Category Archives: Gospel of Mark

Jesus Didn’t Wait Until Sunday

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own traditions that we miss the bigger point entirely.

The Jewish religious authorities in Jesus’ day had done this. In their effort to be holy…to cross the t’s and dot the i’s they had wrapped various commands in so many traditions that it was hard to tell what was Law/Torah and what was tradition.

Over time they became so dogmatic about their traditions that to break the tradition was as heinous as breaking the Law of Moses itself. They had confused their traditions with scripture and not without good intention, at first. If God says don’t work on the Sabbath then how do you know how much you can do without crossing the line? Tradition defines that. But tradition is just tradition. Why did God give them the Sabbath in the first place? What was the point of the Sabbath and do the traditions that have wrapped themselves around God’s Law stand consistent with the intent of the Law itself?

Jesus healed on the Sabbath. He could have waited a day (in keeping with the tradition). He could have waited a week…the people he healed on the Sabbath were never on the verge of death. If they had been, the traditions would have made provision for Jesus to have healed them. But non-life-threatning conditions had to wait until Sunday.

Jesus healed them anyway. Jesus healed them anyway because to heal them was to uphold the intent of the Sabbath (to be life giving) and to wait a day would actually be against the intent of the Sabbath (whitholding giving life and wholeness). Again, he could have waited. He could have been cognizant of their scruples and their conscience issues but Jesus did it directly to challenge their scruples and their matters of consceince because they needed to be challenged. Why? The intent of the Sabbath command was greater than the traditions and greater than their conscience issues. Their values had been so twisted over time that they undermined the intent of the Law itself. This had to be challenged for the Sabbath to have any meaning left.

What was the intent of the Sabbath? This is the gist of Jesus’ question in Mark 3:4, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”

This gets to the heart of the intent of the Law itself, which the traditions missed entirely. In their effort to be obedient to God via tradition they were disobedient to the Law itself.

Now here is the sad ironies of sad ironies,

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.” – Mark 3:5-6

They were plotting to end life on the Sabbath because Jesus restored life, again, the very intention of the Sabbath day itself. It should have been cause for Messianic celebration to see the very purpose of the Sabbath fulfilled before their eyes. They couldn’t see it that way.

Jesus didn’t challenge tradition because it was tradition. He challenged these traditions because they weren’t spiritually neutral traditions. Their view of Sabbath had gone awry with the addition of their traditions so much so that they had the whole thing backwards.

Not every tradition needs to be challenged. Many traditions are good and helpful. But these kind of traditions need to be challenged and in instances like this the “weaker brother” conscience argument doesn’t work out. Jesus didn’t avoid violating their conscience on this matter only because it had gotten that bad and they only way to sort it out was for Jesus to directly challenge them on it.

What traditions do you see today that are beneficial and what traditions do you think do some harm (maybe in and of themselves or maybe due to misapplication)? Do you believe this still happens today? If so, how does one go about pushing against this in a way that honors God and is done in a spirit of love and respect?

The Holy Spirit’s Role in Jesus’ Miracles

Throughout scripture the Holy Spirit has enabled people to do amazing things. The Spirit empowered several of the judges to do the mighty things God called them to do (Samson and Gideon to name a few). The Holy Spirit came on Saul and enabled him to prophesy (1 Sam 10:6-10). The Holy Spirit enabled theContinue Reading

Fascinating Story Order in the Gospels

Sometimes the Gospels have stories that are ordered in such a way that it just blows my mind. Because these connections span multiple stories it can be easy to miss because we often study one unit of the text at a time rather than looking at the whole or at least big chunks to seeContinue Reading

Birds, Rocks and Thorny Places

Parables are like ogres, which are like onions…they have layers.   One of the layers that adds rich meaning to the reading and understanding of Jesus’ parables is packaged in identifying with the different characters in the story. This is quickly and easily seen in the parable of the prodigal son where most of usContinue Reading

Jesus Came Proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom – What is the Gospel?

We have been following through the ministry of Jesus and are just now only in the very beginning stages. I have written an article on the beginning of Jesus’ ministry over at Wineskins that will serve as the next post in this series. You can read it here. Jesus Came Proclaiming the Gospel of theContinue Reading

Why Did Jesus Heal the Guy Twice? The Importance of Context

In Mark 8 we get the story of a man Jesus healed twice. The first healing only enabled the man to see partially. The second healing allowed him to see clearly. What is going on in this story? Either Jesus’ power was a bit off that day or he was up to something. I voteContinue Reading

Bio Sketch of James the Brother of Jesus

In studying for a class on the book of James I ran down some information on the author, James the half-brother of Jesus that I found extremely helpful in understanding the letter itself.   James is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Jacob. His mother was Mary (Mark 6:3), his half brother was JesusContinue Reading

Living Between the Cups…which Passover Cup Jesus used at the Last Supper and What that Means for Us

When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper we are told that it was in the context of a Passover meal. Mark 14:12-18 says, 12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparationsContinue Reading

Reading the Bible Contextually – The Double Healing of Mark 8

I love reading scripture. I also love reading about how to read scripture better. As you read about the Bible and commentaries on Bible passages you become aware of more of the things that are going on in the text that never jumped out at you before. It pays to learn some of the techniquesContinue Reading

Jesus in Context – One of the Most Helpful Biblical Background Books Around

I recently came across the most helpful resources on the historical backgrounds to the Gospels that I have ever seen. It is called Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study by Darrell Bock. This book works through the synoptics and John and pulls just about any relevant extra-biblical text in full quotation to help you seeContinue Reading

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