Book of Mark

It depicts Jesus as Servant …

… and thus emphasize the deeds of Jesus more than the words of Jesus (his teaching). There is no genealogy because people are not interested in the genealogy of a servant.

It was written especially for Romans. The Romans know nothing about Old Testament Scripture. They were not interested in prophecy being fulfilled. The Romans liked it’s straightforward message. The Romans of Jesus’ day were like average business people of today. It is the business person’s Gospel. It is … the book of Mark in the Bible, the first written gospel.

Book of Mark

Mark 3: 13-19, 20-34

Jesus Appoints the Twelve
13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve[b] that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Here we can learn from Jesus’ leadership. If Jesus continue to heal people by himself alone, then Jesus will always tie down by all the healing work. By giving the healing power to the 12, Jesus spread the load. I think Jesus also choose the right time to pass this healing power. He did not do this in the beginning. Jesus wants to see who he can trust and faithful and has the heart. And Jesus also wants to train and prepare them. After all these, it is the right time for Jesus to entrust them with the authority to drive our demons and the healing power.

Jesus also know the have the “Business Continuous Plan (BCP)”. In the corporate world, it is important to make sure that there are BCP. Without BCP, if there is anything happens, business or operation could be able to continue and this is a BIG thing. Here, Jesus knows that his time is short. Jesus knows that very soon he need to be crucified, resurrected and back to God in heaven. Besides sending the Holy Spirit to the disciples, he also make sure that they are spiritual leaders around and these 12 are them.

Without having a clarify who are the spiritual leaders, the first century church can be a havoc. They won’t know who to look up to. But having this clarify of knowing who are their leaders, it helps the organization of the church.

Jesus style of leadership consists of many ways. He teaches by words (preaching), he show how to do certain things, example how to cast out certain demons, how to preach, how to heal, how to deal with certain difficult people or situation or problems. Effective leadership training should consist both teaching (direct) and showing it and walk the talk (indirect). A preacher might preach a very powerful sermon but if the preacher could not show it by his life, people will not be inspired. Jesus started this kind of training to the 12 right first in the beginning. He said “Follow me”. The phrase “Follow me” is a big keyword to leadership. It means “Follow me and I will show how to do it”.

So, if I were to be given a chance say a bible talk leader, I also need to imitate Jesus, to train and prepare the Christian to become a small group leader or a bible talk leader if case I am not around or any changes to me in the future.

This is also applicable to in my career as well if I was given a chance to hold the management position like team lead, manager and etc.

Jesus Accused by His Family and by Teachers of the Law
20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family[c] heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. 28 Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven all their sins and all the blasphemies they utter. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin.”

30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.”

31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Why did Jesus choose twelve disciples? Because this is the foundation of the new chosen people, and as Israel had twelve tribes, Jesus would have twelve apostles

It seems that the names of the twelve disciples are usually arranged in pairs. “Since Jesus sent His Apostles out two by two, this was a logical way to list them.” (Wiersbe)

  • Peter and Andrew.
  • James and John.
  • Philip and Bartholomew (also called Nathanael in John 1:45).
  • Thomas (his name means “twin”) and Matthew (Levi).
  • James, son of Alphaeus and Thaddaeus (also called Judas, son of James in John 14:22).
  • Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot.

Why did Jesus choose Judas?

  • It wasn’t because Jesus didn’t know how he would turn out. Jesus told His disciples that He chose them, and knew one of them was a devil.
  • It wasn’t because He no others to choose. He could raise up followers from stones, so He could easily have found someone else.
  • It wasn’t because He wanted a scandalous person, or a “bad boy” – we read of no scandal surrounding Judas during Jesus’ ministry. The other disciples did far more stupid things during their three years with Jesus.

A man once asked a theologian, “Why did Jesus choose Judas Iscariot to be his disciple?” The teacher replied, “I don’t know, but I have an even harder question: Why did Jesus choose me?”

Why would some from His own people think that Jesus was out of His mind?

  • He left a prosperous business to become an itinerant preacher.
  • The religious and political leaders plotted to murder Him, but He did not back down (Mark 3:6). They were afraid for Jesus’ sake.
  • Huge crowds began to follow Jesus, and they knew how such fame and attention and celebrity can go to someone’s head (Mark 3:7-8).
  • He showed spiritual power and ministry He had never really shown earlier in His life (Mark 3:9-11). Was something very wrong?
  • He picked such an unlikely group of disciples that His judgment could fairly be questioned (Mark 3:13-19).
  • But there was one last straw: the pressures of this incredible ministry made Him miss regular mealtimes (they could not so much as eat bread).

The opinion of these teachers of the law carried a lot of weight with many people. It is just like an opinion from a Pope in today.

This wasn’t the only time Jesus was insulted like this.

  • “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?” (John 10:20)
  • “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” (John 8:48)
  • “We were not born of fornication.” (John 8:41)
  • “A glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ (Luke 7:34)
  • “You have a demon.” (John 7:20)

Jesus counter back the attack by stating a logical argument because the attack has illogical argument.

Book of Mark

Mark 3: 1-6

Jesus Heals on the Sabbath
1 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

v5 – Anger is not sin but a feeling or emotion. The human being God created has feeling. Other examples of feelings are happy, sad, surprised, fear and awe. In Psalms 4: 4, it says “In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.”

In the bible, there are only a few occasion whereby Jesus feels angry and here is one of them. Here, he is angry at the hardness of men’s hearts.

References for deep study on anger –

Crowds Follow Jesus
7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. 8 When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. 9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11 Whenever the evil[a] spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.

v12 – Why Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell others about him? There are many times Jesus do this same thing.

One of the reasons is if people tell who Jesus is, then everyone will go after Jesus and affect his ministry. His priority is always helping people spiritual and then later only meeting people’s physical needs. And it is not always effective when there are always crowd around. Jesus can preach to the crowd which he did but after the crowd preaching, personal attention is needed to follow up on it. And after becoming Christian, follow up still needed with the help of each other in a smaller group.

Book of Mark

Mark 2: 23-28

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath
23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

v23-24 – Jesus’ disciples did nothing unlawful here. According to Leviticus 19: 9-10, it says

9 “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.

and then Deuteronomy 23: 25 says,

25 If you enter your neighbor’s grainfield, you may pick kernels with your hands, but you must not put a sickle to the standing grain.

  1. Jesus’ disciples pick some heads of grain and they did not put a sickle to the standing grain.
  2. Jesus’ disciples pick some heads of grain because they just need to eat and they are not harvesting (working) during the Sabbath.

God’s law said that crops should not be harvested on the Sabbath (Exodus 34:21). This law prevented farmers from becoming greedy and ignoring God on the Sabbath. It also protected laborers from being overworked.

The Pharisees were so focused on the words of the rule that they missed its intent. God created the Sabbath for our benefit, not his own. God derives no benefit from having us rest on the Sabbath, but we are restored both physically and spiritually when we take time to rest and to focus on God. Both David and Jesus understood that the intent of God’s law is to promote love for God and others.

when I read and study God’s law (Old Testament law) which are mainly from the book of Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers, I need to remind myself to focus on understanding the purpose of God’s law rather than focus on the law itself.

Even though the Old Testament already obsolete because of the New Testament through Jesus, it is still good to know the Old Testament law and it’s purpose especially. I believe knowing the purpose of God’s law helps us to see God’s love to God’s people back then.

Without knowing the purpose of God’s law, we can have some kind of negativity and criticalness toward God on why he established so many laws (600 plus) during Moses’ time. And some of the laws seems too strict and harsh. But after understanding the purpose of God’s law, we will have new perspective on God’s law because see God’s love behind the law.

Book of Mark

Mark 2: 13-17, 18-22

Mark 2: 13-17
Jesus Calls Levi and Eats With Sinners

13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

This is what I think, Levi (aka Matthew) was converted by Jesus in verse 13-14. Not long after that, he invited Jesus, his disciples and his ex-colleagues (tax collectors) for dinner. Probably it is an open air buffet dinner. And while they are enjoying the time together eating, some Pharisees passed by and asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”.

Tax collectors in Jesus’ day

i. The Jewish people rightly considered them traitors because they worked for the Roman government, and had the force of Roman soldiers behind them to make people pay taxes.

ii. The Jewish people rightly considered them extortioners because they could keep whatever they over-collected. A tax collector bid among others for the tax collecting “contract.” For example, many tax collectors might want to have the “tax contract” for a city like Capernaum. The Romans awarded the contract to the highest bidder. The man collected taxes, paid the Romans what he promised, and kept the remainder. Therefore, there was a lot of incentive for tax collectors to over-charge and cheat any way they could. It was pure profit for them.

iii. Tax collector was regarded as an outcast from society: he was disqualified as a judge or a witness in a court session, was excommunicated from the synagogue, and in the eyes of the community his disgrace extended to his family.

Not sure when Levi organized this dinner after his conversion. But, I think it is not long. If this is the case, what we can learn from here is we don’t need to wait until we mature spiritually first or gain enough training before we can organize a dinner to reach out to people. We can imitate Levi by doing whatever he can. Maybe he can’t teach others effectively but he can organize an event to invite people to come and let Jesus do the teaching. We can do the same as well. We might not able to teach effectively but we can organize an event to invite others or set up a personal bible study appointment and let our leader or other leader do the teaching.

Mark 2: 18-22
Jesus Questioned About Fasting
18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”

19 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.

21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If they do, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And people do not pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

Wine and wineskin
A wineskin was a goatskin sewed together at the edges to form a watertight bag. New wine, expanding as it aged, stretched the wineskin. New wine, therefore, could not be put into a wineskin that had already been stretched, or the taut skin would burst.

The new wine represents the inner aspects of a Christian life, and the new cloth pictures outward conduct and conversation. A person’s behavior reflects his commitment, seen in the illustration of attaching new cloth to old clothing. The old clothing—our sinful, selfish life—cannot be mended but must be replaced. The new cloth is a righteous life. The Pharisees’ ritual fasting was an old garment for which a new piece of cloth was useless.

A wineskin would expand under the pressure of fermentation, so if you put new, unfermented wine in an old, brittle wineskin, it was sure to burst.