Digging in Deeper: Mark 14:3

“While he was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured it on his head.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

At various times in the church’s history, there have been certain places the current culture of the church expected believers not to go. For a long time in our fairly recent past, one of those places were bars. It was simply understood that Christians in good standing didn’t go into bars. Those were places of sin and you didn’t want to be associated with that. Of course, cultural expectations and personal behaviors are two different things. And, when desired behaviors and cultural expectations aren’t in sync for some reason, the result is often a twisted mess of hypocrisy and deception. That’s a sermon for another time. Starting as early as the 1970s and accelerating from there, some young believers began to have entirely different attitudes as to what was and wasn’t appropriate for followers of Jesus to do. Alcohol gradually became one of the things they were okay with where their parents and grandparents were not. One of the consequences of this was that they began to see places like bars as fair game for ministry. Some even went so far as to plant churches in them. Well, plunking the Gospel down in a place most folks don’t expect to find it can lead to some interesting, but powerful, ministry encounters. That’s what we see here as we continue in Mark’s story about Jesus’ life.

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Morning Musing: Mark 11:14

“He said to it, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again!’ And his disciples heard it.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

When was the last time you threw a fit about something? What sparked that? I remember going on a mountain getaway with some friends several years ago. We were cooking a Stouffer’s lasagna for dinner, and it fell to me to get it out of the oven. Somehow, I tipped over the pan all over the oven door, basically ruining dinner for the six of us. In the moment I was so embarrassed and angry that I threw an oven mitt across the little kitchen. Fortunately, the meal was salvageable. It was my little freak out that did more to put a damper on the evening than the messy meal. Talk about an awkward moment. I was lucky to have a gracious wife and friends. Well, this morning, I want to look with you at a time when Jesus seemed to throw a fit.

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Morning Musing: Mark 9:2-3

“After six days, Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain by themselves to be alone. He was transfigured in front of them, and his clothes became dazzling – extremely white as no launderer on earth could whiten them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Men have a reputation in this culture. Okay, that’s a setup for a political and cultural fight which is not what we’re going to have this morning. Let’s try that again: One of the stereotypes men carry in this culture (and most cultures, honestly, because this is a human trait) is that we don’t like to quit when we’re behind. Perhaps to put that another way: We don’t know when to quit. Admitting we’re lost when driving is a perfect example. The stereotypical man doesn’t look at a map and insists he knows right where he is even when he’s hopelessly lost. And heaven forbid he stops and asks for directions. Well, sometimes what is true about men on the road, is true about all of us when we read the Scriptures. There are places and stories that are hard to understand. Let’s talk about one of them this morning.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 6:47-48

“Well into the night, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and he was alone on the land. He saw them straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Very early in the morning he came toward them walking on the sea and wanted to pass by them.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever tried to clarify something for someone, but your clarification itself was so unclear to them that it just prompted more questions? Occasionally when I’m helping one of our older boys with their homework, I’ll try to explain something in terms that are beyond what they’re ready to understand. The result is that rather than making their lives easier, I wind up confusing them more. In those times it is usually mom who comes to the rescue. She knows just how to put things in a way they’ll understand. What we see here is a little like that. Jesus was revealing Himself in a significant way to the disciples so that they would understand Him better. Unlike me, though, His messaging was on point. Still, like the disciples, we sometimes struggle to grasp what He was saying for the details fogging up the picture. Let’s talk through some of those together.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 6:45

“Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

One of the charges critics like to level at the Scriptures is that they are so riddled with contradictions that they can’t possibly be trusted to convey anything resembling the truth. In most cases this charge is fairly easy to dispatch. Occasionally, though, a thoughtful reading seems to suggest that some of these critics have a point. After all, when there are multiple versions of the same stories – as happens fairly frequently in the Gospels – and the versions seem to be contradictory at so many different points, what are we supposed to do with that? This morning we’re going to start talking about one of Jesus’ most famous miracles: walking on water. Before we get into the details of the event itself, let’s talk about why we think this really happened.

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