Month: November 2017

Misunderstood? (Mark 3:1-35)

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Crowds followed Jesus wherever he went as he healed people and set people free people from any demonic influence in their lives. But that’s not all that followed Jesus.

Opposition, misunderstanding and threat followed Jesus from as early as Mark 2:7, when Jesus forgave the paralysed man of his sin and then also healed him.

In Mark 3, Jesus meets a guy in the Synagogue with a withered hand. Jesus has compassion on him and heals his hand but He does this on a Sabbath day. Now, healing someone, restoring their hand to full function, sounds like a good thing, right? Not so for some. And so in that moment a plot to destroy Jesus is initiated (Mark 3:6)!

Great crowds (Mark 3:8-9) follow Jesus to the lakeside, and multitudes are being healed and delivered – these are good things, things to rejoice in! Jesus eventually pulls back from the crowds for a while and calls just some (12) to be with Him, these ones become His disciples, His sent ones (apostles) (Mark 3:13-20).

They come down the mountain, and the crowds return, eventually surrounding his house ‘so that they could not even eat’ (Mark 3:20). Many are being touched, lives transformed, these are good things.

And yet Jesus’ family, an extended group who must have known the stories about His unique birth, must have witnessed His godliness as He grew up and must have heard from Jesus’ mom & dad what had been spoken over him to them by angels…

Even this group of people misunderstand, don’t support Jesus, but rather go out to grab Him, to stop Him, because some of them thought that Jesus had somehow lost His mind and gone crazy (Mark 3:21)!

How did these things make Jesus feel?
How does it feel for us we when are falsely accused, misunderstood, judged & not supported even by those who should love and support us most?
In what ways can you identify with Jesus today?

Here’s the good news. Jesus left heaven, took on a human body, endured experiences like these SO THAT He could enter our humanity fully, SO THAT He could not merely save us from our sin, but also SO THAT He could empathise with us in our experiences.

Whatever you’re facing, accusations, people not understanding you, not supporting you…. Jesus knows, and you can call on Him who endured all that for you, He understands the frustration, devastation & disappointment and He can and wants to lift your eyes to see His today.

So pour your heart out to Him now, He is listening.

Paradoxical (Mark 2:1-28)

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I want to be more and more like Jesus.  Don’t you?

One of the things about Jesus that has always amazed me is that as the Holy, spotless, sinless One in whom there was not even a fibre of sinful compromise, was a total sinner magnet!

Sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, outcasts were drawn to Jesus, they wanted proximity with Him.  You’d have thought that they would have felt estranged by him, uncomfortable around Jesus because of His spotlessness.  But they weren’t…

Now we know that Jesus didn’t lower His standards or dabble a little with compromise to fit in with them.  He was sinless and spotless and yet somehow, paradoxically, messed up people who’s lives didn’t match up to God’s holy standard – were drawn to Him.

John’s gospel records vividly that Jesus came ‘full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14).  I love that description of Jesus.  Jesus didn’t come either with grace or truth.  Jesus didn’t come sometimes with grace and sometimes with truth to varying degrees oscillating between them.  No,  Jesus came full of both grace and truth.

And yet I think, there is an order there that matters.  I believe if we encounter people with truth first, then sometimes we will never get the grace as they will have run away already as they weren’t ready for what we showed them or told them.  If people encounter gracious acceptance, humility and gentleness then they are way more likely to listen to the truth.

Is this how ‘sinners’ were drawn to Jesus?  He was so gracious with everyone and yet never compromised on the truth about what needed to change in their lives?

May we as Christ Followers and as His church be like Jesus!  May sinners find our churches safe places, places where they are included because of their infinite value as image bearers of the most High God, may they feel drawn into close proximity quickly,  and yet may that be loved enough to have truth shared lovingly with them too.

May we as Christ Followers and as His church grasp this paradox that to be holy is not to be removed from sinful people, but to be more and more like Jesus, to have His heartbeat in us.  May we grasp that God’s will for us is that we be in close proximity with lost people so that we can be used by God to share the good news about Jesus with them.  May we grow more and more in our love for those whom Jesus came to call (vs17) to repentance, knowing always that they are like us and we are like them, but for the grace of God.

Prayer:  Who are you praying for, who does not yet know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour?  Pray for them now to come to know and love Jesus and do anything the Holy Spirit leads you to do to reach out to them.

Real Authority (Mark 1:16-45)

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Jesus announced; “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)  But what is the ‘kingdom’, what did Jesus mean when He said that?

Mark 1:16-45 and the rest of the Gospel will show what Jesus meant.  The kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God (Jesus) over all things.  Just like a king on this earth has authority over the domain of his kingdom, Jesus as King and kings has rule and dominion over all things everywhere.

Here in these verses we see Jesus’ authority four distinct ways;

  1. Jesus’ authority over people’s lives & their destinies (1:16-20)

The still relatively unknown Jesus meets Simon & Andrew, James & John by the lakeside and simply calls them to follow Him and they do!  They leave their livelihood, leave their father and join Jesus on a journey into the unknown trusting Him.  Jesus ‘knows the plans he has for us…’, when we respond to His call on our lives, we choose to trust Him, His goodness and His authority.

  1. Jesus’ authority over the demonic realm (1:21-28 &34&39)

Jesus starts to teach in the synagogue and all of a sudden the demonic influence in a man starts making a scene at the prospect of King Jesus being in the room.  After a very short rebuke to be silent, Jesus commands the demons to leave the man alone and they have to, he is freed!  No power struggle at all, just a simple authoritative command from the King.

  1. Jesus’ authority over sickness (1:29-34)

Jesus arrives in the home of Simon & Andrew, their mother-in-law is ill, Jesus doesn’t even pray for her, no drama, just authority as He took her by the hand and the fever left her.  Word gets out and “all who were sick and oppressed by demons” (vs32) get brought so that it felt like the whole city was at the door of the house and Jesus heals & delivers ‘many’ from all sorts of various diseases.  Whatever it was, Jesus’ authority over it was demonstrated in that moment.

  1. Jesus’ authority through his teaching (1:22&27&39)

Jesus was different, when He taught, they marvelled at His authority, when He commanded demons to be silent or to leave a person alone – they had to do so.  Just as an earthly king has authority within the realm of his kingdom, so too Jesus has authority over His entire realm, which is the entire universe, so His words are all powerful & have all authority.

Lastly, an outcast, a Leper comes to Jesus imploring Him; “If you will, you can make me clean” (vs40) to which Jesus moved with pity for the man replies; “I will, be clean.” (vs41)  Although Jesus is the ultimate authority in the universe, He is not aloof in the least, but left heaven to enter our humanity, stops for the outcast and is moved in His heart for this man.  What a King Jesus is!  What authority, what love!

Contemplate:  How is Jesus’ authority & His love connected to our prayers?Pray:  Is there anything, I mean anything you need to ask King Jesus for…ask Him. 

Good news not Good advice! (Mark 1:1-15)

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

The Gospel of Mark is all about the good news about Jesus Christ.  As we read it together this month, that’s what we will discover, this short book is all about the good news, the truth about Jesus Christ.

The word ‘gospel’ means – good news, good message or announcement, and announcements and advice are quite different!

”Advice is counsel about something that hasn’t happened yet, but you can do something about it. News is a report about something that has happened which you can’t do anything about because it has been done for you and all you can do is to respond to it.” – Dr Martin Lloyd Jones

Advice wouldn’t have helped you and I we needed the announcement of good news.  Religion is all about; ADVICE – DO this, don’t DO that for fear of this or that as a consequence…  But advice doesn’t help, it doesn’t lift a finger to help.  And yet help is what we desperately need.

The good news about Jesus is what we need.  The gospel about Jesus is all about the GOOD NEWS of what has already been DONE for you/me by Jesus.  We can’t change it, we can’t do it again, it was DONE by Jesus through His life, death and resurrection and it was DONE for us.

All you can do is accept His offer, believe He has DONE it all for you and then live out your whole life as a response to His act of love towards you!

  1. Contemplate for while the differences between; GOOD NEWS and ADVICE and the GOSPEL and RELIGION.
  2. Pray now and thank Jesus for what He has DONE for you!