Friday, January 10, 2014

January 10 - Mark 8

Today's reading in our daily plan is Mark 8. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • In Mark 6 we saw Jesus feed 5,000 people. And here he is again feeding 4,000 more with only 7 loaves of bread and 2 fish! It's interesting to observe in verse 4 that the disciples were panicked at the lack of food in the remote countryside. They obviously still had not learned to have faith that Jesus would provide; the story tells us that there were 7 large baskets full of leftovers! 
  • Jesus' warning about yeast in verses 14 and 15 may seem odd at first. But think of if this way:  Yeast, needed to bake bread, is an agent of change. The bread can't transform without it. Jesus was warning his disciples that the Pharisees were trying to bring about transformation through the religious traditions of men, which we spoke about in yesterday's post. And King Herod was attempting to bring change through political power. He was warning that both are wrong ways to try to change someone. 
  • Jesus confronts the disciples about who they thought he was. Was he a good guy? A prophet?  No. He was much more. Peter clearly recognized that he was the Christ. 
  • As Jesus warns the disciples that he will be tortured and killed in verse 31, Peter responds by arguing in verse 32. Peter is upset because the Israelites believed the Messiah would be a political leader who would save them from Roman oppression and set up Israel's own nation. To them it didn't make sense for Jesus to be killed. But Jesus had just told them in verses 14-15 that salvation does not come through political power.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • God always provides more than enough. We should never lack faith like the disciples did. Instead, we should give thanks for what he has already done and will do. 
  • Salvation doesn't come through religious rules or political power. True transformation of the heart can only come through relationship with Jesus.
  • Jesus is not just another good guy or political leader that did good deeds. He is the Savior of the world. 
  • Jesus says that if anyone would follow him they must deny themselves and take up their cross. A  cross was something you wore to your own execution. To choose Jesus is to choose death -- death to our selfish desires and passions -- and to choose to love and live for God and other people.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • We learned that the disciples were stubborn and lacked faith. Do you see any of the disciples attitude in you? If so, where? What could you do today to change that? Remember what God has done in the past and take time to give thanks now for what he'll do in the future.
  • Are you trying to "be a good person" and "do good things" in hopes that it gets you closer to God? It won't. Are you looking to political leaders or a political party because you think they will solve the problems you see in the world? They won't. Remember instead to keep your eyes focused on Jesus today. 
  • Jesus says that in order to follow him we must carry a cross. What are some of the ways you're currently living for yourself rather than for God and others? What could you do this week to "lose your life" and live to serve God and others?