February 4 – Chronological Life of Jesus Day 25
My Bible has some cool little tidbits about Mark’s gospel that are worth sharing as we seek to understand the chronological life of Jesus. First, the level of detail Mark shares indicates that he got his information from an eyewitness, likely to be Peter. And because Mark includes these details, it makes his gospel more interesting and live-action from a story-telling standpoint. He also includes some details explaining Jewish customs, as if his audience is someone who may not be familiar with the Old Testament and Jews. Because of these things, when missionaries are first translating and sharing the Good News with a new culture group, they usually start with Mark.
READ: Mark 4-5
Mark’s gospel spends less time on Jesus’ parables and tends to emphasize Jesus’ actions over his words.
I had to research today’s reading a bit because I have a head cold and, therefore, cloudy discernment. Now that we have a better understanding of the Parable of the Sower, today from Mark 4:1-20, Jesus changes up the symbolism for the Parable of the Growing Seed in Mark 4:26-29. We’ve moved from the individual heart in the Parable of the Sower to action in spreading the Good News. This teaching is also emphasized in Mark 4:21-25—I’m a believer and it’s my responsibility to share the Good News with others (like a light that shines to everyone). In that “light”, the farmer in the Parable of the Growing Seed is a believer, like you or me. So the Kingdom of God is you and me spreading the Good News. This parable says the farmer doesn’t know what’s making the seed grow, as if it’s growing all by itself (vs. 26-27). What do you think is making the seed grow?
The rest of today’s reading we read in Matthew several weeks ago and in Luke yesterday, but chronologically, this is where these events better fit—after Jesus’ teaching in parables in the beginning of Mark 4 and Luke 8 and before Jesus is rejected in Nazareth (Mark 6:1-6; Matthew 13:54-58). Knowing that Jesus is fully human, I know that he felt frustration with his disciples. Can you imagine, after seeing all of the healing, hearing all of the parables, and then spending time with Jesus where he taught them one-on-one, yet they still doubted in the midst of a storm. This is what led to Jesus expressing his frustration in verse 4:40, “’Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” Though his frustration is still far more gently expressed than mine would have been. This would have been me–jumping up and down in fit mode screaming “Why don’t you guys believe me!”—the disciples would have been asking for that storm back after seeing my fit. I know God gets frustrated with me too, the same sin choices made again and again, but He still so gently leads me back and forgives me and shows me that there is hope if I place my trust fully in Him. And that’s why one of the fruits of the Spirit is gentleness (Galatians 5:22-23). Gentleness / self control is so much more effective than fit throwing.
Maybe you noticed this too, but the account of Jesus healing the demon-possessed man in Matthew 8:28-34 actually talks about two demon-possessed men while Luke 8:26-39 and Mark 5:1-20 talk about just one demon-possessed man. The other details in the three accounts are similar enough that they are likely describing the same event. What gives? From what I can find in research, the answer is what difference does it make if it’s one man or two men? It’s possible that Mark and Luke focused on one man because Jesus focused on one man. But what’s important is that Jesus can cast out demons and heal us! Another interesting tidbit from this story is the pigs. So, Jews according to custom cannot eat pork (to be kosher, or fit to eat, an animal must have split hooves and chew his cud, pigs don’t chew their cud—Deuteronomy 14:8-10), yet here are some Jewish farmers growing pigs as livestock to sell for food. Hmmm…. Verse 5:17 says, “Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.” Do you know why they were upset? Because Jesus sent demons into their cash crop of pigs who then ran off a cliff and into the sea—bye-bye shady income! Jesus is just shining his light in all the darknesss—lighting up demon-possessed men and shady businesses!
Maybe as you read today, Jesus’s light is shining on this verse from Mark 5:34, words that you need to hear over and over again today, tomorrow, and forever: “He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’” The woman had been bleeding for 12 years and knew all she had to do was just touch his cloak in that huge crowd. Imagine her resolve and focus to get to Jesus. That’s the resolve and focus we need every day to seek Him and draw near to Him and let Him work in us. Who doesn’t crave being at peace and free from suffering! That’s what He can give us. Do you believe?
Gentleness and self-control are effective witnesses of Your love, and You can grow these in me as I resolve and focus to spend time seeking You daily.
God, I cherish the gentleness You show me every day! And I know I struggle in the area of self-control. First help me to seek You each day, and then I believe You can grow the fruits of gentleness and self-control in me, so I can better witness Your love and light to others.
Posted on February 4, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged Bible, Bible Study, chronological gospels, gentleness, gospel, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Mark, parable, self-control, SOAP. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.