Digging in Deeper: Mark 2:5

“Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Sometimes, when a good thing is done in a way or at a time that no one was expecting, it doesn’t seem so good anymore. Have you ever noticed that? I believe the cynical adage is that no good deeds goes unpunished. That could have been the theme of Jesus’ whole ministry. He did a whole lot of good things during His three years in the spotlight and yet again and again He did them in ways that broke the mold. They broke the mold for a people who were very much fond of their molds. The result was a whole lot more conflict than you would think someone so committed to doing good would attract. This first story in Mark 2 is a perfect example.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 1:23-26

“Just then a man with an unclean spirit was in their synagogue. He cried out, ‘What do you have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!’ Jesus rebuked him saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw him into convulsions, shouted with a loud voice, and came out of him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Exorcisms make for a popular subject within the horror genre. Beyond the obvious horror elements, I think there’s a reason for this. Good horror movies (and by that, I mean ones that go beyond simple gore and cheap scares) explore the human psyche in ways that few other films really do. They allow filmmakers and moviegoers to examine what it is that scares us and why. And one of the things that frightens many people is the unknown, especially when it comes to the spiritual world. People have always had a sense that there is a world beyond what we can see and that it isn’t necessarily all sunshine and roses. Stories like this one in Mark confirm that notion, but in ways that should give us confidence, not fear. Let’s talk about it.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 1:16-18

“As he passed alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting a net into the sea–for they were fisherman. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus told them, ‘and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Would you follow Jesus if He came calling? If you’re already a Jesus follower, I suspect your answer to that question was a quick and enthusiastic, “Yes!” If He came calling out of nowhere and you were already in the groove of your life, though, would you really drop everything and follow Him? If you’re not already doing it, the answer just may not be quite so affirming. Now as a follower of Jesus, if He came and asked you to leave everything familiar and go some place new, would you do it? These men did and it changed the world. Let’s look at why they did it.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 1:11-12

“And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.’ Immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Growing up is hard. It’s hard on every level. Your body changes and stretches and that doesn’t always feel good. It seems like just when you get really comfortable with one phase, another one comes along and bumps it out of the way. You manage to overcome one set of challenges, to ascend to the top of a hill, only to discover that there is a whole other range of mountains still waiting to be climbed beyond that one. Yet climb on we must because the path to the best stuff is always forward. This is exactly what we see Jesus experiencing here in our next step forward into Mark’s Gospel.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 1:4-6

“John came baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John wore a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Several years ago I had the chance to participate in a weekend seminar with Pastor Mike Bonem. He is the author of the book, Leading from the Second Chair. Mike was then the executive pastor at Second Baptist Church in Houston, TX, one of the largest churches in the country. As the title of the book suggests, Mike’s message that weekend was about how to still be a leader when you aren’t the head honcho. Considering the state of our culture then and now, I struggle to imagine a more countercultural message than the one he was preaching. Nobody aspires to be the runner up. Nobody plans on making it almost to the top, but stopping just short of that. And yet, the very first person we are introduced to in the Gospel of Mark did exactly that, and Jesus called him the greatest man alive. Let’s talk about John the Baptist this morning.

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