Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Reading Through the New Testament - Mark 4

The last chapter really was packed with events and repercussions. This one begins with Jesus back near the water, teaching. I decided to pick up the Message to try and take some of my tendency to bullet point away.

- He taught by using stories. Parables. I like the way Eugene Peterson's Message paraphrase has Jesus asking "Listen, what do you make of this?" at the beginning of the story, then again "Are you listening to this? Really listening?"
- then it became for the disciples about how to understand the stories and what the stories were for more than what the stories said.
- "There are people - whose eyes are open but don't see a thing, whose ears are open but don't understand a word, who avoid making an about face and getting forgiven." (MSG)
- "There is such shallow soul of character that when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it." I've certainly seen that happen in the lives of people over the years. When everything's wonderful, God is good. But when trials come they wonder where He went.
- I love the picture of the ones who "hear the Word, embrace it, and produce a harvest beyond their wildest dreams." To embrace the Word is in a sense to embrace the One Who gave it.
- "Are you listening? Really listening?"
- I have to think back over the years to all the sermons I have heard and spoken. How often did anyone really hear? How often did I embrace the Word and go out to produce fruit?
- "Giving, not getting is the way."
- "God's Kingdom is like..." When I hear that, I think of someone trying to explain to another what a place they have lived is like. It's hard to really capture the sights and sounds of anywhere, isn't it?
- So Jesus tells another story that the people who are listening can relate to. Peterson writes "He was never without a story when He spoke."
- "When He was with the disciples, He went over everything, sorting out the tangles and untying the knots."
- Then Mark presents an event where Jesus showed His power over nature and the disciples showed their lack of faith. "Teacher, is it nothing to you that we are going down?" seems hurtful to me. To presume Jesus didn't care just is jarringly wrong. The reprimand that follows is harsh but deserved.
- "Why are you such cowards? Don't you have any faith at all?" I think for most of us though there are times when if we aren't careful, we are overwhelmed with the situation we are in and forget Whose hands we are in. If His eye is on the sparrow, I know He's watching me.
- "They were in absolute awe." - seems to me to be the absolute best response to everything Jesus did and is doing right now.

Lord, I pray that my faith will stand the storms and that I will never doubt Your concern or Your care.

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