Wednesday, January 8, 2014

January 8 - Mark 6

Today's reading in our daily plan is Mark 6. 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?)
  • Have you ever gone home to visit family at Christmas or Thanksgiving and felt out of place? Like maybe you didn't belong anymore? Jesus felt that way too, but for different reasons.  You see, Jesus was not voted most likely to succeed or most popular in school.  He actually grew up very poor and his father was a lower working class carpenter.  Jesus didn't graduate and go to an ivy league school and learn the art of public speaking. So no one seemed to understand how he could be so full of wisdom and authority when he spoke. As a result, they were cynical and sarcastic. This lack of faith made it impossible for Jesus to do any miracles or have any impact in his own town. So he left.
  • He went to other towns where people were receptive to hear what he had to say. And, he was now ready to send out his 12 disciples that had been studying underneath him for quite some time.  Jesus gave them power to teach the good news as well as the ability to perform miracles.
  • Even King Herod was interested in who Jesus was.  He asked the same question people have been asking for centuries- "Who is he?  Is he just a lowly carpenter?  Could he be a prophet?  Or could he be a king?" Not knowing the answer distressed King Herod greatly. 
  • And here's where things get really ugly. King Herod was stressed in part, for the role he played in the death of John the Baptist. If you remember him from chapter 1, he was the man who was preparing everyone for the arrival of Jesus' ministry.  He was a man of great faith. However, King Herod was a man easily seduced.  He had married his brother's wife.  And her daughter danced for the King on his birthday. This pleased the King so much he offered her anything she wanted. Her mother encouraged her to ask for John the Baptist's head.  King Herod was devastated by this request, but out of pride in the presence of his guests, he would not recant his offer. Sadly, the pride of a king was the downfall of a great prophet who had great faith in Jesus.  How could this be? Well, the truth is that there are mysteries to God and faith.  And the Bible never promised that things will always go the way we think they should just because we believe.
  • Jesus and the disciples had been traveling for some time, so he gathered them all together and encouraged them to rest for a while. It's great to minister to others and help those in need, but sometimes it's ok to take a break.  Even Jesus did!
  • Finally, in verse 53 we see Jesus and the disciples return to Genneserat. This was the same region from chapter 5 where Jesus healed the demon possessed man and the town reacted by demanding Jesus leave. If you recall, Jesus gave the healed man the task of telling everyone about what Jesus had done for him.  Well, apparently he did because everyone wanted to touch Jesus in the hopes that they would be healed too.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • The people of Jesus' hometown couldn't look past the poor carpenter's son to see who he really was.  They were too familiar with the little boy they knew from the past. Even today, people have grown "familiar" with Jesus and who they think he is- a nice guy who did nice things for people.  Sadly, they miss the truth of who he actually is.
  • If we are true followers of Jesus like the 12 disciples, then we can expect him to give us strength as we go and share the great news with those around us.
  • Sometimes bad things happen to good people. John the Baptist had devoted his life to sharing the good news of Jesus. However, it didn't prevent his untimely death.  Just as we learned yesterday, there is evil all around us that we can't control. Satan used Herod's lust for women and his ego to seal John's fate.
  • Life can be hectic sometimes.  We live in a 24/7 world.  Sometimes we need to get away by ourselves with Jesus and re-boot. 
  • In the story of the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus uses a small lunch of 5 loaves and 2 fish to perform an incredible miracle. God typically does his work and his miracles through simple means and simple people.
  • Once again, we see Jesus help the disciples in the midst of a storm.  They didn't even ask for his help, but he saw their distress and responded.  He still responds to us today, even when we don't  ask for his help.
  • The demon possessed man in chapter 5 is a great example of how a person's "testimony"can have a great impact on people who don't know Jesus yet.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Have you become too "familiar" with Jesus like his hometown crowd? Have you become cynical in your faith that maybe he can't come through? Or maybe you're like Herod- intrigued by who Jesus said he was, but afraid to explore deeper. Take steps toward him today and he will walk toward you, just like in the storm. Let him know that you trust him to answer you. Whatever step you can take, take it!
  • What might be something God wants to do in the world this week that he could use you to do? Ask for his strength to reach out. How could you partner with him in doing something really cool?
  • Try to find time in your busy schedule to pause, reflect, and spend some alone time praying and spending time with God.
  • Who can you share your "testimony" of how your life has been changed by Jesus with this week?