March 5th 2018 Mark 12:18-37

18 Then some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him; and they asked Him, saying: 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, and leaves his wife behind, and leaves no children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife; and dying, he left no offspring. 21 And the second took her, and he died; nor did he leave any offspring. And the third likewise. 22 So the seven had her and left no offspring. Last of all the woman died also. 23 Therefore, in the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be? For all seven had her as wife.”

The sadducees do not believe in the resurrection. They did not come asking because they really did not know and have been wondering. We can all have some questions that once asked we realize the absurdity of them, but that was not the case here. They were asking in hopes of making the resurrection seem absurd. It is true that in the law they were commanded to marry their deceased brother’s wife in order to give him offspring and have his name live on. But the Sadducees were twisting what was meant to try and make their point. So they ask about seven brothers all having had the same wife and wanting to know whose wife she will ultimately be.

24 Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Jesus goes to work correcting their thinking. He is always  so faithful to do this and I love when He steps in and does this in my life. I love it because I do truthfully want to have the mind of Christ, I want to see things the way that He does. That is not so with the Sadducees, they have long ago made up their minds on where they stand in this regard. Who are we going to be like? I pray that I always remain open to what the Lord is saying to me, even if it is in correction. See I know that I am human and will get things wrong sometimes, I want God to be able to speak truth back into my life when my thoughts start to get carried off. So Jesus starts with you are mistake, you do not know the scriptures or the power of God. Can that be said of me and you as well? Do you know the scriptures? When you want to know something about a subject matter do you first look and see what the Scriptures have to say on it? Do you know the power of God? I know it in part, I know that He took me as the sinner I was an cleaned me up and did something new with my life. But I know I do not yet get it in full. The Sadducees were thinking that even if there was to be a resurrection it would just be a continuation of this life we live now, same rules and regulations apply, but that is not the reality. When we rise with Christ we are given new bodies that are fit for eternity. And things are different. The angels do not have babies and neither will we when we get to heaven. Therefore the sexual component of marriage is gone and marriage will cease to be important in Heaven. We do not know exactly what things will be like there. A few things we do know is it will be perfect, there will be constant worship of God and things will ruin differently because we will be under His control and not living in the world that is under satan’s control.

26 But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.”

If there was no resurrection and they just died and that was the end God’s word choice would have been different here. God says I am, present tense, the God of… If they died and that was the end of it the sentence would have read I was the God of… God is the God of those who are alive. The Sadducees had it wrong.

28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”

This question was another trap of sorts. They were wanting to see if in Jesus answer which is the first, greatest, commandment what if anything He would leave out from the law. Another way of seeing this question is in them asking which law is it most important that I obey.  We can do that in our lives, can’t we? Where we see the whole of it and think it is to overwhelming so we want to be given just a glimpse of something small that is obtainable to do. We want the easy. Give me the greatest command, the one of most importance and that is the one I will follow.

29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Jesus sums up the law rather than giving the greatest commandment. Everything that is required of us is summed up in two things. First love God with all you have. Love Him with all you heart, all your soul and all your mind. Do you love God with all that you have? The second one is similar, love your neighbor as yourself. If our relationship with God is right then loving our neighbor is easier. If our relationship with the Lord is off then loving others becomes a challenge.

32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul,and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

God is not really interested in our sacrifice as His is in our hearts and in our love. This guy sees that. He knows that the way we please God is through love and obedience, not through what we come bringing to Him.

34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” But after that no one dared question Him.

This guy gets it and is close to actually being part of the Kingdom of Heaven. The one thing he is missing is the one thing that matter most, that Jesus is the Messiah.

35 Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David? 36 For David himself said by the Holy Spirit: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’ 37 Therefore David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?” And the common people heard Him gladly.

Jesus, the Messiah was both before and after David. Wrapped in that truth was something that the scribes had yet to consider. Jesus does not take this time to trap them they way they do Him, instead He uses this opportunity to get to the heart of the matter. He is challenging them to think about who He truly is.

Caitlin Renee

March 5th 2018 Mark 12:18-37

18 Then some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him; and they asked Him, saying: 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, and leaves his wife behind, and leaves no children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife; and dying, he left no offspring. 21 And the second took her, and he died; nor did he leave any offspring. And the third likewise. 22 So the seven had her and left no offspring. Last of all the woman died also. 23 Therefore, in the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be? For all seven had her as wife.”

The sadducees do not believe in the resurrection. They did not come asking because they really did not know and have been wondering. We can all have some questions that once asked we realize the absurdity of them, but that was not the case here. They were asking in hopes of making the resurrection seem absurd. It is true that in the law they were commanded to marry their deceased brother’s wife in order to give him offspring and have his name live on. But the Sadducees were twisting what was meant to try and make their point. So they ask about seven brothers all having had the same wife and wanting to know whose wife she will ultimately be.

24 Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Jesus goes to work correcting their thinking. He is always  so faithful to do this and I love when He steps in and does this in my life. I love it because I do truthfully want to have the mind of Christ, I want to see things the way that He does. That is not so with the Sadducees, they have long ago made up their minds on where they stand in this regard. Who are we going to be like? I pray that I always remain open to what the Lord is saying to me, even if it is in correction. See I know that I am human and will get things wrong sometimes, I want God to be able to speak truth back into my life when my thoughts start to get carried off. So Jesus starts with you are mistake, you do not know the scriptures or the power of God. Can that be said of me and you as well? Do you know the scriptures? When you want to know something about a subject matter do you first look and see what the Scriptures have to say on it? Do you know the power of God? I know it in part, I know that He took me as the sinner I was an cleaned me up and did something new with my life. But I know I do not yet get it in full. The Sadducees were thinking that even if there was to be a resurrection it would just be a continuation of this life we live now, same rules and regulations apply, but that is not the reality. When we rise with Christ we are given new bodies that are fit for eternity. And things are different. The angels do not have babies and neither will we when we get to heaven. Therefore the sexual component of marriage is gone and marriage will cease to be important in Heaven. We do not know exactly what things will be like there. A few things we do know is it will be perfect, there will be constant worship of God and things will ruin differently because we will be under His control and not living in the world that is under satan’s control.

26 But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.”

If there was no resurrection and they just died and that was the end God’s word choice would have been different here. God says I am, present tense, the God of… If they died and that was the end of it the sentence would have read I was the God of… God is the God of those who are alive. The Sadducees had it wrong.

28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”

This question was another trap of sorts. They were wanting to see if in Jesus answer which is the first, greatest, commandment what if anything He would leave out from the law. Another way of seeing this question is in them asking which law is it most important that I obey.  We can do that in our lives, can’t we? Where we see the whole of it and think it is to overwhelming so we want to be given just a glimpse of something small that is obtainable to do. We want the easy. Give me the greatest command, the one of most importance and that is the one I will follow.

29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Jesus sums up the law rather than giving the greatest commandment. Everything that is required of us is summed up in two things. First love God with all you have. Love Him with all you heart, all your soul and all your mind. Do you love God with all that you have? The second one is similar, love your neighbor as yourself. If our relationship with God is right then loving our neighbor is easier. If our relationship with the Lord is off then loving others becomes a challenge.

32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul,and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

God is not really interested in our sacrifice as His is in our hearts and in our love. This guy sees that. He knows that the way we please God is through love and obedience, not through what we come bringing to Him.

34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” But after that no one dared question Him.

This guy gets it and is close to actually being part of the Kingdom of Heaven. The one thing he is missing is the one thing that matter most, that Jesus is the Messiah.

35 Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David? 36 For David himself said by the Holy Spirit: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’ 37 Therefore David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?” And the common people heard Him gladly.

Jesus, the Messiah was both before and after David. Wrapped in that truth was something that the scribes had yet to consider. Jesus does not take this time to trap them they way they do Him, instead He uses this opportunity to get to the heart of the matter. He is challenging them to think about who He truly is.

Caitlin Renee

March 2nd 2018 Mark 10:32-52

32 Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: 33 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; 34 and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”

Jesus had already been telling the disciples that He was going to be murdered and rise on the third day. Jesus has already received threats to His life. But we see Jesus courageously marching forward to the destiny, no matter how hard it might be to face. He walks ahead of them. The disciples are starting to put things together and know that He is not well received in Jerusalem where they are heading. They do not yet get that this is what must happen. Jesus was not concerned with Himself on these things, but He is concerned with The disciple and their understanding. When we face hard times what is our concern? Is it will ourselves or with others. When we shift the focus off of ourselves we tend to do better.

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.”

Here is proof that the disciples were not getting it yet. They are asking for positions of power in the kingdom they think Jesus is going to establish on this journey into Jerusalem. We can criticize the disciples her, but at the heart of most of us that is what we truly want and ar truly desiring, to be great and to be known for that greatness.

38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; 40 but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.”

We can often ask for things like this as well, things that sound great, but we have no idea what it truly entails. Even when we are asked if we are ready and understand what it means we answer quickly, looking only at the pride of it and not the reality. To truly follow Jesus does mean suffering and pain and rejection in this life. Is that something we have really considered? Even though the disciples would face those things it was not for Jesus to give that position at this time. Are you willing to follow Him, even without a title or position?

41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John.

They were not displeased because they were wrong in asking, but because they sneakily went and asked. That was something that the disciples were likely all thinking. They were with Him following Him for the last three years. To them it looked like Jesus was going to go establish His kingdom. It would then make sense that Jesus would need to pick His right and left hand men. They would all want that honor. However they were not yet understanding things as thy truly were. The suffering servant messiah did not make sense to them, they were awaiting the conquering King.

42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Here Jesus redefines what it should look like to be a ruler. As of now what they have seen was someone who would lord their power and authority over them. That is not the way to power in God economy. It has always been and will always be to serve others. The way up is down. The example we follow is Jesus. He did not come to have His subjects serve Him. No, not at all. He came to serve His people in love. That is exactly what we need to do as well, serve each other in love. It brought Jesus to the point of death on the cross that He gladly took for the payment of our sins. We need to love each other and serve each other even when it hurts.  

46 Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Bartimaeus was a blind beggar who has great need and has heard of Jesus. As He is sitting there he hears the crowd go by and he realizes that Jesus is in the midst of the crowd. He calls out for mercy from the Lord. Mercy is what we all need from the Lord. I love that he came in this way.

48 Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

The crowd tried to quiet him. That seems like it does happen from time to time, we ar out trying to have relationship with Jesus, crying out from the depths of our great need. But instead of being helped we are told to be quiet to head to the background. That did not stop tis guy and it should not stop us. Cry out to Jesus until He answers you, and He will answer those who call to Him in faith.

49 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” 50 And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.

Jesus hears him and stops calling for him. Jesus never misses us, He never overlooks us, and He never walks on past us. When we hear His call our response should be like this guys, thrown off everything that holds us down and go to Him.

51 So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.”And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.

This may seem like a silly question, but there is always purpose in Jesus’ asking. Thus far the man has asked for mercy, but has not admitted his need. The term he uses here is more than teacher, it takes on the context of master. This guy identifies who Jesus is to him and we see this to be true as he gets up and follows Him once he receives his sight. How do you identify Jesus, is He master of your life?

Caitlin Renee

March 1st 2018 Mark 10:13-31

13 Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.

In yesterday’s reading we had Jesus talking to them about whoever receives a little child in His name receives Him, only not Him but the Father. Now today we read about people bringing their children before Jesus asking for Him to touch them and the disciples rebuking them. Time has passed between when Jesus said that and now. And there is likely a crowd and they are likely thinking there are adults that need attention and the children need not be there. Remember in the culture and time children were thought of more as property than anything else. This is another instance in which we might think we know what we are doing according to culture and the nature flow of things, but we should not be quick to think we have it all together. We should be checking to see if we have the heart of Jesus, or if we are running with our own thoughts and ideas.

14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” 16 And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.

This was not the heart of Christ. Jesus wants the children to come. There is a proverb that says raise a child in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it. We want to be issuing our children, or in my case the children of our society since I do not yet have kids, into the presence of Jesus. Remember that they have a lifetime of choices ahead of them. We want them prepared to make the right ones. I know the only reason I know how to make the right choices is because I know Jesus. Let’s set our children up the same way.

17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

This seems like a good question to ask. I want eternal life so therefore I must know what it is that I must do to earn it. But therein lies the problem. We are looking at what we must do. It’s not about what we do, but about what has been done for us.

18 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”

Good was a term that was only used for God, never for their teachers. Jesus is pointing out that he has just identified Him as God. He then continues to inform him of what it takes to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus starts with the list of the commandments that are between people, He leaves the ones between us and God out of the conversation though. When we look at how Jesus defines murder and the others as even the intentions of our hearts we realize that none of us can honestly say we have followed all the commandments. That becomes increasingly true when we add the other part of the commandments in and realize we all have idols.  

20 And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.”21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

This man was a good man. These things I could not say that I kept from my youth. I have never been in serious trouble for any of these things. By the standards of the world I have been a good person, but God sees the wickedness of my heart and not just the good behavior I present. Even though this man had been a good person and kept these commandments, he still lack one thing. The root of it was that possessions and not Christ were at the center of his life. He had an idol in his life that he cherished more than God. Jesus calls him out on this by asking him to sell his possessions and follow Him. That is not the call for every rich person, to sell all they have, but for this guy that was what was needed to get at the heart issue that was keeping Him from Christ. Jesus will deal with each one of us slightly different. For some the call is to sell all, for others it is to keep it and bless others with it. It comes down to what each heart needs and only God can tell us that. Will you ask Him what it is that keeps you from Him if there is anything.

22 But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

His possessions were great and that was all he could see. From the context it appears that this man went away not following Christ. We do not know if later he had a change of heart, but in this moment we know for sure he left sad thinking that the cost was to high. We can sometimes think that. I know I can, or really did. I do not think I am alone in that either. I think many of us see what we have to give up and think the cost is too high and never see the reward, or what it cost to provide the reward for us. When I think of all that Jesus gave up for me how can I choose to hold me life dear to myself? Christ gave up attributes of His deity (He never stopped being God, but He laid some of those things aside) to come and live a perfect sinless life on our behalf. The best example I have heard to describe that would be a human becoming a maggot in order to lead the other maggots to freedom. As disgusting a thought that is for us is truthfully does not come close to the reality of what God did for us in Jesus coming down to live with us. Then Jesus suffered much here for us. He was betrayed by His friend, rejected by His very own people, and murdered in the most excruciating way humanity has ever come up with. He did that all for us to be brought into relationship with Him. When I am thinking about things properly whenever Jesus asks for something to be taken from my life, or a new task picked up I should do it with a heart of gratitude in light of all He has already done for me. That was not how this guy felt. Of course Jesus had not died for our sins yet and all I just said was not disclosed yet, but He still choose his riches over relationship with God.

23 Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”26 And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?”

It is not that riches are bad. Back in their culture they thought of riches as God’s blessing on their life. Neither is the case. It is not that riches are inherently good or inherently bad. Riches are not a sign of our salvation. They can be a hindrance though. We like the young ruler here can trust in our riches. That is when it gets scary. Not that we have and consider ourselves rich, but that we trust in what we have, our bank accounts and possessions. This is the scary place to be. We need to trust in Jesus beyond everything else.

27 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”

With men and our way of looking at things it would be impossible to be saved. By God is bigger than that. With God all things are possible. Jesus made a way for salvation for not only His people the Jews, but for us gentiles as well.

28 Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.”

Peter sees that the command was to sell and follow. Peter rightfully points out that they have left everything behind to follow Him. He is asking what that means for them.

29 So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, 30 who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

We receive blessings now. God loves His children and He does shower us with His love and protection. But do not miss the part where He tells us that persuctions will be here in this time as well. We often will look at all the happy promises in the Bible and neglect the ones that speak of persecution, but they are just as real as the happy go lucky ones. But we also gain eternal life. Jesus reminds us today that the first will be last and the last will be first. Let’s look at things with the eyes of Jesus and not the eyes of society. Lord give us your eyes to see things more clearly.

Caitlin Renee