Living By the Book, August 13-17

Monday, August 13

Scripture: Mark 12:35-40

Mark 12:35–40 And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? [36] David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ [37] David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly. [38] And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces [39] and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, [40] who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Remember Hendricks’ hand illustration: Here look for what is repeated. It’s obvious: scribes. Jesus alludes to them in two different ways. Also Hendricks said to look for things that are unlike. Who is being compared/contrasted to whom here?

Tuesday, August 14

Scripture: Mark 12:41-44

[41] And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. [42] And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. [43] And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. [44] For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Historical context. You have to ask historical questions here. How did they do the offering? Was it public? How would Jesus know who had given what (other than the fact that he is Jesus!). This gives insight into this passage.

Wednesday, August 15

Scripture: Mark 13:1-13

[1] And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” [2] And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” [3] And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, [4] “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” [5] And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. [6] Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. [7] And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. [8] For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. [9] “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. [10] And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. [11] And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. [12] And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. [13] And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Jesus here teaches about the end of the age–signs. One of the important realities of studying the Gospels is to read parallel passages in the other Gospels. Matthew 24 will shed great light on this passage.

Thursday, August 16

Scripture: Mark 13:14-32

[14] “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. [15] Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, [16] and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. [17] And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! [18] Pray that it may not happen in winter. [19] For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. [20] And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. [21] And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. [22] For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. [23] But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand. [24] “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, [25] and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. [26] And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. [27] And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. [28] “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. [29] So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. [30] Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. [31] Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. [32] “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. [33] Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. [34] It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. [35] Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—[36] lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. [37] And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: See notes on Wednesday

Friday, August 17

Scripture:  Mark 14:1-9

[1] It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, [2] for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.” [3] And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. [4] There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? [5] For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. [6] But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. [7] For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. [8] She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. [9] And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: This is a beautiful passage. In order to understand it, you need to know the setting (time and place…see verse 1). You also need to know the importance and effect of leprosy. Also you need to read the parallel passages in the other Gospels–they will shed more light on this passage. This passage will come to life when you do your research on those things. Powerful.

Living By the Book, August 6-10

Monday, August 6

Scripture: Mark 11:27-33

[27] And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, [28] and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” [29] Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. [30] Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” [31] And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ [32] But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. [33] So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Remote context. This passage forces you to look backward. In order to adequately understand Jesus’ question to the Pharisees (which was so clever!) you have to know the John to whom Jesus is referring. Read Mark 1:1-8 and then consider Jesus’ conversation. If you want more context, find the same account in the other Gospels.

Tuesday, August 7

Scripture: Mark 12:1-12

[1] And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. [2] When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. [3] And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. [4] Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. [5] And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. [6] He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ [7] But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ [8] And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. [9] What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. [10] Have you not read this Scripture: “‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone; [11] this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” [12] And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away. (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Remote context. I know you must think that we often go back to rules of context but they are so very important. You cannot understand this parable well without reading Psalm 118 that Jesus quotes at the end of the parable. What do you think the parable means? Who is the beloved Son?

Historical context is also important. What was the function of the cornerstone? Check this out:

Wednesday, August 8

Scripture: Mark 12:13-17

[13] And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. [14] And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” [15] But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” [16] And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” [17] Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him. (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Historical context. Who are the Herodians? How does knowing who they are change your understanding of this text? Again, I want you to get used to using resources ( This lets us know that Jesus was being opposed by both religious and political leaders…he was doomed to die.

Thursday, August 9

Scripture: Mark 12:18-27

[18] And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, [19] “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. [20] There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. [21] And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. [22] And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. [23] In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.” [24] Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither 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. [26] And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? [27] He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Historical context. Yes again. Don’t grow weary of discovering the historical realities behind the text. In the previous passage we discover that the Herodians and the Pharisees are against Jesus. Now a 3rd group is mentioned: the Sadducees. Who were they? What did they believe? What does this let you know about Jesus that the Sadducees are also opposed to him?

Friday, August 10

Scripture:  Mark 12:28-34

[28] And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” [29] Jesus answered, “The most important 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 and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ [31] The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” [32] And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. [33] And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” [34] And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Historical Context. Yes again! Here another group emerges: the scribes! Who were they? Do you see the pattern of opposition to Jesus? He lived in the reality of constant opposition.

However their opposition resulted in a great truth from Jesus, a summary of the OT commandments into one! This requires even more look into historical context and into the Old Testament. Jesus is quoting the shema. The shema was a statement that every Hebrew child was taught from infancy: “Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” It is found in Deuteronomy 6. Jesus takes their greatest statement of command and replaces it with his own. How significant is this?

How does this apply to our lives today? How do we live out this commandment?

Living By the Book: July 30-August 3

Monday, July 30

Scripture: Mark 10:35-45

[35] And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” [36] And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” [37] And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” [38] Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” [39] And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, [40] but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” [41] And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. [42] And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. [43] But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, [44] and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. [45] For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Figures of speech. Metaphors abound in Scripture. In order to understand this passage, you must know how metaphors work both in literature and in this passage. A metaphor is a “comparison in which one thing represents another.” (Hendricks)

In this passage Jesus refers to a cup and baptism. If you take these literally, Jesus is simply saying they will drink from the same cup (which they did at the Last Supper) and be baptized as he was baptized. However, this is not the intent of Jesus’ words.

In order to understand this statement, you must ask and answer some questions:

  1. What is the cup to which Jesus is referring?
  2. What is the baptism to which Jesus is referring?
  3. Where are cup and baptism used elsewhere in Scripture?

Hint: The cup is referred to as a cup of wrath ( Here, by extension the cup refers to the suffering Jesus will undergo…as does the baptism. They are metaphors.

Tuesday, July 31

Scripture: Mark 10:46:52

[46] And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. [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!” [48] And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” [49] And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” [50] And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. [51] And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” [52] And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Historical context. Why did Bartimaeus call Jesus “Son of David?”  So a good reliable resource is It is a theologically sound resource, dependable and reliable. Check out their understanding of this:

Now, with that in mind, what was Bartimaeus saying? What did he understand or at least think, that others did not?

Wednesday, August 1

Scripture: Mark 11:1-11

[1] Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples [2] and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. [3] If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” [4] And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. [5] And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” [6] And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. [7] And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. [8] And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. [9] And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! [10] Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” [11] And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Geographical context. Look up a map of ancient Israel and trace Jesus’ journey. What do you learn from this? What gate would Jesus have come through? What is the significance of this gate.

Hint: Bethany was on the eastern side of Jerusalem. Jesus would have come through the eastern gate. The eastern gate shows up again in prophecy of the return of Christ.

Thursday, August 2

Scripture: Mark 11:12-19

[12] On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. [13] And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. [14] And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it. [15] And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. [16] And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. [17] And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” [18] And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. [19] And when evening came they went out of the city. (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Historical context. Why did people sell things in the temple? Was Jesus angry because they were selling things? Or because they were being extortioners?

“Doves were the recognized offering of the poor, required for the purification of women, the cleansing of lepers, and other purposes. The installation of stalls for the sale of animals and of other requirements for the sacrifice such as wine, oil and salt, had the effect of transforming the Court of the Gentiles into an oriental bazaar and a cattle mart. Jesus was appalled at this disregard for the sanctity of an area consecrated for the use of Gentiles who had not yet becomes full proselytes to Judaism.” (William Lane)

How does this historical background change your understanding of Jesus’ frustration. Where was Jesus’ heart in this display of anger?

Friday, August 3

Scripture: Mark 11:20-26

[20] As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. [21] And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” [22] And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. [23] Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. [24] Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. [25] And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Historical Context. This brief passage is packed with historical and biblical references. Let me list them for you. (In case you’re wondering, this isn’t tucked away in my brain. I wished it was! Did some research.)

  1. The fact that the tree is withered from the roots goes back to Job, Ezekiel and Hosea and denotes total destruction. Could this be a reference to the temple where the moneychangers were thrown out?
  2. If you reference Psalm 90:6, Joel 1:12 and Hosea 9:16, could this be a reference to impending judgment?
  3. The Dead Sea is visible from the Mount of Olives where Jesus is teaching. “This mountain” could refer to the Mount of Olives that will be split in two on the last day.

“When prayer is the source of faith’s power and the means of its strength, God’s sovereignty is its only restriction.” (William Lane)

Living By the Book July 23-27

Monday, July 23

Scripture: Mark 9:38-50

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 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. For the one who is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’  For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Figurative language. Scripture employs the use of figurative language. Hendricks, in Living By the Book, gives some principles for understanding figurative language.

Do you think Jesus intends people to literally cut off their feet or gouge out their eyes? No! This would violate the principle of loving one’s neighbor as oneself. If you love yourself, you’re not going to gouge out your eyes!

Jesus is employing hyperbole. Hyperbole is “exaggeration to say more than is literally meant.” In light of Jesus’ hyperbolic statements, what do you think he is trying to say? My guess is that he’s making the point to deal with sin in your life…in a serious way. Don’t tolerate it.

Tuesday, July 24

Scripture: Mark 10:1-12

And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them. And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Scripture Reading Skill: Historical context. In order to best understand Jesus’ teaching on divorce, one must understand the NT view of divorce as well as why Moses gave the permission for divorce. This is where a good commentary can be helpful. I recommend Christ-Centered Exposition, usually available under $10 and providing ample background. For example, Christ-Centered Exposition says this about the understanding of divorce in Jesus’ day: “There were different schools of thought in first-century Judaism about what might allow for divorce. One school of thought believed that a man could divorce his wife if she had committed any type of immodest behavior or sexual immorality (the school of Shammai.) The other school of thought (Hillel, the more dominant point of view) interpreted Deuteronomy 24 much more broadly, saying that divorce was possible whenever a wife did anything displeasing to her husband. This latter interpretation of the law basically led to men divorcing their wives for just about any reason.”

Jesus is responding to this mindset. Now reread the passage in light of your historical understanding of divorce. How do you think differently now?

Wednesday, July 25

Scripture: Mark 10:13-16

[13] And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. [14] But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. [15] Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” [16] And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Historical context. In our culture today, children are almost worshipped by their parents. At lunch today I was so distracted by a mom whose 3-year-old dominated her lunch, demanding her way and causing the mom to completely miss the time with her family and friends. In Jesus’ day children were not valued. They were considered the equivalent of dogs and women. In light of that, reread this passage. How does it change your perspective? Your view? Your understanding?

Thursday, July 26

Scripture: Mark 10:17-31

[17] And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” [18] And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. [19] You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” [20] And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” [21] And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” [22] Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. [23] And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” [24] And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is 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 person to enter the kingdom of God.” [26] And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” [27] Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” [28] Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” [29] Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, [30] who will 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.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Remote context. Yes, we’re looking at this again. In order to better understand the rich young ruler, you must read what comes before and after this passage. Children are in the kingdom, the rich young ruler is out. Children who were despised and rejected are celebrated and accepted. An adult who has the potential to influence, to give significant sums, is deemed unfit for the kingdom. Jesus even uses the term, children, in explaining the rich young ruler’s plight: “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God!” (10:25) Then he foretells his death again. The kingdom is completely contrary to what the people are expecting to see and hear.

Friday, July 27

Scripture: Mark 10:32-34

And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, [33] saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. [34] And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Look at the other 2 times Jesus predicts his death. What is going on before and after? What is the point you think he is trying to make? What does this tell you about Jesus? The people around him?

What You Will Never Know

Psalm 106 is a retelling of the history of Israel. In summary, the Psalmist confesses both his sin and the sin of his fathers (vs. 6). They rebelled at the Red Sea, “yet He saved them for his name’s sake.” Once they crossed the Red Sea “they believed his words; they sang his praise.” They had to see God work and then trust Him.

However verse 13 gives the sad reality: “They soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel.” Sin was followed by sin, disobedience multiplied by disobedience. Things got so bad that God was ready to kill them. “Therefore he said he would destroy them–had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them.” (vs. 23)

It didn’t get any better.

“Then they despised, murmured, did not obey, yoked themselves to Baal, ate sacrifices offered to the dead.” A plague broke out among them. “Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was stayed.” (vs. 30)

Two times they were near extinction–two times someone stood in the gap for them. Someone interceded. But it wasn’t enough. Moses and Phinehas died. Israel sinned even more.

Until Jesus. He came as the ultimate intercessor. On the cross, he stayed the wrath of God, interceding not only for Israel but for anyone who will trust Him. “For our sake, God made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

And Jesus’ work didn’t stop there. Three days later he resurrected. Then he ascended. Now he intercedes.

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34, ESV)

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25, ESV)

My little children I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. But if anyone sins, we have anadvocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. (1 John 2:1-2, ESV)

Moses’ intercession was limited to a certain event and time. Phinehas interceded and died. Jesus died to intercede! Now he lives to intercede! What you will never know is what he has intercepted in your life today. You will never know the pending danger, the looming temptation, the “almost” catastrophe that he stayed away by interceding. He saved you then and he’s saving you now–to the uttermost!

Thank God today for what you don’t know.


Living By the Book July 16-20

You may wonder why you see some of the same skills keep showing up that you’ve seen before. Repetition is key to retaining what you’ve read and learned.

Monday, July 16

Scripture: Mark 8:31-9:1

[31] And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. [32] And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. [33] But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” [34] And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. [35] For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. [36] For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? [37] For what can a man give in return for his soul? [38] For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Chapter 9 [1] And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Remote context. The remote context of a passage is the Scripture passages before and after your passage, even the entire book or genre of your passage. In our case, this passage is more clearly seen in light of what precedes and what follows it.

Consider the following questions:

  1. What did Peter do in 8:27-29?
  2. In Peter’s mind, what did he conceive of Jesus as the Messiah to be? To involve? (Most likely ruling and reigning)
  3. What happened in 9:2-13? What was Peter’s reaction to Jesus then?
  4. Now read 8:31-9:1 in light of what comes before and after. What is the significance of Jesus foretelling his death and resurrection sandwiched between these two events? A helpful hint: in between Peter’s amazing declaration and Jesus’ amazing transfiguration is a prediction of his ugly, awful death. The Messiah would be murdered. The transfigured one would be disfigured. What a Savior! This ought to lead you to worship Jesus!

Tuesday, July 10

Scripture: Mark 9:2-13

[2] And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, [3] and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. [4] And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. [5] And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” [6] For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. [7] And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” [8] And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. [9] And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. [10] So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean. [11] And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” [12] And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? [13] But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Remote context. We have to look at remote context again. Don’t read this without realizing what Jesus has just predicted.

I have to share this. We see Peter’s very incomplete understanding of Jesus. Otherwise, Peter would not have considered building a tabernacle for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. By suggesting this, Jesus was putting Peter on the same level as these great prophets. Now, consider 8:27-29. Did Peter really understand the implications of Jesus as Messiah?

Wednesday, July 11

Scripture: Mark 9:14-29

[14] And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. [15] And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. [16] And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” [17] And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. [18] And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” [19] And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” [20] And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. [21] And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. [22] And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” [23] And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” [24] Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” [25] And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” [26] And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” [27] But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. [28] And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” [29] And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Remote context. Again! Jesus was just transfigured and 3 of the disciples witnessed it. Now these same disciples are unable to cast out a demon. Jesus’ answer as to how this happens is through prayer! The one to whom prayer is to be made became a “pray-er” on earth. Jesus often withdrew to pray. How much more do we need to pray!

Now consider this in light of the context. The one who can be transfigured needs communion with the father. The one who will die and be resurrected will (we know) eventually pray from the cross!

Thursday, July 12

Scripture: Mark 9:30-32

[30] They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, [31] for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” [32] But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Remote context. Yes, I’m serious about this. The juxtaposition of events is unbelievable! Peter confesses Jesus is the Christ, Jesus foretells his death and resurrection, Jesus is transfigured, Jesus talks of the importance of prayer, Jesus then foretells his death and resurrection.

Why does Jesus continually refer to his death and resurrection? Why the repetition? Because they don’t get it! Verse 32 says, “But they did not understand.” Lest we think that Peter’s declaration that Jesus was the Messiah was rock-solid, Peter doesn’t understand. The remote context reveals a roller coaster experience between Jesus and the disciples.

Friday, July 13

Scripture: Mark 9:33-37

[33] And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” [34] But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. [35] And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” [36] And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, [37] “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Remote context. Look at the last sentence in 32: But they did not understand. How can you tell from this passage that clearly they did not understand. (In light of all of Jesus’ remarkable miracles, they are trying to figure out who is the greatest!) This is unbelievable!

Living By the Book, July 9-13

Monday, July 9

Scripture: Mark 7:31-37

[31] Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. [32] And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. [33] And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. [34] And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” [35] And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. [36] And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. [37] And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Things that are related. Look for cause and effect. This may sound simple, but it will give insight as to what or who caused what.

  1. What is the cause and what is the effect? Did Jesus cause the man to be healed or did they, by bringing him, cause him to be healed?
  2. In the healing of the man, what is the one word that surprises you?

I will share the one word that catches my attention: “sighed.” Why do you think Jesus sighed? Do you think Jesus reflected all the way back to creation and thought, this is never how this was meant to be? What makes Jesus sigh when he sees it in your life? What pain? What difficulty? What heartache?

Tuesday, July 10

Scripture: Mark 8:1-10

[1] In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, [2] “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. [3] And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” [4] And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” [5] And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” [6] And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. [7] And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. [8] And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. [9] And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. [10] And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Things that are true to life. Sometimes a passage will come to life when you can relate to it? What are possible things in this passage that are true to your own life experience? Examples could include hunger, the need to feed a bunch of teenagers who have come to your house, being in a remote place where food wasn’t readily available, or organizing a large meal. Now, before you get too involved in what the passage means, reflect on how that true-to-life connection with the passage makes you feel. Once you have done that, now explore the theological significance. It’s remarkable how your own true-to-life connection makes other connections come alive.

Wednesday, July 11

Scripture: Mark 8:11-21

[11] The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. [12] And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” [13] And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side. [14] Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. [15] And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” [16] And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. [17] And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? [18] Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? [19] When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” [20] “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” [21] And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Historical context is critical here. We have already talked about it. In order to understand this conversation between Jesus and his disciples, you will have to understand leaven. Go to and look up leaven. What was its significance. I’ll also provide a bit of insight. At times the Israelites had to eat unleavened bread for certain celebrations. Just a little bit of leaven, when it goes into bread, affects the entire loaf. When Jesus said, “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod,” he was warning them not to be influence, in the smallest of ways, by the Pharisees or of Herod. The Pharisees were seeking a sign, when the destination (Jesus) was right in front of them!

Thursday, July 12

Scripture: Mark 8:22-26

[22] And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. [23] And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” [24] And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” [25] Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. [26] And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Remote context. Look in previous passages (7:31-37). How is this healing similar to that one? Why do you think? What does Jesus tell the deaf man and the blind man? (“tell no one” and “do not enter the village.”)

Here we see what scholars have called the Messianic Secret. Jesus surprisingly tells them not to tell anyone what he has done for them! Why? Jesus doe not want his healings to overshadow his ultimate mission: to die on the cross. Jesus was focused and he knew that, if he continued to heal, they would want to make him king.

Friday, July 13

Scripture: Mark 8:27-30

[27] And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” [28] And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” [29] And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” [30] And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him. (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Remote context. Yes, we’re looking at this again. Why? Jesus clearly tells Peter and the other disciples to tell no one about him. Why? The Messianic Secret. Do you see a pattern unfolding? Now look for this in other parts of the Mark as you continue to study.

This should give you great joy, cause you to appreciate even more Jesus remarkable sacrifice, his incredible focus and his ultimate goal: to die for your sins.

Living By the Book, July 2-July 6

Jesus again is on full display. I love the Gospels! Dig in!

Monday, July 2

Scripture: Mark 6:45-52

[45] Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. [46] And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. [47] And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. [48] And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, [49] but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, [50] for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” [51] And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, [52] for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Things that are related. When a writer connects different events, people or things in a passage of Scripture, he does it on purpose. When looking for things that are related, look from the general to the specific. How does the writer narrow his focus? Look for questions and answers. What questions are answered directly by the writer or by people in the passage? Finally cause and effect is important. One thing causes another. One event makes another happen.

  1. What is the cause and what is the effect? This may be the most important part of this passage. Hint: Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go across the sea.
  2. How long did Jesus wait until he came to them? (Fourth watch of the night)
  3. Why did he wait so long?

Tuesday, July 3

Scripture: Mark 6:53-56

[53] When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. [54] And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him [55] and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. [56] And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well. (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Things that are emphasized. Emphasis is a great clue as to what the writer (and thus, God) is trying to accomplish. Look for how much space a topic receives. Is there a stated purpose in the text? The order of things suggests importance. Lesser to greater and greater to lesser give insight into what the writer is trying to communicate.

This is a fairly straightforward text. What is emphasized here? What does this tell you about Jesus?

Wednesday, July 4

Scripture: Mark 7:1-13

[1] Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, [2] they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. [3] (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, [4] and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) [5] And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” [6] And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; [7] in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ [8] You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” [9] And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! [10] For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ [11] But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)—[12] then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, [13] thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Things that are repeated. Look for terms, phrases, clauses that are repeated. Look for characters who show up more than once. What incidents or circumstances do you see happen more than once? Are there patterns? Do you see the OT quote (repeated) in the NT?

  1. What key word is repeated? Hint: tradition.
  2. What does this one repetition tell you about the passage? What is the point Jesus is trying to make? Notice how the entire event is wound around the idea of tradition.

Thursday, July 5

Scripture: Mark 7:14-23

[14] And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: [15] There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” [17] And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. [18] And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, [19] since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) [20] And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. [21] For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, [22] coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. [23] All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Things that are alike and unlike. Look for similes: comparisons using like or as. Look for metaphors (one thing used to represent another). Conjunctions become turning points (specifically “but”) in a text. Finally look for irony–using words to convey a meaning opposite from a word’s original meaning.

This entire passage can only be understood in light of the previous section. Jesus is refuting the Pharisees focus on traditionalism at the expense of the heart of the law. The Pharisees were all about what went in them, not what came out of their mouths. Here Jesus speaks ironically–the passage is full of irony. He’s angry with the Pharisees. He speaks of eating and pooping–no lie!

What does this say about the human heart? What is Jesus’ point? Don’t miss this!

Friday, July 6

Scripture: Mark 6:24-30

[24] And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. [25] But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. [26] Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. [27] And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” [28] But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” [29] And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” [30] And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone. (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Remote context. Look at the previous two sections of Scripture. In 7:1-13, Jesus rejects the Pharisees for being gripped by tradition. In 7:14-23, he explains himself. In this passage he heals a Gentile’s daughter. Jesus’ words seem harsh, but in light of the previous passages, he is gracious to this Gentile woman. What does he see in her that he didn’t see in the Pharisees?

Living By the Book: June 25-29

Jesus is incredible! He shines in every passage this week. Enjoy Him as you learn to take his word in. Remember the goal: for you to get into the word and getting the word into you.

Monday, June 25

Scripture: Mark 5:21-43

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

Scripture Reading Skill: Historical Context. There are 3 kinds of context: historical, immediate, and remote. In this story, we are looking at the historical context. A good resource for this is Also a good Bible dictionary is a great resource. For today, I’ll provide questions and answers to help you get at the historical context.

Questions to answer:

  1. What sea did they cross? Galilee
  2. What was the function of the synagogue in Jesus’ day? Synagogues were the center of local religious meetings, education and community interaction. They were in every town and where everyone met. To be a ruler of a synagogue was a significant honor.
  3. What does it mean, in light of #2, that the ruler of the synagogue fell at Jesus’ feet? What would this have demonstrated to the community? Now, do you see how historical details add to the understanding of the text!
  4. What did this discharge of blood signify? That this woman was unclean. And being unclean she couldn’t touch anyone or be in a crowd like this. This historical fact shows her despair. All of a sudden you see two despairing people: a morally upstanding ruler and an unclean judge. This also explains why the woman was trembling with fear–she, an unclean woman, had touched a rabbi.
  5. What is the significance of being a woman and touching Jesus? Women were considered equivalent to dogs in Jesus’ culture. Jesus didn’t view them that way, and involved them in his ministry.


Tuesday, June 26

Scripture: Mark 6:1-6

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

Scripture Reading Skill: Historical context

Questions to answer:

  1. What was Jesus’ hometown? Nazareth.
  2. Knowing what you know about the synagogue, what is the significance of Jesus being in the synagogue? They must’ve thought he had the potential of being a synagogue leader or ruler. He was an effective teacher.
  3. Why did they take offense at him? Because synagogue leaders were well-educated folks and often members of a higher class. Jesus was the son of a carpenter and a teenage girl.
  4. What is the significance of Jesus going into the villages? The elite in town (in the synagogues) missed the work of God because they wouldn’t believe. He went to the obscure in the villages who, more than likely, didn’t have their own synagogue.

Hint: Jesus didn’t need a synagogue to teach–he wanted an open, willing heart.

Wednesday, June 27

Scripture: Mark 6:7-13

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

Scripture Reading Skill: Immediate context. This is what is happening in the chapter/paragraph you’re reading. Don’t get too spiritual too fast. Look for everyday details in the passage.

Spend 3 minutes making as many observations as you can about this passage. Every detail. Don’t leave anything out. Here are some examples: (don’t peek…do your own!)

  1. He called them.
  2. He sent them out two by two.
  3. He sent the disciples.
  4. He gave them authority.
  5. Their authority was specifically over unclean spirits.
  6. He charged them.
  7. He charged them–meaning he was in charge of them.
  8. He told them to only take the bare minimum. (Historical context would ask what the function of these things was he told them not to take.)
  9. Can’t help myself…shake off my dust must be explored to see what its historical significance is. You could make a 100 more observations about this passage. I’m not kidding!

Thursday, June 28

Scripture: Mark 6:14-29

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

Scripture Reading Skill: Remote context. Remote context answers what happened before and after. And this text gives you a clue that you need to look at what preceded it. “When King Herod heard of it.” You must figure out what “it” is.

“It” is the sending out of the disciples. It’s interesting that Jesus’ fame spread more when he sent others out in his name than it did when he only healed. He “deputized” these disciples and his fame began to spread. (He still works this way today!).

But your big question is where does the story of John the Baptist’s beheading fit into the overall picture of Mark. Why is it included here? That’s what remote context is about. Look back over the last few sections. Look ahead at what’s coming next. Why here?

Hint: It occurs here almost parenthetically because Herod is connected with John the Baptist’s death. However, we begin to see an alternating pattern of acceptance and rejection. Jesus is rejected in the synagogue, accepted in the village. Also, John the Baptist’s death foreshadows Jesus’ own death. Jesus knew that. This must have been sobering. This makes what he did next so unbelievable. That’s for tomorrow.

Friday, June 29

Scripture: Mark 6:30-44

[30] The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. [31] And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. [32] And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. [33] Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. [34] When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. [35] And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. [36] Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” [37] But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” [38] And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” [39] Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. [40] So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. [41] And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. [42] And they all ate and were satisfied. [43] And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. [44] And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men. (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Remote context. One question related to remote context. In light of what has happened to John the Baptist, if you’re Jesus what would you have been tempted to do? What did Jesus do instead?

Hint: Jesus had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He, the Good Shepherd, could not quit being the Good Shepherd even if it mean his life.

Living By the Book June 18-22 and Helps

Jesus is incredible! He shines in every passage this week. Enjoy Him as you learn to take his word in. Remember the goal: for you to get into the word and getting the word into you.

Monday, June 18

Scripture: Mark 4:10-20

[10] And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. [11] And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, [12] so that
“‘they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.’” [13] And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? [14] The sower sows the word. [15] And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. [16] And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. [17] And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. [18] And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, [19] but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. [20] But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Application The reason we are looking at this skill with this passage is that Jesus is, in this passage, applying the parable of the sower. When you consider application, you must necessarily answer questions about yourself.

Questions to answer:

  1. Do you know people in each of the categories Jesus mentions?
  2. How can you tell?
  3. Where are you? Be honest. Where do you want to be?
  4. What can you do to prepare your heart to receive God’s Word?


Tuesday, June 19

Scripture: Mark 4:21-25

And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? [22] For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. [23] If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” [24] And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. [25] For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Understanding Parables. Remember what a parable is: a story that tells a truth–a single truth.

Questions to answer:

  1. What is the one point of this parable?
  2. Don’t forget immediate context. What did Jesus say about parables in the preceding passage?

Hint: The one point fo the parable is found in hiding a lamp and not putting it on the stand. You can’t hide light. Jesus is the light, which some receive (compare the parable of the sower) and others reject. This parable shows that the condition of the heart is not a foregone conclusion–it’s the way people are and they can ask God to change their stubborn, rebellious hearts.

Wednesday, June 20

Scripture: Mark 4:26-34

[26] And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. [27] He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. [28] The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. [29] But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

[30] And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? [31] It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, [32] yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” [33] With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. [34] He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything. (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Parables…again.

Helpful questions when studying this passage:

  1. What is the one truth of each parable? (I think they’re the same).
  2. What principles can be gleaned from this parable?

Hint: What is small becomes large, what is hidden becomes seen (see previous parable), what is little becomes much. All of these are indicators of the Kingdom of God. His kingdom will start small and become large, be hidden and then seen, be a few people then many. Wow!


Thursday, June 21

Scripture: Mark 4:35-41

[35] On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” [36] And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. [37] And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. [38] But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” [39] And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. [40] He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” [41] And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (ESV)

Scripture Reading Skill: Reading Imaginatively. You will never get the full impact of this story unless you can imagine yourself in it. If you read it quickly, re-read it. Picture it. Now that you have, consider the following questions.

  1. Where are they? (Sea of Galilee)
  2. What strikes you about their question to Jesus?
  3. What strikes you about Jesus’ questions to them?
  4. Why do you think they were filled with great fear?
  5. Why do you think they ask, “Who then is this?”

Hints: In two words I think this passage is about “misunderstanding Jesus.” They didn’t know who Jesus was. That’s why they asked, “Do you not care?” That’s why Jesus asked, “Why are you so afraid?” I think you could add, “Didn’t you know who was in the boat with you?”

Historical fact: For a Jew, control over the weather was considered to be the greatest possible miracle. That would answer question 5 above.

Friday, June 22

Scripture: Mark 5:1-20

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

Scripture Reading Skill: Sometimes stories have an element of surprise. What surprises you most in this story? Don’t miss the flow of the account–Jesus comes, meets a man who has terrorized the community, casts out his demons into nearby pigs, the townspeople hear about it and…SURPRISE..beg him to leave. You have to ask why this happened!

Hint: I think they asked Jesus to leave because this hurt their commerce. See verse 16 “and to the pigs.” They were afraid of someone who had so much power, even if he could solve their greatest problem. WOW!