Mark 9-10

the transfiguration is too intense for me, so im just going to skip it… for now. 

The story of the boy with an unclean spirit is just full of typical christian cliches, but these cliches are also very true. When Jesus’ disciples are unable to cast out the demon from the little boy, the father especially, is at a point of desperation. At this time, Jesus says to him “If you can! all things are possible for one who believes”. Then the father of the child cries out “I believe, help my unbelief”. Jesus then casts out the spirit and the boy is now healed. Point of the story… all things are possible for one who believes. With Jesus on earth, things were much more dramatic, but this truth doesn’t lose its value at all in today’s world. It might manifest differently according to God’s sovereign plan, but it is just as true now as when Jesus first said it.

Soon after Jesus told the disciples of his death and Resurrection the first time in Chap 8, he does so once again here. Disciples being disciples, they have no idea what Jesus is talking about. One thing that seemed to matter more to the disciples was who will be the greatest, so much that they were arguing with one another. The exact same story happens again in chapter 10, with James and John, thinking that they are able to bear the cup that Jesus will drink on the cross, they had no idea what they were talking about. Both times, Jesus responded. Not in a sharp rebuke, but emphasized the importance of being a servant. “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all”, and “whoever would be first among you must be salve of all”. Is this really how we view service? Or are we just like the disciples, serving, but with a mixture of pride, self-love, and jealousy mingled into our so called service for God. As Christians, we are all called to serve. So this is an issue that we must all work out at one point in our walk, though those whose service is “more exposed” are probably more prone to this than, someone who stacks chairs after Sunday service. Serving others can manifest itself in many different forms, and we can often justify something we enjoy doing, because we are wired a certain way, as good service. I’m not saying that doing what you enjoy doing isnt service, but it is much more challenging to serve in a sacrificial manner. Doing things that challenge us, like loving brothers and sisters in a way that is out of our means, serve others in a way that poses great challenge to us. IM bad with examples, but ill try, something like hospitality. It comes natural to some people, but to others, it is very difficult. It doesnt mean that we can skip out on being hospitable, and still think that we are fulfilling the debt to love one another. Times and instances like these really train and bring out Christian character, so it should be something we are all looking forward to. The end result is to serve God, not ourselves…

ok i was everywhere with this post…. I cant write… nor collect a proper train of thought… too stressed from all the studying….

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Mark 7-8

How true it is for Jesus to say “There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him”. Then he goes to explain why we why are defiled from within, evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder… the list goes on. We are all just as guilty as the person next to us in terms of all of these heart issues, they all originated from sin,and it is our own sin that defiles us from God. 

At the end of Chapter 8, this is where things get a bit intense, and very interesting. Peter, he eventually becomes a pillar for the early churches, he knew, before everyone else that Jesus is the Christ. Jesus knowing this, tells Peter to not tell anyone else. What gets weird is that right after, Peter rebukes Jesus for saying that he’s going to suffer, and then Jesus famously says “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man”. Its funny to think that, well, at least in Mark, other than Peter, only the evil spirits knew who Jesus was. So maybe, there are more happening here then what meets the eye. I’m not really sure what Jesus meant when he said “get behind me satan”, it could be metaphorical, or he could of meant it in a more literal way. Either way, Jesus makes a valid statement here, when we focus our mind more on the things of men, we all become more susceptible to the attacks of the devil. 

v34-38 is just wozers to read. this is probably one of my favorite parts of Scripture. It not only brings forward the cost of following Christ, but also the prize as well. I think we all know the cost, the Christian life is very difficult, it is something we all struggle with. V36, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” How often do we all need to be reminded of this truth, you can have all the riches of the world, but without Christ, your soul is lost… dang yo, I love this text.

Mark 5-6

I think the instance in Chapter 5 of the man with a demon is actually quite a good defense against those who doesnt believe the trinity, it is such a key doctrine to our beliefs, but we often can’t articulate a proper argument to prove the trinity. The demon says to Jesus “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me!” Many Muslims often say that Jesus doesnt explicitly say that he is the Son of God, therefore Christians have no validity in believing that Jesus is the Son of God. At the same time, the word trinity is not there, but that doesnt mean that the bible does not support its existence. So the same way, there are more than one way for Jesus to say that he is the Son of God, and one of these ways is what just happened here in chap 5. If we take in the context of what is going on here, the demon is affirming that Jesus is the Son of the God. The same way that I don’t need to actually respond with an affirmative yes every time my name is called, Jesus didnt answer this rhetorical question when the demon said that he was the Son of God. Jesus just continues on with the conversation, the same way I would if someone said “Fei, come here for a second”. It would be absurd for me to say “I’m Fei, what do you need?” I would simply just go over and do whatever that needed to be done. So I guess this story continues to reaffirm that Jesus is the Son of God, and that he has great authority over all things, including demons. 

Beginning of Chapter 6, as he is forced to leave Nazareth, he marveled at their unbelief. How crazy is that, we always see in the bible that people marvel at the great authority that God has given to Jesus, this is the first instance that I’ve caught on where Jesus marveled at the unbelief of a city. This idea is just hard for me to grasp in general, To think that sin had so much grasp on a city that they reject Jesus completely, but that is the truth, much of our society today is like this. Outside of our Christian bubbles, there are thousands of unbelievers around us that we interact with. How much of our life is dedicated to serving those lost souls?…. not many…I pray that unbelief would be shocking to us all, a picture of a sin hardened heart, so much that it reject Jesus fully. That’s how damning sin is, and may we pray for forgiveness, and continue to fight off our daily temptations. 

mark 3-4

One thing that really stood out to me is the 2 groups of people that all came out trying to destroy Jesus, the Pharisees, and the Herodians. There is not much information regarding the Herodians in the NT, but they were more so known as a political party, that had great affiliation with Herod. Something to take note of, Herodians generally hated the pharisees, but it is very interesting here to see them working together against Jesus. Of all the groups of people identified in the NT, including the saducees, and the zealots, Jesus definitely would have the most theological agreement with the pharisees. At the same time, the pharisees are the ones that were under the most scrutiny by Jesus. 

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit… This is a very interesting topic, and definitely something I would want to do more research in. I’m not really sure what my views on it are, just because I havent done enough research. Though guys like R C Sproul does take the view that this is a sin that cannot be committed anymore, because God refrains us from committing this eternal sin. I don’t quite remember how exactly he argued his point, but this is definitely something that we should all think over.

Chapter 3 for me just seems like another repeat of Matt, though the wording is a bit different. So going through Mark, historical context is something I want to focus on and look into more, simply because Mark is the shortest gospel. The author of Mark is anonymous, but it has been historically accredited to John Mark. Who was a companion to Peter, and then composed Mark from the preaching of Peter in Acts 12. Thus because of it, not everything in Mark is in a chronological order. Most NT scholars also believe that Mark was the canonical gospel written, and there was a sense of urgency to get the key points to as many people as possible, as fast as possible, therefore, many details were left out. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but just things that I encountered while studying. So Mark passes by pretty fast until Chapter 11, starting with the triumphal entry, until the end of the book. The last six chapters is very detailed compared to the rest of Mark. The last week of Jesus’ life, and that is a section I’m looking forward to studying. Not to say that I’m not interested in the rest of Mark at all, but the end brings me much excitement.

Mark 1-2

Whenever I read the gospel of Mark, it feels almost like a short, summarized version of Matthew. The first few chapters of Matthew pretty much summed up in the first few verses of Mark, and it immediately gets into the ministry of Jesus. 

When Jesus goes into the synagogue to teach, it’s not surprising that everyone was astonished at what he is saying. What stood out to me was that the unclean spirit immediately recognized who Jesus is, “the Holy One of God”. No one else knew who Jesus was, not the disciples, pharisees, the crowd of people listening to his teachings, but the evil spirit knew. Then the unclean spirit was immediately subjected to Jesus’ authority, and came out of the man. As soon as people starts to talk, Jesus leaves. A bit later we also find out that Jesus has forbid all of the demons from speaking, because they knew who Jesus is. 

Chapter 2 place a very heavy emphasis on Jesus’ authority, and his purpose on earth. The story of the paralytic goes to show that these miracles of physical healing is nothing compared to Jesus forgiving sins. Although God is still glorified through these acts of healing, the forgiveness of sins will ultimately be a much greater act of God than making a paralytic walk. 

v15-17 provides us with a very good insight into God’s salvation plan. Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Although not explicitly stated here, we know from other parts of scripture that we are all born sinners. So when we piece this together, Jesus’ purpose on earth is to call lost sinners back to God. This is all according to God’s plan, and Jesus does fulfill what he came to do later on in Mark. 

 

Col 3-4

Reading Chapter 3 feels almost like a repeat of chapter 2, Paul is still emphasizing the difference between the life before and after Christ. Things of the earth will only account for God’s wrath, but instead we walk in the way of the Lord, because we have been raised with Christ. Paul lists a whole bunch of sins, and we were once all characterized by all of these things. Sexual impurity, passion, evil desires, and covetousness, Paul qualifies these things as idolatry. It is true, when we sin, whether we believe in God or not, it is a direct challenge to His holy authority. Just as Adam sinned, we all sin in the same way. In a God defiant, self-worshiping, idolatry. This is why Paul tells us to put on the new self, and put off the old self. Christ has changed us, therefore, we need to be continually mortifying sin, it is our duty as Christians to do so. 

My pastor preached a sermon on Christian love last Sunday from Rom 13, and the key point was, Christians owe each other the continual obligation to love each other. It is something that cannot be accomplished, the debt to love is an ongoing command for us. Paul here referring exactly to what Jesus had taught back in Mark 12, and this is why he is telling his readers to put on love, above all else. I think the command to love is probably one of the duties that we often neglect, to truly love each other is sacrificial to your own being, it’s genuine, and it is definitely difficult. It’s easy to just be nice to everyone around you, but to love them is another completely different story. Paul says that this love, binds everything together in perfect harmony. This means that Christian unity at it’s foundation is love, the same way that Christ love us, we try to imitate that same love to our brothers and sisters. It sounds so easy, but I know that this is something I need to work on, especially when the bible tells us to love our enemies. Lord my prayer is that you would continue to sanctify me, so that I can learn more about love, and how to practice Christian love in the real world. 

Col 1-2

To tackle something like false teachers in the church is definitely a difficult task, especially if they are highly respected, and have a great deal of authority. This is exactly the case here in Colossae, and how does Paul deal with issue? By emphasizing the authority of Christ, and makes sure that the Colossian church understands that it is God who qualified them into belief. 

The whole case that Paul is making here is that Christ is the one and only savior, therefore, do not let other things like traditions or rules to take away from the faith in God. Christ has dominion over all things, and all things were created through him and for him, he hold all things together, and he is the head of the body. The authority and majesty of Christ is what Paul is really trying to get at, so the church in Colossae can be well defended against these false teachers. The gospel was preached here, and because of it, Paul tells them to continue to be rooted in the faith. Paul calls these false teachings as empty deceit, and truly, they are just merely empty deceit that is trying to turn people away from the Lord. The gospel is pretty well explained here from v6-15, and right after, Paul says that to not let anyone disqualify you, because of the gospel that you have just heard. God is the eternal judge, and following traditions and believing a legalistic faith will only amount to condemnation in the end. Paul says that all of these traditions are just promoting self-made religions, and they have no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. Man… it makes me really happy to know that I have assurance of my salvation through Christ, and not some man-made, self-glorifying religion…. THANK YOU JESUS! I LOVE yOU!