Wednesday, July 31- Jesus in the Gospels: The Gospel of Mark- An Overview

      (Wednesdays are Bible Study Day here at Stick With Jesus. Today, we continue our current 9-week study called Jesus in the Gospels. Each week, we look at how each of the 4 Gospel writers saw Jesus and how they presented Him to their intended audience. 
     Let me say up front that I take a different approach to authorship claims in the Bible than do many of my colleagues. Do I KNOW that Matthew actually wrote the Gospel of Matthew? No. But can I PROVE that someone else specifically IS the author? No. Ultimately, does the text say what the text says REGARDLESS of authorship? Yes! Therefore I am perfectly comfortable to attribute authorship to the name historically credited with such!) Matthew’s Gospel is the link between the Old and New Testaments, with many Old Testament prophetic references.)
• The author is Mark. The name means “warlike, hammer, defender”- and speaking for “Marks” everywhere…how cool is THAT?!) His Hebrew name was John (Acts 12:12), which means “the Lord is gracious”. He was not one of the original 12 disciples.
• Barnabas was his cousin (Colossians 4:10).
• He came from a well-to-do family
 His mother, Mary, owned a large house and had a servant (Rhoda, Acts 12:12-13)
 His home was in Jerusalem (Acts 12:25)
• Jesus’ followers gathered there (Acts 12:12)
 The house could have been the “upper room”, but there is no concrete evidence
 Peter went to the house after the angel saved him from prison (Acts 12:12ff)
• Mark probably came to know Jesus through Peter
• He went with Paul and Barnabas on missionary trips (Acts 11:27-30, 12:25, 13:1, 13:4-5)
• He was the reason Paul and Barnabas split
• He was a close associate of Paul (greetings from Mark are included in both Colossians 4:10 & Philemon 1:24)
• Non-canonical resources (a fancy way of say “non-Biblical sources”) like church historian Eusebius have Mark being martyred in Egypt

• Internal evidence is scant and external evidence is contradictory
• Scholarly thought is that it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.)
• It also appears that the persecution from Nero was going on
• It was probably written around 64 A.D.

• Mark’s Gospel was probably written in Italy, perhaps in Rome

• It begins with, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
• It’s the “origin story” of the Good News of Jesus Christ
• Mark’s gospel is the simplest and shortest of all the gospels
• It is written like fast-paced novel
• It is a straightforward account suited to Rome’s practical, straightforward approach (I call it the “Dragnet- just the facts maam” Gospel!)
• It is the 2nd book in canonical (Biblical) order
• It was probably the 1st book written

The Gospel of Mark is organized into seven sections-

Section 1 (1:1-13) includes:
• a quotation from Isaiah and the appearance of John the Baptist
• the baptism
• the temptation

Section 2 (1:14-6:29) includes-
• the calling of the disciples
• the performing of miracles

Section 3 (6:30-9:32) includes
• the withdrawal from Galilee
• the feeding of the five thousand
• walking on water
• Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah
• the transfiguration
• Jesus predicts His death and resurrection

Section 4 (9:33-50) includes-
• Jesus goes to Capernaum
• preaches about who is the greatest

Section 5 (10:1-52) includes-
• Jesus goes to Judea
• teaches on many subjects
• performs the miracle of restoring sight to Bartimaeus
• again predicts His death and resurrection

Section 6 (11:1-15:47) includes-
• The triumphal entry into Jerusalem
• Jesus teaches many lessons
• The  Last Supper
• Jesus is arrested, tried and crucified

Section 7 (16:1-20) includes-
• The resurrection

This book is sometimes referred to as Peter’s Gospel, as it might have been Peter who was the primary source of Mark’s writing
• It highlights the facts and accounts of Peter’s ministry with Jesus
• John says Mark wrote the gospel but refers to it as the gospel of Peter
• Early church bishop Papias says Mark’s gospel contains Peter’s teaching and preaching
• Mark’s gospel includes Peter’s first hand experiences
 The calling of Peter to be a disciple appears early in the first chapter (Mark 1:16-18)
 Jesus’ activities in Capernaum are said to have taken place near Peter’s house
 Jesus went to Peter’s house and healed his mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31)
 The whole city of Capernaum gathered at Peter’s door (Mark 1:32-34)
 When Jesus was gone, it was “Peter and his companions” who looked for Him (Mark 1:35-37)
 It’s Peter, as spokesman for the group, who confesses Jesus as Lord
 It’s Peter who rebukes Jesus about His suffering, death, and resurrection (Mark 8:27-33)
• All these first-hand experiences point to Mark’s gospel being Peter’s eyewitness account

• Mark didn’t write his gospel for Jewish people familiar with the Old Testament
 He quoted the Old Testament only once, at the beginning of the gospel
 He explained Jewish customs to his readers (ceremonial washing- 7:3-4, and preparation day was the day before the Sabbath- 15:42)
 He translated Jewish Aramaic terms for his readers (3:17; 5:41; 7:11, 34; 14:36; 15:22)
 He used Latin (rather than Greek) words
• Instead, he wrote it for people unfamiliar with the Old Testament
• Mark wrote his gospel for Gentile Christians in Italy/Rome
• His purpose was to present Jesus as a Servant

     Next week, we will dig deeper into the Gospel of Mark and his image of Jesus as Servant.
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
 Tomorrow- Sometimes, You Just HAVE To Eat Your Dessert FIRST!

Tuesday, July 30- “Oh, I Wish I Was in the Land of Joplin!”

     “Oh, I wish I was in the land of Joplin! Old times there are not…” Uummm…eerrr…SHOOT! What rhymes with “Joplin”? 
     Beginning at somewhere in the neighborhood of 5:38PM on Sunday, May 22, 2011, an EF5 multi-vortex tornado cut a vicious 6-mile long and 1-mile wide path through the city of Joplin, MO. When it was over, 158 people were dead and the damage was estimated to be somewhere around $2.8 billion. 
     5 weeks later, on Sunday, June 26, I led a group of 17 people on a mission trip to that very same Joplin, MO. We lived in a church in Carl’s Junction, MO (just outside of Joplin) and worked in variety of settings throughout the week. It was an amazing, humbling, nearly overwhelming experience. To stand in Ground Zero and see nothing…NOTHING…of any substance still standing for blocks and blocks and blocks…wow! Even the trees were gone, with only about 2 trees/block still standing…without any limbs OR bark.
     My interest in the trip was rather personal. Along with having a cousin who, between her and her extended family, lost something like 3 houses and 7 cars, her sister, who was performing in a play when the tornado hit, was one of the 158 who lost their lives. It was a very challenging, rewarding, emotional week.
     Fast-forward two years to…now. This is my first full summer at the church I now serve and I wanted to put together a week-long mission trip. I considered several options, but Joplin kept popping back into my head. So I got on the internet and read about where they were at in the rebuilding process- they still needed lots of help! I thought it would be helpful that I had already been there once AND I wanted to see how far they had come, so I put together a trip.
     At one point, there were about 14 people who were on the list to go. But I learned a LONG time ago that mission trip rosters and very fluid creatures! And then…May 28th came and I was told that I had this…THING…in my head! After a few whirlwind weeks, I suddenly realized that I needed to do SOMETHING about the mission trip. I simply could NOT go, so I had 2 choices: 1. cancel or 2. ask one of the folks going to take over leadership. I went to my Worship Director, who was scheduled to be part of the team, and talked to him. He had, of course, already thought of it and was more than willing to step into the leadership role!
     Fast-forward again to this past Sunday. 6 folks (I TOLD you mission trip rosters were fluid!) packed their gear and headed south. They arrived in Joplin about 9:45PM, tired, glad to be there and ready to go bed! Yesterday, they got up early, rolled up their sleeves and went to work! They spent the day inside a home currently under construction, helping do “finishing” work.
     Then, at dinner, my iPhone started making the “Skype” noise. I pulled it out of my pocket and it was…the mission team! I got to see and talk to 4 of the 6. They looked good, were in great spirits and had great stories to tell. How awesome is THAT?!
     It meant SO much to me that they took the time to Skype me. I am SO happy that things are going well and although I DO wish I was in the land of Joplin, I can’t wait for them to get back and share the life-changing experiences they had this week! If you ever have the chance to go on a mission trip…take it! You will GO expecting to GIVE, but you will RETURN realizing that you GOT much more than you GAVE!
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
 Tomorrow- Jesus in the Gospels: The Gospel of Mark- An Overview

Monday, July 29- The Intolerant Side of Tolerance

    When I was in seminary, I became aware of a fascinating phenomenon. The “buzz phrase” then was “open and affirming”. Not sure what that means? I’ll use it in a sentence- “As Christians, we should be open and affirming to all people.” “OK, Pastor…got it!” 
     Now it seemed to me at the time…in fact, it STILL seems to me…that is a GOOD thought. Why? Because as Christians, we SHOULD try and be open and affirming of other people- that seems marvelously Biblical. The problem I ran in to in seminary is the way the whole “open and affirming” thing played out in real time.
     I have learned that, at any given time in history, in any given scenario, there is what my dad would have called a “whipping boy”- that group of people who are on the receiving end of everybody’s frustration and anger. Sometimes, it’s obvious who that is- Nazi Germany during WW2 would be a good example. At other times, and in other settings, it’s not always so obvious. 
     When I was in seminary (I graduated with my Master’s Degree in 2000), the “whipping boy” was…me! Actually, it was white males…which is…me! The thought behind it was that white males had held everybody else down for too long. Therefore, it was important to set things right. And you know what? I agree. Ours has been a very patriarchal society and we DO need to strive for greater equality. No disagreement there. But the fascinating thing, to me, was the fact that, in their efforts to point out how whites males had failed to be open and affirming, lots of folks were failing to be…wait…for it…open and affirming back! In other words, a group was told consistently that they failed to be a good example of being a Christian…by being told what horrible humans they were! In their efforts to seek “open and affirming”, they proved themselves guilty of the EXACT SAME BEHAVIOR…and failed to see it.
     I fear that happens a lot in our society. I see people offended by any number of topics- gender issues, racial issues, sexual orientation…whatever. They feel marginalized (and often rightfully so), yet in their response, they simply add fuel to the fire. I see that all around us. The most recent example is in the varied responses to the George Zimmerman trial. There seemed to be 2 camps:
1. those who thought the verdict was just and were mad at the racially-charged backlash that occurred. In their responses, some threw racial epithets and threats right back.
2. those who were horrified by the verdict. In their responses, some lamented what they saw as the racial bias of the decision, yet threatened racial violence as the response.
     It seems to me that until we ALL admit that we struggle with “us and them”, this will NEVER change. Where can we turn for guidance? A little thing I like to call the Bible! In the New Testament, Jesus is clear that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. Although we don’t look the same on the outside, we are ALL children of God on the inside. I’m no better than you, and you’re no better than me. We are just frighteningly flawed humans, trying to fin our place in the world. And if we could find a way to stop focusing on what makes us different and instead focus on what we have in common, the world would be a better place!
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
 Tomorrow- “Oh, I Wish I Was in the Land of Joplin!”