These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!
“As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.”
I think that one of the most powerful testimonies someone can offer is a changed life on display. This man wanted to follow Jesus and the disciples, but Jesus seemed to know that his presence in the community as a totally changed person would be more impactful than him joining the group as a disciple.
Evangelism for this man must have been kind of simple after being freed from his demons. I imagine people that knew him before being blown away at his radical change, and him telling them that he simply met Jesus and is now free.
It also catches my attention that in this episode Jesus says “go and share”, while many other times in Mark (and Matthew) Jesus says, “don’t share.” I wonder if the difference is due to Jesus leaving that area, and so He implements a way for “His presence” (at least via testimony) to stay there. A sort of “multiplying” of Himself, if you will. But in another case where He said don’t share, it was because He was still with them and maybe didn’t want to be overwhelmed by people all at once? At least I think of Mark 2:40-45: “Jesus sternly charged him [the healed leper]…’say nothing to anyone…’ But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town”
It is easy to forget that Jesus was fully human, and he understood what was practical for himself as well as what was necessary for his message to spread.
I’d add that according to Matt. 12:15-21, Jesus telling people to not share was part of fulfillment of Isaiah 42:1-3. That Messiah was to be somewhat quiet UNTIL “He brings justice to victory”. And then, “in his name the Gentiles will hope.” I take this to be a reference to His death and resurrection. In other words, He was to be quiet and news of Him somewhat hushed UNTIL his death and resurrection. At that point, the Gentiles will be brought in and the whole world should know.
Mark 5:28: “if I touch even his garments, I will be made well.”
Consider that. A piece of Jesus’ clothes at the outer, edge of His body can issue so much healing. Now think ahead to His body today – that is, the Church (Eph. 5). We are individual members of His body, all with His Spirit indwelling us. This tells me that even someone who is “little” and sort of “on the fringes” can still issue healing (on many levels) to souls around them. So long as you are part of Jesus’ body, with His Spirit within, there is a power you have (and of how much more worth are you than a garment?).
Mark 5:21-43 – thinking also of the rest of this story with Jairus’s daughter. You see how ruthless/serious Jesus is about the healing in the fact that he only brought 3 of his apostles, then ordered everyone away when He was there. It was probably perceived as rude and socially awkward, but Jesus’ eyes were only toward the healing of this child, so He took those extra steps. Makes me wonder where I might be able to take extra steps that could seem rude or socially awkward but would lead to ministry of others – from death to life.
I love this idea that we are all an extension of Jesus’ body, and we can offer Jesus’ healing power to others as long as we are aware of the Holy Spirit with us. So great!
Mark 6:5 – “Jesus could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.”
Not many times did Jesus marvel. Not many things would make the God of the universe marvel. But here is an instance: when God comes in the flesh, to the very place he’d spent years at, and yet so few believe Him. That makes Him marvel.
Again, in some way, we see the faith of the community tied to the healings that happened. Perhaps this helps explain why a lot of radical miracle stories happen in non-Western countries?
Consider why those who knew Jesus the best had the least faith. Obviously, they only knew him in the flesh, and not by revelation of God. Further, they knew him largely before Jesus began his public ministry, so I don’t think He was really preaching or doing great miracles for them a lot. But I also think that we have a preconceived notion of what God would be like if He was among us. And then Jesus was so different than human perversions of what we think God is like. And they couldn’t believe it. Just a thought…
Mark 7 has a precious place in my heart.
A couple highlights from reading it today:
The Pharisees had worked out this “logical” idea that giving to God is better than giving to parents. On the surface, of the 2 choices, most would probably side with the Pharisees, right? But the problem is their “good idea” replaced Scripture, and actually led to disobedience they didn’t even realize. How often is the church doing the same today? We logically work out what “true obedience” looks like. We even have good arguments for why that is “true obedience”. Meanwhile, the Scriptures remain there telling us there’s a different way (that may not make sense to your sense of logic about what “true obedience” looks like). So, for instance, giving money (or time, for that matter) to your parents can be more appreciated by God than pouring out your money (and time) to something that seems much more “godly” and “grandiose”.
Jesus comments on what comes out of the heart. Notice nothing good comes out of our human hearts in that list? Consider that. And I’d add, “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Gen. 6:5). Doesn’t get much grimmer than that. Or Jer. 17:9 – “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Ouch. That could be rude…if it weren’t so stinking true! And thus it is mind-boggling how much stock our society places today on the heart/feelings/emotions, etc. Gross
“He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret.” (Mk 7:24) – I LOVE this passage. For anyone who thinks they can have Jesus “hide” in their heart and his presence won’t be made known to others… You don’t know Jesus. If He’s in you, people will know. And vice-versa. Maybe not immediately, but it happens sooner or later: “24 The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. 25 In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever.” (1 Tim. 5:24-25)
Mark 14-16: Death and Resurrection
Trusting we are all reading Mark 14/15 today individually and with our families and churches along with most other Christians. Amazing to know in unity we share this story together and grieve in His death together today. Thankful that it’s not the end of the story and Mark 16 exist, but for today may we all reflect on his great sacrifice for each of us.
It is a trippy thought that God could take what looked like the absolute worst thing that could happen (Jesus’ death) and make it pretty much the absolute best thing that could happen (our salvation, and his subsequent resurrection). Just expands your mind when we look at really tough things happening today and assume it’s all terrible. While God is saying, “Do you remember the Cross?”
^^ these are 2 songs that have become special to our family (and house church) when celebrating and considering Jesus’ resurrection!
Also, if I may, a small observation from our time considering the gospels and Jesus’ resurrection:
None of the disciples believed the women’s report about Jesus being alive. Nor did they really believe Peter’s message immediately, nor the 2 to Emmaus. The disciples didn’t believe any of the messages until Jesus Himself came. Even Thomas didn’t believe when literally every other apostle told Him He was alive. They were all filled with doubts. Jesus remedied this by coming directly to them. But consider that for a moment. Not only does that communicate how authentic the resurrection story is/was (no one would make up a story filled with so much doubt LOL).
BUT IT ALSO communicates something really important:
God wanted THESE disciples to share the gospel with the whole world. They were supposed to tell people to give their lives for this Jesus even though their hearers wouldn’t see Him with their eyes. THESE doubting disciples were the chosen vessels to spread the gospel to the world. They were not filled with faith (a bit hypocritical honestly since they were telling others to believe without seeing). They were not that smart (evidenced by all the times they misunderstand Jesus). THESE were God’s chosen vessels. Just think about that. I think it tells us how much trust God has in His Spirit within us. If His Spirit can empower THESE doubting, simple fishermen to spread the gospel to the nations…then He is looking to use us too–you and me. Not waiting for you to be filled with faith or super smart. Just yielded to His Holy Spirit and willing to be fools He could use.