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Give to Caesar or God

Then Jesus said to them,
“Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s

and to God what is God’s.”

And they were amazed at him.
– Mark 12:17 (NIV)

Some people sought to trap Jesus.  He knew it from what we learn within the Gospel of Mark.  Just look at verses 13 and 15.  He knew their hearts, their hypocrisy, and their intentions.

This discourse comes right behind Jesus sharing the parable of the tenants who slayed the master’s son who was innocent.  That sent a pretty strong message to those who could discern its underlying meaning.  After all, the Lord did say: “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

That spells it out.  If taxes and other matters of this world are part of how we are to obey authority, give it to Caesar or the feds, whoever may be in power.  Obviously, Jesus was not into that form of insurrection.  He said for us to give it to Caesar.  Yet, He also shared that we should give God what is His.

What is God due? Is it just tithes and offerings? Is it just our praise? Is it more than that?
When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
– Mark 12:34, NIV
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Left Behind for Jesus

Then Peter began to say unto him,
Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.
– Mark 10:28 (KJV)
Think about it for a moment.  Peter and Andrew left behind their nets and boats to follow Jesus.  James and John did the same, even leaving their daddy Zebedee behind.  Levi (Matthew) left the tax collecting booth.  Simon the Zealot left behind the rumblings of revolution and uprising against the Romans.  They all left something behind andin the past in order to follow Jesus.

What have you left behind to follow Jesus?

Family and friends?
Your old ways?
Your old hangouts?
How about your habits?

Think it through and see what Jesus offers to those who leave something behind for His sake.

29And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, 30But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. 31But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.  – Mark 10:29-31 (KJV)

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Look at chapter 10’s conversation on divorce and answer some questions on our online survey.  We won’t disclose any names, but we will discuss and share some of the responses and how we deal with the Word versus the world when it comes to making decisions.
Go to the online survey now. . .

To share the survey with others send the link: http://bit.ly/QjOw88  

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And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Jesus was the ultimate master of the teachable moment.  We see that a lot in the Gospel of Mark.  Through encounter after encounter, we are given bits and pieces of what the Lord came to accomplish through his earthly ministry.  Yet, we also see how he handles the short-sighted thoughts of man.  He deals with the limited faith and other aspects of mankind throughout His ministry.
Have you do something to “offend one of these little ones?” I mean, let’s be honest.  You know that you can cover a wide range when it comes to how you might “offend” others.  Watch your ways with others with your feet (where you go) and with your eyes (what you see).  Watch it! You may lead someone else down the wrong path with you.
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FYI: Our Sunday S.I.C.L. class will resume in Room 210.  See you there!
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In reading the Book of Mark, I try to keep in mind one major aspect of Bible observation methods; who is speaking to whom.  I try to keep that in mind from two perspectives:

  1. Who is (John ) Mark writing to as the author sharing with an intended audience?
  2. Who is speaking in the biblical text and who is it directed to as a listening audience?
Let’s look at the second point.  Look at the end of Mark’s chapter 8.

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. Mark 8:31 (NKJV)

Who is the them who He began to teach? The disciples of Jesus? The Twelve? The multitudes and the disciples? Who is them in this context?

Then, after you find them, go to the passage that reads: When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (v. 34).  We now have a full view of who He (being Jesus) is talking to at the end of the chapter.  Read it so that it can be understood.

No amount of theological school or seminary will ever wipe out such fundamental study practices like this.  It should be seen as necessary for basic Bible study to be conducted in such a manner to gain an understanding of what is actually happening within the text and who is actually involved, not who is assumed to be involved in it.

As we enter into chapter 9 of Mark, let us continue to keep our eyes attentive to what we read in the text.  See who is involved and how so.  Otherwise, we may start making some errors in interpreting what occurs from verse to verse, even in a straightforward biblical book like Mark.

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Looking Back in Mark

Read Mark chapter 1 again.  Read that part between verses 16 through 20, the part where Jesus called them and they responded.  Look at verses 18 and 20.

Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.– Mark 1:18
Jesus called them.  They left their nets.  They left their fishing boats and gear.  They left everything to follow Him.
That was early during the Lord’s ministry.  That was before He called them together as the Twelve and gave them power over unclean spirits.  That was way before Jesus fed five thousand or four thousand with fish and bread loaves, leaving baskets of fragments each time.  That was even before Peter spoke up and claimed Jesus to be the Christ.
In fact, that was even before Peter spoke up and said: “We have left everything to follow you!” (Mark 10:28).
Jesus could have called them on their initial response to His calling them.  He could have said: “Whoa, y’all! Wait a minute.  I thought you wanted to hang out with the Messiah.  I thought you wanted to be part of the change that’s taking place.  Was that not real?” He sure could have said that to them.
What could he say to us?
Yo, ________________ (Insert Your Name), whatever happened with that stuff you said about it being about just you and I from here on?
Was that real or just something to say?
Let me know.



Yours truly,   Jesus (the Christ)   Think about it.  It doesn’t make Jesus any less powerful.  He still has power and authority.  We just end up looking bad due to our failure to keep our promises to Him.  When we look back, can we have enough faith to stick it out and hang on a little longer with Jesus?   Or, do we have to get Jesus to rebuke us right after He gets done with the wind and the waves?

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Reading the Gospel of Mark reveals the many movements of Jesus in His ministry.  It shows just how mobile Jesus made His earthly ministry.  He kept things moving.  He managed to minister while on the move.

The woman with an issue of blood occurred while Jesus was on the move.  Jesus healing the deaf and mute man in Decapolis happened while He was moving from one place to another.  Much of what Jesus does in the Gospel of Mark shows us that ministry can be mobilized to reach people here and there.

Yes, the Lord does demonstrate how it can work outside of the church.  He shows us how we can serve others with our gifts and abilities as we come and go on this earth.  We see the Lord at work, serving men, woemn and children and meeting needs as He goes about His daily business.

Search through the Gospel of Mark and discover how to minister to others outside of the sanctuary.  See how we can do more outside of the church building to share with others and lead them to Christ.  Read it and see for yourself that the Lord wants us working.  In other words, He wants us serving.

This week we continue in Mark chapter 8 and see a blind man healed, Peter confessing Jesus to be the Christ, and Jesus predicting His own death at the hands of those who will reject Him.  Complete our latest pop-up quiz on Mark today.

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In a previous post, I covered some key issues and insights from Jesus on how we truly become defiled.  Believe it or not, Jesus was pretty direct with what He said.  He didn’t leave much wiggle room for other interpretations (Mark 7:1-23).

That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.  That’s been pretty standard practice for Jesus during this whole study, hasn’t it? I would think so.

Along with that, we had a short survey entitled Who is Jesus? that numerous visitors and subscribers joined in to share their opinions. FYI: we’re still taking responses throughout this week.  The results are as follows so far:

  • 89% of respondents said that King Herod believed Jesus to be John the Baptist.  That comes from the king’s own personal paranoia about John in Mark 6:14-29.
  • 56% of respondents found it insightful that the Greek woman’s daughter was healed, while 22% of respondents selected the woman’s response to Jesus’ reluctance to help.  See Mark 7:24-30.
  • 44% of respondents were amazed at Jesus’ methods for healing the deaf and mute man, while 33% were amazed at the people publishing the report despite Jesus warning against it.  See Mark 7:31-37.

We are moving on to chapter 8 now.  We will hear about signs, predictions and other challenges in this chapter.  Jesus will make some literal moves that may surprise us, too.  Look at where He goes with His disciples.  Bethsaida and Caesarea Philippi take them away from the far west and back along the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee.  Literally, Jesus is making moves and so are others who seek a sign from Him.

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