The Kingdom of God- Mark 9-10

Mark chapter 9 begins with a stark reminder that the chapter divisions of the Bible, unlike the scriptures themselves, are not divinely inspired. In point of fact, like many other chapter beginnings, verse one clearly should have been the end of chapter 8. But the fact that it was made the first verse of this chapter instead has resulted in a plethora of misunderstandings and theories. Here is what the verse says:

And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

rich ruler

The rich fool in Jesus’ parable was not only rich and a fool, but very greedy and covetous. He wanted to keep his riches to himself and not share it with others in need

The first five words indicate that Jesus was still talking to the same crowd that He had called to Him with His disciples in Mark 8:34-38. But alas, some scholars have still tried to link the meaning of the verse to the Transfiguration that follows in the chapter. Frankly, that explanation of “seeing the kingdom of God come into its power” seems the most ludicrous of all the explanations that scholars have offered. Well, perhaps not. Some have offered that it refers to His second coming. That certainly cannot be the case because He has not yet returned, and none of that crowd still lives today. It is the opinion of this writer that the kingdom of God that He refers to is Jesus’ church.

Jesus goes on to cast out a demon that the disciples could not deal with. Jesus makes it pretty plain in verse 19 that it was a matter of faith on their part. A few verses later, they are arguing about which one of them was the greatest. The lesson Jesus tries to teach them is that serving in His kingdom is not about being the greatest. It is about serving.

In verses 42-50, Jesus talks about cutting one’s hand or foot off, or plucking out one’s own eye if they cause you to sin. This is not a literal command obviously — any more that He is saying that they are literally salt in verses 49-50. The point is that one must make big changes in their life in order to avoid temptations. Sometimes that mean removing one’s self from the company of those who would tempt them, or avoiding places and things that cause temptation.

Chapter 10 begins with the Pharisees trying to trap Him about divorce.  His answer is that God takes the marriage vow very seriously, and just as He says in Matthew 5:32, it is His expectation that they stay married, with adultery being an acceptable exception. But clearly, God would prefer that a man and woman stayed married even then. God can forgive any transgression. So can we.

The rich young man who Jesus spoke to in verses 17-22 was told that what he lacked in order to please God was to sell all he had and give it to the poor. This makes some wonder whether this is what is expected of everyone. Jesus knew this man’s heart, and that heart belonged to his possessions. Many people are rich and serve God well. But this man could not. There are some who probably would be better off if they did not have so much material wealth. No man can serve God and money.

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

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Jesus Preaching the Gospel – Luke 20

Luke chapter 20 opens with “One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel…” When most people think of “the gospel,” they think of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We think of Jesus as the Christ – of his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. The term, as applied to Jesus’ preaching, is used elsewhere, such as in Matthew 9:35 and Mark 8:35.  So what gospel was Jesus preaching? It was the gospel of the kingdom. The Greek word for gospel from which this was derived is “euangellion,” which is best translated as “good news” or “glad tidings.” It was the good news of the kingdom of God that He had taught His disciples and sent them out to teach as well (Mt 4:23, Mk 1:14-15, Lk 9:1-2, and Lk 10:1-11). The “rest of the gospel” – the path of salvation was very much a work in progress. As Jesus said, the kingdom was at hand.

John the Baptist acclaims Jesus Christ. Part o...

John the Baptist acclaims Jesus Christ. Part of a 16th century polychrome sequence in Amiens cathedral. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus preached as one with authority (Matthew 7:29), and he had performed many “signs and wonders” – miracles. As chapter 19 closed, He had driven out those who sold within the temple right under the noses of the chief priests and scribes, further enraging them to the point that they wished to destroy Him (Luke 19:47). So they came up to Him with the elders, and said “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” It was more than just the equivalent of our phrase today “just who do you think you are?” They wanted Him to “convict” Himself by His own words – giving them ammunition for the destruction they sought for Him.

But it was not yet His time, so Jesus told them that He would answer only if they told Him by what authority John the baptist did his baptism – from heaven or from man. This put them in the horns of a dilemma. The people considered  – knew – John to be a prophet, and these men feared violence if they said it was only by man. But none of them had believed in John, and Jesus, they knew, would expose them as liars if they said they believed it was from heaven. So they simply said that they did not know. So Jesus told them that He would not answer their question either.

They had come to set a trap for Him with the most revered of witnesses, thinking to outsmart Him. But the tables had been turned on them once again; and you can be certain that their anger burned even hotter.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Days of the Son of Man – Luke 17

The Destruction Of Sodom And Gomorrah, a paint...

The Destruction Of Sodom And Gomorrah, a painting by John Martin (painter), died 1854, thus 100 years. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Verses 20-37 of Luke 17 are admittedly difficult to put in context and understand. Many believe that Jesus is speaking of the final judgment, and there may be some of that mixed in here. But there are several clues that lead us to associate this with the coming judgment upon Jerusalem that will come in A.D. 70. Much of this is similar to the message contained in Matthew 24, which we discussed in this previous post.

One part that generates confusion for some is when the Pharisees ask Him when the kingdom of God will come in verse 20. Jesus tells them in verse 21 that the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” Some translate that as “within you,” but that cannot be the case, as it is addressed to those who do not believe. Instead, Jesus is telling them that it has already arrived in the lives and the hearts of those who are already following Him.

Águia Romana / Roman Eagle

Águia Romana / Roman Eagle (Photo credit: Marcio Cabral de Moura)

If we take it a bite at a time from there, we can see in verses 22 and 23 that Jesus is telling them that there will be no mistaking the days of the Son of Man. Much of this sounds very much like the references to “the day of the Lord” that is spoken about on many occasions in the Old Testament, such as Zephaniah 1:14-18, Isaiah 13:9-11, Joel 2, and many other passages. That term always referred to a time of God taking some kind of decisive action.

He then compares it to the events of the Great Flood, and of Sodom and Gomorrah. In verse 37 He tells them “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” Some translations have “eagles” rather than “vultures,” which many associate with Rome, as it was a symbol of power for them. A coincidental translation? Perhaps, but perhaps not.

Zephaniah 1:14-18
Zephaniah 1:14-18

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Matthew 16 – Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

The Pharisees and the Saduccees Come to Tempt ...

The Pharisees and the Sadducees Come to Tempt Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Normally, the Pharisees and Sadducees were at odds, and had little to do with each other.  But Jesus was perceived by both groups as a threat to their power.  That is why they came together in verse one asking him for a sign – in order to try to get something to use against him as the Pharisees and scribes had done earlier.  Jesus points out their ability to understand meteorological signs (verse 2), but they are unable to understand the signs that He has done (because they choose not to).  In verse 4, he says that no sign will be given except the sign of Jonah  (a repeat of His earlier statement in the encounter in Matthew 12:38-40).  He had told them of His coming death and resurrection already, but they had not understood that either.

In verse 5, the disciples caught up with Him (Jesus had gone over on the boat without them after feeding the four thousand in chapter 15) and realized they had forgotten to bring any bread.  So when He tells them to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees,”  they still have their minds on bread; and they do not properly understand the statement.  Jesus is using the word “leaven” in the sense of something that influences another – in this case, the corrupt doctrine and hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  It is their (the disciples) faith (verse 8) that is preventing them from understanding the way He wants them to understand Him.  Jesus focuses their minds by reminding them of the miracles of feeding the two groups of thousands and the abundant left-overs, and repeating the warning.  That has the desired effect, and they finally “get it.”

After they arrive in the district of Caesarea Philippi, Peter answers Jesus’ question of verse 15 with the knowledge that He is the son of God. Jesus declares that he was blessed to have such knowledge revealed to him by God Himself (verse 17).  Unfortunately, verses 18-19 are the subject of much confusion and controversy.  Many people get lost in scrutinizing the Greek and Aramaic words for rock, but the simple fact is that Jesus uses a play on words, as scripture very often does, with Peter’s name.  And despite his flaws (and maybe even because of them), most of us really just like Peter.  But the gospel is not about the glory of Peter.  It is about Jesus, and our hope of salvation through Him.

The two verses are not so difficult to understand when you put them in context with verse 20, with the preceding verses, and with Jesus’ previous words about building a house on the rock (Matthew 7:24)  The rock that Jesus is building on is the foundation of the son of God and His teachings; and his church or kingdom (Greek “ekklesia” – congregation or assembly) is the collection, or body, of people who have been saved by their obedience and faithfulness (Ephesians 2:19-22, 1 Corinthians 12:13).  When Jesus says that He will give him the keys to the kingdom (in contrast to the scribes and Pharisees who cause people to be shut out – see Matthew 23:13), He is speaking of the divine revelation of His word, that will be given to the apostles by the Holy Spirit (John 16:12-15) to impart to us to be saved.  That is when they will truly “get it.”  The next part of verse 19 is best translated in the New American Standard Version, which in the correct tense says  “and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”  Binding and loosing refer to forbidding and permitting, and the authority for their knowledge of it will be given to them.   This is repeated to all of them in Matthew 18:18.

Jesus then tells them to tell no one that He is the Christ.  Like Peter in verse 22, nobody would understand that the Christ has not come to rule as their earthly king anyway.  Only after He offers Himself in death will that understanding come.  Verse 21 (“From that time…”) is the first of four times from then until His arrival in Jerusalem, that He will tell them in Matthew of His imminent death and resurrection.  We tend to forget that as Jesus was also a man, Peter’s sentiment for keeping Jesus alive would be a temptation, knowing what He has to suffer.  It is in that light that we better understand His strong words to Peter in verse 23.

Verses 24-27 are the essence of what it means to be a Christian.  The knowledge of what the salvation of our souls means to us eternally should be enough to cause us to deny ourselves the worldly pleasures everyone finds so important – those things that would stand in the way of salvation.  If we do not, and we “gain the world,” we still will have lost everything.  The meaning of verse 28 is said by some to be that some of those present will see the Him come into His kingdom at His death and resurrection, which makes sense.  Others believe that it is the Transfiguration that comes in chapter 17, and is a preview of His divine glory to come.  Both answers have merit; and both may well be correct.  The point is that the time is coming soon.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Matthew 4 – Jesus Begins His Ministry

In verse 1, Jesus is led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  God never tempts anyone to do wrong (James 1:13), but He has sometimes used situations to test someone’s faithfulness and character (see  Hebrews 11:17).  This testing had a purpose from the devil’s perspective (to derail God’s plan for the redemption of man, by preventing Jesus from being without sin).  The purpose from the perspective of God’s plan was that by having suffered from temptation himself (Hebrews 2:18), he understands how temptation affects us, and He is strengthened as our savior.  It also reinforces for us the value of knowing God’s word.

English: View of the Kidron Valley from the Ol...

English: View of the Kidron Valley from the Old City of Jerusalem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hungry from fasting forty days, which compares to the 40 years of the testing of the people of Israel in the wilderness, the ability to use His power to feed himself in verse 3 would be a substantial temptation.  Jesus quotes the latter part of Deuteronomy 8:3 in verse 4 as an answer to the devil.  The devil’s quotation of Psalm 91:11-13 in the second  temptation of verses 5-6 is a deliberate misuse of the scripture – God does not encourage people to place themselves in needless danger.   The pinnacle of the Temple would likely be the southeast corner – some 300 feet above the Kidron Valley.  Such a feat would have been a great shortcut to achieve fame and attract people to Him, but would subvert God’s plan.  Jesus then answers in verse 7 by quoting from Deuteronomy 6:16.   The last temptation in verse 8 offers yet another opportunity to reign as king by nothing short of the worst kind of idolatry and betrayal of God; and is answered by a quote from Deuteronomy 6:13.

Then, returning to Galilee to avoid the area where John the Baptist was arrested (verse 12), in verses 13-16, he fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2.  Reinforcing John the Baptist’s message, Jesus preaches for the people to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  This simply refers to the kingdom as a new period of the reign of God in people’s hearts and in their lives, shortly to come.  The calling of His disciples in verses 18-22 at first reading makes one think that these men dropped everything all of a sudden to follow a complete stranger.  But John 1:35-42 demonstrates a prior relationship.  Now He was calling them to be apostles.   Verses 23-25 detail the great following that He was accumulating, and the wonders such as healing the sick that He began doing.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.