in rules and regulations
          • Sunday observance is important, but there is a great deal more to religion than Sunday observance
          • Christianity has at all times consisted far more in doing things than in refraining from doing things
        • The first claim on anyone is the claim of human need
          • If ever the performance of our religion stops us helping someone who is in need, our religion in not religion at all
          • People matter far more than systems
          • People are far more important than rituals
          • The best way to worship God is to help people
          • James 1:27
          • 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
        • The best way to use sacred things is to use them to help one another

Mark 1:35-2:12 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study

Mark 1:35-2:12

  • Mark 1:35-39
    • 35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he got up, went out, and made his way to a deserted place; and there he was praying. 36 Simon and his companions searched for him, 37 and when they found him they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let’s go on to the neighboring villages so that I may preach there too. This is why I have come.” 39 He went into all of Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
    • In last week’s lesson, we looked at a busy day at Capernaum…Jesus had no time alone
    • So we see Him at the start of this lesson making sure He found time alone with God
      • If He was going to be forever giving out, He must be at least sometimes taking in; if He was going to spend Himself for others, He must constantly summon spiritual reinforcements
      • Dr. A. D. Belden “Prayer may be defined as the appeal of the soul to God” In ignoring prayer we ignore, “the possibility of adding God to our resources”. “In prayer we give the perfect mind of God an opportunity to feed our mental powers”
      • Jesus knew this; He knew that if He was to meet people He must first meet God. If prayer was necessary for Jesus, how much more must it be necessary for us?
    • Even in His time alone, the crowds and disciples were still seeking Him out
      • Prayer is great, but it is never meant to be the end.
      • Pray! Then put the work in…not either, or; both, and!
      • Prayer will never do our work for us; what it will do is to strengthen us for work which must be done
      • “Pray like it depends on God. Work like it depends on you.” (St. Augustine, Martin Luther, Mark Batterson)
    • Jesus then left on a preaching tour of the synagogues of Galilee (Probably weeks or months worth of travel and preaching”
    • He preached and healed as He went
      • Three pairs of things Jesus never separated
        • Words and Actions
          • Talk the talk and walk the walk
        • Soul and Body
          • He cared as much about the person’s physical needs as He did the spiritual (James 2:15-17)
        • Earth and Heaven
          • There are those who are so concerned with earth that they forget about heaven and limit good to material good
          • There are those who are so concerned with heaven that they forget all about earth and so become impractical visionaries 
          • C. S. Lewis “Aim at heaven and get the earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither”
  • Mark 1:40-45
    • 40 Then a man with leprosy came to him and, on his knees, begged him, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched him. “I am willing,” he told him. “Be made clean.” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 Then he sternly warned him and sent him away at once, 44 telling him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go and show yourself to the priest, and offer what Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45 Yet he went out and began to proclaim it widely and to spread the news, with the result that Jesus could no longer enter a town openly. But he was out in deserted places, and they came to him from everywhere.
    • Leprosy (The terrible disease)
      • In the NT there is no disease regarded with more terror and pity than leprosy
      • The fate of the leper was truly hard
        • E. W. G. Masterman “No other disease reduces a human being for so many years to so hideous a wreck”
      • Three kinds of leprosy
        • Nodular or Tubercular
          • Begins with lethargy and pain in the joints
          • On the back, symmetrical discolored patches of skin begin appearing
          • Nodes start appearing on the discolored patches (begin pink and then turn brown)
          • The skin thickens and the nodes begin gathering especially in the folds of the cheeks, the nose, the lips and the forehead
            • The whole appearance of the face is changed until the person does not look like a human anymore (ancients described them looking like a lion or satyr)
          • The nodes grow larger and larger until they break open with a disgusting discharge
          • The eyebrows fall out; the eyes become staring; the voice becomes hoarse and breath wheezes due to the ulceration of the vocal chords
          • The hands and feet also break open 
          • Slowly the person becomes a mass of ulcerated growths until  ending in mental decay, coma, and finally death
          • The disease can take around nine years to run its full course
        • Anaesthetic
          • The beginning stages are the same (lethargy, pain, discoloration)
          • Along with this, it affects the nerve trunks of the effected areas (lose all sensation where the patches appear)
          • As it develops, it causes discoloration and blisters where the nerves are injured
          • The muscles waste away
          • The tendons contract until the hands become like claws (always disfigurement of the finger nails)
          • Chronic ulceration of the hands and feet which leads to the progressive loss of fingers and toes (ultimately a whole hand or foot may drop off)
          • The disease can take 20-30 years before ultimately leading to death
        • Combination
          • This is the most common form of leprosy
      • Leviticus 13 describes leprosy in the sense of the Law
        • Psoriasis, ringworm
        • Tsaraath 
        • In Jewish thought, any creeping skin disease, and the diagnosis of leprosy did not distinguish between them
        • Rendered the person unclean
          • Banished from the fellowship of others
          • Dwell along outside of camp
          • Torn clothes, bared heads and coverings on upper lips
          • As they were traveling, they had to yell ahead, “Unclean, Unclean!”
        • If ever cured, a complicated ceremony of restoration had to be performed per Leviticus 14
          • Two birds were taken, one killed over running water
          • Cedar, crimson yarn, and hyssop, along with the live bird were then dipped in the blood of the dead bird, and then the live bird was allowed to go free
          • The man washed himself and his clothes, shaved himself
          • 7-days later he was reexamined
          • Shaved his hair, his head, his eyebrows
          • Sacrificed two male lambs without blemish and a ewe lamb; a measure of fine flour mixed with oil, and a full measure of oil
          • The priest then touched the tip of the right ear, the right thumb, and the right big toe with blood and oil
          • He was given a final examination, and if clear, he was allowed to go with a certificate that he was clean
        • A most revealing picture of Jesus
          • He did not drive away a man that had broken the law
          • He touched a man that was unclean
          • Jesus sent him to fulfill the prescribed ritual
        • Here was see compassion, power, and wisdom all at work together
  • Mark 2:1-5
    • When he entered Capernaum again after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 So many people gathered together that there was no more room, not even in the doorway, and he was speaking the word to them. 3 They came to him bringing a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4 Since they were not able to bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and after digging through it, they lowered the mat on which the paralytic was lying. 5 Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
    • Jesus returned to Capernaum after concluding His preaching around Galilee
    • It did not take long for the city to know that Jesus had returned
    • Life in Palestine was very public
      • In the morning, the front door of the house was opened, and it was an open invitation to come in for anyone that wanted to.
        • A shut door was only when someone deliberately wished for privacy
      • A crowd had filled the house to capacity along with the street around the entrance
      • Four men arrive carrying a paralyzed friend on his mat when they realize that they cannot get to Jesus
        • Roofs were flat, and regularly used as a place of rest and of quiet, so usually there was an outside stairwell that led to the roof
        • Flat beams laid across from wall to wall about three feet apart; the space in between filled with brushwood and then packed tight with clay, making it water tight.
        • Very largely the roof was made of earth and often grass covered the entire surface
        • Digging through was relatively easy, and repairing the roof wood have been simple as well
      • They lower their friend directly to the feet of Jesus
      • “Son, your sins are forgiven”
        • Jews believed that anyone sick or injured was so because of sin. No one was healed without being forgiven by God
  • Mark 2:6-12
    • 6 But some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts: 7 “Why does he speak like this? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 Right away Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were thinking like this within themselves and said to them, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat, and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he told the paralytic— 11 “I tell you: get up, take your mat, and go home.” 12 Immediately he got up, took the mat, and went out in front of everyone. As a result, they were all astounded and gave glory to God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
    • Scribes were present because the crowds that Jesus had already begun attracting
      • More than likely, these scribes had been sent by the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, to track what Jesus was doing
      • The Sanhedrin was charged with dealing with anyone who was found to be a false prophet, so they were keeping an eye on this new potential threat
    • Only God could forgive sins, and to claim to forgive sins was a claim to be God, and considered blasphemy (called for death by stoning)
    • Scribes were not happy with what Jesus had just said, but there were not ready to launch an attack publicly
    • Jesus knew their thoughts, so He challenged them with a question that leveled the playing field
      • Which is easier, “your sins are forgiven, or, take up your mat and walk”?
      • Anyone could say your sins are forgiven and there is no tangible way to tell if it was true
      • Get up and walk could be tested right there and then
      • Basically, Jesus is saying “You say that I have no right to forgive sins? You hold as a matter of belief that if this man is ill he is a sinner and can’t be healed until he is forgiven? Watch this!”
    • The scribes were caught at their own game
      • Their own stated beliefs said he couldn’t be healed without being forgiven, yet they watched him healed, therefore, his sins must be forgiven
      • Here was something that must be dealt with; if this went on, all orthodox religion would be shattered and destroyed. In this incident Jesus signed His own death sentence—and He knew it
    • What does it mean that Jesus can forgive sin? Three possible ways of looking at this
      • Jesus was conveying God’s forgiveness
        • Nathan and David
          • Nathan was not forgiving David or his sin, he was conveying God’s forgiveness of David
        • Could be true, but doesn’t seem to carry the whole truth of the situation
      • Jesus was acting as God’s representative
        • John 5:22 “The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son”
        • If judgment is committed to Jesus, then so must forgiveness
        • Power of attorney
      • The whole essence of Jesus’ life is that in Him we see clearly displayed the attitude of God to men and women
        • It was an attitude of perfect love, of a heart yearning with love and eager to forgive
        • He literally brought men and women God’s forgiveness upon earth. Without Him, they would never have even remotely known about it.

Mark 1:16-34 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 1:16-34

  • Mark 1:16-20
    • 16 As he passed alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17 “Follow me,” Jesus told them, “and I will make you fish for people.” 18 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 Going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat putting their nets in order. 20 Immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
    • Fishing was a huge industry in Galilee
      • Josephus (Jewish Historian) noted that in his day there were 330 fishing boats that worked the Sea of Galilee
      • Fish was a staple in the diet of the day (meat was hard to come by and most only ate meat (other than fish) once a week)
      • Most was salt fish to preserve it
        • Fresh fish was a delicacy in places like Rome
      • Names of the towns around the lake echo the importance of the industry
        • Bethsaida: House of Fish
        • Tarichaea: The Place of Salt-fish
    • Jesus Chooses His Disciples
    • Who were these men
      • We must notice what they were
        • Fishermen: That is to say that these men were ordinary men
        • They were not the well-schooled that other Rabbis would want
        • Not wealthy
        • No one ever believed in ordinary people the way Jesus does
          • George Bernard Shaw “I have never had any feeling for the working classes, except a desire to abolish them, and replace them with sensible people”
        • It was as if Jesus said, ‘Give me 12 ordinary men and with them, if they will give themselves to me, I will change the world.’
        • We should never think so much of what we are as of what Jesus Christ can make us
      • We must notice what they were doing
        • They were doing an honest day’s work
        • They weren’t looking to be used by God
        • God calls the ordinary out of our everyday lives to work for His Kingdom
      • We must notice how He called them
        • Follow me
          • More than likely, they had heard Him teaching already. This is not necessarily the first interaction that they have had with Him
        • Jesus didn’t lay out His theology and ask them to study it
          • In other words, He called them by asking them to follow Him…a personal reaction to Himself
        • In by far the greatest number of cases, people follow Jesus not because of anything that He said, but because of everything that Jesus is
      • We must notice what Jesus offered them
        • He calls them to a task
          • Not to a life of ease, but to service
        • It has been said that what we all need is something in which to invest our lives. So Jesus called His disciples, not to comfortable ease and not to a lethargic inactivity; He called them to a task in which they would have to spend themselves and burn themselves up, and, in the end, die for His sake and for the sake of others. He called them to a task wherein they could win something for themselves only by giving their all to Him and to others.
  • Mark 1:21-22
    • 21 They went into Capernaum, and right away he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and began to teach. 22 They were astonished at his teaching because he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not like the scribes.
    • Jesus in the Synagogue
      • There are certain differences between the synagogue and the church as we know it today
        • The synagogue was primarily a teaching institution and consisted of three things
          • Prayer
          • Reading of God’s Word
          • Exposition of God’s Word
          • No music, no singing, no sacrifice
          • It may be said that the Temple was the place of worship and sacrifice; the synagogue was the place of teaching and instruction
          • The synagogue was the more influential of the two
            • One Temple
            • Everywhere where 10 or more Jewish families lived, the Law required there to be a synagogue
            • If a man had a new message to preach, the synagogue was the obvious place to start
        • The synagogue had certain officials
          • Ruler
            • He was responsible for the administration of the affairs of the synagogue and for the arrangements for its services
          • Distributers of Alms
            • Collections were taken and then given to the poor
            • The poorest of the poor would receive 14 meals per week
          • Chazzan
            • “Minister”
            • He was responsible for taking out and storing the sacred scrolls
            • Cleaning the synagogue
            • Blowing the blasts on the silver trumpet to mark the Sabbath
            • The elementary education of the children of the community
          • One thing they did not have was a permanent preacher or teacher
            • When the people met at the synagogue service it was open to the ruler to call on any competent person  to give the address and the exposition
            • This is why Jesus was able to teach in the synagogues
        • Jesus taught with authority, unlike the scribes
          • The most sacred thing in the world to the Jews is the Torah
          • Considered completely divine
          • ‘He who says that the Torah is not from God has no part in the future world’, ‘He who says that Moses wrote even one verse of his own knowledge is a denier and despiser of the word of God.’
          • If the Torah is so divine…
            • It becomes the supreme rule of faith and life
            • It contains everything necessary to guide and direct life
          • Torah demands two things
            • It must be given the most careful and meticulous study
            • It is expressed in great, wide principles; but, if it contains the direction and guidance for all life, what is in it implicitly must be brought out. The great laws must become rules and regulations
            • This was the thought process of the Jews
          • Scribes (the highest rank was Rabbi) arose and became experts in the law. They had three duties
            • Out of the great moral principles they were to extract rules and regulations for every possible situation in life
              • Became an endless task
              • Jewish religion began with the great moral laws; it ended with an infinity of rules and regulations. It began as religion; it ended as legalism
            • They were to transmit and teach the law and its development
              • Never written down
              • Oral law
              • Even though it was never written down, it was considered more binding than the written law
              • From generation to generation scribes were taught and committed to memory
            • They had the duty of giving judgement in individual cases (practically every individual case produced a new law)
          • How did Jesus’ teachings differ from the scribes?
            • He taught with personal authority
            • The scribes would never give a decision on their own
              • “there is a teaching that…”
              • The last thing they would ever give was an independent judgment 
            • He cited no authorities and quoted no experts
            • He spoke with the finality of the voice of God
            • The terrific, positive certainty of Jesus was the very antithesis of the careful quotations of the scribes. The note of personal authority rang out—and that is a note which captures everyone’s attention.
  • Mark 1:23-28
    • 23 Just then a man with an unclean spirit was in their synagogue. He cried out, 24 “What do you have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 25 Jesus rebuked him saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit threw him into convulsions, shouted with a loud voice, and came out of him. 27 They were all amazed, and so they began to ask each other, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 At once the news about him spread throughout the entire vicinity of Galilee.
    • Jesus not only taught with authority, He healed with authority as well
    • Healing of the demon possessed
      • Where did these demons come from?
        • Some believed they were as old as creation itself
        • Some believed they were the spirits of the wicked who had died and were still carrying on their malignant work
        • Most connected the demons with a story in Genesis 6:1-8
          • When mankind began to multiply on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of mankind were beautiful, and they took any they chose as wives for themselves. 3 And the Lord said, “My Spirit will not remain with mankind forever, because they are corrupt. Their days will be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth both in those days and afterward, when the sons of God came to the daughters of mankind, who bore children to them. They were the powerful men of old, the famous men. 5 When the Lord saw that human wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time, 6 the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and he was deeply grieved. 7 Then the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I created, off the face of the earth, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them.” 8 Noah, however, found favor with the Lord.
      • There were many exorcists that claimed to be able to cast out demons
        • By AD 340, the Christian Church had an Order of Exorcists
        • Ordinary Jewish and pagan exorcists used elaborate incantations and spells and magical rites
        • Jesus with one word of clear, simple, brief authority exorcised the demon
    • The power was not in the spell, formula, incantation, or elaborate rite; the power was in Jesus, and people were astonished
  • Mark 1:29-31
    • 29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went into Simon and Andrew’s house with James and John. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was lying in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31 So he went to her, took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she began to serve them.
    • Jesus went to Peter’s after the service
    • Jewish custom would have had the main Sabbath meal immediately after the service
    • Instead of insisting on eating or resting after the service, Jesus healed Peter’s mother in law, giving of Himself for others
    • This miracle tells us about three people
      • Jesus 
        • He did not require an audience in order to exert His power
        • His methods of healing were different than any other
          • What Peter’s mother in law was suffering from was, according to the Talmud, a burning fever
            • Prevalent today and then in this part of the world
            • Talmud lays down the methods of dealing with it
            • A knife of iron was to be tied by a braid of hair to a thorn bush
            • Successive days, they read Exodus 3:2-3; Exodus 3:4, and then Exodus 3:5
            • Then a magical formula was pronounced and the cure was supposed to be achieved
          • Jesus disregarded the common practices of the day and simply spoke with authority to heal her
      • The disciples
        • Even though they had not been with Jesus long, they were already willing to bring things to Jesus 
        • Therein lies the very essence of the Christian Life. “Take it to the Lord in Prayer”. The disciples had learned what became the habit of a lifetime—to take all their troubles to Jesus and to ask His help for them.
      • Peter’s Mother in Law
        • No sooner had she recovered, she began to serve.
        • SAVED PEOPLE SERVE PEOPLE
  • Mark 1:32-34
    • 32 When evening came, after the sun had set, they brought to him all those who were sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town was assembled at the door, 34 and he healed many who were sick with various diseases and drove out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
    • The emergence of so great a new power and authority was not something which could be kept secret
    • Three times we have seen Jesus healing people
      • Healed in the synagogue
      • Healed in the house
      • Healed in the street
      • Jesus recognized the claim of everyone
    • Wherever there was trouble Jesus was ready to use His power. He selected neither the place nor the person
    • The people flocked to Jesus because they recognized in Him a man who could do things
      • The person people want is the effective person. Jesus could and can produce results
        • The crowds came, but they came because they wanted something out of Him
        • Not because they loved Him
        • Not because they had caught a glimpse of some new vision
        • They wanted to use Him
    • We must all go to Jesus, for He alone can give us the things we need for life; but if that going and these gifts do not produce in us an answering love and gratitude there is something tragically wrong. God is not someone to be used in the day of misfortune; He is someone to be loved and remembered every day of our lives.

Mark 1:1-15 (Wednesday Night bible Study)

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

Mark 1:1-15

  • Mark 1:1-4
    • The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. 3 A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight! 4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
    • Mark starts the story of Jesus a long way back
      • Doesn’t tell the birth of Jesus
      • Doesn’t even begin with John in the Wilderness
      • It begins with the dreams of the prophets long ago
        • It began long, long ago in the mind of God
    • In other words, this has been God’s plan all along
      • Marcus Aurelius “The things of God are full of foresight. All things flow from heaven.
      • It has been said that the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts, and so are the thoughts of God
        • God is working His purposes out
        • History is not random; it is a process directed by the God who sees the end in the beginning
      • We are in that process, and because of that we can either help or hurt it
        • We are either working in the will of God to see His outcome, or we are hindering it from getting done
          • Make not mistake, it will get done, but we have a responsibility to be a part of the process
        • The prophetic quotation that Mark uses is suggestive
        • “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way.
          • Originally from Malachi 3:1 and in its original context, it is a threat.
            • Priests were failing at their duty
            • Offerings were blemished
            • Service in the Temple was a weariness to them
            • The messenger was to cleanse and purify the worship of the Temple before the Messiah emerged
            • So then the coming of the Christ was a purification of life
            • Wherever Christianity comes in its pure form, it brings purification
            • In other words, where Christ is allowed to come, the antiseptic of the Christian faith cleanses the moral poison of society and leave it pure and clean.
        • John came announcing a baptism of repentance
          • Jews were familiar with ritual washings
            • Leviticus 11-15 details them
          • “The Jew washes himself every day because every day he is defiled”- Tertullian
          • Symbolic washing and purifying was woven into every aspect of Jewish life and ritual
          • Gentiles were necessarily unclean for they had never kept any part of the Jewish law
            • When Gentiles converted to Judaism, they had to undergo three things
              • Circumcision
                • The mark of the covenant
              • Sacrifice
                • Only blood could atone for his sin
              • Baptism
                • Symbolized cleansing from all the pollution of his past life
          • John’s baptism was asking Jews to submit to that which only a Gentile was supposed to need
            • John had realized (or told by God) that to be a Jew in the racial sense was not to be a member of God’s chosen people
          • John’s baptism was accompanied by confession
            • We must confess to ourselves
              • Sometimes it is hardest to admit to ourselves that we have done wrong
            • We must confess to those we’ve wronged
            • We must confess to God
              • The end of pride is the beginning of forgiveness
      • Mark 1:5-8
        • 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. 6 John wore a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He proclaimed, “One who is more powerful than I am is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the strap of his sandals. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
        • Why did John have such an impact?
          • He was a man who lived his message
            • He stayed in the wilderness
              • Between the center of Judea and the Dead Sea; and it’s one of the harshest deserts in the world
              • In the OT it is referred to as Jeshimmon, or The Devistation
            • He wore simple clothing
              • Camel hair garment tied with a  leather belt
              • Reminded of the ancient prophets who lived close to the great simplicities and avoided the soft and comfortable luxuries which kill the soul
            • His food was the food of the poor
              • Locusts and wild honey
              • Each could mean two different things
              • Locusts
                • Could be insects (the Law permitted them as food; Leviticus 11:22-23)
                • Could be a kind of bean or nut, the carob which was the food of the poorest of the poor
              • Wild honey
                • Honey that the wild bees make
                • Sweet sap from certain trees
          • His message was effective because he told people what they knew in their hearts and what they were waiting on
            • The Jews had a saying that ‘if Israel would only keep the law of God perfectly for one day, the kingdom of God would come’
              • John was confronting them with a decision that they knew in their heart they ought to make (repentance)
              • Plato said that education did not consist in telling people new things; it consisted in extracting from their memories what they already knew
            • The people of Israel were well aware that for 3-400 years the voice of prophecy had been silent
              • They were waiting for some authentic word from God
          • His message was effective because he was humble
            • “ I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the strap of His sandal”
              • Taking a position lower than the lowest slave
          • His message was effective because he pointed people to something bigger and beyond himself
            • “I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit”
            • John’s one aim was not to occupy the center of the stage himself, but to try to connect men and women with the one who was greater and stronger than he; and they listened to him because he pointed, not to himself, but to the one whom we all need.
      • Mark 1:9-11
        • 9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. 10 As soon as he came up out of the water, he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.”
        • Jesus’ baptism was four things
          • It was the moment of decision
            • In every life there comes moments of decision which may be accepted or rejected
            • Jesus knew when John emerged that the moment of decision had come
          • It was the moment of identification
            • Jesus didn’t need to repent from sin
            • There was a movement of people back to God, and Jesus chose to identify himself with that movement
          • It was the moment of approval
            • No one lightly leaves home and sets out on an unknown way
            • In Mark’s telling of Jesus’ baptism, God’s voice talks directly to Jesus, “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased”
          • It was the moment of equipment
            • He is equipped with the Holy Spirit 
      • Mark 1:12-13
        • 12 Immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels were serving him.
        • As soon as the joy of His baptism takes place, Jesus faces the battle of temptations
          • The Spirit leads or drives Jesus to the wilderness to be tested
          • In this life it is impossible to escape the assault of temptation; but one thing is sure—temptations are not always sent to make us fall, but to strengthen us
        • Satan is the one who tempts Jesus
          • Hebrew for Satan simply means adversary
          • OT the word is used of ordinary human adversaries and opponents over and over
          • I begins to mean one who pleads a case against a person
            • The task of Satan was to say everything that could be said against anyone
          • The other title for Satan is the devil
            • Greek for diabolos
          • In the OT, Satan is still an emissary of God and not yet the malignant, supreme enemy of God. He is the adversary of human beings
          • In the NT, we find that it is Satan or the devil:
            • Behind human disease and suffering (Luke 13:6)
            • Seduces Judas (Luke 22:3)
            • Whom we must fight (I Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7)
            • Power is being broken by the work of Christ (Luke 10:1-19)
            • Who is destined for final destruction (Matthew 25:41)
            • Satan is the power which is against God
          • Here we have the whole essence of the temptation story
            • God is saying take His love to mankind, even if it ultimate takes you to the cross and death
            • Satan is saying conquer mankind with your power and obliterate your enemies
            • God says set up a reign of love
            • Satan says set up a dictatorship of force
          • Mark’s vividness
            • The animals were His companions
              • Leopard, bear, wild boar, and jackal would have been common in this area
              • “On that day I will make a covenant for them with the wild animals, the birds of the sky, and the creatures that crawl on the ground…” Hosea 2:18
            • Angels attended Him 
              • When Elisha and his servant were trapped in Dothan, Elisha opened his eyes to the horses and chariots of fire that belonged to God that surrounded their enemies
              • Jesus was not left to fight His battle alone—and neither are we
      • Mark 1:14-15
        • 14 After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God: 15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
        • Three great, dominant words of the Christian faith
          • Good News
            • Truth (Galatians 2:5; Colossians 1:5)
            • Hope (Colossians 1:23)
            • Peace (Ephesians 6:15)
            • Promise (Ephesians 3:6)
            • Immortality (II Timothy 1:10)
            • Salvation (Ephesians 1:13)
          • Repent
            • The Greek word metanoia literally means a change of mind
            • We are apt to confuse two things—sorrow for the consequences of sin and sorrow for sin
            • Real repentance means coming not only to be sorry for the consequences of sin but to hate sin itself
            • Repentance means that anyone who was in love with sin comes to hate sin because of its exceeding sinfulness
          • Believe
            • Jesus calls us to believe the good news that He is preaching

Introduction to Mark (Wednesday Night Bible Study) (6-8-22)

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

Introduction to the Gospel of Mark

  • The Synoptic Gospels
    • Matthew, Mark, and Luke known as the synoptic gospels. What does that term mean?
      • Two greek words meaning to see together
      • They can be set down in parallel columns and their common matter looked at together
    • Mark can be argued that it is not only the most important of the three, but maybe of any book in the world
      • It is agreed by nearly everyone to be the earliest recording of the life of Jesus that we have.
  • The Pedigree of the Gospels
    • Oral history and finally recorded in written form…would have had to have been hand copied, so there were not numerous copies of everything
    • How do we know that Mark was the earliest?
      • The synoptic gospels contain the same incidents often told in the same words; and they contain accounts of the teaching of Jesus which are often almost identical.
        • Feeding of the 5,000 (Mark 6:30-44; Matthew 14:12-21; Luke 9:10-17)
          • Story told in almost the exact same words in the same way and order
        • Healing of the Paralytic (Mark 2:1-12; Matthew 9:1-8; Luke 5:17-26)
          • The accounts are so similar that even a little parenthesis- ‘he said to the paralytic’- occurs in all three in exactly the same place
        • So closely related there are only two conclusions
          • All three are taking their material from some common source
          • Two of the three are based on the third
      • Mark can be divided in to 105 sections
        • 93 of theses occur in Matthew
        • 81 in Luke
        • Only four are not included in either Matthew or Luke
      • Mark has 661 verses
        • Matthew has 1,068; Matthew has 606 (51% of Mark’s actual wording) of Mark’s 661
        • Luke has 1,149; Luke reproduces 320 (53% of his actual wording)
        • Of the 55 verses that Matthew doesn’t have, 31 are found in Luke
        • Only 24 verses in Mark do not occur in Matthew and Luke
        • Looks very much as if Matthew and Luke were using Mark as the basis of their gospels
      • Matthew and Luke very largely follow Mark’s order of events
        • Matthew and Luke both alter the order of events, but never at the same time
        • One of them always follows Mark’s order of events
    • A close examination of the three makes it clear that Matthew and Luke had Mark before them as they wrote. They added material where they felt it would benefit, but they more than likely had Mark as a guide.
    • It is thrilling to remember that when we read Mark’s gospel we are reading the first recording of the life of Jesus.
  • Mark, the Writer of the Gospel
    • Who is Mark?
      • Son of Mary (wealthy woman in Jerusalem, whose house Peter went too after being freed from prison by an angel in Acts 12). This means Mark was brought up in the very center of the Christian Fellowship
      • Nephew of Barnabas (accompanied Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey before deserting and returning home) (Acts 13)
      • When Paul starts to set out on the second journey, Barnabas again wants to take Mark. Paul refuses and this causes Paul and Barnabas to part company
      • Tradition has it that Mark then went to Egypt and is responsible for the founding of the church at Alexandria (we do not know if this is true or not)
      • When he does reemerge in Scripture it is in the most unexpected way
        • When Paul writes to the Colossian church from prison, Mark is listed as being with Paul (Colossians 4:10)
        • Paul numbers Mark among his fellow workers in Philemon
        • II Timothy 4:11, “Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you, for he is useful to me in the ministry”.
    • Mark’s Source of Information
      • We saw earlier that his home in Jerusalem was a center for the church early on, so he had probably heard a lot of the stories there, but it is most likely that he had as a source, an eyewitness of the life of Jesus.
      • Papias, toward the end of the 2nd Century, liked to obtain and transmit such information as he could glean about the early days of the Church. He tells us that Mark’s gospel is nothing other than a record of the preaching material of Peter.
        • I Peter 5:13 references “My son Mark”.
        • Mark, who was Peter’s interpreter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, all that he recollected of what Christ had said or done. For he was not a hearer of the Lord or a follower of his. He followed Peter, as I have said, at a later date, and Peter adapted his instruction to practical needs, without any attempt to give the Lord’s words systematically. So that Mark was not wrong in writing down some things in this way from memory, for his one concern was neither to omit nor falsify anything that he had heard.
      • We have two great reasons why Mark should be considered a book of great importance. 
        • It’s the earliest of the gospels
          • If it is written shortly after the death of Peter, it would be dated around 65 A.D., less than 40 years after the resurrection.
        • It’s the direct preaching notes of Peter
  • The Characteristics of Mark’s Gospel
    • It’s the nearest thing we will ever get to a report of Jesus’ life.
      • Mark’s aim was to give a picture of Jesus as he was
      • B. F. Westcott called it a transcript from life
      • A. B. Bruce said that it was written from the viewpoint of loving, vivid recollection and that it’s great characteristic was realism
    • Mark never forgot the divine side of Jesus
      • Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God
      • They were astounded at his teaching (1:22); The were all amazed (1:27); these types of phrases occur over and over again.
      • To Mark, Jesus was not simply one of us; he was God among us, constantly moving people to a wondering amazement with his words and deeds
    • No gospel gives such a human picture of Jesus
      • Mark called him the carpenter (6:3). Matthew changes it to “Carpenter’s son”
      • Immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness (1:12). Matthew and Luke change “drove” to “led up by”
      • Mark tells us more about the emotions of Jesus than any of the others
        • Jesus sighed deeply in his spirit (7:34; 8:12)
        • He was moved with compassion (6:34)
        • He was amazed at their unbelief (6:6)
        • Moved with righteous anger (3:5, 8:33, 10:14)
        • He loved the rich young ruler (10:21)
        • Jesus felt the pangs of hunger (11:12)
        • He got tired and needed rest (6:31)
      • The sheer humanity of Jesus in Mark’s picture brings him very near to us
    • Over and over again, he inserts little vivid details into the narrative which are the hallmark of an eyewitness
      • Mark adds in the story of Jesus having the children come to him that not only does He call them, He takes the child in His arms
      • In the feeding of the 5,000, only Mark describes them sitting down in groups of hundreds and fifties
      • When Jesus and his disciples were on the last journey to Jerusalem, only Mark tells us that Jesus was walking alone, ahead of the group, relating to us Jesus’ loneliness.
      • In the story of Jesus calming the storm, only Mark relates that Jesus was asleep on a cushion
    • Mark’s realism and his simplicity come out in is Greek style
      • His style is not carefully developed and polished
        • He tells the story the way a child would relate it
          • He adds statement to statement connecting them simply with the word ‘and’
          • In chapter 3, in the Greek, there are 34 clauses or sentences on after another introduced by ‘and’ after one principal verb
          • It is the way in which an eager child would tell the story
      • He is very fond of the word “immediately”
        • Occurs almost 30 times
        • “Stories march” but Mark’s story does not so much march; he rushes on in a kind of breathless attempt to make the story as vivid to others as it is to himself
      • He is very fond of the historic present
        • In the Greek he talks of events in the present tense instead of in the past 
          • “And when Jesus heard it, he says to them, ‘Those who are strong do not need a doctor, but those who are ill’” (2:17)
          • ‘And when they come near to Jerusalem, to Bethpage and to Bethany, to the Mount of Olives, he sends two of his disciples, and says to them, “Go into the village opposite you…”’(11:1-2)
          • ‘And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, on of the Twelve, comes’ (14:43)
        • Generally speaking, we do not keep these historic presents in translation because in English they do not sound well; but they show how vivid and real the thing was to Mark’s mind, as if it was happening before his eyes
      • He quite often gives us the very Aramaic words which Jesus used
        • Jairus’ daughter, he said ‘Talitha cumi’ (5:41)
        • Deaf and Mute, he said, ‘Ephphatha’ (7:34)
        • Dedicated gift is ‘Corban” (7:11)
        • In the garden, ‘Abba, Father’ (14:36)
        • On the cross ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (15:34)
        • There were times when Peter could hear again the very sound of Jesus’ voice and could not help passing it on to Mark in the very words that Jesus spoke.
  • Special note (14:50-52) 
    • Then they all deserted him and ran away. Now a certain young man, wearing nothing but a linen cloth, was following him. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth behind and ran away naked. 
      • These are strange and fascinating verses. At first sight they seem completely irrelevant. they seem to add nothing to the narrative and yet there must be some reason for them being there.
      • In Acts, it appears the center of the Church in Jerusalem is Mary’s house, the mother of John Mark. It is at least probable that the upper room in which the Last Supper was eaten was in that same house. There could be no more natural place than that to be the center of the Church.
        • It may be that Mark was actually present at the Last Supper. He was young, just a boy, and maybe no one really noticed him. But he was fascinated with Jesus, and when the company went out into the dark, the slipped out after them when he ought to have been in bed, with only the linen sheet covering him. It may be that all the time Mark was there in the shadows listening and watching. That would explain where the Gethsemane narrative came from. If the disciples were all asleep, how did anyone know about the struggle of soul that Jesus had there? It may be that the one witness was Mark as he stood silent in the shadows, watching with a boy’s reverence the greatest hero had ever known. 
        • From John’s narrative, we know that Judas left the company before the meal was fully ended. It may be that it was to the upper room that Judas meant to lead the Temple police so that they might secretly arrest Jesus. But when Judas came back with the police, Jesus and his disciples were gone. Naturally there was an argument. The uproar wakened Mark. He heard Judas propose that they should try the garden of Gethsemane. Quickly Mark wrapped his bedsheet around him and sped through the night to the garden to warn Jesus. But he arrived too late, and in the scuffle that followed was very nearly arrested himself.
      • Whatever may be true, we may take it as fairly certain that mark put in this passage because they were about himself. He could never forget that night. He was too humble to put his own name in, but in this way he wrote his signature and said, to anyone who could read between the lines, “I was there as a boy.”

Celebration (Spiritual Disciplines Study)

Corporate Disciplines

Celebration

  • Augustine of Hippo
    • The Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot!
  • Celebrations is at the heart of the way of Christ. 
    • He entered the world on a hight note of jubilation.
      • Luke 2:10
        •  10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people
    • He left the world conveying his joy to the disciples
      • John 15:11
        • 11 “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
    • The carefree spirit of joyous festivity is absent in contemporary society. Apathy, even melancholy, dominates the times. Havey Cox says that modern man has been pressed “so hard toward useful work and rational calculation he has all but forgotten the joy of ecstatic celebration…”
  • Celebrations Gives Strength to Life.
    • Celebration brings joy into life, and joy makes us strong.
      • Nehemiah 8:10
        • 10 Then he said to them, “Go and eat what is rich, drink what is sweet, and send portions to those who have nothing prepared, since today is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
    • Celebration is central to all the spiritual disciplines. Without a joyful spirit of festivity the disciplines become dull, death-breathing tools in the hands of modern Pharisees. Every discipline should be characterized by carefree delight and a sense of thanksgiving.
    • Joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit. Without joyous celebration to infuse the other disciplines, we will sooner or later abandon them. Joy produces energy. Joy makes us strong.
    • Ancient Israel was commanded to gather together three times a year to celebrate the goodness of God. Those were festival holidays in the highest sense. They were the experiences that gave strength and cohesion to the people of Israel.
  • The Path to Joy
    • In the spiritual life only one thing will produce genuine joy, and that is obedience.
      • Luke 11:27-28
        • 27 As he was saying these things, a woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the one who nursed you!” 28 He said, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.”
        • It is a more blessed thing to live in obedience to have been the mother of the Messiah
    • Hannah Whitall Smith
      • Joy comes through obedience to Christ, and joy results from obedience to Christ. Without obedience joy is hollow and artificial.
    • To elicit genuine celebration, obedience must work itself into the ordinary fabric of our daily lives. Without that our celebrating carries a hollow sound.
      • For example, some people live in such a way that it is impossible to have any kind of happiness in their home, but then they go to church and sing songs and pray, hoping that God will somehow give them an infusion of joy to make it through the day. They are looking for some kind of heavenly transfusion that will bypass the misery of their daily lives and give them joy.
        • But God’s desire is to transform the misery, not bypass it.
    • Joy is not found in singing a particular kind of music or in getting with the right kind of group or even in exercising the charismatic gifts of the Spirit, good as all these may be. Joy is found in obedience.
    • Celebration comes when the common ventures of life are redeemed.
    • Scripture commands us to live in a spirit of thanksgiving in the midst of all situations; it does not command us to celebrate the presence of evil.
  • The Spirit of Carefree Celebration
    • Philippians 4:4-8
      • 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.
    • Matthew 6:25
      • 25 “Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?
    • Christians are called to be free of care, but we find such a way foreign to us.
    • The spirit of celebration will not be in us until we have learned to be “careful for nothing”. And we will never have a carefree indifference to things until we trust God.
    • If we fill our lives with simple good things and constantly thank God for them, we will be joyful, that is, full of joy. And what about our problems? When we determine to dwell on the good and excellent things in life, we will be so full of those things that they will tend to swallow our problems.
  • The Benefits of Celebration
    • Far and away the most important benefit of celebrations is that it saves us from taking ourselves too seriously.
      • After all, Jesus rejoiced so fully in life that he was accused of being a drunkard and a glutton. Many of us lead such sour lives that we cannot possibly be accused of such things.
      • Celebration helps us relax and enjoy the good things of the earth.
    • Celebration also can be an effective antidote for the periodic sense of sadness that can constrict and oppress the heart.
      • Depression is an epidemic today and celebration can help stem the tide. (Not making lite of the idea of counseling)
    • Another benefit of celebrations is its ability to give us perspective
      • We can laugh at ourselves
      • We come to see that the causes we champion are not nearly so monumental as we would like to believe.
      • In celebration the high and the mighty regain their balance and the weak and lowly receive new stature.
      • Thus freed of an inflated view of our own importance, we are also freed of a judgmental spirit.
    • Finally, an interesting characteristic of celebration is that it tends toward more celebration. Joy begets joy. Laughter begets laughter.
  • The Practice of Celebration
    • One way to practice celebration is through singing, dancing, and shouting.
      • What do little children do when they celebrate? They make noise, lots of noise.
      • When the children of Israel had been snatched from the clutches of Pharaoh by the mighty power of God, Miriam the prophetess led the people in a great celebrations dance. 
      • David went leaping and dancing before the Lord with all his might.
      • Singing, dancing, and noise-making are not required forms of celebration. They are examples only, to impress upon us that the earth indeed is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. We are free to celebrate the goodness of God with all of ourselves.
    • Laughing is another way we practice celebrations
      • The old adage “Laughter is the best medicine” has a lot going for it.
      • Why not! Jesus had a sense of humor—some of his parable are positively comical.
      • Poke fun at yourself. Enjoy wholesome jokes and clever puns. Relish good comedy. Learn to laugh; it is a discipline to be mastered. Let go of the everlasting burden of always needing to sound profound.
    • A third way to encourage celebration is to accent the creative gifts of fantasy and imagination.
      • Harvey Cox
        • There was a time when visionaries were canonized, and mystics were admired. Now they are studied, smiled at, perhaps even committed. All in all, fantasy is viewed with distrust in our time.
      • Only those who are insecure about their own maturity will fear such a delightful form of celebration
    • Relish the creativity of others
    • Another thing we can do is to make family events into times of celebration and thanksgiving
      • We can also celebrate lesser, but equally important events like finishing a major project, securing a job, receiving a raise. In addition, why not from regular rituals of celebration that are not connected with special events. Set up regular times to play games or to watch movies or read books together. Turn visits to relatives into celebrations of your relationship. 
    • A fifth thing we can do is to take advantage of the festivals of our culture and really celebrate.
    • Celebration gives us the strength to live in all the other disciplines. When faithfully pursued, the other disciplines bring us deliverance from those things that have made our lives miserable for years which, in turn, evokes increased celebrations. Thus, an unbroken circle of life and power is formed.
  • We have come to the end of this study, but only to the beginning of our journey. We have seen how meditation heightens our spiritual sensitivity which, in turn, leads us to prayer. Very soon we discover that prayer involves fasting as an accompanying means. Informed by these three disciplines, we can effectively move into study which gives us discernment about ourselves and the world in which we live. 
  • Through simplicity we live with others in integrity. Solitude allows us to be genuinely present to people when we are with them. Through submission we live with others without manipulation, and through service we are a blessing to them.
  • Confession frees us from ourselves and releases us to worship. Worship opens the door to guidance. All the disciplines freely exercised bring forth the doxology of celebration.
  • The classical disciplines of the spiritual life beckon us to the Himalayas of the Spirit. Now we stand at timber line awed by the snowy peaks before us. We step out in confidence with our Guide who has blazed the trail and conquered the highest summit.

Guidance (Spiritual Disciplines Study)

Corporate Disciplines

Guidance

  • George Fox
    • Dwell in the live and love and power and wisdom of God, in unity one with another and with God; and the peace and wisdom of God fill your hearts, that nothing may rule in you but the life, which stands in the Lord God.
  • In our day heave and earth are on tiptoe waiting for the emergence of a Spirit-led, Spirit-intoxicated, Spirit-empowered people. All of creation watches expectantly for the springing up of a disciplined, freely gathered, martyr people who know in this life the life and power of the kingdom of God. It has happened before. It can happen again.
  • Much of the teaching on divine guidance in our century has been noticeably deficient on how God leads us through Scripture and through reason and through circumstances and through the promptings of the Spirit upon the individual heart. There has also been teaching—good teaching—on the exceptional means of guidance: angels, visions, dreams, signs, ad more. But we have heard little about hour God leads through his people, the body of Christ. 
  • Perhaps the preoccupation with private guidance in Western cultures is the product of their emphasis upon individualism. The people of God have to always been so.
  • The people of the Church in Acts were gathered who lived under the immediate, theocratic rule of the Spirit. With quiet persistence Jesus showed them what it meat to live I response to the voice of the Father. He taught them that they, too, could hear the heave sent voice and most clearly when together.
    • Matthew 18:19-20
      • 19 Again, truly I tell you, if two of you on earth agree about any matter that you pray for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them.”
    • In those words Jesus gave his disciples both assurance and authority. There was the assurance that when a people genuinely gathered in his name his will could be discerned.
    • The superintending Spirit would utilize the checks and balances of the different believers to ensure that when their hearts were in unity they were in rhythm with the heartbeat of the Father.
    • Assured that they had heard the voice of the true Shepherd, they were able to pray and act with authority. His will plus their unity  equaled authority.
    • Acts 4:32-33
      • 32 Now the entire group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common. 33 With great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on all of them.
    • Acts 13:1-3
      • Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.
      • It was beautifully illustrated in the calling forth of Paul and Barnabas to take the good news of the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire
  • With all our modern methods of missionary recruitment we could profit by giving serious attention to this example of corporate guidance. We would be well advised to encourage groups of people to fast, pray, and worship together until they have discerned the mind of our Lord.
  • Acts 15
    • Great example of corporate guidance.
    • 6 The apostles and the elders gathered to consider this matter. 7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you are aware that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the gospel message and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he also did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why are you testing God by putting a yoke on the disciples’ necks that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? 11 On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus in the same way they are.” 12 The whole assembly became silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul describe all the signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they stopped speaking, James responded, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has reported how God first intervened to take from the Gentiles a people for his name. 15 And the words of the prophets agree with this, as it is written: 16  After these things I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. I will rebuild its ruins and set it up again, 17 so that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord—even all the Gentiles who are called by my name—declares the Lord who makes these things 18 known from long ago. 19 Therefore, in my judgment, we should not cause difficulties for those among the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but instead we should write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For since ancient times, Moses has had those who proclaim him in every city, and every Sabbath day he is read aloud in the synagogues.”
  • It was more than a victory regarding an issue; it was a victory to the method used in resolving all issues. 
  • They had dared to live on the basis of Spirit-rule; not fifty-one percent vote, no compromises, but Spirit-directed unity. And it worked.
  • The Spiritual Director
    • In the Middle Ages not even the greatest saints attempted the depths of the inward journey without the help of a spiritual director.
    • What is the purpose of a spiritual director?
      • Dom Augustine Baker
        • In a word, he is only God’s usher, and must lead souls in God’s way, and not his own.
      • He is the means of God to open the path to the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit.
      • The relationship is of an adviser to a friend.
      • Spiritual direction is concerned with the whole person and the interrelationship of all of life
      • Spiritual direction takes up the concrete daily experiences of our lives and gives them sacramental significance.
      • The ordinary kinds of caring and sharing that belong to the Christian community are the starting point for spiritual direction. Out of them will flow “kingdom authority” through mutual subordination and servanthood
      • Like Paul who thought of Timothy as his “beloved child,”they must be prepared to take on certain parental responsibilities. Theirs must be a tough love that refuses to give approval to every whim. They should also know enough of the human psyche that they will not reinforce unconscious and infantile needs for authoritarianism.
      • If we have the humility to believe that we can learn form our brothers and sisters and the understanding that some have gone further into the divine Center than others, then we can see the necessity of spiritual direction.
        • Virgil Vogt
          • If you cannot listen to your brother, you cannot listen to the Holy Spirit
      • It is helpful to realize that there are many forms of spiritual direction.
        • Preaching is a form of spiritual directions as is the ministry of many small groups
        • John Wesley established the “class meetings” and “bands” as forms of spiritual direction
        • The Bible itself functions as spiritual direction, for as we read it prayerful we are being formed more and more into the image of Christ.
  • The Limits of Corporate Guidance
    • Dangers exist in corporate guidance as well as individual guidance. Perhaps the most menacing danger is manipulations and control by leaders
      • It becomes a kind of quasi-magic formula though which leaders can impose their will upon individuals, an authorized system through which all different opinions can be brought into line.
      • It is not the way of Jesus to crush the weakest person or to snuff out the smallest hope. Tenderness toward each individual situation must inform all our deliberations.
    • There is also danger in the opposite directions
      • It is possible for a hard-hearted and stiff-necked people to hinder Spirit-inspired leaders
      • Leaders need the freedom to lead. If God has called them to lead, they should not have to bring every detail of life to the community.
      • God appoints authoritative leadership in the Church so that his work may be done upon the earth.
    • Another danger is that corporate guidance will become divorced from biblical norms
      • The one Spirit will never lead in opposition to the written Word that he inspired
      • There must always be the outward authority of Scripture as well as the inward authority of the Holy Spirit
      • Scripture itself is a form of corporate guidance. It is a way God speaks through the experience of the people of God. It is one aspect of “the communion of saints”
    • Corporate guidance is limited by our finitude
      • Despite our best efforts, our own prejudices and fears keep us from a Spirit-led unity
      • Paul and Barnabas, for example, could not agree on whether to take John Mark with them on their second missionary journey
      • Acts 15:39
        • 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed off to Cyprus.
      • We should not be surprised if we have the same experience in our ministry efforts
        • We should be kind to one another when this happens
  • Dallas Willard
    • The aim of God in history is the creations of an all-inclusive community of loving persons, with Himself included in that community as its prime sustainer and most glorious inhabitant
    • Such a community lives under the most immediate and total rulership of the Holy Spirit. They are a people blinded to all other loyalties by the splendor of God, a compassionate community embodying the law of love as seen in Jesus Christ.
    • They are tenderly aggressive, meekly powerful, suffering, and overcoming. Such a community, cast in a rare ad apostolic mold, constitutes  a new gathering of the people of God. May almighty God continue to gather such people in our day