Showing posts with label Mark. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mark. Show all posts

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mark 16

Mary Magdelene and Mary of Bethany rushed to the tomb of Jesus early morning, carrying spices so that they could anoint the body of Jesus. They were wondering, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

To their surprise, they found the stone at the entrance of the tomb, which was very large has already been rolled away. They were alarmed to notice a young man clothed in a white robe sitting there to the right. He told them that Jesus has risen, and instructed them to tell the disciples and go to Galilee.

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After going through these events, the women were shocked.
Mark 16:8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
For some unknown reason, the Gospel of Mark ends here abruptly. Most likely, the very early copies of the Gospel were damaged. It ends at 16:8. Mark 16:9-20 (below) are attempts to wrap up the Gospel in a meaningful manner.

9 When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. 

10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 

11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 

13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.

14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 

16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 

17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 

18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 

20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

This chapter concludes the Book of Mark. 

Mark 15

Early in the morning, Jesus was bound and brought before Pilate. When accused with several charges, Jesus said nothing. On that customary occasion of releasing a prisoner, the crowd choose Barabbas to be released, and Jesus to be handed over to be flogged and crucified.

They put on a purple robe on Jesus and made him wear a crown of thorns. He was mocked, and then they put on his own clothes.

A certain man from Cyrene, named Simon, was made to carry Jesus’ cross to Golgotha (Calvary in Latin). They offered Jesus a strong drink which was wine mixed with myrrh. Jesus refused that drink.

They then crucified him and divided his clothes. It was around 9 in the morning when they crucified him. The written charge against him read, "THE KING OF THE JEWS."

From noon till three in the afternoon, darkness engulfed the whole land. At three in the afternoon, Jesus cried out from Psalm 22, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” They offered him a sponge dipped in wine and vinegar. With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

The curtain of the temple was torn from top to bottom. The centurion who stood there acknowledged, "Surely this man was the Son of God." Some women, including Mary Magdalene, were watching these events from a distance.

 It was the evening before Sabbath, and therefore Joseph of Arimathea boldly approached Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus to be buried. Pilate was surprised that Jesus was already dead. he confirmed it with the centurion and gave the body to Joseph to bury. Buying some linen clothes, Joseph buried the body of Jesus and put it in the tomb. A stone was rolled against the entrance of the tomb.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary watched the burial.

The image is credited to an upcoming Warner Bros movie, Pontius Pilate. 
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mark 14

Chief priests and scribes were secretly scheming to kill Jesus. They were wary about doing so during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

At the home of Simon the Leper, a woman anointed Jesus’ head with very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. Some of those who were present rebuked her saying, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.”

Hearing this, Jesus rebuked them who said so, and added, "She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial."

Jesus made preparation for the Passover festival.
Mark 14:17-18 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”
After dinner, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. There Jesus predicted the desertion of the disciples and Peter’s denial. While at Getsemane, Jesus prayed for the cup to be taken from him He saw his disciples sleeping three times. Once he told Peter, “Are you asleep? Couldn't you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus in the garden, with a kiss. While Jesus was being arrested, everyone deserted him and fled. A young man wearing linen clothes was following Jesus, but when he was caught, he fled naked, leaving his linen garment behind.

Next, Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin, where the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. There they accused him falsely about destroying the temple and rebuilding it in three days. When asked by the high priest, Jesus told that he is the Christ, and that he will be seen at the right hand of God, coming with the clouds in heaven. Hearing this, the high priest tore his clothes and accused Jesus of blasphemy.

Jesus was blindfolded, beaten, spit  and mocked by the crowd. The guards took him and beat him.

Peter denied having known Jesus three times. The third time, Peter said, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.” The rooster crowed a second time. Later, Peter broke down and wept.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mark 13

Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem temple.
Mark 13:3-4 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?” 
Jesus warned them about the arrival of false Messiahs, wars, famines and troubles before the Second Coming. People will betray each other, and everyone will hate those who bear the name of Jesus.
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When the abomination of desolation appears, they were told to flee to the mountains. If these things took place in winter, then it will be extremely hard for people to bear.

Jesus then gives us an indication of how end times will be. The sun will be darkened, then the Son of Man will come in glory. He said that the current generation will by no means pass away till all those things took place.

Looking at those tender twigs of a tree, one can say when summer is about to arrive. Similarly, we should be able to spot the arrival of end times.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but the words of Jesus will by no means pass away. He said that only the Father in heaven knows the end times - not even the son or the angels. Therefore, he asked us to be on alert at all times.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Mark 12

In this chapter, we read about the parable of an owner of a vineyard. He sent out his servants to his tenants to collect the fruits of his vineyard. Those servants were abused, treated shamefully, and some were even killed. In hopes that his tenants will respect his son, he then sent his loving son, who was killed too. The owner then came and snatched the vineyard from his tenants and gave it to someone else.

The chief priests and elders knew Jesus was talking about them and they sought ways to kill Jesus. Therefore, they sent few Pharisees and Herodians to trap Jesus in his own words. Sounding innocent, they asked Jesus, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn't we?”

Recognizing their hypocrisy, Jesus answered, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

Next, the Sadducees who never believed in resurrection, approached Jesus and asked another tricky question. They inquired if a woman married seven times and after her death, whose wife will she be. Jesus clarified, "When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven."

Further, Jesus taught them pointing the scripture that God is the God of the living, and not of the dead.

Another teacher of the law came and asked Jesus about the greatest commandment. Jesus recited the Old Testament and taught about loving one’s neighbor as oneself.
Mark 12:29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Notice this teacher - when he heard Jesus' answer, he acknowledged the wisdom he just heard. In response, Jesus admired his attitude and commented positively, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

From then on, nobody dared to question Jesus anymore.
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Citing Psalm 110, Jesus asked the Pharisees, "Why did David call his son, the Messiah, ‘Lord.’ How then can the Lord be his son?”

Nobody could answer this question. Jesus then issued a warning against the teachers of the law.
Mark 12:38-40 As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
While observing the crowd putting money into temple treasury, Jesus commented on the percentage of their offerings rather than the size of their offerings. He noticed a widow who contributed 100% of her earnings, though it was worth just two small copper coins. We see Jesus admiring her generosity and sacrifice.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mark 11

Jesus sent two of his disciples to bring a colt. Many threw their cloak over the the colt and Jesus sat over it. He made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem while people spread their cloak on the road, while others spread the branches they cut in the fields.
Mark 11:9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Once Jesus entered Jerusalem temple, he looked around. Since it was late, he went to Bethany with his twelve disciples.
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In the morning, Jesus was hungry and he came beside a fig tree with no fruits. He cursed the tree for not having any fruits. He then proceeded to Jerusalem temple and drove out those money lenders and those who did business in temple courts.

The chief priests and teachers of law were looking for a reason to kill him. They did not make any bold moves as the crowd respected him.

The next morning while they were walking, Peter brought to Jesus' attention, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”

Jesus explained the power of faith, which can move mountains. He also told, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."

Again they arrived in Jerusalem and while he was walking in the temple courts, his credentials were questioned. He asked them a tricky question, whether John's baptism was of heavenly or earthly origin. They did not answer it, and hence Jesus refused to answer those who questioned his credentials as well.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mark 10

While Jesus was in the Judea region, on his way to Jerusalem, a Pharisee asked him if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife. Jesus replied, "At the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

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When the returned home, the disciples talked regarding this topic. Jesus added, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

Jesus taught his disciples that children are the very center of God's Kingdom. We need to think and behave as little children to receive entry into the kingdom of God.

When a rich man asked Jesus how to acquire eternal life, Jesus told him to sell all his possessions and follow him. "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God," Jesus said.

When his disciples were puzzled at this statement, he said those who abandon everything for Jesus' sake will be rewarded 100 times.

Jesus then predicted his suffering, death and resurrection. James and John requested that they may be enthroned on either side of Him. Jesus replied that such a decision is not His, and that they should think in terms of sacrifice rather than self-glory.

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Jesus healed a blind man named Bartimaeus, who was pleading, "Son of David, have mercy on me," when he heard Jesus of Nazareth was in town. After receiving his sight, he followed Jesus along the road.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Mark 9

In about a week's time, Jesus fulfills his promise that some of his disciples would witness the Kingdom of heaven before their death. He transfigured before his disciples, Peter, James and John.

They were stunned when they got a preview of Jesus changing his appearance, Moses and Elijah appearing and holding a conversation with Jesus. Further, they heard the voice from Heaven, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

The next minute, everything seemed normal. While descending the mountain, Jesus commanded them not to share this with anyone until he has "risen from the dead."

The disciples wondered what it meant by "rising from the dead" and whether Elijah already came again and they missed him. Jesus clarified that this "Elijah" was John the Baptist.

When they arrived at the bottom of the mountain, there is a small commotion. A large crowd had gathered and were arguing with the teachers of law. When inquired about it commotion, a man said that he he brought his son who was suffering from seizures and the disciples of Jesus could not heal him.

Jesus experienced bit of a frustration in their unsuccessful attempt, and asked them to overcome their disbelief. In a single  rebuke, he drove the impure spirit and healed the boy. In private, they asked Jesus why they were unable to heal the boy. “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting,” was Jesus' response.

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Next, Jesus took his disciples to an undisclosed location and told them about his betrayal, murder and resurrection. The disciples did not understand what he was talking about, and were afraid to clarify it.

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They had a heated argument about who was the greatest. Jesus taught them about humility and service. He encouraged them to live at peace with one another rather than be consumed with selfish competition.

My Thoughts
There is a link between Mark 9:1 and Transfiguration. That maybe the reason why this chapter starts with this verse.

Power of Faith - we see Jesus overcoming the enemy with it.

Those nine disciples failed because they had not neglected their prayer and fasting life. It has to be cultivated with spiritual discipline and devotion.

Do you believe that if we lead a life of spiritual disciple and devotion, have faith in the Lord, observe fasting and lead a life of prayer, we can defeat any enemy?

I wonder how Jesus will be feeling right now, when he observes religious leaders encouraging competition among Christians for selfish motives. At church, we can witness leaders giving those innocent and childlike believers a hard time, bullying and taking advantage of their simple trust. Always, there are people to protect and support such leadership roles. However, in the words, of Jesus, "It would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea." On that day all those friends and supporters will vanish and run for cover. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mark 8

When people gathered around Jesus for three days, he had compassion towards them. The disciples found seven loaves of bread. Jesus fed over four thousand men, women and children with seven loaves and a few fish.

The Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign from heaven, but Jesus said that none shall be given.

Once they were in the boat, the disciples found out that they forgot to pack bread for lunch - all they had a single loaf. They were finding fault with each other and fussing over the forgotten bread. Jesus reminded them about those two miracles of feeding five thousand and again feeding the four thousand with baskets of leftovers. His point was that they were with the provider of bread, and there was no need to make any fuss about it.

Jesus warned them to keep a watchful eye over the contaminated yeast of Pharisees and that of Herod. The disciples did not understand this concept - they thought it had to to with them forgetting their lunch bread.

Jesus healed a blind man in Bethsaida using his spit on the blind man's eyes. The blind man got a 20/20 vision once Jesus corrected his sight.

When Jesus asked everyone about what people thought about him, Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ. Jesus commanded him not to tell anyone.

Next, Jesus prophesied his suffering, death and resurrection. Peter rebuked Jesus and and Jesus rebuked him back saying, "Get behind me, Satan," and said he had only human concerns and not Godly concerns.

Anyone who intends to come with Jesus has to let Jesus lead the way. We have to let Jesus be in the driver's seat.  We are told not to run away from sufferings - He will show us how to handle them.

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Anybody who is embarrassed over the leadership of Jesus or the way in which He is leading will find Jesus embarrassed of them when he arrives in His Father's glory with heavenly angels.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Mark 7

When the disciples of Jesus were eating food without washing their hands, they questioned Jesus. Jews as a general rule would never eat a meal without washing their hands and scrubbing them, especially if they had just come from the market.

They asked him, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

Jesus responded saying that the Pharisees were getting rid of God's commands
Mark 7:14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.
15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”  
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The disciples were unable to digest this, and asked him to put it in plain words.
Mark 7:20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them.
21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come - sexual immorality, theft, murder,
22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.
23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” 
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Next, Jesus left for the vicinity of Tyre and was in a house, where he thought he won't be found by people. As soon news broke he was there, a Greek woman came asking him to heal her daughter, who was demon possessed. He asked her to wait for her turn after all those children of Israel were healed. With faith, she was willing to get that treatment - for the sake of her daughter. Seeing her faith, Jesus sent her back and healed her daughter.

Then Jesus went down to the Sea of Galilee, where people brought a deaf and dumb man to be healed. Jesus took the man away from the crowd, put his fingers in the man’s ears and some spit on the man’s tongue. Then Jesus looked up towards heaven in prayer, and commanded, “Ephphatha!" (which meant "Open up!"). The very instant, the man was able to speak and hear.

The way Mark documents this healing, “Ephphatha,” sounded like the magic word “Abracadabra.”

The only request Jesus had, was not to publicize these healing which they witnessed. However, they spread the word in excitement.

My Thoughts
My making that statement that no food can defile us, he reiterated that dietary laws of Moses - declaring all food was clean. Yes, now we can eat those exotic foods - shrimp, lobster, etc., provided we are watching out what comes out of our mouth. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mark 6

Moving on to Mark, we read the following in chapter 6:
  1. A Prophet Without Honor
  2. Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
  3. John the Baptist Beheaded
  4. Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
  5. Jesus Walks on the Water
A Prophet Without Honor
Listening to Jesus teach at the synagogues, people were impressed and asked, "Where did he gain all these wisdom? How is he performing all these miracles?" 

In their next breath, they shot him down asking, "Isn't he the carpenter's son?" Seeing their reaction, Jesus did not perform much miracles there apart from healing some. Jesus mentioned that a prophet will not get any honor in one's hometown. 

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
Jesus send out the twelve disciples in pairs -ie six teams. He gave them instructions such as not to carry anything other than a staff. The idea was to be modest and not put on any fundraising campaign. According to Jesus, they were the equipment, and if they were not welcome at a place, they should leave without making a scene. 

The disciples went out preaching and healing the sick. They also drove out many demons. 

John the Baptist Beheaded
Mark records the death of John with almost same details as that of Matthew. 
The name of Jesus was on everyone's lips. Many, including Herod thought that Jesus was John the Baptist returned from the dead. 

John had been accusing Herod for marrying his brother's wife, Herodias. She kept nagging Herod and he put John in the prison. Herodias smoldered with hate and did everything in her capacity to kill John. However, Herod was miserable with guilt and knew John was a holy and righteous man.  Herod liked to listen to John. 

On Herod's birthday, he threw a birthday party for all those blue-bloods. Herodias' daughter came in and performed a seductive dance and dazzled the guests. Herod promised her with an oath that he would give her anything, upto half his kingdom. Herodias told her daughter to ask for the head of John the Baptist. Distressed at his oath and the presence of those guests, Herod ordered execution of John and his head was presented on a platter. The executioner presented it to the girl, who gave it over to her mother Herodias. 

John's body was buried by his disciples in a tomb. 

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
Jesus went to a solitary place on a boat. But the crowd saw him and ran on foot to get there. Seeing a large crowd, Jesus had compassion on them since they had no shepherd. The disciples suggested he send them away, but Jesus asked them to feed the people. When he found out that all they had was two fish and five loaves of bread, he made them sit in groups of fifties and hundreds. He then blessed the bread and fish and told them to distribute. More than five thousand were at the supper who ate till they were full. Twelve baskets of leftovers were collected as well. 

Jesus Walks on the Water
Jesus insisted the disciples to leave, and dismissed the crowd. That night, he went up a mountain to pray, while the disciples were on the boat. Shortly before dawn, Jesus decided to get towards the disciples by walking on the water. He was about to pass them, and they were alarmed to see someone walking on water. They were still thinking about the bread loaves and now seeing Jesus walk on water further frightened them. 

He then joined them and went on to Gennesaret. People brought sick people on mats to be healed. Several touched the edge of his cloak and were healed. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mark 5

We saw in the last chapter how Jesus gained victory over nature.

In this chapter, we read Jesus continuing his:
- Victory over demons,
- Victory over sickness, and
- Victory over death.

This is Mark's narrative of the pitiful sight of the madman who lived in those burial caves. Incapable of leading a normal life, he was chained up several times, but he broke loose and snapped the ropes. Day and night he roamed around inflicting wounds on himself with sharp stones.

Upon seeing Jesus, he ran and bowed down before him. The evil spirits within him were speaking and they requested not to be driven into sea. Jesus performed an exorcism wherein the spirits were led into the pigs, who eventually drowned into the sea. A large number of pigs, around two thousand, were drowned in the sea.

After witnessing this, the people in the region pleaded Jesus to leave.

When the man who was demon possessed showed interest in following Jesus, he told him, “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.”

Mark records that he did exactly what Jesus asked him to.

We then read the story of Jairus, the synagogue leader, approaching Jesus with the request to heal his daughter who is about to die.

Along with the crowd was a woman who was bleeding for twelve years. She had been to many physicians who took all her money, and her condition had worsened. Her bleeding made her ceremonially unclean, which restricted her religiously and socially. When she heard about Jesus, she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”

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Jesus felt the touch and asked who had touched him. His disciples failed to answer it, but the woman turned herself in. Jesus blessed her and told her to go in peace.

While this conversation was taking place, news arrived that the daughter of Jairus has passed away. Jesus took Peter, James and John to Jairus' house. When he noticed the commotion there, he calmed everyone and took the child's parents and those disciples along with him into the room.
Mark 5:41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).
Hearing this, the twelve year girl woke up and started to walk around. Jesus told her parents to give her something to eat, and not to tell this incident to anyone.

My Thoughts
Every time I read the story or this woman who was bleeding, I am amazed at her faith. When I was much younger, I used to have that sort of faith, which gradually faded. I try and put myself into her shoes and can imagine she thinking like a child. Perhaps, she must have thought, "I am not that important as Jairus to go ask Jesus for help, and let me not bother him. She must have struggled a lot go get near Jesus through all that crowd around him.

Jesus knew about the touch - we all do. If someone touches us accidentally, that is different. However, when someone touches us intentionally, we can feel it very much, and our body sends a signal to the brain immediately. For that matter, our bodies are capable to even sensing a look.

I learned something new. Early mornings, now I can say, "Talitha koum."

Mark 4

Sitting in a boat, while people were on the shore, Jesus spoke about growth in the parable of the sower. He was referring to the Kingdom of Heaven.

When the twelve disciples were alone with him, he told them that they have been given the insight regarding the Kingdom of Heaven, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you."

Speaking about parables, Jesus told them that all his stories work in this fashion. There are essentially four kinds of hearts

(1) the hard heart, which resists the word of God, and is snatched away by the devil,
(2) the shallow heart, who emotionally hears everything and carries the enthusiasm for several days or weeks, then fades off with difficulties, as the flesh overcomes those spiritual feelings,
(3) the crowded heart, who has a desire for worldly affairs and has no room for Godly affairs,
(4) the fruitful heart, which portrays a true believer who shows evidence of salvation by bearing true spiritual fruit.

Speaking about how a lit lamp is put on a stand, he said there were no secrets. He said that giving is the way (not getting). His teaching was to be generous, and not stingy.

It take a great deal of patience and faith to be a farmer. Those seed which he sows grow mysteriously, and such is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Further he spoke about the Kingdom of Heaven being analogous to the mustard seed - a tiny seed, when allowed to grow becomes a large plant in the garden.

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We then read about the fierce storm in the sea of Galilee, when Jesus told them, “Let us go over to the other side.”

While crossing the sea, Jesus is sleeping so peacefully.

His promise was not an empty one, though those climatic conditions were entirely favorable. He rebuked the winds and calmed them down. As a master of every situation, Jesus delivered them to the other side.

Once upon a time, a ship was sinking. Left on that sinking ship were the captain and three sailors.

The captain spoke first. "Men, this business about a captain going down with his ship is nonsense. There’s a three-man life raft on board and I’m going to be on it. To see who will come with me, I will ask you each one question. The one who can’t answer will stay behind. Here’s the first question: What unsinkable ship went down when it hit an iceberg?"

The first sailor answered, "The Titanic, sir."

"On to the next question: How many people perished?"

The second sailor said, "One thousand five hundred and seventeen, sir."

"Now for the third question," and the captain turned to sailor number three. "What were their names?"

My Thoughts
Jesus was never impressed by the large crowd that followed him. He knew only few would make note of his teachings, and ultimately produce fruits.

Numerous parables were told to the disciples related to the Kingdom of Heaven. That is all they spoke about.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mark 3

When Jesus went to the synagogue on a Sabbath, he met a man with shriveled hand. Jesus asked that man to stand up in the full view of everyone. The Jews were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus.
Mark 3:4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
Jesus was angry at them, and deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts. He healed the man in front of everyone, and his hand was completely restored. The apparent defiance of Jesus triggered a terrible reaction within those Pharisees. They went out and met Herod's followers to finalize a death-plot against Jesus.

The crowd followed Jesus and he healed many. However, Jesus gave strict orders not to publicize these.

Jesus chose an inner circle of twelve, who became the founding members of his new kingdom - similar to 12 tribes of Israel, or 12 sons of Jacob.

Simon (Jesus later named him Peter, meaning “Rock”),
James, son of Zebedee,
John, brother of James (Jesus nicknamed the Zebedee brothers Boanerges, meaning “Sons of Thunder”),
Matthew, the tax collector who served Romans,
Thomas, the doubter,
James, son of Alphaeus,
Simon the Canaanite, who belonged to the guerrilla group,
Judas Iscariot (who betrayed him), who was a non-Galilean, and was from Judea.

When Jesus and his followers entered a house, a large crowd accompanied them and they were unable to eat. His friends tried to rescue him out by exerting force. Religious scholars arrived at the conclusion that Jesus was in league with the devil, possessed by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, and using devilish tricks to impress people.

This was one of the worst blasphemy that could be accused upon the Son of God. Together, let's read how Jesus handled this situation:
Mark 3:23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak 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; his end has come.
27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house.
28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter,
29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
Just then, the mother and brothers of Jesus arrived outside. They must have heard what was going on inside. They sent someone to fetch Jesus. The messenger came to Jesus and said, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

Jesus looked around and responded, "Guess who is my mother, and who are my brothers and sisters - those who obey's God's will are my brothers, sisters and mother." Jesus implied that obedience is thicker than blood.

Additional Info

Herod's people were the political rivals of Pharisees. Yet, when it came to killing Jesus, the two camps united.

Cyril Barber, transfers this principle into all of life; "Middle management involves being able to translate the ideals of one’s superiors into practice and, at the same time, knowing how to motivate one’s subordinates. It necessitates keeping corporate goals in mind, while encouraging individuals to strive for personal achievement."

(Cyril J. Barber, Nehemiah and the Dynamics of Effective Leadership, page 26)

My Thoughts
When we are dealing with the public, and the public sentiment is against us, it is our dearest and loved ones who will come call us, to save us out of that situation. Mary did the same when she heard Jesus was having a dialogue with the Pharisees. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Mark 2

We are back to the book of Mark, where Jesus ministers with his divine power, but is rejected by those religious leaders. We look at Jesus healing the paralytic, eating with the Levi, Jesus answering about fasting, and finally Jesus' view on Sabbath.

While Jesus was at Capernaum, large number of people flocked to see and meet him. There was no room either inside or outside the door. The initiative and faith of a group of four friends led them to open the roof above Jesus and lowered the man on his mat. Jesus was impressed by their bold belief and said to the paralytic man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Jewish teachers who were present there thought in their hearts, "Who other than God can forgive sins?" Jesus knew their skeptical mind and asked them whether it was easier to say, "Get up, take your mat and walk" or "Your sins are forgiven?" Of course, both are difficult - but relatively, it is easier to say, "Get up, take your mat and walk." Jesus then said so. The paralytic took up his mat and walked in the full view of everyone. Everyone who witnessed this healing were amazed.

Tax collectors were seen as corrupt people who worked for Herod Antipas and the Roman Empire, who cheated their own people regularly. It was considered a disgrace to deal with such dishonest men. When Jesus saw Levi, a tax collector sitting at the booth, he said, "Follow me." The tax collector got up and followed him. Levi knew he was "burning the bridge" with Roman officials by following Jesus, but he was willing to risk it. While having dinner at Levi's house, there were other tax collectors and sinners who followed him. When the teachers of the law saw Jesus mingle with such sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

Upon hearing this, Jesus answered, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting those who are sick with sin, and not those who are spiritually fit.”

The Levi who followed Jesus was later known as disciple Matthew, meaning the gift of God.

Jesus responded to a question why his disciples were not fasting, while that of John the Baptist were. He said that timing is everything. While the Bridegroom is with them, they will feast, and while he is gone, they will fast. He used the parables of new and old cloth, and new wine in old wineskins to respond.

Jesus had reached a crisis in his ministry as several people were following him. Their interest was in witnessing miracles and not spiritual. While walking through a grain field on a Sabbath, the disciples happened to pick some grain and eat them. Pharisees who used to follow Jesus questioned this. He quoted an incident from David.
Mark 2:27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath..."
Jesus then linked himself to the God saying, "The son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

My Thoughts
I used to walk through a grain field while I was young. It is a wonderful experience that comes to my mind. Plucking grains is quite common while walking - especially when they are tall enough to reach our hands.

Getting our priorities right is quite important. Mark 2:27 is a powerful and thought provoking statement. We often tend to forget this in our community. In the eyes of God, human beings are most valuable. Our loving God is concerned with meeting the needs of the people than protecting religious traditions. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mark 1

Mark was an interpreter of Simon Peter and wrote down accurately all of which he remembered - both sayings and doings of Jesus. However, the things he wrote are not in order. Again, Mark was not a companion of Jesus and neither heard him. Essentially, the gospel of Mark is that of Simon Peter. Tradition favors that Mark's intended audience was gentile Christians in and around Rome. In his gospel, he explains Jewish customs, translates Aramaic expressions and even explains Greek expressions wild. He covers the the story of Jesus from his baptism until his death and resurrection.

He begins with the statement that Jesus is the son of God and his book contains "Good News." Next, he quotes Prophet Isaiah speaking about John the Baptist.
Mark 1:4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
According to Mark, the message John convened was, “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Mark explains the baptism of Jesus by John, the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus, and the approving voice of Lord, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Immediately after the baptism, Jesus is led into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Mark also documents the presence of wild animals in the wilderness.
Mark 1:12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness,
13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
Jesus emerged successfully from the power of darkness, to fulfill God's plan. John's ministry came to and end when he was put in the prison. Jesus moved to Galilee, headed the ministry and announced, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

The next goal Jesus worked towards was in creating a community. As a first step, he called for disciples. This was quite opposite to what took place at that time - typically, Jewish students would chose their rabbis. As a first step, four fishermen were called to follow, with a promise to "fish" for people. Brothers Simon & Andrew, and James & John were those first recruits.

Jesus went on to Capernaum and taught in the Temple with authority and a genuine power from God. Then on one Sabbath, while he was teaching, he met a man possessed with impure spirit cried out:
Mark 1:24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!”
Jesus spoke sternly and asked the spirit to come out of him, which it did. People who witnessed this were amazed how the impure spirits obeyed him.

Another miracle Jesus performed was healing the mother-in-law of Simon Peter, who was bedridden with fever. Jesus healed her completely. The whole town gathered at the door. Note that this was the first recorded "healing" of Jesus. Later, once Sabbath ended at sunset, many who were sick and possessed with demons lined up to meet Jesus at this house.

While it was still dark, Jesus left the crowded house and went out to pray in solitude. He must have hardly slept on that day after healing all those who came to him.
Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Simon and his companions came looking for him. He suggested they move on to another town so that he could preach in other towns of Galilee too.

Jesus then encountered an untouchable leper, who begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”

According to Mosaic law (Leviticus 13 and 14), a leper should be quarantined from the rest of the community and only a priest could pronounce him clean. He could enter the society only after offering those prescribed sacrifices.

Jesus touched him and he was healed. However, Jesus asked him to follow the Mosaic law by going to a priest.
Mark 1:43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning:
44 “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”
45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

The privacy of Jesus was compromised due to this incident - he could no longer enter a town openly and had to hide when he wanted to be alone. One way to look at is that Jesus became popular.

Additional Info
Forty days of Jesus in the wilderness is the symbolic representation of Israel in the wilderness. Israel failed when they were tested, but Jesus emerged victorious.

When the first set of disciples were called to follow Jesus, they already knew who Jesus was.