The Gospel of Mark: Scripture: Mark 6:30-34

“Jesus had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd”

Scripture:  Mark 6:30-34

30 The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them. 34 As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

Meditation: What does the image of a shepherd tell us about God’s care for us? Shepherding was one of the oldest of callings in Israel, even before farming, since the Chosen People had traveled from place to place, living in tents, and driving their flocks from one pasture to another. Looking after sheep was no easy calling.  It required great skill and courage. Herds were often quite large, thousands or even ten thousands of sheep.  The flocks spent a good part of the year in the open country.  Watching over them required a great deal of attention and care. Sheep who strayed from the flock had to be sought out and brought back by the shepherd.  Since hyenas, jackals, wolves, and even bear were common and fed on sheep, the shepherds often had to do battle with these wild and dangerous beasts.  A shepherd literally had to put his life on the line in defending his sheep. Shepherds took turns watching the sheep at night to ward off any attackers. The sheep and their shepherds continually lived together. Their life was so intimately bound together that individual sheep, even when mixed with other flocks, could recognize the voice of their own shepherd and would come immediately when called by name.

The Old Testament often spoke of God as shepherd of his people, Israel.  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want (Psalm 23:1).  Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! (Psalm 80:1)  We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture (Psalm 100:3).  The Messiah is also pictured as the shepherd of God’s people: He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms (Isaiah 40:11). Jesus told his disciples that he was the Good Shepherd who was willing to lay down his life for his sheep (Matthew 18:12, Luke 15:4, John 10). When he saw the multitude of people in need of protection and care, he was moved to respond with compassionate concern. His love was a personal love for each and every person who came to him in need. Peter the apostle called Jesus the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (1 Peter 2:25). Do you know the peace and security of a life freely submitted to Jesus, the Good Shepherd?  In the person of the Lord  Jesus we see the unceasing vigilance and patience of God’s love. In our battle against sin and evil, Jesus is ever ready to give us help, strength, and refuge.  Do you trust in his grace and help at all times?

“Lord, you guard and protect us from all evil.  Help me to stand firm in your word and to trust in your help in all circumstances.  May I always find rest and refuge in the shelter of your presence.”

Posted in Discipleship | Leave a comment

The Gospel of Mark: Scripture: Mark 6:14-29

“Some said, ‘John  the baptizer has been raised from the dead’ “

Scripture:  Mark 6:14-29

14 King Herod heard of it; for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; that is why these  powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Eli’jah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Hero’di-as, his brother Philip’s wife; because he had married  her. 18 For John said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Hero’di-as had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he  heard him gladly. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee.  22 For when Hero’di-as’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you  wish, and I will grant it.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out, and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

Meditation: Do you court favor with the rich and the famous?  Scripture warns us of such danger (see Proverbs 23:1-2).  King Herod had respected and feared John the Baptist as a great prophet and servant of God. John, however did not fear to chastise Herod for his adulterous relationship.  Herod, out of impulse and a desire to please his family and friends, had John beheaded.  Now his conscience is pricked when he hears that some think that the Baptist has risen. When Herod heard the fame of Jesus he supposed that John the Baptist, whom he had beheaded, had returned from the dead. Unfortunately for Herod, he could not rid himself of sin by ridding himself of the man who confronted him with his sin.  Herod was a weak man.  He could take a strong stand on the wrong things when he knew the right.  Such a stand, however, was a sign of weakness and cowardice.  God’s grace enables us to overcome fear and weakness in the face of temptation.  Do you allow his grace to fortify you with faith and courage when you face adversity?

“Heavenly Father, form in me the likeness of your Son and deepen his life within me that I may be like him in word and deed.   Help me to live the gospel faithfully and give me strength and courage to not shrink back in the face of adversity and temptation.”

Posted in Discipleship | Leave a comment

The Gospel of Mark:Scripture: Mark 6:14-29

“Some said, ‘John  the baptizer has been raised from the dead’ “

Scripture:  Mark 6:14-29

14 King Herod heard of it; for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; that is why these  powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Eli’jah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Hero’di-as, his brother Philip’s wife; because he had married  her. 18 For John said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Hero’di-as had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he  heard him gladly. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee.  22 For when Hero’di-as’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you  wish, and I will grant it.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out, and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

Meditation: Do you court favor with the rich and the famous?  Scripture warns us of such danger (see Proverbs 23:1-2).  King Herod had respected and feared John the Baptist as a great prophet and servant of God. John, however did not fear to chastise Herod for his adulterous relationship.  Herod, out of impulse and a desire to please his family and friends, had John beheaded.  Now his conscience is pricked when he hears that some think that the Baptist has risen. When Herod heard the fame of Jesus he supposed that John the Baptist, whom he had beheaded, had returned from the dead. Unfortunately for Herod, he could not rid himself of sin by ridding himself of the man who confronted him with his sin.  Herod was a weak man.  He could take a strong stand on the wrong things when he knew the right.  Such a stand, however, was a sign of weakness and cowardice.  God’s grace enables us to overcome fear and weakness in the face of temptation.  Do you allow his grace to fortify you with faith and courage when you face adversity?

“Heavenly Father, form in me the likeness of your Son and deepen his life within me that I may be like him in word and deed.   Help me to live the gospel faithfully and give me strength and courage to not shrink back in the face of adversity and temptation.”

Posted in Discipleship | Leave a comment

The Gospel of Mark:Scripture: Mark 6:7-13

“They anointed with oil man that were sick and healed them”

Scripture:  Mark 6:7-13

7 And he called to him the twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, “Where you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and preached that men should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.

Meditation: What kind of authority and power does the Lord want us to exercise on his behalf? Jesus gave his apostles both the power and the authority to speak and to act in his name.  He commanded them to do the works which he did — to cast out evil spirits, to heal, and to speak the word of God — the good news of the gospel which they received from Jesus. When Jesus spoke of power and authority he did something unheard of.  He wedded power and authority with love and humility.  The “world” and the “flesh” seek power for selfish gain.  Jesus teaches us to use it for the good of our neighbor.  Why does Jesus tell the apostles to “travel light” with little or no provision?  “Poverty of spirit” frees us from greed and preoccupation with possessions and makes ample room for God’s provision.  The Lord wants his disciples to be dependent on him and not on themselves.  He wills to work through and in each of us for his glory.  Are you ready to handle the power and authority which God wishes you to exercise on his behalf?  The Lord entrusts us with his gifts and talents.  Are you eager to place yourself at his service, to do whatever he bids you, and to witness his truth and saving power to whomever he sends you?

“Lord, make me a channel of your grace and healing love that others may find life and freedom in you.  Free me from all other attachments that I may joyfully pursue the things of heaven.  May I witness the joy of the gospel both in word and deed.”

Posted in Discipleship | Leave a comment

The Gospel of Mark:Scripture: Mark 6:1-6

“Jesus marveled because of their unbelief”

Scripture:  Mark 6:1-6

1 He went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get all this?  What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his  hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And  they took offense at him. 4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.

Meditation: Are you critical towards others, especially those close to you? The most severe critics are often people very familiar to us, a member of our family, a relative, or neighbor we rub shoulders with on a regular basis. Jesus faced a severe testing when he returned to his home town, not simply as the carpenter’s son, but now as a rabbi with disciples. ?It would have been customary for Jesus to go to the synagogue each week during the Sabbath, and when his turn came, to read from the scriptures during the Sabbath service. His hometown folks listened with rapt attention on this occasion because they had heard about the miracles he had performed in other towns.  What sign would he do in his hometown?  Jesus startled them with a seeming rebuke that no prophet or servant of God can receive honor among his own people. The people of Nazareth took offense at him and refused to listen to what he had to say.  They despised his preaching because he was a workingman, a carpenter, a mere layman and they despised him because of his family.  How familiarity can breed mistaken contempt.  Jesus could do no mighty works in their midst because they were closed and disbelieving towards him.  If people have come together to hate and to refuse to understand, then they will see no other point of view than their own and they will refuse to love and accept others.  Do you easily take offense at others?

The word “gospel” literally means “good news”.   Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to those oppressed by sin and evil (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus came to set people free from the worst tyranny possible — the tyranny of slavery to sin and the fear of death, and the destruction of both body and soul. God’s power alone can save us from emptiness and poverty of spirit, from confusion and error, and from the fear of death and hopelessness. The gospel of salvation is “good news” for us today. Do you know the joy and freedom of the gospel?

“Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and desires. Your Spirit brings us grace, truth, life, and freedom. Fill me with the joy of the gospel and inflame my heart with love and zeal for you and for your will.”

Posted in Discipleship | Leave a comment

The Gospel of Mark:Scripture: Mark 5:22-43

“Jesus said, ‘Who touched me?'”

Scripture:  Mark 5:22-43

22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Ja’irus by name; and seeing him, he fell at his feet, 23 and besought him, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” 24 And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.”29 And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, `Who touched me?'” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” 35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”  36 But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Tal’itha cu’mi”; which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”42 And immediately the girl got up and walked (she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Meditation: Do you approach the Lord with expectant faith? People in desperate or helpless circumstances were not disappointed when they sought Jesus out.  What drew them to Jesus?  Was it hope for a miracle or a word of comfort in their affliction?  What did the elderly woman who had suffered greatly for twelve years expect Jesus to do for her?  And what did a grieving father expect Jesus to do about his lost beloved daughter?  Jesus gave hope where there seemed to be no human cause for it because his hope was directed to God. He spoke words of hope to the woman (Take heart, daughter!) to ignite the spark of faith in her (your faith has made you well!). A 4th century church father, Ephrem the Syrian, comments on this miracle: “Glory to you, hidden Son of God, because your healing power is proclaimed through the hidden suffering of the afflicted woman.  Through this woman whom they could see, the witnesses were enabled to behold the divinity that cannot be seen. Through the Son’s own healing power his divinity became known.  Through the afflicted women’s being healed her faith was made manifest.  She caused him to be proclaimed, and indeed was honored with him.  For truth was being proclaimed together with hits heralds. If she was a witness to his divinity, he in turn was a witness to her faith. ..He saw through to her hidden faith, and gave her a visible healing.”

Jesus also gave divine hope to a father who had just lost a beloved child. It took considerable courage and risk for the ruler of a synagogue to openly go to Jesus and to invite the scorn of his neighbors and kin.  Even the hired mourners laughed at him in scorn.  Their grief was devoid of any hope. Nonetheless, Jesus took the girl by the hand and delivered her from the grasp of death. Peter Chrysologus, a 5th century church father comments on this miracle: “This man was a ruler of the synagogue, and versed in the law.  He had surely read that while God created all other things by his word, man had been created by the hand of God.  He trusted therefore in God that his daughter would be recreated, and restored to life by that same hand which, he knew, had created her. ..He who laid hands on her to form her from nothing, once more lays hands upon her to reform her from what had perished.”

In both instances we see Jesus’ personal concern for the needs of others and his readiness to heal and restore life.  In Jesus we see the infinite love of God extending to each and every individual as he gives freely and wholly of himself to each  person he meets.  Do you approach the Lord with confident expectation that he will hear your request and act?

“Lord, you love each of us individually with a unique and personal love.  Touch my life with your saving power, heal and restore me to fullness of life.  Help me to give wholly of myself in loving service to others.”


Go to | Mark | Luke | Matthew | John | Parables of Jesus

Posted in Discipleship | Leave a comment

The Gospel of Mark:Scripture: Mark 5:1-20

“Tell them  how much the Lord has done for you”

Scripture:  Mark 5:1-20

1 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of Gerasenes. 2 And when he had come out of the boat, there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, 3 who lived among the tombs; and no one could bind him any more, even with a chain; 4 for he had often been bound with fetters and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the fetters he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out, and bruising himself with stones. 6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped him; 7 and crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 And he begged him eagerly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; 12 and they begged him, “Send us to the swine, let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them leave. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea. 14 The herdsmen fled, and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus, and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the man who had the legion; and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it told what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine. 17 And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their neighborhood. 18 And as he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But he refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decap’olis how much Jesus had done for him; and all men marveled.

Meditation: Do you ever feel driven by forces beyond your strength? A man who was possessed and driven mad by the force of many evil spirits found refuge in the one person who could set him free. Both Luke and Mark in their Gospel accounts of this incident describe this demonic force as a legion (Luke 8:30 and Mark 5:9). A legion is no small force – but an army 6,000 strong! For the people of Palestine who were often hemmed in by occupied forces, a legion – whether human or supernatural – struck terror! Legions at their wildest committed unmentionable atrocities. Our age has also witnessed untold crimes and mass destruction at the hands of possessed rulers and their armies. What is more remarkable – the destructive force of this driven and possessed man, or the bended knee at Jesus’ feet imploring mercy and release (Luke 8:28 and Mark 5:18-19)? God’s word  reminds us that no destructive force can keep anyone from the peace and safety which God offers to those who seek his help. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand; but it will not come near you. ..Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your habitation (Psalm 91:7,9).

Jesus took pity on the man who was overtaken by a legion of evil spirits. The destructive force of these demons is evident for all who can see as they flee and destroy a herd of swine. After Jesus freed the demoniac the whole city came out to meet him. No one had demonstrated such power and authority against the forces of Satan as Jesus did. They feared Jesus as a result and begged him to leave them. Why would they not want Jesus to stay? Perhaps the price for such liberation from the power of evil and sin was more than they wanted to pay. The Lord Jesus is ready and willing to free us from anything that binds us and that keeps us from the love of God.  Are you willing to part with anything that might keep you from his love and saving grace?

“Lord Jesus, unbind me that I may love you wholly and walk in the freedom of your way of life and holiness.  May there be nothing which keeps me from the joy of living in your presence.”

Posted in Discipleship | Leave a comment