My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.



Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Luke 14

Counting the cost

Summary:
Jesus healed on the Sabbath again, to show that it was good. He explained that we should never assume that we are the honoured guest, or else we could get humiliated. When we offer things, we should give to people who can't repay us. We will get our payment in heaven.

Rich people are snobby. God invites the poor and rejected who are actually grateful to be invited.

Think before you follow Jesus. You have to be willing to reject everything else, including your family and yourself. Don't start something you cannot finish.

Key verse:
28. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?

My thoughts:
When we preach the gospel, we often would neglect Jesus' command for us to count the cost. We don't tell people about that. But we shouldn't take following Jesus lightly. Are you willing to ditch your family? I know many Christians who wouldn't be.

56 days to Halo 3!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Luke 13

Well that's random

Summary:
We're all sinners, and we'd deserve it if we dropped dead tomorrow randomly. When people die randomly, they aren't worse sinners, just unlucky ones.

Bear fruit. Do it.

People got annoyed at Jesus for healed on the Sabbath, but they were just being hypocrites.

God's kingdom starts little and grows.

The door to heaven is narrow. Make sure you don't miss your chance!

Jesus wants to just love Jerusalem, but it keeps killing prophets. Jesus himself would die there.

Key verse:
4. those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?

My thoughts:
Often people have problems reconciling randomness with God. Why do some people die, and some people don't? Seemingly at random.

Jesus here shows that those who die randomly aren't worse sinners. They just happened to be under a tower when it fell.

I like the parables explaining that the Kingdom of God is like yeast and a mustard seed. Sometimes we want God's Kingdom to come like a flood, but really it comes like a consistent and persistent trickle.

57 days to Halo 3!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Luke 12

Don't worry, be happy

Summary:
Watch out for the Pharisees. They are only worried about this world. Don't worry about problems of this world, but make sure your eternal salvation is secure. God will give what to say when you have to defend your faith.

Don't focus on wealth and getting rich. It means nothing when you die, and you might die tonight.

Don't worry about stuff. God will look after you. The animals don't worry, and God looks after them! Just focus on God.

Always be ready for Jesus to come back. He could come back at any time.

Jesus came to divide, not to bring peace. It is a message that will polarise people.

You can judge the weather by the skies. In a similar way you should be able to judge the times.

Key verse:
34. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

My thoughts:
So much of our faith is just dependent on trusting God. Trusting him with everything. We can so easily get caught up with worry, but we need to listen to what God says about situations, not what our mind can make up!

I was told that 40% of what we worry about will never happen, and 40% has already happened. Gotta love statistics, but this one wouldn't surprise me one bit.

58 days to Halo 3!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Luke 11

Did anyone say Halo 3? No? Anyone? Must be just hearing things...

Summary:
Jesus taught them the Lord's prayer, and about how they would get things if they asked, because God is good and our friend.

Some accused Jesus of casting out demons by Satan's power, but Jesus said that that would mean Satan was fighting himself! If you're not careful demons can return and be even worse.

The crowd was worse than old Nineveh. At least Nineveh repented.

Shine like a lamp to the world.

Jesus went nuts at the Pharisees for following all these stupid little rules, but forgetting about what's important. They only care about appearances!

Key verse:
35. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.

My thoughts:
It's wouldn't be light at all in that case!

An interesting practical point about demons is in there. Of course, if you don't believe in demons, then the concept of a practical point will be lost on you. Anyway, the point is, you can't cast out a demon and just leave a person. The gap has to be filled with something else before the (a?) demon returns. I suggest with the Holy Spirit.

This chapter reminds me of Halo 3. Though most things do these days...

junjunjunJAH!

59 days to Halo 3!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Luke 10

Jesus' charge

Summary:
Jesus sent out 72 people to save Israel. They had a massive mission to do. They were to go where they were accepted and heal people. Rejecting Jesus is rejecting God.

They went out and had authority to cast out demons.

Jesus and God are intimately intertwined.

A man wanted to get into heaven, and correctly guessed that he should love God and love people. He asked how to love people, and Jesus told a story of a man who was beaten, and the only person who helped him was his political enemy. That's love.

It's better to love Jesus than to be busy.

Key verse:
2. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

My thoughts:
How often do we think the opposite? How often do we think that there is no point trying to save people, because no-one's interested?

That's not the case, because God's Word says that the harvest is plentiful, and we have to go out to reap. Believe God's Word, not your gut instincts.

Anyway, Jesus' whole charge to the 72 is an awesome one to read. Lots of key verses.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Luke 9

Jesus becomes more important

Summary:
Jesus sent out his disciples with no possessions except the power to heal and cast out demons. King Herod started hearing about Jesus.

After the disciples came back, Jesus fed a crowd of over five thousand with minimal food.

Peter realised that Jesus was none other than the Christ. Jesus said that he had to die, and followers would have to make massive sacrifices too.

Jesus took some key disciples up a mountain, where he went all shiny, and Moses and Elijah turned up. God stated his favour, and then it all went away again. No-one told anyone.

Jesus told the disciples again about his fate whilst healing a demon-boy.

Come like a child to be the greatest. Don't be annoyed at people who aren't part of your group if they still do things for God.

A Samaritan town rejected them. The disciples wanted to destroy them, but Jesus said no.

You have to drop everything to follow Jesus.

Key verse:
26. If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

My thoughts:
This has a lot of key points in the story of Jesus. It has the transfiguration, which is like the restatement of Jesus' baptism. It has Peter's confession of the Christ, and thus begins Jesus talking about how he must suffer.

Notice how it doesn't have Peter's rebuke straight after his confession. The disciples in general don't seem to be as disturbed by Jesus' fate as in other gospels.

Dumb freakishly long chapters...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Luke 8

Deja vu

Summary:
Jesus was supported by a bunch of following women. Jesus told the seed story again, and told the disciples the real meaning.

Nothing will be hidden in the end, so be careful in the secret.

Jesus' spiritual family are more important than his physical family.

He calmed a storm to people's amazement.

Jesus went to the other side of the lake, and healed a guy of many demons by sending them to pigs which killed themselves. The town told Jesus to leave, so he did. The didn't let the man follow.

Jesus went to heal a dead little girl, and on the way a woman got herself healed by having the faith to touch Jesus. Jesus then went to heal the dead girl.

Key verse:
39. Return home and tell how much God has done for you.

My thoughts:
Some people are to tell the world. Others are to tell those around them.

Yea... This is all repeated from previous gospels. Yea.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Luke 7

Sinners for Jesus

Summary:
A Jew-loving centurion came to Jesus so that his servant could be healed. He knew Jesus had the authority just to command it. Jesus loved his faith, and just did it.

Jesus raised a man who was in his coffin.

Jesus told John that he was the Messiah, as shown by his works. He told others that John was more than a prophet. He laid the foundation for Jesus himself. Jesus doesn't always play the games the people want.

Jesus ate at a Pharisee's place, when a sinner chick came in and anointed him with expensive oil. The Pharisee was shocked, but Jesus explained that if your big debt is canceled you are happier than if you only had your small debt canceled. Jesus forgave the woman for being more grateful than anyone else the present.

Key verse:
47. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.

My thoughts:
Jesus came for sinners. He really really did. Sinners make the best Christians, but we like to keep the worst ones out of church.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Luke 6

A life less ordinary

Summary:
The disciples plucked some grains on the Sabbath, and when confronted, Jesus explained that David broke the ritual law when he ate the holy bread with his starving men. He healed a man on the Sabbath, to show that he was Lord of the Sabbath.

Jesus chose twelve apostles.

Jesus had quite a crowd he was ministering to. He blessed those with hard lives, and cursed those with easy lives.

Go the extra mile. Love everyone, not just your friends. Everyone loves their friends. Don't judge others, or you will be judged. Examine yourself first, because you're probably worse. What you produce as a human in your speech and life is a testament of what's going on on the inside.

Don't just listen. Do what Jesus says, or else you'll have no foundation for your life.

Key verses:
27. Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you
38. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
45. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

My thoughts:
This is a solid chapter simply for Christian living. How now shall we live in light of Jesus? We are to treat others as better than us. Don't assume we are better. We are to do this and not just hear this.

Know this. Your life reflects your heart. What does your life look like? What does that say about you? Are you happy with that? Do you treat others like you would like to be treated?

I find this chapter very challenging. So many Christians have built up walls which make it easy for them to ignore the idea of making changes in their life. We build up justifications. Maybe we know that we won't really get in trouble with our church leaders if we don't. Do things for God, not for men. Or women. Especially not women.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Luke 5

Fishing for men

Summary:
Jesus had a crowd, so that he had to get a boat and go on the water to see them all. The boat was Simon's. Afterwards, he told Simon to put down his net despite that it had been an unsuccessful day. He caught many many fish, and Jesus talk him, and two brothers nearby, James and John, that they would fish people from now on.

Jesus healed a leper, and told him to keep the law and keep quiet, but he didn't keep quiet.

Jesus was in a crowded house, so some people dropped a paralytic through the roof so that he'd be healed. Jesus forgave his sin, which causes a kerfuffle, and he was healed.

Jesus called a sinful tax collecter, which also causes a kerfuffle, but it's the sick who need a doctor, right?

Jesus' disciples didn't fast, because they were celebrating him which he was there.

Key verse:
10. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men."

My thoughts:
This story of the calling of the first disciples seems more intimate than the ones we have read thus far. Jesus is in Simon's boat, and has this fish-catching ordeal with them. James and John make up Simon's small fishing community. It seems like Jesus comes and takes a small community, than calling random individuals.

Anyway, this is pretty similar to Mark 2 otherwise.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Luke 4

Temptation and humble beginnings

Summary:
Jesus went cruising into the desert and stopped eating, and Satan tried to make him eat, and offered him power over the world, if he worshipped Satan, and told him to 'trust God' by throwing himself off the temple. But he resisted these temptations.

Jesus went home, and proclaimed himself to be the fulfilment of Isaiah. They were sceptical, because they had watched him grow up, but Jesus knew that prophets are rejected in their hometowns. They tried to throw him off a cliff, but he supernaturally evaded them.

He went to Capernaum where he was loved, and he cast out a demon. He healed Peter's mother-in-law, and he healed many, and silenced demons who knew his true identity. Jesus went for some peace and quiet, but he was found he said he had to preach everywhere, which he did.

Key verse:
43. I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.

My thoughts:
My first thought here is that it is all out of order. He heals Peter's mother-in-law, but has not yet called Peter. In his hometown, they mock him by asking him to do what he did in Capernaum, but he hasn't been to Capernaum yet, if Luke is in chronological order. Luke, I feel, must have other motives for the order he has chosen.

Most these stories are in Mark, but they are much longer here.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Luke 3

The teaching of John

Summary:
John came first to prepare the way for Jesus. He preached repentance and forgiveness. He accused people of being content in their ancestry, but being Abraham's child is more than just blood. He told people to share and to be honest. John knew he wasn't the Christ, but that he would baptism him, which he did. When he was, there was God's vocal approval and the Holy Spirit coming on him like a dove.

Jesus was a descendant of David, and Adam, and therefor God.

Key verses:
23-38. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph,
the son of ... Seth, the son of Adam,
the son of God.

My thoughts:
I like how Luke ties the genealogy into Jesus being God's Son. But this logic, we are, of course, all God's children. Luke's genealogy is different to Matthew's.

Luke contains the most 'comprehensive' documentation of John's ministry in the Bible. It's interesting to read his teaching in comparison to Jesus'.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Luke 2

Loljesus

Summary:
Due to a census, Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. Angels appeared to nearby shepherds, who came for a peak and told everyone about it.

When Jesus was presented and dedicated, a guy called Simeon prophesied over him. He knew he would see the Christ before he died. He also blessed the parents, and a prophetess Anna also prophesied. Jesus grew up.

When he was twelve, they went to Jerusalem, and Jesus didn't come back with his parents, but his parents assumed he was with someone else. It did, indeed make and ass out of us and them, because Jesus was still in Jerusalem, teaching da teacherz. Jesus told his mum, when she found him, that she should expect this, given who he is. Jesus grew up like a good boy, and Mary kept her secrets.

Key verse:
14. Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.

My thoughts:
This verse had been traditionally quoted as "peace to all men". Which isn't true. Peace doesn't come to all.

Notice the prophetess. Women can prophecy too (not an issue for most, but is for some).

The infancy Gospel of Thomas relates a bunch of fanciful stories about Jesus' childhood, but curiously contains an almost word for word transcription of this story of Jesus in the temple from Luke 2.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Luke 1

Two angels, two prophecies, two foeti

Summary:
Yo, Theophilus. Here be a carefully sourced text about Jesus.

Zechariah was a priest, and when he was on temple duty, he was told by an angel that he would have a son, John, who would bring people back to God. His wife was otherwise childless. He was skeptical cos he and his wife were old, for which he lost his speech until John was born.

Meanwhile, Mary got a similar vision. She would bear Jesus, who would be God's Son and King. She was a virgin, and the conception would be miraculous.

Mary and Elizabeth were relatives, and when they met up, John jumped in Elizabeth's womb, because he knew Jesus was near. Awesome.

Mary sang a thankful song to God for what he had done for her.

When John was born, they tried to call him Zechariah after his father, but after protests from both the mother and the father he was called John, and then Zechariah could speak.

Zechariah sang of God's plan to save Israel. John lived in the desert.

Key verse:
37. For nothing is impossible with God.

My thoughts:
Ah Luke! Luke seems to me to be the most careful of the Gospel writers. He is a truly intelligent redactor. He has looked at many sources, and he states this. I consider him the most accurate of the Gospel writers, and would point to him as an example of the fact that the writers of the New Testament are truly interested in historical accuracy.

Having said that, from a secular view, the nativity narratives are considered some of the least historically credible parts of the New Testament.

Luke, of course, also wrote Acts. And was a companion of Paul. Sections of Acts are in the first person.

So this is the only book within which we have John's nativity as well. Zechariah's story is very like Abraham's and Elkanah's and many other is the Bible's stories. People with barren wives too old to give birth, given a child by God. It's kinda a Biblical theme...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mark 16

To resurrect, or not to resurrect

Summary:
A couple of day later, some woman came to lay flowers at the tomb, but it was open, and an angel was on it. He told them that Jesus had risen and gone to Galilee. They were freaked.

Jesus appeared to many people, and told them to preach to the nations. He then went to be God's right-hand man, and the apostles went out into the world.

Key verse:
6. "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.

My thoughts:
Okay, so this chapter is controversial, because pretty much everyone is pretty damn sure that verses 9-20 weren't in the original Mark. Either Mark ends very quickly with the announced resurrection, and no appearances, or we've lost the real ending. Either way, verses 9-20 may have some legitimacy, but they aren't part of the original Mark.

Anyway, some have claimed that Mark didn't know about the resurrection. This is ridiculous. Even without verses 9-20 it is there, and it is mentioned throughout his gospel.

Anyway, Mark is over now. Onto Luke! The best Gospel.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mark 15

Crucimafixion

Summary:
They took him to Pilate to be condemned to death. Jesus didn't give many answers, but Pilate reluctantly gave him to be killed, because the crowd wanted it. The soldiers mocked him by putting him in king's purple, and giving him a crown of thorns and pretending to worship him.

He was crucified. Someone else carried the cross. His charge was for being King of the Jews. He was mocked.

When he died, there was darkness for ages. He felt forsaken by God. A Roman call him God's Son, and some of his family and followers were there when he died. Mostly women.

A guy Joseph had him buried, and Mary and Mary saw the tomb where he was buried.

Key verse:
47. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

My thoughts:
Mark again is careful to cover his bases saying that they definitely didn't get the wrong tomb.

We don't often hear about the women who followed Jesus but they definitely seemed to make up a significant proportion.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Mark 14

Naked boys and tasty cups of death

Summary:
Jesus was wastefully anointed, but it wasn't a waste in Jesus' eyes. It was for his burial. Judas went to betray him.


They went up to an upper room, where Jesus said that one disciple would betray him. He then shared bread and wine as his body and blood for him remembrance.

Jesus said that everyone would flee. Peter said he wouldn't, but Jesus said that he would deny him.

They went to a garden, where Jesus prayed so that he didn't have to die, but he did. The disciples couldn't keep away, then Judas came to betray him. Jesus was arrested, and there was a little scuffle first. A wee lad who was following Jesus dropped his pants and ran.

In front of a Jewish court, then struggled to find a clear case against him, but they wanted him dead once he claimed to be the Christ, up there by God.

Peter denied that he knew Jesus three times, then the rooster crowed.

Key verse:
51-52. A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.

My thoughts:
What a freakishly long chapter. 72 long verses. Dumb.

Anyway, some people speculate that this young lad in verses 51-52 is Mark himself, a low-key follower of Jesus. Why else would this weird little statement appear? Can in no way be proven of course, but some point to an eye-witness source of Mark dues to little details like this.

Yea, so here again is the almost identical start to the passion narrative. Notice how Jesus often talks about his resurrection before his death. Mark's brief ending is not an indication that the resurrection was added later to the Christian 'mythology'.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Mark 13

Eschatolicious

Summary:
Jesus said that at the end, the temple would be destroyed. Don't believe people if they claim to be the Christ. Wars will come and go before the end. You will be persecuted, but don't give up.

It'll happen when the temple is sacrileged, and it'll be awful. Like the worst thing ever.

Jesus will come then, and whomp over everything and it'll all be awesome again. Learn the signs!

Be ready, cos it could happen whenever. Even Jesus doesn't know when it'll happen.

Key verse:
32. No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

My thoughts:
This verse is interesting in Mark, as it is the only Gospel where it states that even Jesus himself doesn't know when it'll happen. Other Gospels just ignore that part. It's one of the evidences that Mark was the earliest Gospel, because it has harder reading, such as where Jesus claims ignorance. It's unlikely that Mark would have added this had he been using other Gospels as a source.

Anyway, my teaching point of the chapter is the key verse. We don't know when it'll happen, so always be ready.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Mark 12

Jesus questioned by different sects

Summary:
It like Israel is a vineyard, which God owned but leased. He sent his servants to check up on it and to take his share, but they were beaten. When God sent his son, they took the opportunity to kill him.

Jesus was asked if they should pay taxes. He said yes, because they're just stupid coins Caesar made anyway.

The Sadducees didn't believe in an afterlife, and claimed that it was dumb because someone who had had many husbands who had died would be the wife of many in the next life. But there is no marriage in the next life, so they were dumb.

Jesus said that the two best commandments are to love God and to love others.

After being tested with these questions, he confused everyone by asking how he was David's son, yet David called him Lord. He warned against the arrogance of the teachers.

A poor woman gave a couple of cents, but she gave the most, cos it was all she had.

Key verse:
24. Jesus replied, "Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?

My thoughts:
So Jesus gets tested and tested by all these questions by people around him, give answers, and then scared everyone off by being too smart. Good ol' Jesus!

We need two things to get things right. We need the Scriptures, and we need God's power. I know many 'Christians' who know neither, and many Christians who know only the Scriptures, and some Christians who only know God's power. But we need both. Only scripture brings legalism. Only power bring craziness.

I love the story of the poor woman who gave everything she had. I think it can really put life into perspective...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mark 11

Jesus going nuts

Summary:
Jesus got his disciples to get a donkey, on which he rode into Jerusalem, and people bowed down and cried praise for him.

Jesus cursed a fig tree for having no fruit. He then went into the temple and went nuts upturning tables etc where they were selling stuff. It's a temple, not a market!

The next day, the fig tree had withered. You can do anything with faith and forgiveness.

They asked Jesus how he got his authority. He asked them a trick question about John, and weaselled out of the question in their confusion.

Key verse:
23. I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.

My thoughts:
The fig tree is a random story. Why is it there? Why did Jesus curse the fig tree? It was out of season for fruit anyway...

Who knows. Maybe no-one knows and it's only in the Bible cos it actually happened.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mark 10

Matthew 19

Summary:
Jesus said that divorce was not allowed. They are spiritually joined, and cannot be separated.

We have to receive God's kingdom like children.

A rich lad came asking how to get into heaven. Jesus told him to follow the secular commands, which he had done. So Jesus told him to do one more thing. Sell everything and give it to the poor. He left Jesus sad. You have to give up lots of follow God, and it's very hard for the rich.

Jesus again predicted his death and resurrection.

James and John wanted to be at Jesus' two sides in heaven. Jesus asked them if they could have the same fate as him, which they could, but then Jesus said it wasn't his decision who would get those position. In heaven, the servants will be the greatest.

Jesus then healed a blind man called Bartimaeus.

Key verse:
45. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

My thoughts:
So the healing of Bartimaeus would signal the end of the passages of spiritual blindness. After this we go straight into the final week. The fact that Bartimaeus is named perhaps indicates that he became known personally in the early church.

We spend so much time trying to understand the things of God, but he asks us to come as children. Children may not always understand, but they will embrace with open arms.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Mark 9

Confused disciples

Summary:
Jesus and some key disciples went up a mountain, and Jesus turned all white, and Elijah and Moses turned up. The disciples were confused, but it was over as soon as it started. Jesus told them not to tell anyone about his true glory until after he had risen from the dead. They didn't know what he meant by rising from the dead.

Jesus explained that Elijah had come before him in the form of John, who was now dead.

The disciples failed in trying to cast out a nasty demon in a boy. Jesus said that you can do anything if you believe, and cast the demon out. The disciples couldn't do it because that demon only came out by prayer.

The disciples argued about who was best, and Jesus said that they had to become a servant to be the best. The need to welcome children.

It doesn't matter what group you're in, as long as you are doing things in Jesus' name.

Actively act against causes of sin.

Key verse:
23. Everything is possible for him who believes.

My thoughts:
Compare Mark 9:40 with Matthew 12:30. Funny aye? I think you'll find the context is quite different.

The transfiguration has a little bit here that I hadn't noticed before. Jesus predicts his resurrection, not only his death. I didn't realise that he did that here.

I always find the story of the boy the disciples couldn't heal a bit strange. Jesus' point seems to be that it only takes faith to heal, but then his later point is that healing can have different causes, including prayer.

Perhaps the idea of praying was for the disciples, and the idea of faith was for the boy's father.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Mark 8

Which Christ?

Summary:
Jesus fed four thousand people with seven pieces of bread. The Pharisees asked for a sign in the sky, but Jesus didn't do it because they lacked faith.

One time, the disciples didn't bring bread, and Jesus was warning them against the 'yeast', or teaching, or the Pharisees. They thought Jesus was angry because they forgot bread, but they forgot that Jesus can multiply food.

Jesus healed a blind man.

Peter told Jesus that he thought he was the Christ.

Jesus began to explain that he had to die. Peter couldn't accept it, but he didn't have God's heart. You have to lose your life to inherit God's Kingdom.

Key verse:
33. he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

My thoughts:
For the Pharisees, a sign in heaven would be the ultimate proof. Jesus did not give them the pleasure. Note the dialogue about the sign of Jonah is absent.

Ok, so in Mark there has been this silence about Jesus being the Christ (except for the first verse which may be added). Anything coming near to showing that has been silenced. But now we have a very significant confession of Jesus' Messianic properties, and this is followed by a bunch of passages showing how the disciples didn't understand what it meant to be Messiah. This is why Jesus had kept it a secret.

These passages of spiritual blindness are enclosed in two healing stories of blind people being healed.

Co-incidence? I think so. I am told it is not.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Mark 7

Eat all food. As a Christian you must.

Summary:
Jesus' disciples didn't wash their food the way the Pharisees liked. Jesus rebuked them for following their own little rules to the T, but ignoring God's rules. Like, people don't have to honour their parents if they are giving a gift devoted to God.

Food goes in, then it comes out the back. It doesn't make you unclean. Sin which comes out does that.

So Jesus went into Gentile land, and a woman begged him to heal his daughter. He said that he had come for the Jews, and that he wouldn't give his gift to the unclean races. But she said that even the unclean can scavenge. For her faith, Jesus healed her daughter. Jesus also healed a deaf and mute man. He told them to keep quiet, but they didn't.

Key verse:
19. For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean.")

My thoughts:
Mark adds a little interesting comment here. By the time this gospel was written, it is clear that the Christians ate all foods. Normally such a change in culture would be attributed to Jesus' vision in Acts, but here Mark is claiming that it is a command from Jesus himself. Very interesting.

Also interesting is that if Mark simply wanted to make a nice wee passage which clearly justified the Christians' eating habits, then he could've made it a lot clearer than this. The redactor of Mark clearly feels some compulsion to preserve stories as they are, either because it is from an earlier source, or because they are more depictions of actual real events than stories with a definite point.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Mark 6

Big miracles

Summary:
When Jesus went home they didn't have faith because they thought they knew Jesus. He didn't do many miracles there.

Jesus sent out his disciples to preach to the surrounding towns.

John the baptist had been hassling one of Herod's wives about her relationship, and when she got a chance to get a wish fulfilled by the king by pleasing him with her daughter, she asked for John to be killed. So he was. Some thought Jesus was John resurrected.

When the disciples came back, they were so excited that they didn't eat, and many thousands followed them. Instead of sending them away, Jesus miraculously multiplied food to feed them. There were 5,000 men.

So Jesus stayed back whilst the disciples went across the lake on a boat. Late at night, Jesus walked out to them on the water, and when he got in the boat, the wind became favourable. On the other side, many came to be healed by Jesus.

Key verse:
5. He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.

My thoughts:
I wish I could just lay my hands on a few sick people and heal them! That's not that unamazing!

So, all these stories are in Matthew. Notice there is no mention of Peter walking on the water.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Mark 5

Three healings in a day

Summary:
Jesus crossed the lake and there was an extremely crazy man there. He had many demons which begged Jesus for mercy. Jesus let them go into a herd of pigs, which consequently threw themselves off a cliff. When the village found this out, and saw the man who wasn't crazy anymore, they freaked out, and asked Jesus to leave. The man wanted to go with Jesus, but Jesus told him to go and tell his family what had happened to him.

Later, a synagogue leader came to Jesus, asking him to heal his dying daughter. On the way to his daughter, a woman with a bleeding problem saw Jesus and thought that if she touched him, she could be healed. So she touched him. Now, many people were bumping around past Jesus, but Jesus noticed when his healing power went out. He stopped, found the woman, and told her that she had been healed by her faith.

When Jesus got to the daughter, they thought she was dead. But Jesus told everyone to chill, went in and told the girl to get up, and she did. Sweet.

Key verse:
36. "Don't be afraid; just believe."

My thoughts:
In this version of the story, we have some aramaic preserved. Talitha koum, meaning "Little girl, get up". I guess you could say that this indicates an eye-witness origin of this story.

In Thailand, when we prayed for people, the pastor would always look them in the eye and say "chua... chua..." meaning "believe... believe...". She would tell them to do nothing, just believe. So often that is God's call to us. Just believe. Have faith.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Mark 4

Parables and secrets

Summary:
Jesus told of four types of people. Those from whom Satan steals God's word, those who start well, but get choked by pressures, those who start well but don't have a good foundation, and those who take God's word as seed and grow it into great things.

The disciples knew all secrets, but the crowds only got parables.

Lamps are made for seeing, not hiding. What is hidden will be exposed.

God will give you what you deserve and more.

It's like this. You plant seed, and it grows and you get fruit, but you don't know how.

It's like a mustard seed. It starts small but gets big.

Jesus was sleeping on a stormy boat ride. He then calmed the storm, to people's amazement.

Key verse:
22. For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.

My thoughts:
I've always viewed this verse as referring to the fact that all we've done, good or bad, will be revealed after death. But here I think it means something else. The disciples know a secret, but the crowds do not. The secret is about the true nature of Jesus and heaven and God.

Jesus has been keeping this secret. He's telling the demons to shut up, and even those he heals. This can be called the Messianic Secret.

Right now, in the narrative, it is hidden, but whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed. Just not yet. It will be disclosed after the resurrection.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Mark 3

Powers and Authority

Summary:
Jesus healed a man's hand on the Sabbath as well, because it's okay to go good on the Sabbath.

Many crowds followed him, but he ordered silence whenever properly identified as God's Son. He appointed twelve disciples.

Accused of driving out demons by Satan's powers, he said that that was impossible, or else Satan would be fighting himself! God's Spirit cannot be blasphemed!

Jesus' family are his followers, more than his physical family.

Key verse:
35. Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother.

My thoughts:
Mark is a lot more succinct. It does seem to just burn through a lot of ideas, giving many ideas just one sentence.

Notice how no-one questions the legitimacy of Jesus' miracles. They are more concerned with whether he does them on the Sabbath or by what power he does them. People's biggest question today is whether miracles actually happen.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Mark 2

Revolutionary

Summary:
Jesus was in a crowded house, so some people lowered a disabled man through the roof. Jesus declared him forgiven, which the authorities didn't like, but Jesus defended his authority and healed him.

Jesus called Levi, a sinner, to be his disciples. The Pharisees didn't like this, but Jesus explained that it is the sick who need doctors.

They asked Jesus why his disciples didn't fast, and his answer was because they currently didn't need to, because God was amongst them.

On the Sabbath, Jesus picked some grains illegally. When confronted he pointed to when David did God's work by breaking the Sabbath, and declared himself Lord of the Sabbath.

Key verse:
17. It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

My thoughts:
The most striking theme of this passage is that Jesus is counter-cultural. He forgives people to the point of blasphemy. He hangs out with sinners. He doesn't fast, and he breaks the Sabbath. Nothing Jesus does in this chapter is normal or accepted. Jesus definitely ruffled some omelets...

Monday, July 02, 2007

Mark 1

Synoptic problems

Summary:
John came baptising and preaching repentance and that someone better was coming after him. He baptised Jesus, and God specially anointed him as his son. Jesus was then tempted in the desert.

After John went to prison, Jesus began to preach and called Peter, Andrew, James and John.

He cast out a demon in a synagogue to much amazement. He healed many in that town including Peter's mother-in-law.

Jesus healed a leper, but told him to keep quiet. But he didn't. So Jesus was mobbed wherever he went.

Key verse:
17. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."

My thoughts:
So as you may know, Matthew, Mark, and Luke have strong similarities. They are not so similar to be straight copies of one another, but they were obviously influenced by one another. John is a whole other kettle of walnuts.

Anyway, there is a lot of discussion about the relationship between these synoptic gospels. The most popular theory is that Matthew and Luke draw on two sources. Mark and another lost text called Q (containing the content of the Sermon on the Mount for example) . This puts Mark is the untraditional position of being the first gospel written.

This view is held because Mark is shorter, and generally the changes made from Mark in the other gospels makes Jesus look better. Though Mark certainly doesn't make him look bad!

Anyway, this view is not unanimous, and is definitely a scholarship view rather than a faith-based one. The early church saw the apostle as author of Matthew, and saw it as the earlier text. In 1911, the Catholics concluded that Matthew was the first gospel, written by the apostle originally in Aramaic.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Matthew 28

He's alive!

Summary:
A couple of days later a couple of Marys went to the tomb, and an angel came and opened the tomb and told them that Jesus had risen. As the Marys ran, they met Jesus and worshipped him.

The guards were paid to say that Jesus' body was stolen by the disciples.

Jesus then went and met the disciples and gave them authority to make more and more disciples.

Key verses:
18-20. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

My thoughts:
Christianity doesn't make sense without the resurrection. A true understanding of how awesome Jesus is cannot be obtained without it. Before it he is just a rabbi. A man with new and controversial teachings. He is a miracle-worker, like many others of his time. He's everything modernistic liberal theology makes him out to be.

But if he is resurrected, he is the unique Son of God, seated at his right hand. He's the restorer of the cosmos and the Lord of the Universe. He is God. This was not obvious during his ministry, but was revealed in his resurrection.

The Great Commission here is also very famous. For me, the most important part is that Jesus declares that all nations, all races and people groups, are to be made into disciples. This isn't entirely obvious just from his ministry, but is now.