Thru the Bible – Day 251

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Day 251 – Thru the Bible

Today we continue Mark.

Mark 3Jesus’ bold actions and teachings arouse astonishment among some and increasing opposition among others, leading some to seek His death. Yet Jesus was doing what the Old Testament predicted would happen (Isaiah 61:1–2). He was restoring people to the way they were supposed to be. Jesus came not to tell us to try harder or dig deeper in our moral efforts. He came to set us free from human striving. This is why the crowds thronged around Him.

A new stage in Jesus’ active pursuit of His disciples is reached when He calls a distinct group of 12 to be His constant followers. The Twelve are to be with Jesus, to help spread the message of the gospel and the kingdom of God (1:14–15), and to exorcise demons, thus following His example in word and deed. Key foundations for the eternal people of God are thus laid as Jesus’ disciples learn to be with Him, pursuing His mission in His strength.

The initial disciples will be involved in unique aspects of Jesus’ earthly ministry—for example, going out in pairs to the cities of Israel, with specific instructions for what they should take with them. And yet every follower of Jesus is called to be with Him, now mediated through the promised presence of the Holy Spirit, and to live, work, and testify in the world as Christlike followers, dependent completely on Him.

Strong opposition comes from Jesus’ natural family and from the spiritual leadership of Israel. Both parties pursue their own interests; they do not acknowledge God’s purposes expressed by and through Jesus.

Jesus never calls His followers to sever ties with their natural families (as do some cults and sectarian movements). He does, however, exhort each follower to place the call of Jesus above all ties to the natural family. The hyperbolic language of Matthew 10:35 and Luke 14:26 should not be interpreted as a call to family antipathy but as a clear reminder of the priority of Jesus’ claim upon His disciples—His purposes must outweigh all other loyalties. This requires a sober assessment of loyalties toward one’s natural family. While honoring parents is very important, Jesus does question absolute subservience to the natural family (see Mark 7:10–13 with 10:29–31). Focus on the will of God, as ascertained by means of prayer, humility, and in consultation with other Believers, is central to defining one’s relationship with his or her natural family. Having been delivered by Jesus in a work of sheer grace, our fundamental loyalty is to Him.

What place does Jesus hold in your life compared to all other relationships and possessions?


Mark 4In response to the entrapping motives and hard hearts of those “outside” His followers (Isaiah 6:9–10), and as a means of instructing His disciples, Jesus speaks in parables. Jesus’ parables describe the new life God grants to those who belong to His kingdom. This new life stands in direct contrast to the powerful and established principles of a God-opposing life. The growth of this new messianic rule appears outwardly unremarkable, at least initially. But the influence of the kingdom develops progressively to reflect the visible glory of God.

Followers of Jesus can easily grow discouraged by the fact that many of the powers and established structures in this world seem to overshadow the emerging kingdom of God. Jesus encourages all followers to trust that God’s purposes, which grow slowly, will be accomplished, despite all setbacks (Daniel 2:44–45).

The counterintuitive nature of God’s kingdom should not surprise us. After all, the gospel of grace is itself a message that confounds our expectations and tells us that things are not as they seem: though sinful, we are forgiven; though broken, we are redeemed.

Jesus continues to display His expanding range of power in every sphere of creation: power over the laws and forces of nature (4:35–41), power over the spiritual and demonic world (5:1–20), and power over human illness and death (5:21–43).

Jesus is not merely a political messiah along the lines of a Davidic king (2 Samuel 7:12–15). Rather, this Messiah is God, the eternal Son (Psalm 2; 110:1, 5; Daniel 7:13–14; 2 Samuel 7:16). He is Yahweh, come in the flesh (Isaiah 40:3). It is crucial to realize this, since only God has the power to deliver and to save from the brokenness of our world and the bondage of sinful rebellion against Him (e.g., Isaiah 25:9; 33:22; 35:4; 37:20; 38:20; Jeremiah 17:14; Zechariah 8:7; 9:16; Hebrews 7:25).

It is a great source of encouragement for followers of Jesus to remember who they serve: the triune Creator of this universe. The power of the eternal Son protects and guides with utter reliability, even in great distress. Since Jesus has paid the price for our sinful rebellion and has overcome the powers of Satan and the grip of death, His followers are in good hands—whether at any given moment this results in life or in death (Philippians 1:20–23). For in the gospel we know that because Jesus has died and risen, and we are united to Him, all that happens to us comes to us from the hand of a loving Father. All wrath has been removed. He does everything for our good.

How does all of this lead you to worship Jesus?


What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?


Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.

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