March 17, 2019
Explore the Bible
Mark 3:23-35 (HCSB)
Mark used a literary device known as intercalation, a story within a story, to build interest and drama. The text begins with the story of Jesus’ family and their relationship to Him (Mark 3:21, 31-35). Mark interrupted this story with Jesus’ conflict with a scribal tribunal from Jerusalem (3:22-30). He used this device again in chapter 5.
One of the things that really stands out in Mark 3 is when the unclean spirits “fell down before him and cried, ‘You are the Son of God!’” (3:11). It was clear to the crowds and to the demons that Jesus was healing and casting out demons by the power of God.
Jesus’ family had heard He was mad, and they sought to stop Him (3:21). They did not understand His nature or mission. When Jesus was told His family was outside, He asked the crowd, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” Jesus defined His family as those who do the will of God.
The scribes wanted to discredit Jesus and undermine His authority by saying He was performing exorcisms by the power of Beelzebul and that He was possessed by an unclean spirit (3:22, 30). Jesus simply asked, “How can something divided against itself stand?” and “Can Satan oppose himself and stand?” Jesus drove His point home by using the illustration that no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder it until he first ties up the strong man. Satan is the strong man of this world, and Jesus is the One breaking into his house/realm to bind and plunder. Satan’s possessions are demon-possessed human beings. Jesus has come to bind Satan and take these possessions by casting the demons out. The religious elite denied His divinity and power, which was willful spiritual blindness and unforgivable.
The popular culture preaches unity but is very divisive. It was the same with Jesus’ opponents. Jesus did not come to divide but to unite believers in a new community of faith. He unites through His person, His power and
Bible Studies for Life
The problem with wisdom
Ecclesiastes 2:12-17; 7:23-29 (HCSB)
Do you know anyone who is easily bored? I am never bored. I have so many interests that I always have an available diversion. Solomon was bored. He didn’t find any satisfaction in his intellectual pursuits. Laughter and pleasure almost drove him mad. Wine, women and song only made things worse. His building projects, pools, parks, harems of concubines and hundreds of wives brought him no satisfaction. His collections of gems, gold and art brought no satisfaction either.
Solomon assessed the relative value of wisdom. His goal was to determine whether he would align with a lifestyle of wisdom or a lifestyle of folly. He said, “Then I turned…” (Eccl. 2:12). This means he was going to pursue this subject from a different direction. He was going to compare wisdom to foolishness. He could use his mind and be a serious thinker (2:14a). Or he could throw caution to the wind and live foolishly (2:14b).
Solomon believed that wisdom has an advantage over folly just as light has advantage over darkness (2:13). He concluded both the wise man and the foolish man will experience the same fate; they will die and be forgotten (2:15-16). He summed it up by saying he hated life; it is distressing, futile, and chasing the wind (2:17).
Wisdom did offer Solomon three insights. First, we do not understand ourselves, and we cannot make ourselves wise (7:23-24). Second, intimate relationships are often unfulfilling (7:25-28). Intimate relationships outside of marriage will never offer true satisfaction. Third, our basic problem is within us, not with God (7:29). Solomon said people pursue “many schemes.” Charles Swindoll said, “And none of our manmade ‘devices’ brings us back to God. On the contrary, they push us further away from Him.”
Living life under the sun with the wisdom of the world will always be problematic. Swindoll defines wisdom as “the God-given ability to see life with rare objectivity and to handle life with rare stability.” True wisdom comes from God.
March 24, 2019
Explore the Bible
Mark 5:21-24, 35-43 (HCSB)
As I looked at the woman’s electrocardiogram, my expression told her what she already suspected. She said to me, “Son, don’t look so horrified. Jesus will either heal my body, or He will heal me by taking me home to heaven to be with Him.” She understood Jesus has the power over life and death.
Mark used intercalation, a story within a story, in this text as he did in Mark 3:23-35. The story of Jairus is interrupted by the story of the suffering woman. These two stories teach us that Jesus has authority over what is impossible for you and me.
Jairus’ only daughter was dying. He went to Jesus in humility and begged Him to heal her. This was not to be taken lightly because Jairus was a ruler of the synagogue. There was growing opposition to Jesus from the religious elite. Jairus’ coming to Jesus was risky, but he believed Jesus could do what He and no one else could do – heal his daughter. Jesus went with him.
While they were going to Jairus’ home, the crowds continued to follow and press against Jesus. Jesus took time to heal the woman with the discharge of blood. While all this was going on, Jairus received word his daughter has died. He was advised not to bother Jesus any longer. But Jesus said to him, “Don’t be afraid. Only believe” (Mark 5:36).
What could possibly be done? We can only imagine his anxiety and frustration. He may have said to himself, “Could this woman not have waited 30 minutes? She has been sick for 12 years.” Jesus arrived at Jairus’ house. The professional mourners were already there. Jesus told him the girl was only asleep and kicked them out. He took the girl by the hand and told her to get up. His instructions to her parents were not to broadcast the healing and to give the girl something to eat.
These two stories teach us that: 1) God loves people without distinction,
2) Sickness and death are realities of this fallen world and 3) Jesus desires to restore hurting people.
Bible Studies for Life
The problem with work
Ecclesiastes 2:18-23; 3:9-13 (HCSB)
Recently, I was recommended for a position with another health care organization. I was also recommended to serve on a committee within my current employment. Both recommendations said, “Gerald has a very good work ethic.” I know this is quite the compliment, and I must always be on guard against pride. Most employees are working for a paycheck. It is something we have to have to live our lives. Some people work only for a paycheck, and it shows in the quality of their work. Some, like me, see our work as a very important part of the purpose God has for us. My pastor Josh King said, “We must leverage our secular life for kingdom good.” We must see our work as something more than a way to get a paycheck, or it will never satisfy.
This is where Solomon found himself. He hated his work because he knew someday he would die and what he had worked for would be under the control of someone else (Eccl. 2:18). In Solomon’s view, the work he accomplished with wisdom, knowledge and skill would be turned over to someone who had not worked for it (2:21). He found this to be futile and despairing, and it kept him up at night (2:20-23).
Solomon asked, “What does the worker gain from his struggles?” (3:9). He drew a couple of conclusions. First, “God has made everything appropriate in its time” (3:11). This is above-the-sun talk. Everything is within God’s timetable. When we see our work with a heavenly perspective, our work has deeper meaning and purpose. Second, “God has put eternity in their hearts” (3:11). If we keep the verse in context, we understand that the course of current events is in God’s timetable, but there is a tomorrow. This is a capacity within us to know there is an eternity. What we do today impacts tomorrow.
We should view work from a heavenly perspective, a gift from God. We should do our work “for God’s glory” (1 Cor. 10:31).