RSS

Tag Archives: John the Baptist

Mark, Episode 7: When the Disciples Spread the Word

The twelve disciples had a passive role in Jesus’ early ministry. They listened to Jesus, learned from him, and followed him around the countryside and across seas. But Jesus had more planned. He had work for them to do.

Read Mark 6:7-29.

10108605765_888f99182f_z

Credit: Tommy Clark (https://flic.kr/p/gpgfji)

Jesus sent his disciples out to announce his coming. Just like John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, so did his disciples. They were his publicists. They called people to repentance, freed the possessed, and healed the sick. Jesus delegated to them what he was doing already, what people crowded around him for. The people came to Jesus, and now he sent his disciples to the people.

You may note that this story shows Jesus’ power was transferable. He wasn’t some superhero with special powers only he could control. He could actually share his ability to banish demons and heal diseases, perhaps because of the intensive time the disciples had already spent with him.

Power alone wouldn’t guarantee acceptance though. Not everyone accepted Jesus or his teaching, and he knew his disciples would face the same challenge. If they would be welcome everywhere, then why would he give them instructions on what to do when they were not?

John the Baptist was also unwelcome. He criticized Herod for marrying his brother’s wife (Matt. 14:4). He was killed for speaking the truth. Herod was apparently not threatened by John because he “heard him gladly.” He was also afraid of the public backlash if anything happened to John. But Herodias did feel threatened. She wanted John gone. She did not want to repent for marrying her husband’s brother.

Not all good teachers will be respected or treated like they deserve. Some people don’t want to hear the truth because it might mean they are wrong or have to change. They would rather be left alone to do whatever they want, despite the possible consequences. Fun facts: Herod’s domain was later attacked by the kingdom of his ex-wife, whom he left for Herodias. Soon after, Herodias’ mischief led to the Roman emperor banishing Herod to Gaul. Not a wise marriage on Herod’s part.

Jesus knew that his disciples would be rejected, like John and himself, but there was good news too. He sent them with nothing but staffs in their hands and sandals on their feet. Just the minimum tools for their travel. I will be traveling this summer, and I’ve been working on my packing list for months. I can’t imagine leaving with nothing more than a hiking stick and shoes. But leaving with nothing more than a staff and sandals meant they would have to trust God on their journey. It meant there would be people to receive them in their homes and listen to their message.

Some people would ignore, criticize, or chase the disciples out of town. But it would be worth it for those who would listen, repent, and be freed and healed. That gives me hope. No matter how much opposition I might face for my faith and following Jesus, God will open the right doors and provide the opportunities he means me to have.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus, John 16:33

 

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 3, 2016 in Other thoughts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Mark, Episode 1: When Everyone Looked for Jesus

Welcome to the start of a new series on Reviewed Thought! As I announced last week, I will review the Gospel of Mark. We’ll start with chapter one and work our way through to the end, however many weeks that takes. Look for a post every Monday.

So let’s get started, shall we?

Mark 1

In this chapter, three things stood out to me about Jesus.

1. His Timing

3189217586_e61ce78073_z

Credit: Lawrence OP (https://flic.kr/p/5RPzh7)

Isaiah prophesied that a messenger would prepare the people for their Messiah’s arrival. Mark introduces the messenger as John the Baptist and the prophesied Messiah as Jesus of Nazareth. John announced Jesus’ coming, but Jesus doesn’t enter the stage immediately and get to work. Nope. Instead he gets baptized and receives the Spirit’s blessing.

You’d think he’s ready to announce his candidacy, right? Nope. Rather than go to the people, he walks into the wilderness and lives with the wild animals. He stays in isolation from civilization for 40 days. Anyone who has made a Lenten vow knows 40 days is a long time to wait.

Then, when Jesus finally goes public, he silenced spirits who knew who he was and told healed people to not spread the news. Isn’t that contrary to the Great Commission given at the end of Matthew? If I were the promised Messiah, I would start my ministry full-throttle. Hire a marketing team! Build a platform! Get interviewed on late night talk shows!

But Jesus was more patient than that. He didn’t want short-lived sensationalism to jeopardize his long-term strategy. When the cleansed leper ignored Jesus’ instructions, it stirred up such attention that Jesus couldn’t walk freely in towns. But even that didn’t keep people from searching for him.

2. His Influence

Despite his attempts to lay low, Jesus held surprising influence wherever he went. He wasn’t a rabbi or political leader or other well-known public figure. Yet he immediately gathered disciples when he returned from the wilderness.

Simon (Peter), Andrew, James, and John all left their trades as fishermen at the call of Jesus. James and John left their father Zebedee behind. Mark writes that Simon had a mother-in-law and therefore also a wife. These men gave up their homes, jobs, and families to follow and be discipled by this unknown Jesus of Nazareth. What was it about him that was so compelling?

The people in the Capernaum synagogue were astounded by his teaching, unlike anything they had heard from the scribes (the equivalent of professors or keepers of the Jewish law). They are further impressed by his power over spirits. They couldn’t repost or tweet his teaching, but they do go out telling everyone in the region about Jesus of Nazareth. He went viral in ancient Galilee. What could he have preached that would be that infectious?

From then on, determined people who needed healing also start following Jesus. Remember they had only heard word-of-mouth rumors. They couldn’t go to his website for tour dates. But that didn’t stop people from pursuing him to whatever “desolate places” he had camped with his disciples. When Jesus took a break one early morning to pray, his disciples interrupt to say, “Everyone is looking for you.”

3. His Identity

At this point, no one knew who Jesus would eventually claim to be. Even the disciples. He was just an ordinary working-class person, a carpenter’s son from Nazareth. He had no rabbinic training. So how could anyone explain how he spoke with power in a way they had never heard? Or how he banished demons and healed diseases by his command?

Jesus stays silent and goes so far as forbidding an unclean spirit from revealing his identity. Jesus was undercover. He didn’t walk into towns saying, “Hey folks, the Son of God has arrived!” Instead of telling people his credentials, he let them make their own conclusions from observation.

In Matthew 11, John the Baptist sends some of his disciples to ask whether Jesus is the Messiah he had been sent to announce. Jesus’ answer? “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” In other words: “See for yourselves.”

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,