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Rev’d John Richardson’ Bible Study on the Good News According to Mark.  Number 4

Dear All,

This fourth Bible Study from Mark features the Ministry of Jesus in Galilee around the shoreline and in the cities and towns. The theme is one of WHOLENESS AND WELLBEING. We highlight His activities in the Synagogue, in homes, in communities and in the hills above and the countryside around Capernaum.

So with mug of tea or coffee in hand, and perhaps a biscuit or two, with Bible and notebook and pen we proceed praying for ourselves and all those embarked upon this study in their own places and comfort.

MAY YOUR WORD BE A LAMP TO MY FEET AND A LIGHT TO MY PATH,FOR YOUR GLORY’S SAKE.AMEN.

By way of introduction to our passages today we need to look at Mark’s overview in his Gospel. He shows us throughout the power of Jesus. As we have previously studied, Mark starts with the story of the time when Jesus was baptised by his cousin John the Baptist. Luke, in his Gospel, emphasises the natural relationship between the two of them as cousins. Mark shows us Jesus teaching and healing around the towns and villages of Galilee, and calling and training twelve disciples. His Message is quite simple...the Kingdom of God is near and is arriving fast...in railway terms approaching the station...on platform xyz!

Jesus is able to drive out evil spirits and cure people of diseases and disability. Mark reports the amazement of the effects of this on peoples’ faces together with the buzz and excitement that Jesus just might be the long-awaited Messiah. This understandably is a wow moment and time and it is good to be alive! As then, so now!

While ordinary people welcome Jesus, the religious authorities, the Scribes and Pharisees become increasingly hostile towards Jesus and seek ways to get rid of Him and kill Him. They say He is mixing with bad characters who are sinners and breaking some of the commandments. They explain Jesus’ power over evil by saying He works for the Devil! At times even His own family wonder whether He is in His right mind but they stick by Him until the very end.

Jesus uses parables, ie thought provoking stories, to give some ideas of what God’s kingdom is like. For example, God’s kingdom may be almost invisible like a grain of mustard seed. But like a mustard seed it will grow large. In the end there will be no mistaking it.

Mark shows how Jesus is stronger than every power in the world of nature. He calms a storm, banishes demons and calls a dead person back to life. He miraculously provides food for very large crowds.....and even walks on water!

And so with this overview we move to our passages namely:

MARK chapter 1 verses 21 to chapter 2v17

Cf. Matthew 4 v23-end and Luke 4v31-32

READ THE PASSAGE FROM MARK IN FOUR SECTIONS with the enclosed commentary AND ASK WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM JESUS IN OUR LIVES AND SITUATIONS TODAY.?

IS THERE ANY PHRASE OR ACTION THAT STANDS OUT FOR ME TO REFLECT UPON FROM MY OWN LIFE AND EXPERIENCE?

JESUS TEACHES AND HEALS PEOPLE .......MARK 1v21-39

In the lakeside town of Capernaum Jesus teaches in the Synagogue on the Sabbath. He frees a man from an evil spirit. This is the first instance recorded by Mark of Jesus being stronger than the power of evil or the grasp or influence or binding of Satan. This episode occurs in public outside where people can see the impact.

The next healing takes place in a home where He heals Simon’s mother in law of a fever with the family gathered around her bed.

That evening, after the Sabbath rest is over, many people from all over the region gather carrying their sick friends and relatives along to the  market square to be touched and healed by Jesus. Just imagine Jesus turning up at the William Harvey Hospital Accident and Emergency Department on a Sunday evening and doing His healing work! It beggars belief what the media rolling news stories might report!

Here we see at the beginning of His public ministry Jesus is already too busy to preach because of the demands people are putting on Him.  Early next day, after prayer in the quietness of the hills alone He decides to move on to other villages and towns. His first priority is to announce the Kingdom of God. He must stick with that whatever the consequences as His time is short and limited.

JESUS HEALS A MAN SUFFERING FROM LEPROSY.....Mark 1v40-45

A man came to Jesus who is suffering from leprosy. This is a skin disease still with us today which spreads very quickly and has no cure or vaccination(sounds a little like the impact of CV19,)

Yet Jesus heals Him and goes against all conventions. He ignores the custom and common sense to reach and touch the man. Instead of catching the leper’s illness, the leper catches Jesus’ health, wellbeing and wholeness. The power of God here is stronger than the incurable disease.

Jesus tells the cured leper to report to his priest, who will then give him permission to live a normal life once again. Jesus also cautions the man very sternly not to tell anyone what has happened. But the news spreads, and Jesus is driven out of town by the vast numbers of people clamouring to see Him.

JESUS FORGIVES SINS.         Mark 2v1-12

Back in Capernaum, the pressure of life continues. There is such a crowd around Jesus that one man is lowered through the roof to get to Him in a home. This man is suffering from paralysis. However, Jesus sees that his real problem is guilt. He tells Him that his sins are forgiven. Some teachers of the Law are outraged by this because forgiving sins is something only God can do. To prove His point, Jesus goes right ahead and cures the man of His paralysis as well. Two healings for the price of one..what a bargain!

JESUS CALLS LEVI.        Mark 2v13-17

Jesus next calls a tax collector, Levi,to become one of His disciples. Again he is at work when the invitation to ‘Come and follow’ is made. Tax collectors are hated because they have absolute power under their Roman administration. They demand money from people adding some to their own bank accounts. They impose taxes on anything in order to maintain the strength of the Roman Empire in Galilee. Tax collectors are seen by the local Jews as the scum of the earth as they demand money to maintain armies and navies, administrators and roads. However, Jesus views them very differently as He shocks the religious people once again by mixing freely with tax collectors like a doctor visiting the sick.


Having read these four passages and compared them with what Matthew and Luke say:

SPEND A LITTLE TIME REFLECTING ON WHERE YOU ARE WITH GOD IN THE. HERE AND NOW?
ENJOY THIS PRESENT MOMENT WHERE THE STORY HAS BEEN TOLD,WHERE THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS,IN THIS SACRED PLACE AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME WITHIN YOUR OWN LIFE AND EXPERIENCE.

AS WE MOVE  ON WITH CHRIST, ALONE AND TOGETHER ,INTO THE NEXT CHAPTER OF OUR LIVES POST LOCKDOWN WHAT DOES OUR EVERYDAY COMMITMENT TO JESUS DEMAND?

ARE THERE ANY TINKERINGS OR CHANGES I NEED TO MAKE IN MY LIFESTYLE AND BEHAVIOUR.

As we bring this study to an end either as a one of off alone, or in a group with friends, or as a sequence of readings over the weeks spare a thought for others studying this passage wherever they are.

PRAY WITH THEM THE LORDS PRAYER.....FOLLOWED BY THE GRACE THAT THEY WILL BE AFFIRMED,BLESSED AND ENCOURAGED TO PERSEVERE AND CARRY ON LIVING.

So keep us Lord in the arms of Your embrace.
Shelter us under Your wings.
Be our light in the darkness.
Be our calm in the anxiety and the storm.
Be our strength in the weakness.
Be our song in the night.
And our shade in the day.
Amen.

That’s it for now and because we will be taking a few days holiday at the end of July and beginning of August with family in the West Country the next Studies will be issued around August 13th and 27th.What we do after that remains to be seen and depends where we are with CV19 and normality....whatever that is!

Until we meet again may God hold us all in the palm of His hands.

With love and best wishes and the assurance of our prayers,

Sue and John

John S. Richardson