October 21, 2004

Study of Mark -- Mark 6:14-29

14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus' name had become known. Some said, "John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him." 15 But others said, "He is Elijah." And others said, "He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old." 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised." 17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.

21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias's daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you." 23 And he vowed to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom." 24 And she went out and said to her mother, "For what should I ask?" And she said, "The head of John the Baptist." 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter." 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

I've always thought it was interesting that people believed that Christ was John the Baptist reincarnated. Maybe because when Jesus' ministry hit it's stride, John's was declining. Maybe because they had some in common -- preaching and teaching repentence, the Kingdom of God, etc.

I tend to think that it was because they didn't want to face the implications of who Jesus was claiming to be. Jesus claimed the authority to forgive sins. Nobody but God can forgive sins -- Jesus didn't argue with that assertion. That's one of the clear passages where Jesus claims to be God.

So people would rather believe that Jesus was John reincarnated (even though they had been seen together, in public, by a rather large crowd, in Mark 1), than entertain the notion that He might really be God.

People do this all the time today. They go in search of the historic Jesus, and find out that he looks a lot like they do -- their own personal Jesus, to quote a line from an old song. This image of Jesus as a nice guy, someone who taught some great stuff, someone who forgave people when they messed up -- this Jesus is the kind of guy we want to hang out with.

They ignore the Jesus who commanded the woman to "Go, and sin no more." We forget that He told her she was wrong, and not to do it anymore. We forget about Jesus condemning the moneychangers (some believe that He did it twice), clearing them out of the temple. That wasn't too forgiving.

We forget that Jesus knows out hearts, and He knows who is looking for forgiveness. He knows if we want a way out, or if we're happy in our sins. And he reminds us that we are to go, and sin no more.

People don't like that Jesus very much. It doesn't fit in with their lifestyle choice. It doesn't let them do the things that they want to do -- things that their flesh enjoys. They don't see that it also gives them the opportunity to live life the way that humans were meant to live life -- in a manner that is pleasing to God. Because without Christ covering our sin, we can't make God happy.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 02:52 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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October 08, 2004

Study of Mark: Mark 6:7-13



And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff -- no bread, no bag, no money in their belts -- but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, "Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them." So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.
(Mark 6:7-13 ESV)
The disciples go out on their own for the first time. The first "missionary trip", so to speak.

Notice that they are supposed to live in the communities that they are trying to reach. 'Don't go from house to house, and make everyone in the town wait on you. Stay with one family, who will have you.' They were also not to take any supplies with them -- they were to trust God to supply all their needs.

I think it's interesting that we know so little about the results of the outreach. We know they cast out demons in Christ's name, and by His authority. They healed people. They preached repentance. They came home. We find out in the next section some of the results of the outreach, but we don't know how many people they attracted.

I think this may be because it wasn't the Gospel they were preaching. They preached repentance, just as John the Baptist did. The Gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ -- and all that was still three years away. They had no risen Savior to proclaim.

So why did Jesus send them out? To establish the way that missions work was to be done. Faith in God for your financial support. Not taking advantage of the people you are witnessing to (as Paul would point out to the Corinthian church later on). Going out in pairs -- with someone to support you. I'm sure that there were times that the disciples got discouraged -- but they always had someone with them to lift them up in prayer to God. They were faithful to the calling of God. They went out in the authority of Christ. And they did have an impact on people.

I think that this experience helped them later on, when they went out into the world. And I think they noticed a big difference, once they had the full story to tell people.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 10:06 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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