I agree with Admiral Akbar.
We’ll be reading Mark 10:1-12 this Sunday. This is not a passage I have any interest in covering again in detail. I’ve already taught on it three times before – so if you’re interested in hearing my take on this particular passage, you can hear it online on our archived Mark teachings.
What I want to do this Sunday is consider how Mark sets this incident up. In v2 he makes it very clear that the subject matter which is brought up for discussion is a trap. What do you think the danger would be for weighing in on this topic? What was the reason John the Baptist was imprisoned and executed?
What can we learn from the way Jesus deals with this culturally and politically sensitive topic? There is a difference between the way Jesus speaks in public and the things he says in private to his disciples. How can we apply this to the way we hold our convictions before a watching (and listening) world?
What are some issues that our culture and society try to engage the church concerning? Read 2 Cor 5:18-20. What is our mission as the church? How might these secondary issues the church sometimes gets embroiled in interfere with our mission as Paul states it?
This will be a challenging passage to study together, but we might be taking it in unexpected directions…not for you, of course, since you’re reading this!
The Pumpkin that the Peanuts character Linus waited for one sad Halloween night and an Ancient Macedonian conqueror named Alex both had something in common with Mohamed Ali. Know what it is?
They had the title great bestowed on them. As the 2016 Republican campaign slogan testifies to, the human race seems to have a fascination with “greatness”. The question is, how do we define greatness.
Our text this Sunday will be considering that subject as it’s overall theme. We’ll be reading Mark 9:30-50.
As the section begins, Jesus predicts his death at the hands of his enemies. The disciples didn’t get it…I don’t think we would have either. How does the description of Jesus’ fate contradict our general notions of how we achieve greatness?
An argument ensues among the disciples about who exactly will be the greatest among their ranks. Jesus first makes a statement that sounds like the old guy from Karate Kid – “to be first you must be last and serve everyone”. How do you understand Jesus’ description of greatness? He goes on to use a child as an illustration of his point. Why a child, do you suppose? Children did not carry any influence in the ancient world, so what do you imagine Jesus’ purpose in identifying himself with the stature of a child (v37)?
John complains about someone doing miracles in Jesus’ name without officially belonging to their group. What might have been some of John’s motives for this? How would you reword Jesus’ statement of correction in v40.
The final section of this chapter has some troubling words. We need to keep in mind the context, that of how we carry ourselves and how we treat others when it comes to identifying the “sin” Jesus warns about. Jesus employs hyperbole by talking about millstone necklaces and cutting off limbs to emphasize just how important this subject is. He mentions hands, feet and eyes. What might those be symbolic of as it concerns how we live?
The word Jesus uses for divine judgement (hell) is Gehenna. Jesus is the only one who ever uses this image. Gehenna was a valley outside of Jerusalem deeply associated with some of Israel’s worst apostasy, where children were sacrificed to pagan gods. In may have become a garbage dump by Jesus’ day. Rabbinical tradition began to associate Gehenna with final judgement. Jesus does a curious thing of tying this imagery with Isa 66:24 which is typically interpreted as a warning about Israel’s destruction for apostasy. Given the theme of greatness and it’s application to relationships, service and acceptance, what might be a possible application of Jesus’ warning?
This will be a thought provoking section of Scripture – hope you can make it on Sunday!
I’ve never been super athletic, I mean, I was the art geek after all. Don’t get me wrong, I really like sports, I’m just not naturally gifted at any particular sport like other people I’ve known. I remember one time when I was going to a private Christian school in 7th grade and they were desperate for players on the basketball team so I was volunteered to play.
I cannot play basketball…you should know that at the outset.
I’ll be honest, it felt pretty cool to wear the team uniform as my mom dropped me off at the rival school’s gymnasium. For the briefest of moments I forgot that I knew nothing about playing basketball apart from shooting a game of horse with kids in the neighborhood. My school team was so beggared for players, they recruited a kid whom they had never seen play and who had never once practiced with them.
During the warm-up our team formed two lines on either side of the free throw lane to do simple lay-ups. One line would start, the player charging at the basket and deftly launching off the floor to lay the ball gently to the backboard and into the net. The next line would take the ball from the opposite side. Done properly it is a smooth and almost graceful approach to taking a shot.
When my turn came, I noticed that the rival school’s cheerleaders had gathered behind the backboard of our goal. My 7th grade brain imagined them all noticing how adroitly I would handle the ball. I imagined them all turning their heads my way in slow motion and admiring my basketballish skills. This made my hands start to sweat.
The ball was tossed to me and I awkwardly tried to dribble on my way to the goal. As I reached the point of no return, where I needed to lift off my left foot and raise the ball with my right hand, the ball came squirting out of my sweat-soaked palms and flew full force right at the heads of the flock of cheerleaders.
There were screams and one girl was bent over while others were patting her back.
They were all looking at me, but admiration is not how I’d describe their expressions.
That’s kind of how I imagine Jesus’ disciples feeling in the text we’ll be reading this Sunday, Mark 9:14-29.
It’s clear from this text that as Christ’s followers, we don’t always represent him well. Sometimes things go badly and we fall flat – but that’s okay. As we’ll see in our passage, there are lessons to be learned in failure.
As you read the story, put yourself into each of the character’s sandals. What do you imagine the religious experts are thinking? What do you think the crowd of people were thinking about the disciples ineffectual ministry? What conclusions might they be drawing about Jesus?
When Jesus gets the scoop on what’s happening, the father of the afflicted boy asks Jesus to help if he is able. Jesus teases a rebuke back at him. What do you think Jesus is wanting to correct in that exchange? What might it mean that “anything is possible if a person believes”? What does “believe” mean to you?
When we look at the end result, Jesus was not hampered nor deterred in any way by the failure of his disciples. What can we learn from that as it touches our own walk with Christ?
How do you imagine prayer being an effective aspect of spiritual battles? What do you understand prayer to be?
This will be some interesting stuff to analyze this Sunday – hope to see you there!
Living in Florida you don’t get much of a chance to view things from a high place since our topography shares the attributes of a pancake. I can remember times in my life when I have had the opportunity to climb to a high place and get a transcendent view of my surroundings. There’s nothing quite like it, everything takes on an exceptional look; puzzling landmarks suddenly take on a different shape and begin to make sense.
In the Gospel of Mark, we are climbing to a high point in the narrative, a plateau from which we can more clearly see the surrounding landscape and mark out the path on which we’re traveling.
We’ll be reading Mark 9:1-13, the account of the transfiguration event.
It’s likely that this event takes place on Mt Hermon since Caesarea Philippi is located at it’s base and our last section took place there. Jesus only took three of his disciples up the mountain, why do you think that was?
What significance do you see in Jesus’ appearance changing? Read Exodus 24:15-16 as well as Exodus 34:29. What implication, if any, do you find in the similarities of Moses’ experience and the transfiguration of Jesus? How do you think Jewish people, familiar with Moses’ story, would have understood this?
Why do you think Moses and Elijah were present in this event? What do you find significant in the words spoken by the Father from the cloud?
Right after this amazing phenomena, Jesus once again forecasts his death, which really confuses Pete, Jimmy and Jack. Obviously, Jesus is wanting them, and us to know the pathway to glory. How do you understand that for your own journey of following Jesus?
I think this is a really intriguing section of text to explore – hope to see you Sunday!
This month we talk about recent events in the new-more mass shootings. Also, all things Eastgate…
This Sunday we’ll be reaching the center point of Mark’s gospel as we read chapter 8 verses 27-38.
All through Mark’s gospel people have speculated about his identity. The narrative begins with the writer stating plainly that Jesus is the Messiah. Apart from the narrator, the only others who have identified Jesus as Messiah have been demons.
In chapter eight, this all changes. We are at a turning point in the story which will lead us on through to the dramatic end. Like an artist pulling away a drape to reveal his sculpture, Jesus makes himself known to his disciples in this passage. It all begins with a crucial question: “Who do you say that I am?”.
What do you believe Peter had in mind when he confessed his belief that Jesus is the Messiah? The Jewish people expected Messiah would be a divinely anointed king. If you accept that Jesus is the Messiah – the True King – what does that mean to your everyday life?
Jesus goes on to describe how it is that he will do his work as Messiah and it earns him a rebuke from Peter. Why do you think Peter balked at the idea of the Divine King suffering, being rejected and ultimately killed? Why do you think Jesus called Peter “Satan”?
The final irony comes when Jesus makes it clear that sacrificial love will not just be his path, but also the path of all who follow him. How is Jesus’ command to “turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross and follow me” find relevance in your life? What do you think it means to take up a cross to follow Jesus?
This will, no doubt, be a challenging study.
That video actually had me at first…then I couldn’t stop laughing. I was looking for videos of people who could see after getting cataract surgery and came across this. It’s apropos for our text this week in our study of Mark – we’ll be reading ch 8:1-26.
Blindness, or maybe we could say blind spots are a running theme through this section. Blindness to solutions; intentional, spiritual blindness; presumptuous blindness as well as physical blindness – it all finds its way into the first 26 verses of chapter 8.
V 1-9 describe a nearly identical miracle to the feeding of the 5,000 in chapter 6. This one happens, most likely, in the Decapolis among gentiles. In light of that, what does this miracle tell us about God’s intent for the gospel?
Our first bit of blindness isn’t called as such, but the disciples certainly seem to have trouble seeing what Jesus intends to do. Why do you think they respond the way they do? What do they see when Jesus explains his heart and makes his request? What do you think Jesus wanted them to see?
We get another round of attacks from the Pharisees in v 9-13. What is the irony in their demand for a sign? What do you believe kept them from seeing the signs Jesus had already been doing? How can we keep from limiting our vision of what God can do or whom he will use?
In v 14-20 the disciples get worried because they forgot snacks for the boat trip. Jesus warns them about the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Herod. Pharisees represented an institutional, performance based system of religion. Herod represented a grasp for political power in God’s name. Yeast is often a representation of corruption in the biblical narrative. What do you believe the corruption of the Pharisees and Herod might have been? Where would we see that in our own world?
Jesus calls the disciples blind because of their concern about snacks. How do you think his questions in v 19-20 were meant to instruct the disciples? What is the biggest area of your life where you struggle to trust in God’s provision?
In the last verses of our section we get to an actual blind guy. If he becomes a living illustration of God’s intent to remove our blind-spots – what comfort can we take from his gradual healing?
I’m really looking forward to digging into this together! Hope to see you Sunday!
Some of the great moments of history, those that stick with us in positive ways, those that show us new and better ways to live, are incidents that break down the accepted boundaries that get drawn between us as fellow humans. In our own nation’s history, The suffragette movement, the Birmingham Campaign, Pee Wee Reese with his arm around Jackie Robinson…those are just a few of the triumphant moments that have shaped us.
Jesus certainly was one who violated accepted cultural and religious boundaries during his ministry. He has ministered to those labeled unclean and unworthy with such regularity it becomes the action we expect as we read the gospels.
Then we come across a section like the text we’ll read this Sunday: Mark 7:24-37.
Jesus breaks from the script in a radical way. A pitiful character of a woman with a tormented daughter literally begs Jesus to help her…and he seems to deny her request, citing the ethnic and religious boundaries that separated them. He even compares her to a dog in excusing himself.
Needless to say, this has puzzled Bible readers from the time we’ve had it.
How would you feel had you received a response like she got? Some suggest it was all about timing, salvation had to come through the Jews, and Jesus knew she’d get her turn in due time. Some believe this demonstrates Jesus’ full humanity, where he had to learn that he had blind spots of cultural prejudice. Others think this was all done with a wink and a smile as Jesus tried to get this woman to press through in faith. Why do you think Jesus did this?
Imagine how you would feel after going home and finding your loved one healed. What do you suppose her thoughts about Jesus were at that point?
In the next verses, 31-37, how is the man who couldn’t hear or speak in a similar situation as the Syrophoenician woman? What stands out as unusual in this account? What do you make of the way Jesus addressed this man’s problems?
This study will give us a lot to think about, I think. Hope to see you Sunday!
One of the most common criticisms leveled at Christians and the church in general is that of hypocrisy. Religious playacting – speaking and putting on a show of one thing but living another. I think humanity’s genius for corruption is the reason any spiritual pursuit runs the risk of drifting into hypocrisy. I don’t think there’s a person on earth who isn’t guilty of it to at least some degree.
The commonality of hypocrisy isn’t an excuse for it though. Jesus spent a significant portion of his teaching time addressing the sin of religious hypocrisy. One of those times will be the subject of our study as we continue through the gospel of Mark, reading ch 7:1-23.
Another controversy with the Pharisees and religious leaders unfolds in our text. Why do you think the writer of Mark emphasizes that the issue in question was about traditions? What seems to carry more weight for the religious leaders, God’s word or their traditions about God’s word?
Traditions in and of themselves aren’t negative or bad. They can prove very helpful for remembering ones heritage and history. Why had they become a negative thing in this text? What traditions do we have at Eastgate? How do you feel or react when someone isn’t in step with our traditions? How can we keep traditions from becoming sacred in our thinking?
At the heart of this debate is the question of what is required to be one of God’s people. What do you think the Pharisees and Scribes thought was necessary? What does Jesus seem to think of their view?
Jesus finishes his address of purity and hypocrisy by exposing what the Old Testament purity laws were pointing to: the broken human condition. While Mark doesn’t state it in this section, based on everything Jesus says about the heart, what would constitute a cure for human corruption? How does the Good News tell us that is achieved?
It should be an interesting study – hope to see you there!
Click here for a pdf version of the PowerPoint slideshow for this message.
Last week we watched as Jesus performed the most wide spread miracle in all of His public ministry, feeding the multitudes on a mountainside. Today in our text we’ll pick up with an equally impressive miracle, the story of Jesus walking on the water and then another wide sweeping miracle of healing. All of this wonder working reveals the compassionate character of a loving savior but it’s intended to reveal something else as well. The trouble is we humans are sometimes a little slow on the uptake. This week we pick up in Mark 6:45-56.
Jesus was up in a mountain miles away from the disciples yet he saw their struggle and headed towards them. How does it feel to know that Jesus sees and comes to us in our own difficulties? Can you think of a time he did so in your own life? There’s been a lot of opportunity to witness people struggling in Bay county recently. In what ways might we be able to “get in the boat” with them?
The disciples don’t initially react to Jesus showing up how we might expect. There are some cultural conditions along with their struggles that cause them some confusion. What ultimately helped them to recognize who he was? Does the statement “It is I” in verse 50 sound familiar to you at all. Check out Exodus 3:14. What did God call himself to Moses at the burning bush? In Matthew’s gospel account of this miracle the disciples respond making their first proclamation of the Lordship of Jesus saying “Truly you are the son of God”. This was their Ah-ha moment in recognizing who he really was. What event or series of events preceded your messiah epiphany? It seems like it took a whole lot for the disciples to finally come to this revelation. Think of all the had witnessed and experienced up to this point. How does it make you feel to realize that God never gave up in revealing himself despite their “hard hearts”. How might we join his efforts in help others recognize him in their lives?
In verses 53-56 Jesus again extends his miracle working power to the masses. It says ALL who touched the hem of his garment were healed. What do you think the message behind the miracle here might be? Are there people you consider outside the reach of grace? How hard is it for you to extend grace or maybe even friendship to someone with a lifestyle other than yours. If your seats at the ball game were next to someone who identified as transgender or homosexual, how would you respond? Would you share the excitement of the evening with them or move to a different spot? Good food for thought.
This will be an intriguing study for sure! Hope to see you here!
We are celebrating 4th of July this month, and we share our opinion on patriotism and what it means for the Christian!
I hope everyone has been having a good holiday weekend and that you find some time to rest as well! We’re going to be reading about Jesus and his disciples trying to get a break from their intense ministry schedule – only to find that rest isn’t that easy to come by. The team quickly find themselves in a situation that requires attending to – and in the account of events, we get a glimpse into the motivating force of God’s kingdom.
We’ll be reading Mark 6:30-44.
As the Jesus team arrives at their secluded spot, they find it’s over-run with a mass of uninvited people who are hoping to find some help. How do you think the disciples felt when they saw this massive group of people at the border of their rest area?
We are told how Jesus felt.
What word is used to describe Jesus’ response to these vulnerable people? ἐσπλαγχνίσθη is the word used to describe his reaction. Who have you felt those kinds of feelings for? What does this tell us about God’s heart towards all humanity?
Read Numbers 27:15-17 and Ezekiel 34:1-16 (take note of v11-13). What bearing do these Old Testament passages have on our text in Mark? Who would the “shepherds” be in Jesus’ time? Who would the “shepherds” be in our context today?
The disciples wanted to send this mass of uninvited people away, why? What is the difference between the disciple’s view of the problem and solution and Jesus’? Why do you think the difference is so great?
When the disciples take inventory of their supplies, they are woefully insufficient for this task. When they bring what little they have to Jesus, what happens? What, if any, significance do you find in the detail about all the left-overs?
Where is God calling you to submit whatever you have to Christ so that He can bless others? What does compassion look like in your interaction with others? What causes and interests do you have that are compatible with God’s compassion? What does God’s compassion look like at work in this world? What steps can we take to get in sync with God’s powerful compassion?
This Sunday we’ll be reading a very intriguing story as we continue exploring the Gospel of Mark. We’ll be reading chapter 6:14-29.
The writer of Mark does something noteworthy in this section: he slows down the narrative. He even adds in some thoughts and motives for his characters. I suppose, for the first readers, this was all contemporary news and still scandalous enough to catch their ears. We certainly have no lack of love for political scandals and gossip about the famous in our day, why shouldn’t it be true of them?
This section tells the sordid account of how Herod Antipas executed, without trial or provocation, a religious leader who posed a political threat to him. When you word it like that, it does sound like a contemporary headline.
You’ll notice as you read the text that Jesus is not center stage in this section. Instead we have Harod Antipas, his current wife Herodias, her daughter and John the Baptist. There are a lot of issues being addressed in this story. Abuse of power. The importance of character for leaders. Political machinations. Commodification of women. Lust. Ego. Murder. I’m tellin’ ya’, this section is downright Shakespearean.
As you read the story, put yourself in the position of each of the characters. John was faithful to the cost of his life. Herod was intrigued but unyielding. Protective but controlling. Ultimately, he is backed into a corner where if he were to do the right thing it could cost him his reputation. Little did he know what his reputation would really be.
Track Herod’s interest, but refusal to heed what John had to say. What can we learn about the ramifications of ignoring God’s attempts to shape us? What is the reason given for Herod acquiescing to his step-daughter’s request? What areas of your personal reputation do you spend a lot of time protecting? What if God called you to do something that would diminish that reputation?
It could end up being a convicting study…a challenge towards yielding our hearts to God.
“We’re on a mission from God” ~ Elwood Blues
It’s pretty amazing what a person with a sense of purpose can accomplish. It’s equally disheartening to witness a person with no sense of purpose. Nothing withers so tragically like a human soul. We are hard-wired as a species with a need for something to do.
When Jesus gathered his disciples, and later commissioned his church, it was all with a sense of purpose. A mission. I’m convinced we don’t fully grasp the power of the new life in Christ until we awaken to that sense of divine vocation.
We’re going to be looking at Jesus’ commission of the 12 disciples in our text this week, Mark 6:7-13.
As you read through the text, how would you describe the purpose of this mission? What did Jesus want his disciples to be doing? Our mission may not always involve casting out demons or seeing people healed physically – but what are those miracles a picture of? What other ways can we be opposing evil and promoting restoration in our world?
Why do you think Jesus put such restrictions on his disciples concerning what they could take on their journey? How would you describe these restrictions in one or two words? In what ways can we make our mission in this world more simple and humble?
Do you believe there is significance to Jesus sending them out in twos, if so, what is it? How have you found encouragement in your mission by talking to someone else?
Hope to see you Sunday!
There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.” That’s what Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft said in 2007.
It’s a funny topic to research, the hilariously wrong predictions that some folks have made throughout the years. There’s a notoriously wrong assessment of Jesus that we find in the gospel of Mark where Jesus’ hometown rejects him as significant because they knew him for so long. We’ll be reading about that this Sunday as we explore Mark 6:1-6.
When the text tells us that the people of Nazareth were amazed at Jesus, the context makes it a negative reaction. The questions they ask indicate that they are suspicious of his training and ability to say and do what he has. What is the reason they give for being doubtful of his calling?
Why do you think his family and trade have any bearing on their evaluation of him? They were certain about who he was…but they were certainly wrong.
If we would have asked them why they rejected God’s kingdom, what do you think they would have answered?
What can we learn from the closed-minded way the people of Nazareth reacted to God’s unexpected kingdom? What would a godly open-mindedness look like to you?
You know what the phrase “I’m at the end of my rope” means, right? It is a descriptive way of emphasizing that one is out of options, there’s nothing left to try. That’s a place most of us spend our lives trying to avoid. We work hard to make life predictable and secure.
The problem is, things go stupid. Sometimes so stupid it is beyond our grasp to fix things.
Try as we do, there is nothing that we can find in this world that will make us immune to the troubles of this broken world.
This Sunday we’ll be reading Mark 5:21-43, and we’ll read about two different characters who are at the end of their ropes. It will be another Markian sandwich – something Mark is prone to do. We’ll find a story within a story.
As you read the text, try to list off all the ways in which the two characters who interact with Jesus are different from each other. For instance, one is a man, the other a woman. Keep in mind the purity code of the Mosaic Law as it concerned this woman. Remember how important the Synagogue was to Israelites in the 1st century.
Once you’ve got a good picture in your mind about how different these two are, start looking at what is the same about them? What is it that brings them to the same place?
What can that tell us about those times when we are at the end of our rope?
What is it that stops Jesus to ask who touched him? What do you think Jesus meant when he told the woman that her faith had made her well again? What does Jesus say to Jairus when the news comes about his daughter?
What does God seem to be looking for from us in our times of trouble? What does trusting God in difficult times look like to you?
Looking forward to digging into this on Sunday – hope to see you there!
On this podcast, we give tribute to our fathers…
I know you’ve heard me mention this before, but I just need to reiterate just how good The Bible Project videos (and podcast) are. For this Sunday’s teaching, I really would encourage you to watch the whole series on spiritual beings – but especially the one concerning the Satan and demons. It will serve as a perfect primer for our text.
We’re going to be reading about evil spiritual forces at work in an individual’s life in our text this week, Mark 5:1-20.
There is a lot of stuff in this text that the author assumes our familiarity with. I personally have a lot of questions that Scripture doesn’t give sufficient explanation for. The exchange between Jesus is very curious.
However, while details are ambiguous, the primary thrust of this event reveals Jesus’ authority over all spiritual forces, including ones that oppose him. Does there appear to be a struggle in this from Jesus’ perspective? What can we learn about the power of evil touching us when we are in Christ?
After the man was delivered, Jesus gave him a mission. What does that indicate about our own lives after Jesus has saved us? What sort of theological training do you suppose this man had? What message did Jesus send him out with? How can we apply his commission to our own lives?
Hope to see you Sunday!
Bay County is made up of people who know just how much chaos a storm from the water can bring. Michael swept up on us suddenly and powerfully and left our world a wreck. That’s the nature of a storm like that – it is a bringer of chaos.
In our text this Sunday (Mark 4:35-41), Jesus and his disciples will face a sudden storm. While I believe this is an account of something that really happened, I also firmly believe that this event becomes a parable for us – a story that helps us see ourselves and Jesus more clearly. I believe this story helps us define what it means to follow Jesus.
In the story, Jesus tells the disciples to take him across the lake (of Galilee). That seems innocuous enough, except that in 1st Century Israel, that area was called the Decapolis, and was considered off-limits for pious Jews. According to Ray Vander Laan’s article on the Decapolis: “Apparently, the pagan practices of the people of the Decapolis and their anti-God values seemed to be continuations of the practices of the Canaanites, who used sexual perversions and even child sacrifice in their worship. It is probable that the people of Jesus’ day, who took their Scriptures seriously, viewed the Decapolis as very pagan.”
What does Jesus’ intent on going across the lake indicate to us about how we will follow Jesus? Who are the people across the lake in your world?
When a storm comes up, it might have been easy for the disciples to assume that they were being punished by God for going to a place that was off-limits. Why would that be a wrong assumption? What does that tell us about the storms and chaos that effect us as we follow Jesus?
Why does Jesus rebuke the disciples? Do you believe they were wrong for being afraid? How can we understand what Jesus is looking for in our response to the trials of life?
It’s funny how the disciples go from fear to terror in this story. What is it that terrifies them? Why do you believe they are reacting this way? What, if any, experiences have you had with Jesus that have overwhelmed you because of his power?
We’ll be celebrating communion this Sunday as well – hope to see you there!