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Mark 8

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

WEDNESDAY, AUG 1

 SCRIPTURE:  Mark 8

BY Jeremy Witt

In verses 1-10, you might think that Mark is repeating himself, but he is not.  Mark and Matthew (15:32-39) give an account on this mass feeding of 4000+ people.  The earlier account is to a predominately Jewish crowd, but this account is done to a predominately Gentile crowd.  How do I say that?  The area of the Ten Towns or Decapolis is predominately a Gentile area.  So why is this important?  Remember that Mark is writing primarily to Christians in Rome (non-Jews for the most part) and by showing that Jesus had compassion on Gentiles  which would stand out to the original audience.   

Jesus cared about the people regardless of their ethnicity.  Remember the Samaritan woman.  He cared about people regardless of their economic situation.  Remember that they had no food.  The point is that Jesus cared about people, especially the ones who were forgotten by the powerful.  Let us remember this as we deal with others, but more importantly when we feel that God doesn’t care about ___________.  He does.  You matter to Him.  The LORD God cares and loves you!

When we come to verses 11-13, Jesus comes into contact with the Pharisees (religious police) who try to demand Jesus do their bidding.  Instead of playing their little games, Jesus jumps into the boat and leaves.  I can just see those guys pouting, because they didn’t get their way.  How dare he not do what we asked?  I imagine that they got mad and said some things that I shouldn’t repeat even if I was there.  But wait!  Do you hear that still, small voice asking you a question?  Do you (we) ever do that when Jesus doesn’t give us what I (we) want, do I (we)?  Yeah, that got me too, because I am very guilty! 

Jesus was a master teacher and an expert at taking advantage of teachable moments with the disciples.  In verses 14-21, the disciples were arguing with each other about not having enough food, and Jesus had to remind them of how He provided with almost nothing.  They hadn’t learned the lesson of God’s provision after two amazing miracles.  Before we get too high on ourselves, I wonder how many times God has shown off and done something God-sized in our lives, and we have forgotten it?  In verse 17, Jesus asks, “are your hearts too hard to take it in?” In verse 18, he says, “you have eyes, can’t you see?  You have ears, can’t you hear?  Don’t you remember anything at all?”  We are just like them if we are not careful.  Take a moment or two and remember what the LORD has personally shown you.

Jesus heals a blind man in verse 22-26 but doesn’t heal the man in front of the crowds.  After this healing, Jesus and the disciples are walking and Jesus asks them, “who do people say that I am?”  Peter answers with that Jesus is the Messiah and is told not to tell others.  Why would He do that?  The answer lies in the following verses as Jesus goes into predicting His death for the first time in verses 31-38.  What jumps out to me is the interaction between Jesus and Peter in verses 32-33.  Peter was focused on his own understanding of Jesus and what Jesus was saying was not what Peter wanted to hear.  He was focused upon his own feelings.  There is a whole series of things to say about our feelings, but now is not the time, but what we must see is that his feelings were selfish and not anywhere close to God’s purposes.  Many times in our journey with Christ, we will face persecution, going without, isolation, and even suffering.  No one wants to talk about that or go through that, but following after Christ is not wealth and comfort.  But following Jesus is submitting to Him, seeking His will over our own, and seeking to glorify the LORD.

There is something else that needs to be noted.  Peter was not possessed by the devil, but he was clearly persuaded by the devil, and Jesus calls it out by name.  Even followers of Jesus can be persuaded by Satan, but a Christ follower cannot be possessed as we are filled with the Spirit and possessed by Jesus alone! 

As we come to the end of the chapter, remember that Mark is speaking to those in and around Rome.  When Mark mentions “take up their cross” the original audience knew what it meant as criminals would have to carry their cross to their execution place and were executed routinely on crosses throughout the empire.  The main idea is submission is required by those who follow Jesus.  It is His will above our own.  Just as Jesus prayed in the garden, “Not My will, but Yours be done” Luke 22:42 

Posted by Jeremy Witt with

Mark 7

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

TUESDAY, JULY 31

SCRIPTURE:  Mark 7

By the time we get to this point in the Gospel narrative, the religious leaders of Israel had had just about all of Jesus that they wanted.  So, they started following Him around watching and listening.  Their purpose was not to emulate Him or learn from Him.  They were constantly looking for something to attack Him about. 

Thankfully, Jesus was the perfect man.  That didn’t stop His enemies from trying to attack Him.  It just meant that He never did anything wrong.  Therefore, the attacks wouldn’t stick.  I can’t imagine how tiresome that must have been for Jesus. 

The issue in this chapter seems to be about whether you should wash your hands before you eat or not.  Of course, that really wasn’t the issue but at first read that seems to be the sticking point. 

Before we go further, let me assure that the hand washing dilemma is not about personal hygiene.  We all should probably wash our hands before we eat.  At least that is what my mom tried to teach me.  Instead this hand washing was a religious issue.

In case you are wondering, there is nothing in the Old Testament Law that demanded hand washing before meals.  God never told Israel to do this.  But over the years and centuries, the religious leaders developed a very involved process of hand washing to remove any contamination they might have and to prove their superiority. 

The point of the hand washing was actually to remove any lingering effects from coming in contact with a Gentile or even worse a Samaritan.  As these religious leaders milled around in the market place or on the streets of the city, there was always some possibility that some Gentile or Samaritan came in contact with them.  No self-respecting Jewish religious leader could deal with such contamination.  So, they developed a very elaborate process of washing their hands as well as their cooking utensils to remove the evidence of any contact.

This hand washing was another way that the Jewish religious leaders proved that they were better than everyone else.  It was also another way that they could put down the Gentiles and Samaritans.  It was in the midst of this self-righteousness that they jumped on Jesus because His disciples didn’t wash their hands before they ate.

Jesus didn’t argue with them about the benefits of hand washing.  Instead He reminded the Jewish religious leaders of a couple of things.  One, they had a long habit of changing God’s Law to fit their personal needs.  He actually gave an example of that by reminding them that they tried to find a way to not take care of their elderly parents and essentially blame God for it.  The truth was, however, that when they declared their belongings to be Corban, they didn’t immediately give what they had to God.  Instead they just lived off of what they had.

The other thing that Jesus reminded them of was the fact that it isn’t what goes into a person that defiles that person.  Instead it is what comes out of him.  What comes out of person is evidence of what is in him. 

In other words, we can eat bacon with dirty hands and that isn’t a sin.  But  it is the evil, selfish thoughts that proceed out of a person that lead to evil, selfish actions that are evidence of the sin that dwells within every one of us.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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