Daily Bible Reading: June 23rd-29th
Date Added: 6/24/2008 10:06:28 AM
Date: June 23
Reading: Mark 6:1-29
Jesus returns to His own land and city and enters the local synagogue to teach on the Sabbath day. Though the people are astonished with His teachings, they do not react like so many of the other people in the surrounding country side and other cities. They knew Jesus when He grew up in their city. They know His mother and brothers and sisters. As they see Him there in the synagogue teaching with great authority and, I am sure, they have heard of His mighty miracles in the surrounding cities, they begin to think “He isn’t any different than any of us..”
The people closest to Jesus could not see Him for who He really was. Because of their unbelief, it says, Jesus “could there do no mighty work, save that he laid hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.” When we read those words, we need to realize that the people’s unbelief did not somehow restrain Jesus from having the ability to do miracles. Jesus, in and of Himself, chose not to do miracles in their midst because of their unbelief. God is neither bound by people nor directed by them. In His sovereignty, however, He has determined that in the normal course of things He moves in response to people’s faith and that He will not bring dishonor to His name in the midst of people’s unbelief.
It is a sad thing that the people who grew up with Jesus would have such a hard time believing in Him. This same type of thing happens today when children of Christian parents miss who Jesus is because attending church and hearing sermons becomes just another part of life and nothing special. Jesus cannot be just an addition to your busy life. He needs to become the reason for your life and the purpose for which you are living. Ask God to make Jesus more and more real to you as you continue to study His Word.
Date: June 24
Reading: Mark 6:30-56
Today’s reading begins with the apostles coming to Jesus to tell all that they had done and taught. This is referring back to verses 7-13 of this same chapter where we are told that Jesus sent His disciples out by twos to preach, heal and cast out demons. Now they have returned with their stories to tell Jesus.
They must have been quite excited about the power they had received from Jesus and the opportunity to carry the gospel message. However, Jesus tells them in verse 31 to come to a quiet place away from everyone else, “and rest a while.” He knows that ministry can be very taxing and even Jesus Himself will take time to be alone and to rest and pray. We need to remember this for ourselves and for those in full-time ministry. Take time to be alone with God and to rest from your regular activities. Even if you are busy doing ministry outreach, you still need time to physically, emotionally, and spiritually recover.
The disciples and Jesus did just that. Or, I should say they tried to get a way for some R&R (rest and relaxation). But as you read, the people saw where they went and followed them desiring to hear what Jesus had to teach and to be healed if they were sick. It is interesting that Jesus, though seeking personal comfort, looked out at the multitude with compassion. Mark tells us that Jesus looked upon them realizing that they were “as sheep not having a shepherd.” Jesus the Good Shepherd took the time to teach them.
Pray for God’s wisdom to make time to be with Him in quiet, but also pray that God would give you the strength and compassion to reach out to others as Jesus did even when you are tired.
Date: June 25
Reading: Mark 7:1-37
There is a story about a woman who would always cut the ends off the roast before putting it in the pan to bake in the oven. One day her son asked her, “Mom, why do you always cut the ends off the roast before you cook it?” The mother replied, “That’s the way my mother always did it.” The next time they visited the boy’s grandmother they asked her about this practice of cutting the ends off the roast before putting it in the oven. The grandmother laughed and said, “Oh, I had to cut the ends off because it was too big to fit into the pan.”
In this story, we see that the mother was following a practice, or tradition, she had seen in her family but had no idea why she was doing it. Maybe she had concluded that the ends were not good to eat because she had always seen her mother cut them off. However, without the right knowledge of the history of this tradition, she was doing something unnecessary and wasteful.
Today in our reading we saw that the Pharisees were not only requiring something unnecessary, but they were following traditions that resulted in wickedness and sin. No mother or father or even Jesus would advocate eating with dirty hands. That is not the point of what is being talked about when the Pharisees questioned Jesus concerning His disciples eating without washing their hands. This washing was a ceremonial washing. The Pharisees would wash their hands often to “remove the filth” of being around unrighteous people. Otherwise, they feared, that somehow the “filth of unrighteousness” from others would enter their bodies when they ate and then they would be unrighteous. This is what is being said when you read in verse 4 “and when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not…”
Jesus, knowing that they were speaking of the spiritual and not just the physical, got right to the root of the problem. These washings and other traditions had two great faults. First, they did not address the heart which is where a man is truly unrighteous. Second, they were used to override what God had commanded, which was truly an unrighteous thing to do.
Jesus quickly went beyond the minor issue of washing before eating and struck at the root of man’s traditions that are used to ignore God’s commands. For example, a son was to take care of his parents when they were old. But the traditions of the Pharisees allowed the son to make a large gift to the temple and this would rid him of that responsibility to his parents. Jesus despised this tradition because it not only countered God’s commands it attacked the family, God’s basic unit of society.
This story illustrates why it is so important to know God’s Word and how it applies to our lives. As you grow up and experience more and more in life, you will come across many people’s traditions and ideas. They may sound good, however, if they are unBiblical or will cause you to not fulfill what God commands, then they are evil no matter how good they may appear.
Date: June 26
Reading: Mark 8:1-38
Mark chapter 8 begins with the story of the feeding of the 4000. This is the second time Jesus has performed such a miracle. Do you remember the earlier story in Mark chapter 6? That time Jesus used 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed 5000 men along with the women and children. This time He has 7 loaves and a few fish, and He feeds about 4000. Certainly Jesus is the great Creator God as He is able to create bread and fish to eat and more than is necessary. This time, after the multitude of people are done eating, 7 baskets full of food scraps is gathered up. The first time they gathered 12 baskets of leftovers.
This story of feeding the 4000 is significant for a reason other than the obvious demonstration that Jesus is God. After feeding of the multitude and sending them away, Jesus and His disciples get into a boat to head to the over side of the waters. There Jesus is confronted by Pharisees who are asking for a special sign from Jesus. Jesus is irritated by this and tells them that they won’t receive any sign. Jesus knows that He is being tempted by them and no man will tempt God.
Upon leaving the Pharisees Jesus tells His disciples to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” The disciples, because they realized that they did not bring any bread with them thought Jesus was telling them to not get bread from the Pharisees. When Jesus realizes what the disciples are thinking He is astonished that they would be thinking about and concerned about literal bread to eat when He had just fed 4000 people with so very little. You can easily read how Jesus reminded them of the two miraculous acts of feeding the multitudes and the amount left over. What we need to be sure we understand is what Jesus meant by the “leaven of the Pharisees.”
Implied in this reading and made clear in other Gospels is the meaning of this phrase. Jesus is saying to His disciples to beware of, or watch out for, the doctrines or teachings of the Pharisees. This is made plainly clear in the Gospel of Matthew that you read earlier this year. Look back to Matthew chapter 16 where this story is also told in verses 6-12. See what it says in verse 12?
“Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”
Going to another part of Scripture to help us understand some other part of Scripture that we are reading is using a very important principle of Biblical interpretation. That principle is this, “Let Scripture interpret Scripture.” As you read more and more of the Bible and increase your knowledge of it, you will be better equipped to use this principle as you seek to understand what each passage is teaching.
God is a great and good God. He can meet our needs out of the little we have. He has also given us His Word from which we can guide our lives and be protected from false teachings of this world.
Date: June 27
Reading: Mark 9:1-29
What an action packed chapter and we only read about half of it today. It starts out with a very strange statement from Jesus. In verse 1, Jesus says that some of the people standing there listening to Him right then will still be alive and see “the kingdom of God come with power.” This has been a perplexing verse for many people. Since it is the verse that starts out this chapter, I am going to focus on it today and help you see what Jesus was saying.
First of all, this is one of those places where the chapter division is not helpful for us. Do you remember way back at the first of the year when you were reading Genesis I told you about the history of chapters and verses in the Bible? Well you might not remember all the details, but you do need to remember that the original writers did not write in chapter and verse. They just wrote everything done as one long story. The chapters and verses were added later as helps for us to passages of Scripture more quickly.
Though having chapters and verses is very helpful, it can also cause us to misunderstand something as well. We have an example of the latter idea here in Mark 9 with this verse. Because this statement is made by Jesus in verse 1 of this chapter, then people have immediately assumed that Jesus was talking about what immediately follows when He speaks of the kingdom of God coming with power. So, people have determined that the coming of the kingdom of God with power was when Jesus was transfigured on the mount. Let me show you that that interpretation is not correct and what Jesus is truly saying here.
First, we have read this statement before. It was in Matthew chapter 16:28. If you look there, you will see that this is the last verse of Matthew 16 and the story of the “Mount of Transfiguration” begins chapter 17. Secondly, notice that beginning with verse 24 of Matthew 16 we read the same teaching that Jesus was giving in what we read at the end of Matthew chapter 8. In both cases (Matthew 16 and Mark 8 & 9) we can see that the verse we read in Matthew 16:28 and Mark 9:1 belong with the preceding verses teaching about taking up one’s cross and not being ashamed of Jesus in the presence of others.
This is a lot of information, but it is important to learn the skill of properly interpreting the Bible. Again we have drawn upon the principle of “let Scripture interpret Scripture.” We have also the principle of “context” to help us. Using “context” means to use the immediate verses surrounding the passage you are trying to understand. The immediate verses in both Matthew 16 and Mark 8 tell us that Mark 9:1 belongs with the last verses of Mark 8.
Finally, in getting this verse properly understood, lets continue to draw upon the “Principle of Context” and look at how verse 2 begins in Mark 9. It says, “And after six days…” In other words, the events that occurred on the mountain where Jesus was transfigured happened only six days after Jesus said what He said in Mark 9:1. If the statement “some of them that stand here…shall not taste death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power” means that some of the listeners will still be alive six days later, then that is not a very impressive prophecy. In fact, it is kind of silly. Thus, the immediate context tells us that Jesus was not talking about the next event, because it happened only six days later.
So, what is Jesus talking about. Well, it has to be something that is far enough in the future that some of those listening have lived out their life and died. Only some of the people standing there at that time will be alive to see what Jesus is talking about. Although I cannot take the time to demonstrate that Jesus is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 (about 40 years after He made this statement in Mark 9:1), that is what Jesus is speaking of. As you gain a greater knowledge of Scripture and learn to interpret it with proper Biblical principles of interpretation, I am sure you will come to the same conclusion. I would suggest that you look back at Matthew 24 and re-read what I taught you in your May 6 commentary reading.
We must take care to interpret Scripture carefully. Some very significant things happened within the generation in which Jesus lived. They had a great impact upon the physical and spiritual lives of those living then, and they have great importance for our spiritual lives today.
Date: June 28
Reading: Mark 9:30-50
This section begins with Jesus telling His disciples once again that He will be abused and killed, but, that He will rise from the grave on the third day. This message from Jesus has began not too long ago in our reading and it seems to more and more be part of what Jesus is wanting to share. Jesus is probably quite aware of His destiny and that it is arrive fast.
The disciples, on the other hand, can’t seem to grasp what Jesus is trying to tell them. Or, we should say, they are unwilling to accept what Jesus is saying. You remember that in just the last chapter Jesus had to speak very harshly to Peter who actually rebuked Jesus for speaking about His death and resurrection. It may have been because of that strong rebuke that they were “afraid to ask him” (9:31).
Anyway, the disciples have other things weighing on their minds. In verses 33-37 we read about the disciples arguing over who is the greatest among them. Here Jesus is trying to get them to see the ultimate purpose for which He came, His death and resurrection, and their too busy fighting over which of them is the greatest follower of Jesus. I am sure, with the great popularity Jesus is experiencing right then, the disciples were beginning to think that they might end up in an important position if Jesus became a political leader.
Even though the disciples would not admit to what they were arguing about, Jesus knew. And, Jesus immediately taught them that the servant heart is the most important heart. If anyone wanted to be considered first, he needed to serve his brothers and sisters as if he were the last. God desires a broken and humble heart, not a heart of pride.
Date: June 29
Reading: Mark 10:1-27
The 10th chapter of Mark begins with the Pharisees once again trying to trap Jesus. This time they ask about the lawfulness of divorce. This is a very important topic as it touches on the family which is so precious to God. Yet, I think for someone your age it might be a topic that will become of greater importance when you are older. So, I am going to leave it for now and return to it when we read this passage again in the future. This time through, let’s focus on the beautiful picture of Jesus and the little children.
This story of Jesus and the little children almost didn’t happen because the disciples, in their ignorance, were trying to turn the people away. They did not want Jesus to be bothered with little children. They should have known better. It was just a short time ago that Jesus had brought a little child into their midst and taught that “whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me” (9:37). The disciples had a hard time making some of these connections.
Jesus, we read was greatly displeased when He saw what the disciples were doing. Literally, the words in verse 14 of chapter 10 state that Jesus was “moved with indignation.” That means, he was very upset with His disciples.
Jesus loves little children and He often used them as examples of how we should believe. Little children are very accepting of what they are told. They are very trusting. We are to be that way as well. Jesus said it this way, “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”
Then Jesus took the little children in His arms, He put His hands upon them, and He blessed them. That is a picture of how Jesus receives us when we believe in Him with the simple faith of a child.