Live Like You Were Dying (Mark 13.1–37)

Several years ago, at the Academy of Country Music Awards, Tim McGraw won song of the year for “Live Like You Were Dying.” The song is about a man who discovers he is dying of cancer. His friend asks him, “How’s it hit you when you get that kind of news? / Man, what’d you do?” The man replies: I went sky diving I went Rocky Mountain climbing I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying And he said someday I hope you … Continue reading Live Like You Were Dying (Mark 13.1–37)

Being Close to the Kingdom (Mark 12.13–44)

Today’s Scripture reading (Mark 12.13–44) is long. So, instead of trying to write about all of it, I want to write about only part of it. But that part is important, perhaps the most important thing we can learn from the Bible. Let’s take a closer look at verses 28–34. Beginning at verse 28, a teacher of the law engages in a conversation with Jesus, asking him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” The teachers of the law—together with the Pharisees, Sadducees, chief priests, and elders—have taken quite a shellacking at Jesus’ hands throughout Mark’s Gospel. But … Continue reading Being Close to the Kingdom (Mark 12.13–44)

Do We Respect God’s Son? (Mark 12.1–12)

The Jewish religious leadership often takes a shellacking from Jesus’ hand. Mark 12.1–12 is a good example. It is a parable about a landowner, his vineyard, and some tenant farmers who kill his son. The parable so angered “the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders” (11.27) that they “looked for a way to arrest [Jesus] because they knew the parable was about them.” What made them so mad? Although Jesus’ parables are not usually allegories—in which each character symbolizes someone else—this one seems to be. The landowner is God; the farmers are the religious leaders; the … Continue reading Do We Respect God’s Son? (Mark 12.1–12)

The Demanding Jesus (Mark 11.1–33)

Several years ago, Phillip Yancey published a book entitled, The Jesus I Never Knew. Yancey cut through the fog of mistaken interpretations that so often floats around Jesus and reintroduced his readers to the Gospels’ portrait of him. In the Gospels, Jesus is simultaneously more gracious and more demanding than we are. We see the demanding Jesus on display in Mark 11.1–33. The first event Mark 11 narrates is Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (verses 1–11). Jesus tells his disciples to find a colt for him to ride into Jerusalem. If someone asks them why they are … Continue reading The Demanding Jesus (Mark 11.1–33)

Astonishment, Fear, Desire, and Trust (Mark 10.32–52)

How do you respond to Jesus at an emotional level? Mark 10.32–52 portrays four responses: astonishment, fear, desire, and trust. Take a closer look at each one. First, astonishment. “They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished.” They had good reason to be astonished, of course. In their time with Jesus, they had witnessed him perform miracles great and small; seen him exorcise demons singly and in legions; heard him teach with authority, encouragement, and challenging words; and themselves performed miracles and exorcisms in his name. Jesus constantly astonished the … Continue reading Astonishment, Fear, Desire, and Trust (Mark 10.32–52)

Three Hard Words (Mark 10.1–31)

Mark 10.1–31 records three hard words of Jesus about divorce, childlikeness, and wealth. Regarding divorce, Jesus said, “No!” Some Pharisees tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” Alluding to Deuteronomy 24.1–4, the Pharisees answered, “Yes.” But Jesus was unsatisfied with their answer, so he responded: “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law. But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one … Continue reading Three Hard Words (Mark 10.1–31)