Mark 6

Greetings!

This reading is Mark 6

People who knew Jesus from his youth were amazed at his teachings and miracles.  The Bible records very little of his youth.  This passage notes that Jesus had at least four brothers and two sisters.  

Yet some people were offended by his message (this hasn’t changed in 2,000 years!).  When it says Jesus “could not” do miracles there, it is in the sense of not being able to do them because he chose not to.  He was God in flesh, so He could do miracles at any time.  He only did them where there was faith, though.  And Jesus was “amazed at their lack of faith.”  Pay close attention to what really brings joy to Jesus and you’ll see that faith is the #1 thing.   

Note the singular message that the Disciples took to the villages: Repent (v. 12).  To repent is to turn away from our sins and turn towards God.  Many parts of the Bible can be difficult to understand, but our core problem is that we are sinners in need of a Savior.  Repentance is a critical part of being reconciled to God. 

King Herod was tricked by his wife into beheading John the Baptist (No one said the Bible wasn’t PG-13 or even R-rated at times.  It records what really happened.) 

The famous miracles of the loaves and fishes is recorded here.  Assuming the 5,000 men had families with them, roughly 20,000 people were fed by the 5 loaves and 2 fishes.  Jesus did what they thought was impossible, and once again showed his power over nature.

Jesus walked on water and amazed his disciples.  The Gospel of Matthew records how Peter walked on water (temporarily) as well.  Jesus told them, “Don’t be afraid.”  Trivia fact: The Bible says, “Do not fear” 366 times – one for each day of the year, including leap year.  Keep that in mind when the world makes you fearful. 

In closing, think about Jesus’ words to his disciples in v. 31: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  Jesus wants us to spend time with him alone and He knows the importance of rest for us.

Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

The next reading is Mark 7.

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Pro-choice media often refer to pro-lifers as “anti-abortionists.”  I suppose the name is somewhat accurate, but it is obvious they are using it in a pejorative (put down) sense and they use it relentlessly despite our preference to be referred to as pro-life.

But if we are anti-abortionists, wouldn’t they be pro-abortionists?  Pro-choicers typically bristle at this, noting that nobody really wants abortions to happen.  I think for many pro-choicers that is true, so I try to use their preferred name.  I sometimes slip and use “pro-abortion” in the sense of “pro-legalized abortion” but not in the sense that I think their attitude is “Woo-hoo!  Abortions are swell!” 

 Still, most pro-choicers I am aware of publicly and privately do fall into this category:

Pro-abortion on demand for any reason up to and including partial birth abortion, without parental notification requirements for minors, without anesthesia for the unborn, lower standards than hospitals, against 24 hour waiting periods, government funded if necessary, and critical and unsupportive of Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

Phew.  That is a little wordy, so I’ll stick to referring to them as pro-choice.

When was the New Testament written?

There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about how and when the Bible was formed. Some skeptical historians try to date the Gospels and other New Testament writings as far from the death of Jesus as possible because it supports their hypothesis that they were largely made up. Of course, if the Gospels really were dated 70 AD or after, there is no reason they couldn’t still be the inspired Word of God. Yet a late dating obviously plays into the hands of heretics who strive to discredit the authority of Scripture.

But the facts point to all or nearly all of the New Testament books being written within 40 years of Jesus’ resurrection. Consider the following:

  1. Jesus died and rose again around 33 A.D.
  2. The Apostle Paul was killed in 64 AD. This is a well attested historical fact. All his writings obviously occurred before then, and 1 Corinthians and Romans were written well before then. Paul testified that Jesus rose from the dead, among other things, and he did so within 20-30 years of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
  3. The book of Acts, written by Luke, ends with Paul was in prison in 62 AD. Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke before he wrote Acts, so it was presumably written in the late 50’s.
  4. Most scholars agree that Luke was not the first Gospel. Therefore, the earliest Gospel must have been written no later than the mid to late 50’s. If Matthew and Luke used the ‘Q’ document (a lost early church writing) as a source, then of course ‘Q’ would have been written even closer to Jesus’ death and resurrection.
  5. If the Gospels were all written after 70 A.D., why wasn’t the destruction of Jerusalem mentioned anywhere (especially in Matthew)? This was one of the most dramatic events in history, and was predicted by Jesus.
  6. Since these accounts were written within 20-30 years of Jesus death and resurrection, it is highly unlikely that they would have been myths. There would have been too many people alive to dispute the findings. And keep in mind that many thousands of people died believing these words to be true. Martyrs will die for a lie if they think it is true, but I don’t know of anyone who knowingly dies for a lie. If Jesus didn’t really have a bodily resurrection, why would the disciples live unnecessarily hard lives and die horrible deaths for something they knew to be a lie?

Also see Debunking the DaVinci Code

Hat tip to Stand to Reason for much of the above. Click here to learn lots more about the origins of the Bible.

Ministry spotlight: Pocket Testament league

pocket.jpgThere is a unique ministry called the Pocket Testament League dedicate to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

The Pocket Testament League has, for more than 110 years, motivated Christians to read, carry and share the Word of God. Begun in 1893 as the vision of a teenage girl named Helen Cadbury, the League provides free resources empowering people to develop a lifestyle of personal evangelism.

You can get free copies of the Gospel of John with various covers and translations.  You can order all you like (they do accept donations, but it is not required).  If you are able to strike up a conversation with someone on spiritual matters you can offer to give them a booklet.  It may be less intimidating to the other person than if you gave them a whole Bible to read (though that is good, too!). 

As noted in these 8 Witnessing Tips, it is helpful to leave them with something. The Gospel of John is considered one of the most beautiful works of literature ever written, and of course it was inspired by the Holy Spirit.  As John himself wrote,

John 20:30-31 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Mark 5

Greetings!

This reading is Mark 5.

From the end of chapter 4 through chapter 5 Jesus displays his awesome powers over nature (calming the waves), evil spirits, sickness and even death.  Among other things, He was proving his nature as God and the expected Messiah.   

The man was possessed by many demons.  Some Bible critics claim that when the Bible mentions demon possession it was really epilepsy or some other disease.  While people have often attributed mental and physical illnesses to the wrong source, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t guide the Bible writers to pass along an old wives’ tale.  And in this case, Jesus wouldn’t put epilepsy in the pigs and have them run over a cliff.  And even if it was epilepsy, it was a pretty big deal for Jesus to cure it!

Jesus often told people he healed not to tell anyone, as that would gain the wrong kind of publicity for him.  Yet this man was a Gentile (non-Jew) in a non-Jewish area.  He told the man to tell his family how much the Lord has done for him, and how he had mercy on him.  One of our jobs as Christians is to tell others what the Lord has done in our lives.  We don’t have to know everything about Jesus and the Bible, but we do have our story to tell and we can point them to other sources if we can’t answer their questions.  Also see, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” for how to respond when you aren’t sure of the answers.

I always wondered why Jesus answered the demons’ request to be put into the pigs.  Perhaps it was to show how the local people were more concerned about their pigs than about the healed man and the power that Jesus has. 

Note that the demons recognized Jesus as the Son of God.  Just because someone knows about Jesus doesn’t mean they have trusted in him for their salvation.  As James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”

The woman had great faith and was healed by merely touching Jesus’ garment.  Jesus often asked questions He already knew the answer to.  He knew who had touched him and why.  Imagine the woman’s plight: Sick for twelve years, getting worse and now poor because she spent all she had on doctors.  And due to Old Testament laws, she could not have fully participated in worship for twelve years. Yet Jesus healed her in an instant. 

Jesus showed his power over death when he brought Jairus’ twelve year old girl back to life. I don’t know if there is any symbolism to the woman having a disease for 12 years and the girl being 12.  I can’t imagine the grief of losing a child or the joy of having one brought back. 

Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

The next reading is Mark 6.

Other people’s money

Followers of Jesus should obey his commands to help the poor and defenseless.  But I’m pretty sure He meant for me to use my money, not yours.

Giving away other people’s money is not charity, and it isn’t what the Bible asks of us. There are many kind hearted atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Muslims, Rotary Club members, etc. who do good deeds, too.  The central message of the Bible isn’t the Social Gospel, it is the real Gospel: That Jesus came to save lost sinners. 

If you want to give money, that is generosity. But if I vote for policies that take your money and give it away by force of law, that isn’t generosity. That is more like coveting, where I am accusing God of not distributing wealth properly in the first place. It means the government must take it from one to give to another.

Note that I am not against any government help for the poor.  I just think that much of it has been counterproductive. The “War Against Poverty” was a flaming disaster and doomed countless children to grow up poor and fatherless. That isn’t love. We shouldn’t ask the government to do what the church should be doing, because the government can only dole out money in a soul-less fashion. 

We are part of the richest 1% of people who have ever lived and we should be giving lots of our own money away and addressing people’s spiritual needs at the same time. 

Background information on the Bible

This blog will consist of roughly 95% posts on specific chapters of the Bible, posted every other day including Sundays and holidays.  The other 5% will be cross-posts here and at the 4Simpsons Blog on the following topics:

  • How the Bible was put together
  • The reliability of the Bible: Can we trust it?
  • Tips on reading the Bible
  • Etc.

These posts will appear on days in between the Bible Study posts. 

Some of you may already be convinced of the reliability of the Bible and are just here for the study, which is great.  And I do believe the Word of God has the power to stand on its own.  Many people have been converted to a saving faith in Jesus just by reading the Bible itself. 

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

A good figure of speech I heard related to this compared the Bible to a caged lion.  How can the caged lion best defend itself?  By being let out of the cage!  The same is true with the Bible.  Just turn it loose. 

Yet I didn’t become a believer until I had worked through a lot of tough questions about why this book was something I could rely upon to tell me the truth about God and life.  It can really strengthen your faith to have a better understanding of how the Bible was put together and why we can trust it.

Having said that, if your time is limited and you have to make a choice between reading something I or someone else wrote versus reading the Bible, always pick the Bible.