Mark 8: 27-38

Mark 8: 27-38

PRAY: Humbly ask God to give you wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and the faith to live out what He reveals to you.

READ: Mark 8:27-38

Jesus has a mission. But are we, who acknowledge Him as Lord, willing to join that mission or are we getting in the way by our self-willfulness? That’s the question that jumps out at me when I read this passage. And if I’m honest, I don’t always like the answer. But thankfully, as the life of Peter shows, God’s grace is bigger than my flaws and doubts.

In many ways, Peter gets it – he understands and acknowledges that Jesus is the Christ. But oh man, he so doesn’t get it! Literally four verses after Peter acknowledges that Jesus is God’s long-awaited Messiah, Jesus has to rebuke Peter for thinking in earthly terms and standing in the way of Jesus’ plan. Imagine hearing Jesus say to you, “get behind me, Satan!” Peter likely thought the Messiah would deliver His people from their earthly oppressor, Rome.  Jesus’ plan was so much grander! He was going to save His people from their ultimate oppressors: Satan, sin, and death. But this would require Jesus to die, and Peter didn’t like that idea. 

So if death on a cross and resurrection from the dead was Jesus’ mission then, what is His mission today? It’s building His church by calling His disciples (us) to go make more disciples – the Great Commission (Matthew 16:18; Matthew 28:18-20).  Making disciples of Jesus won’t always be easy. It may require awkward conversations with friends. Or it may require taking a stand on an issue where the Bible is clear but culture thinks otherwise. It might even mean moving across the world to proclaim Jesus to other peoples in dangerous circumstances.  

No, following Jesus on mission to build His church will not be easy. That’s why Jesus said that if a person wants to follow Him, they must take up their cross daily. But then Jesus adds that the person who loses his life for Jesus’ sake will gain it. A few chapters later, Jesus promises that, “there is no one who has left house, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children, or fields because of Me and the gospel, who will not receive 100 times more, now at this time—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and eternal life in the age to come” (Mark 10:29-30). Following Jesus on mission may be costly, but it will be so worth it!

Every day we have the choice to join Jesus on mission. And if yesterday you were hindering the mission rather than joining Jesus on it, remember that Jesus called Peter “Satan” and yet saw fit to use Peter mightily as an apostle in the early church. God’s grace is new every morning – it’s never too late to join in His mission of building His church by making disciples. I promise, and way more importantly, God promises, you won’t regret it.


Reflection Questions:

1. What is holding you back from joining Jesus on mission in making disciples?

2. How can it encourage you to know that God used the deeply flawed Peter in mighty ways? Can this give you courage to follow Jesus despite your own flaws?


Memorize: Mark 8:34

“Summoning the crowd along with His disciples, He said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.’”

Mark 9:1-13

Mark 9:1-13

PRAY: Humbly ask God to give you wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and the faith to live out what He reveals to you.

READ: Mark 9:1-13

“Was Jesus real?”

“Did Jesus really die on a cross?”

“Wasn’t Jesus just a good teacher with a large following?”


While Jesus was alive, those who heard Him preach asked similar questions and wondered who He was (John 6:42). The Jewish people, with whom Jesus was spending time, were not sure whether He was a second coming of Elijah, of John the Baptist, or of one of the other prophets (Mark 8:28). But Mark records a miraculous event that causes us to ask, “Was Jesus really God?”

In this passage, Jesus ascends a mountain with His closest circle of disciples—James, John, and Peter—just after telling a crowd about the cost of following Him, and that there would be some who would “see the kingdom of God come in power” before they died. And in a moment, Jesus was transformed, with His clothes radiating, alongside Elijah and Moses. God the Father appeared in the form of a cloud, and declared that Jesus was His Son. And just as soon as it all happened, Jesus looked normal again, and commanded the three disciples not to tell anyone what they had seen.

Such a miraculous and stunning event would cause you or me to be “terrified” (Mark 9:6). The man they had just climbed a mountain with had transformed before their eyes so that they could see His true essence: God incarnate. The glorified, brilliant being before them was Jesus’ identity—the magnified Son of God.

This cosmic, transcendent King was the same Jesus who had told the disciples, just days earlier, that following Him would be costly. But by revealing His cloaked identity as God the Son, Jesus gives assurance to the disciples, and to every believer, that they were following the “Lord … clothed with majesty and splendor” (Psalm 104:1).

And by appearing with Moses (who gave the Law to the Israelites) and Elijah (one of the great Prophets), Jesus fulfills His promises to the disciples (Mark 9:1) that the kingdom of God has come, and that a new era of relating to God was beginning. As Danny Akin writes in Exalting Jesus in Mark, “Here the law of God and the grace of God converge in the One who is God incarnate and the fulfillment of all the Old Testament promised.”

After this miraculous event, why would Jesus tell the disciples to wait until they told others what they had seen? He did it for the same reason they didn’t stay on the mountain, like Peter had suggested (Mark 9:5)— Jesus had to keep marching onward towards His crucifixion and resurrection, for we cannot fully understand who Christ is apart from His atonement and victory over sin.

While this event revealed to James, John, and Peter that Jesus was indeed God incarnate, they would not fully understand the importance of His divine nature until He had risen from the grave. But when they did understand, they were able to say:

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” (Acts 2:36)


Reflection Questions:

1. When was Jesus revealed to you as a glorious and holy God?

2. What would it mean if Jesus was not God? If Jesus was only a good teacher, how does that impact His sacrifice?


Memorize: Acts 2:36

"Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!"

Mark 9:14-29

Mark 9:14-29

PRAY: Ask God to open your eyes to the truth of His Word and how it applies to your life. Ask Him to conform you to the image of His Son, rather than to the world.

READ: Mark 9:14–29

“I do believe! Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

“I believe! I believe that we will win!” So goes the chant so often in sports arenas when the home team is down but there is still a chance to come back. A few fans begin the chant and then it swells into an entire stadium or arena, shouting in unison. Although the chant is an encouragement to the team on the field or court, it is also an encouragement to the fans themselves as they find that common bond of cheering their team on to victory against the odds. If fans are honest, even though we want our team to win, sometimes the doubt is like a dark cloud hovering overhead and we struggle to find faith. Our participation in the chant is therapeutic in trying to make ourselves believe.

Jesus encounters a father whose son has been demonized and the disciples have been unable to cast out the demon for one reason or another. Throughout the Gospel of Mark, Jesus demonstrates that He truly is the Son of God and has all the power that comes with His identity. Even demons recognize Him as such (Son of God or Son of the Most High are how demons always address Jesus). The father of the demonized man reveals his own struggle with faith by saying, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (Mark 9:22). Jesus’ response shows how ridiculous this doubt really is: “If You can? Everything is possible to the one who believes” (Mark 9:23).

The father then makes a statement that cuts me to the core because it verbalizes my own struggle with faith: “I do believe! Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). As followers of Jesus, we know that Jesus is able to do all things, but many times we doubt whether He actually will. We have every reason to believe, given what we know Jesus has done in the past, but yet we still wrestle with the ability to believe. Sometimes we attempt to fake our faith as if we are some super-Christian. Let’s be honest with ourselves and with Jesus and exclaim the truth: “I do believe! Help my unbelief.”

Jesus drove out the demon and explained to His disciples that “this kind can come out by nothing but prayer” (some translations add “and fasting”). It is unclear as to whether this was a particularly powerful demon or that the disciples just needed more focused prayer to help their own faith in delivering this man from the demon. No evil, no person, no circumstance is too much for the Son of God. Nothing is impossible with God (Mark 10:27) and everything is possible to the one who believes (Mark 9:23).


Reflection Questions:

1. What areas of unbelief or doubt exist in your life? Where do you struggle to believe? Ask Jesus to help you believe, as faith is a gift from God.  (See Eph. 2:8)

2. Keep in mind that God is faithful to His promises, but that does not mean that everything we want Him to do will be met with a “yes.” Pray for God to align your heart with His and to conform your desires to His will.

3. Do you take prayer seriously? How often do you pray and what can you do to make this a priority in your life?

Mark 9:30-41

Mark 9:30-41

The Upside Down

PRAY: That God may open his Word to us by the power of His Spirit. That we may grow in our knowledge and love of Jesus. That we may share this joy in all our lives and to those around us.

READ: Mark  9:30-41

Don’t we all hope our heroes will win and bad guys will be defeated? In stories, and in life, there are certain hopes and expectations as human beings that we often hold too. We think that being “great” is to be influential and in charge.  We except that knowing the “right” people makes us special.  This is the “natural” order of life, and is the way the world was made.  Or is it?

In Mark 9:30-41, Jesus presents his disciples an upside down view of this “natural” world. This new view of the world is not some unnatural horror from a Stranger Things episode, instead it is a redemptive view of the world that reconciles our “natural” fallen world with a loving and forgiving God.

What is your worldview? Three times, in this passage, Jesus challenges our worldview. First, Jesus addresses the expectations of leadership. The disciples had expectations of their leader, and were very confused at the idea that Jesus would be harmed or killed. He was the Messiah, after all, the promised savior of the nation of Israel. Wasn’t he there to restore Israel’s place in the world?  Yet, instead of declaring victory over their human enemies, he revealed that he would be betrayed, killed by their enemies and on the third day rise again.  This is a rather surprising statement, if one assumes that Jesus is there to overthrow Roman rule rather than conquer sin and death.

Following this incredible revelation, the disciples ironically, begin arguing about which of them was the “greatest”.  A second time, Jesus, lovingly responds to their confusion by revealing the true order of influence.  “The least will be the greatest,” he said. The disciples were so focused on their earthly concept of power, that they didn’t see the heavenly order of power; the one where children are received with the same honor as the Son of God.

Lastly, upon encountering a person casting out demons who wasn’t part of their “inner circle”, they were so offended by the idea that they tried to stop him. Jesus then corrects the common idea of the “inner circle” by erasing such boundaries. “But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me.”

Three times the disciples seem to miss the message. While it is easy to be critical of them, the truth is we often act in exactly the same way.  How often do you and I also buy into the argument of the “natural” order of things?  How often do we ignore the “least of these” or pride ourselves on being part of some “inner circle”? The truth is that Jesus calls us to see not the natural order of things, but the redeemed order of things.


Reflection Questions:

1. What are specific examples of the fallen “natural” order of things in your life?

2. In what ways might we reorder our thinking to have a heavenly view of order rather than an earthly one?

3. Where in life are you being asked to be a leader?  In what ways can following Jesus’ example help us to be better “servant leaders”?


Mark 9:42-50

Mark 9:42-50

The Weight of Repentance

PRAY: That God may open his Word to us by the power of His Spirit. That we may grow in our knowledge and love of Jesus.  That we may share this joy in all our lives and to those around us.

READ: Mark 9:42-50

As I write this, the sentencing hearing of Larry Nasser, the former Team USA gymnastics doctor who molested hundreds of girls is being deliberated.  During this hearing, over 150 young women confronted him for the harm he had perpetrated upon them.  Perhaps the most incredible of these testimonies came from Rachael Denhollander, who’s articulated one of the most incredible descriptions of the reality of sin and the truth of the good news of Jesus Christ, that I’ve seen. Addressing her abuser, she called him to true repentance, acknowledging that in doing so he would have to face the full weight of his guilt.

Too often, we take the notion of repentance too lightly.  We seek forgiveness as an absolution to soothe our own conscience and personal feelings of guilt rather than being truly repulsed by our own sin and turning towards a loving and gracious God for forgiveness.

It is hard, very hard to face the wrath of the Living God.  Yes, God is a holy, loving, and forgiving Lord, but he is also eternally just. And to rebel against the Living God is no small matter. Too often, we approach God, in our sin, without the acknowledgement that what we have done is truly an offense against him.  “Father, please understand, that it really wasn’t all my fault.  I was just…” So begins many an “explanation”.  Sometimes, we claim we simply need more time.  That our sin is something we are working on, rather than running from. Or even better, sometimes we just faceoff and accuse God of not being fair. “How is an eternity of wrath a just punishment for a single moment (or even lifetime) of sin?” John Piper in addressing this question points out that even human justice, shows how this works. It takes all of a few seconds to kill a man, yet we still justly and rightly will imprison a man for a lifetime for the crime. 

Rachael, while offering forgiveness for Larry Nassar, also called him to true repentance, and declared her pity for what his perverse desires had turned him into, and for what the weight of his guilt would mean if his did come to true repentance.  She also called for the judge to give the maximum sentence.  As she put it, the punishment was not a reflection of the abuser, but a declaration of the worth of the victims.  “How much is a little girl worth?” she asked the judge.

This passage in Mark 9:42-50 is sometimes labeled as “Warnings from Jesus”.  These are warnings that we should heed, but to heed them we must first ascertain what we are being warned against. Three times Jesus calls for us to take hold of the things that cause us to sin and cut them off.  The things he states that we might need to cut off are not evil in themselves, our hands, our feet, our eyes, but if these things cause us to sin, it would be better to be without the gift of hands, feet or eyes, than to be thrown in hell, where “Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” The idea of hell and eternal punishment is truly frightening.  Ultimately, hell is a reflection not of the measure of our guilt, but instead it is the answer to the question, "How much is the One, Holy and Living God worth?" 

But, our story doesn’t have to end with our condemnation.  We don’t have to face that punishment, because Jesus has faced it for us, because “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” – John 3:16-18


Go & Do:

Watch the following to videos and consider how serious we truly take our own sin.

 Mark 10:1-10

Mark 10:1-10

PRAY: Humbly ask God to give you wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and the faith to live out what He reveals to you.

READ: Mark 10:1-10

For people who have experienced the pain of divorce and who continue to deal with grief caused by infidelity, this text can be particularly difficult. It can also be difficult for those wrestle with the idea that “God made them male and female” and that marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and one woman, ideally dissolved only by death.

We live in an age where autonomy and “the right to be happy” or “the expectation to be affirmed” are some of the highest virtues, and yet for the Christian and non-Christian alike, questions of divorce and marriage cause us to squirm. Why? Because we all know that divorce is painful, and it is in this text we discover why.

In this passage, Jesus outlines the blueprint of marriage, originally given by God in the Garden of Eden, and declares that man was designed to leave his mother and father and begin a permanent, one-flesh union with his female wife. This union reflects the joyful relationship between Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:22-33). It is this last part that is essential to our understanding of marriage. Jesus Christ, the bridegroom, laid down His life for His bride—the Church—so that we could be reconciled to God. Although the Church was sinful and remains imperfect, He continues to love her and He refuses to forsake her. Despite our dirty past, He dresses us in His own pure white righteousness and He invites her to the marriage supper (Rev. 16:7-9) and into an eternal, joyful bond with Himself.

Therefore, when Jesus is speaking about the marriage union, He is speaking of a much greater union—the union of Himself to the Church.

Consequently, any distortion or variation from this blueprint for marriage is contrary to God’s will, and will result in pain and joylessness. When husbands do not love their wives well, when a wife abandons her husband, when one spouse commits infidelity, when there are multiple spouses, when the union is a homosexual relationship, when love is conditional—all of it is sinful and all of it will cause grief and hurt because it does not conform to the way Christ loves His bride. So the answer to the Pharisees’ question is simple: You should never divorce because Christ would never divorce His bride.

But this truth makes our marriage to Christ all the more beautiful! In the times when our hearts would be hard, and in the times when our own marriages fail, Christ does not divorce us!

When adultery and divorce have occurred, and when our sexuality causes us to sin, grace and forgiveness abound to those who repent (1 John 1:9). When our earthly marriages fail, the Heavenly marriage remains. He does not view us as “lesser than.” He does not abandon us. And He does not treat us any differently.

At the moment of conversion, Christ clothed us in righteousness— knowing everything we had done and would ever do, how our marriages would succeed and fail, and how we would attempt to find joy outside of Him. Yet even though we are faithless, He is faithful, and forever calls us His bride!


Reflection Questions:

1. How has the fall influenced God’s idea for marriage?

2. What can the church do to help prevent divorce before it happens?

3. Is there ever a time where divorce is permissible?



Mark 10:13-16

Mark 10:13-16

PRAY: Guide me with the Holy Spirit to understand Your word and grow in my relationship with You. Help me to understand what it means to receive the kingdom of God like a child.

READ: Mark 10:13-16

There are a few things to unpack in this passage. First, let's look at Jesus' response to the disciples when they rebuked people for bringing their children to Christ. He said, “Let the little children come to Me. Don’t stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."

To the disciples, the children were a hindrance, a waste of Jesus' time. But to Jesus, they were important. God's message is for all, not just people who have their lives together and not just people who are old enough to understand. At the same time, Jesus was teaching that even children must come to Him and to trust Him for salvation. If ever I become a parent, I know that to introduce my children to Christ and share the gospel with them will be the most important thing I do in their lives. Likewise, this is why children's ministry is crucial – its purpose is to bring Christ and the gospel message to children in a way that they can understand. Let’s not wait until they are older to start discipling kids, let’s give them a foundation while they are young!

I was a child when I came to know Christ as Lord and Savior, only 8. For a long time, I didn't think my salvation story was much to share, when compared to drastic conversions of some people I knew. However, a few years ago, when sharing my testimony, someone commented how beautiful it was that God had called me as a child and that I have been His for almost as long as I can remember. Jesus’ loving stance towards children in this passage resonates with me for this reason.

The second thing I’d like to focus on from this passage is what Jesus said about what our faith should look like. "Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." Childlike faith is pure and unjaded, vulnerable yet trusting, and fully dependent. The older you get, the harder this becomes, because people will let you down and dependence feels like weakness. God, however, is trustworthy, and reliable, and good. To believe this – really believe this – is to receive the kingdom of God like a child. There is nothing better.

Reflection questions:

1. How did you come to know Christ as Lord and Savior? When was the last time you shared it with someone? If you don't know how to answer this, is there someone you can talk to about it and pray with?

2. What does it mean to you to "receive the kingdom like a little child"?


Memorize: Mark 10:14

“When Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me. Don’t stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’”

Mark 10:17-31

Mark 10:17-31

PRAY: Humbly ask God to give you wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and the faith to live out what He reveals to you.

READ: Mark 10:17-31

Have you ever traveled to a third world country and been amazed at the differences in living conditions as compared to our American lifestyle? I once visited the country of Mozambique on the east coast of Africa. Our team camped in the bush close to a village where families lived in small thatched huts with dirt floors. They slept on mats woven of brush. The villagers dried corn harvested from their gardens on their roofs so the goats would not eat it. The few items they had for everyday living included their mat for sleeping, a pot for cooking, some matches and a spoon for stirring. Their only clothes were the ones they were wearing. The village had no electricity. If they had a bag of salt, they were considered wealthy.

In Lima, Peru, I saw a city segregated – the beautiful coast is full of glitzy restaurants and upscale shopping, while just outside the city there are children living in trash dumps. What constitutes wealth and poverty?

We are told that the rich young ruler in Mark 10 had been obedient to God's commandments. But he sensed he was still missing something. Christ urged him, "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come! Follow me." The man went away sad, because he had great wealth. Would you?

The Bible introduces us to a widow who gave her last two coins. Although the amount was small, it was recognized as a great gift because she gave out of her poverty all that she had.

What is it that we are holding so tightly that keeps us from full surrender to Christ? For the rich young ruler, it was his material wealth. It may not be our "wealth" but may be our pride, our job, our kids, our intellect, education, ego, time, social status or even desires. The list is long that keeps us from Christ.

Praise the Lord that all things are possible with God. Let us obey Him, seek to know Him and let no material possessions or accumulated "wealth" stand between us and eternal life. May we not walk away from the Lord because of what we will not surrender to Him. Whatever we do in giving, in caring, in sharing, in serving, and in working, let’s do it for Christ and for the gospel.


Reflection Questions:

1. What is God calling you to give?

2. Will you give it?

Memorize: Mark 10:27

"Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’"

Mark 10:32-45

Mark 10:32-45


PRAY: Ask God to open your eyes to the truth of His Word and how it applies to your life. Ask Him to conform you to the image of His Son, rather than to the world.

READ: Mark 10:32-45

“On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you will be a slave to all” (Mark 10:43-44).

In this passage, Jesus openly predicts His trial, suffering, death, and resurrection. This is actually the third time in three chapters of Mark that Jesus has foretold these events. Amazingly, while knowing these things would happen, Jesus is heading straight to Jerusalem – the seat of power for those who were plotting to kill Him. This makes clear that Jesus’ sacrificial death for us was by no means an accident; it was by no means the taking of Jesus’ life from Him against His will. Rather, He willingly laid down His life for our forgiveness and the glory of His Father.

In this passage, Jesus’ behavior in His selfless sacrifice contrasts very strongly with the ways of the world and even the ways of Jesus’ disciples. James and John secretly approach Jesus and try to get first dibs on the two places of greatest honor in Jesus’ coming kingdom. When the other disciples hear that the sons of Zebedee had tried to bump them out of line, they get pretty mad.

In response to all the anger and competition in the group of people who are supposed to be acting like Jesus, the Savior points out that they are instead acting like the rulers of this world – jostling for position, promoting themselves, and seeking to be first so that they can take advantage of others. This is not at all how Jesus has taught or shown them how to live. Greatness in God’s kingdom does not come by exalting yourself above others; greatness in God’s economy comes by humbling yourself, serving others, and putting their needs before your own.

Jesus’ open predictions of His sacrificial death point to the fact that He always practiced what He preached: there has been no greater example of humbling oneself than Jesus’ example. “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death – even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the Name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:8-9). He came in humility and service, purchasing our forgiveness with the ransom price of His blood; He is now exalted above all other names.


Reflection Questions:

1. Where do you find yourself thinking like the world in pride, self-promotion, and jealousy?

2. Think it through: what are some of the amazing things about Jesus’ humility and sacrifice?

3. How is God calling you to lay your own agenda aside to serve Him and minister to others?


Memorize: Mark 10:45

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:46-52

Mark 10:46-52

PRAY: Humbly ask God to give you wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and the faith to live out what He reveals to you.

READ: Mark 10:46–52

 “Have courage! Get up; He’s calling for you” (Mark 10:49).

Have you ever been in the presence of what you considered greatness? Maybe it was an autograph signing session of your favorite athlete and you were able to have your turn to get a signature or selfie. Maybe you were in a concert on the front row and got to shake the hand of the musician on stage. Perhaps you were listening to a popular politician and were recognized to ask a question. While a few people have had this experience, most of us can only imagine how important it would make us feel (even as silly as that is).

Now imagine being in the presence of Jesus and the disciples come to you and say, “Have courage! Get up; He’s calling for you” (Mark 10:49). Wow! Jesus wants to see me? Such was the case for the blind beggar in Jericho. Now imagine how many people were begging for Jesus, clamoring for His attention. Yet, Jesus recognized this one man who was crying out for Him. The blind man recognized Jesus as the Messiah (the anointed one who was promised through so many prophecies and would come from the line of David) when he addressed Him as “Son of David.”

Jesus asked the blind beggar what he wanted Him to do for him. Obviously, God in the flesh knew good and well what the beggar wanted before He asked the question but this was Jesus’ way of pressing the man to verbalize his faith. Once the man explained that he wanted to see, Jesus told him that his faith healed him. Immediately, the man began to see clearly.

Jesus often tests our faith. When we pray, He already knows what we need before we even ask (Matt 6:8) yet He has chosen to include us in communion with Him through prayer. We demonstrate our need for Him and communicate with Him through prayer. We are to take our requests before Him (Php 4:6).

Notice what Jesus did not ask. He did not ask what caused the man to be blind or how good of a person he was or how many bad things he had done. He simply called out to the man, spoke with Him face to face, and opened his eyes. While many of us may not be physically blind, we were all spiritually blind until the light of Christ opened our eyes when we truly believed. Just like the blind beggar, we are to immediately follow Jesus after our eyes have been opened (Mark 10:52).

Despite what we have done in the past or how many times we may fall down in the future, we now approach God directly through prayer because Jesus has bridged the gap that once separated us from God. So, we come boldly into His presence (Heb 4:16). It is as if we were sitting with our own blind misery when suddenly we were told, “Have courage! Get up; He’s calling for you.” We will never hear greater news than this.


Reflection Questions:

1. Do you approach God with confidence? Why or why not and what do you base that confidence or lack of confidence on?

2. How does it make you feel that the God of the universe has called you to open your eyes? How are you now following Jesus as a result of your new spiritual sight?


Memorize: Mark 10:49

“Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called the blind man and said to him, ‘Have courage! Get up; He's calling for you’”

Mark 11:1-11

Mark 11:1-11

PRAY: Humbly ask God to give you wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and the faith to live out what He reveals to you.

READ: Mark 11:1-11

Timing. It is in God’s hands, but don’t we often hope (and even pray) for timing to be in our control? In Mark 11, after much waiting, Jesus allows the crowds to proclaim His true identity for the first time in His earthly life. Some scholars estimate that there were one to two million people in Jerusalem for the Passover festivals. Some estimate that as many as one hundred thousand people were a part of Jesus’ triumphant entry. Divinely ordained timing! Up until this point, Jesus often attempted to keep out of the limelight. When He healed, He instructed people to keep quiet. Why? Jesus knew that allowing His followers or people whom He had healed to proclaim His name would bring about His death prematurely. Religious leaders did not hide their animosity towards Him. They were intimidated by Him, His following, and His way.

Timing. He is the Passover lamb, the final atoning sacrifice. Because of this truth, Jesus had to make sure the timing was right. The religious leaders planned to capture Jesus after the Passover celebrations because they were afraid a riot could form if done prematurely. But Jesus does not operate according to our plans or timing, and certainly not those of the religious leaders in Jerusalem. The Lamb of God would be sacrificed on the same day the Israelites were to sacrifice their Passover lamb. This precise timing fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy in Daniel 9:24-26.

Have you ever noticed God’s divine timing in your life? How has His timing been different than your timing? Why do you think it is so hard to surrender our “control” over timing?

Obedience.  From the time we are able to move and engage in our surroundings as a baby, obeying is a struggle. The ability to impose our will over someone else gives a sense of power and control. Follow almost any parent for a day and you will see the struggle of obedience play out more than once.

Just today I was grocery shopping when a mom in the canned food aisle asked her son to sit down. The little boy stood brave, strong like a soldier, firm in his position, not willing to surrender this battle. How often do we as adults take this same posture when we are told to obey? But as followers of Jesus, we are called to a life of obedience.  

In Mark 11, Jesus was riding to His death. Not only did He know the time, but He knew the way in which He was to die – the torturous beatings, the slow agonizing suffering of a cross. He was fully God and fully human. He knew physical pain, the queasy feeling of an unsettled stomach from anticipation. But more than these uncomfortable human feelings, Jesus knew He would face the wrath of the Holy God that was owed to all of mankind. Jesus would be separated from His Father for you and me. His Father would turn His face away from the Spotless Lamb for you and me. He was obedient for you and me. His obedience rescued us from our cosmic disobedience. Praise the Lamb who was slain!


Reflection Questions:

1. How is Christ calling you to obey Him today?

2. Why are we tempted as humans to assert our will and resist obedience?

3. How would your heart change if you were cognizant of the call on our lives to be obedient?


Dig Deeper: Timing. Prophecy fulfilled. Read Psalm 118:25-26. What does it tell us about God when He fulfills his prophecies?

Mark 11:12-33

Mark 11:12-33

PRAY: Ask God to open your eyes to the truth of His Word and how it applies to your life. Ask Him to conform you to the image of His Son, rather than to the world.

READ: Mark 11:12-33

Does God have emotions like us? We’re made in His image, so maybe He does. On rare occasions, Jesus demonstrated some of our extreme emotions: anger and frustration. In these verses we find two examples. 

On His way into Jerusalem, Jesus hopes to eat a fig as He passes a fig tree. In what we may consider an extreme response, He “curses” the fig tree when finding that it has no fruit. On the surface, His response seems harsh – but nothing with Jesus is ever just on the surface.  

As a bit of background, the tree has always been considered the symbol for Israel. Jesus is feeling the weight of the world upon His shoulders. His beloved Israel, the chosen people, has not recognized their Messiah. Him. He is feeling their stubbornness, and, in defense of His Father, He is angered by their complete rejection of all the Father is attempting to do for them. It is anger – righteous anger.  So He curses the tree. Then, amazingly, on the return trip, we see Christ’s power on earth. The cursed tree has died in just a day! The disciples are staggered at first. Then they are frightened to realize the incredible power of this man they follow and call friend. His power is frightening to mortal man.

Then Jesus illustrates His human emotions a second time even more vividly. As He approached Jerusalem, all of Jesus’ frustration and disappointment with His beloved Israel came to a head. He desires to worship His Father at the temple, the most sacred place on earth. Instead of reverence, He is confronted with a den of thieves lying and cheating and setting up a livestock yard within the temple grounds. And worse yet, it was being sanctioned by the priests who were supposed to honor and worship His Father. His indignation boiled into fury and came out in a physical anger that we have never seen before from this man who is the symbol of peace and love. 

Righteous anger. Justified anger from the One who will one day right every wrong. He turned over their tables that were spoiling every inch of the sacred ground of the temple. At the risk of jeopardizing His mission on earth, He could not let this outrageous insult go on. He stopped them, maybe for just the moment, but He stopped them. And it cost Him dearly. From that moment on, the Pharisees “sought how they might destroy Him.”

We rank human emotions as either good or bad. But maybe there needs to be more nuance? Does your blood boil when God is insulted? Would you desire to defend Him as you would defend your child or spouse? We all know that there have been times we should have stood for righteousness, not compromise. Jesus gave us many examples of when to walk away, but this time He exemplifies how to stand strong.


Reflection Questions:

1. What would cross your mind if you were standing there in the temple and saw Jesus start flipping tables?

2. What are the wrongs, the evils, the broken areas of life you long to see Jesus right one day? Do you believe He will?


Memorize: 1 Cor. 16:13-14

”Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.  Do everything in love.”


Mark 12-1-12

Mark 12-1-12

PRAY: Humbly ask God to give you wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and the faith to live out what He reveals to you.

READ:  Mark 12:1-12  

It seems that a common desire of every Christian is to know the heart of God. “What would God think?” In this parable, Jesus gives us a rare glimpse into exactly how God feels about the nation of Israel and their leaders. Using a vineyard as the analogy for the nation, the history of their relationship unfolds. 

First, it is clear that God made Israel, constructing each part. Jesus gives the detail in His analogy:  plant the vines, dig a wine vat, build a wall around it for protection and put up a watchtower – everything needed for success. The people who have been given responsibility for the vineyard, the tenant farmers, the “vinedressers” are Israel’s leaders. This is the audience in front of Jesus at that moment. He is speaking to the “chief priests, scribes, and elders” (Mark 11:27).

This group of “vinedressers” is supposed to guard the people. They have not only lost respect for the One that made them but seem driven by a cruel hate as evidenced by killing each emissary that He sends. These envoys represent the long line of prophets and occasionally kings that God has sent to lead His chosen people. They are not only treated badly, but some slaughtered. The leaders’ rebellion against God is total. Their hypocrisy is complete. Claiming to speak for God, they refuse to listen to any word that He sends. 

Power often corrupts. It often goes to men’s heads. We selfishly possess it and lash out at any who challenge it. In this case, the scribes and Pharisees forgot the God who gave them power. Pretending that they serve Him, they ruthlessly guard the authority that He has given them. So God, seen as the owner of the vineyard, sends the ultimate messenger, His son. The chief priests and scribes knew that Jesus was referring to them and hated Him all the more for it. Jesus then predicts His own death to the men who will carry it out.

In response to killing His son, “what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vinedressers and give the vineyard to others” (Mk 12:9).  Jesus’ words are again prophetic; the Romans destroyed Jerusalem less than 40 years later. And God’s church left the confines of the Jewish temple to welcome in the Gentiles – people from every tribe, tongue, and nation on earth. Through this parable, Jesus not only explains the past and predicts the future, but also reveals the heart of God His father.



Do you have the courage to stand up to opposition like Jesus did in this case? The truth may have a cost. Are we willing to pay it? Why or why not?



That you never mistake God’s blessings as birthrights you deserve but see them as gifts for which we should always be thankful. Pray for the leaders of our churches that they remain humble and always recognize God as the source of their accomplishments.

Mark 12:13-17

Mark 12:13-17

PRAY: Humbly ask God to give you wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and the faith to live out what He reveals to you.

READ: Mark 12:13-17

Another trap! Time after time, Mark shows us how the religious leaders try to trap Jesus with unanswerable questions (or so they think). Here they ask Him if they should pay taxes to Caesar or not. Caesar was the leader of the Roman Empire, which controlled Israel and the Jews at this time. If Jesus said that the Jews should pay taxes to Rome, the people would turn on Him. And if He said they shouldn’t pay the tax, He could have been arrested for stirring up an anti-Roman rebellion. He ends up catching them in a trap when they produce the coin; it shows they actually possess something that was considered blasphemous and idolatrous: the coin had Caesar’s picture on one side and said “Tiberius Caesar Augustus, Son of the Divine Augustus,” and on the other side it had Caesar’s mother’s picture and said “High Priest.” Both of these were deeply offensive to the Jews.

In the end, Jesus affirms that citizens should pay to the government what is the government’s and give to God what is God’s. While there are so many implications of this, at least one is worth considering now. We bear God’s image, and based on the principle Jesus gives here, we should give ourselves to God. Fully. He made us for Himself and it is right and good for us to live for His glory.

Government, as an extension of God’s ordination of the family, can have a good role in increasing human flourishing. Jesus teaches us to submit to it, even if it is a corrupt government like Rome was. This does not mean we endorse corruption. And while Jesus tells the religious leaders to pay the tax, this doesn’t mean all taxes are just. Christians should not support taxes which take from some to give to themselves or others. Such policies often flow from envy. We should support programs and taxes which benefit all as equally as possible. Even if we are exploited (as those under Rome were), we should never use the government to exploit others. This often amounts to using the government to steal from its citizens on behalf of ourselves or others, which breaks the 8th and 10th commandments.

The government may justly require part of our money, but God requires all of us, our life, and devotion—our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.


Reflection Questions:

1. How should my attitude toward government and those in authority change in light of Jesus’ words here?

2. Am I first a Christian or an American? What is your first allegiance?

Mark 12:18-27

Mark 12:18-27

PRAY: Humbly ask God to give you wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and the faith to live out what He reveals to you.

READ: Mark 12:18-27

Can God make a rock that is too heavy to lift? Can God make other gods? If God is eternal then who created God? If you believe homosexuality is wrong, then why do you eat shellfish?

If you’ve been a Christian for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard questions just like these from unbelievers. While they could be offered from a sincere place, they are usually pretty disingenuous. Jesus faced a similar question in the passage above.

The Sadducees were a religious group that only believed the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible) were inspired and rejected the rest of the Scriptures. Since the first 5 books do not explicitly say anything about the resurrection, they rejected that teaching. This is the first time this group appears in the Gospel of Mark, and Mark introduces the Sadducees as those who “say there is no resurrection” (v17) and then immediately proceeds to their rather complicated scenario about life after the resurrection and the levirate law, all designed to trap Jesus in some logical conundrum.

Jesus doesn’t seem interested in dialoguing about the disingenuous question and cuts right to the chase. His response follows a chiastic pattern:

a. You are in error.

b. You do not know the Scriptures.

                     c. You do not know the power of God.

                     c.' [The power of God] raises the dead and they become like angels.

b.' [Scripture is cited] in the burning bush passage (which is in the Pentateuch), the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is God of the living.

a.' You are badly mistaken.

(Garland, NIV Application Commentary: Mark)

Jesus shows the real issue at play here: they do not know the Scriptures or believe in the power of God. Jesus answers their question, as insincere as it may have been, and does so without dignifying it by getting caught in the weeds.

Similar modern day questions posed by unbelievers or skeptics meant to try to trap Christians should be treated the same way. Don’t get caught in the weeds. Explain what the Scriptures actually say on the subject. Realize that dishonest questioners probably aren’t looking for honest answers. Spending time debating silly questions probably isn’t going to lead people to Christ, especially if they are trying to trap you. But keep a welcomed eye out for the person asking honest questions, desiring to learn. They might be abrasive, but ask yourself what is under that or under their question. Listen to them and offer a calm and respectful response. Showing them where they may not have a good grasp of the text in question or the context in which it was written, from a place of love, can pave a way to a more productive dialogue than arguing about whether Adam had a belly button or not.



1. Have you ever faced any similarly dishonest questions from skeptics or non-Christians? How did you respond?

2. How can you tell a dishonest question from a tough but honest one?

3. What is ultimately the problem people asking such questions have? How can God use you to minister to them?


Memorize: Mark 12:24

“Jesus told them, ‘Are you not deceived because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God?’”