Gospel Wednesday | Mark 13

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week we covered Mark 12, where we saw Jesus silence the Sadducees and the Pharisees who thought they were clever enough to trip up the Son of God on the Law of God (granted, they were unbelievers so they rejected Him outright in their folly). We also looked at some of Jesus’ teaching in parables.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 13 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 13:1-2 (ESV) | Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple

And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”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.”

And so the (second) Temple was indeed destroyed circa 70 A. D. (or C.E.). Modern Judaism (which is totally different from what it was during Christ’s first advent) still looks forward to a new temple being built. Sadly, there are groups of Christians who seem to think Christ’s return for the Church is somehow connected to the earthly kingdom of Israel and the earthly Temple. Such doctrinal positions do not fit with the Book of Hebrews or the Letter to the Romans… or even what follows in this chapter.

Mark 13:3-13 (ESV) | Signs of the Close of the Age

And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. 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.

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. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 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. 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. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

So much for that nonsensical (and nonBiblical) “seven mountains mandate”… the role of the Church isn’t to take control over the kingdoms of this world, but to Proclaim the Gospel. We also shouldn’t be blindly accepting everyone who anoints him/herself a “prophet” or “apostle” in some misguided belief that we should expect a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit to usher in the return of Jesus. Jesus warned of the exact opposite… an increase in false prophets. Jesus warns us clearly to be on guard. This is a call to discernment, not  “open mindedness”. This same warning continues in the next portion.

Mark 13:14-23 (ESV) | The Abomination of Desolation

“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. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that it may not happen in winter. 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. 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. And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.

No secret rapture, no new wave of some super-di-duper-charged anointing. God isn’t waiting for a particular indication or even to trigger the return of Christ Jesus to Judge the quick and the dead. He knows the moment already. There is no “if this then He’ll return”. Only Believe in Him and His Word. He has told us all things beforehand. Trust in that Truth.

Mark 13:24-27 (ESV) | The Coming of the Son of Man

“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 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.

No one will sleep through this. No one will “miss” this event. It will be the end. All will witness it. All will be judged. No 24hr cameras in Jerusalem to “capture the event” needed.

Mark 13:28-31 (ESV) | The Lesson of the Fig Tree

“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. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Identifying the signs of the fig tree doesn’t give the observer any control over the season. It’s not about anticipating the End or preparing for it with some foolish food box (Jim Bakker). While there were many who missed the first advent of the Messiah… no one will miss the last one. Heaven and Earth will pass away, but The Words of Christ will not. Ever. Hallelujah!

Mark 13:32-37 (ESV) | No One Knows That Day or Hour

“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 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. 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— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

What does it mean to stay awake? Remain in the faith. Do not slumber in unbelief. I know there are different interpretations that my Calvinist brothers take here so, as usual, please consult your pastor for how this is to be interpreted in that framework.


Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is Returning. There is nothing expected of us for bringing Him back, and even if there were we’d fail. It is Christ who created us, Christ who Saved Us, and Christ will bring us home in the end. Until next week, spend time in the Written Word of God and do not forsake the gathering of the saints, hearing of the Preached Word… both Law and Gospel.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,

Gospel Wednesday | Mark 12

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week was a rough week for me, personally, so I was unable to share anything until Friday. The week prior, we covered Mark 11, where we saw Jesus enter Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. We saw Him curse the fig tree, cleanse the Temple, and be challenged by the scribes and Pharisees regarding His authority.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 12 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 12:1-12 (ESV) | The Parable of the Tenants

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. When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this Scripture:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

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.

The focus of this parable is its conclusion, this parable was a rebuke against the Pharisees, the chief priests and elders of Jerusalem. They were the tenants in the story who rejected and beat the servants sent to them (the Prophets) and killed the Master’s Son (Jesus Christ). We see later in Peter’s Epistle a reflection back to this teaching point using this wording regarding the stone that the builders rejected.

1 Peter 2:4-10 (ESV) As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”


“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Getting back to the Parable of the Tenants, the meticulously laid out vineyard complete with fence, winepress, and tower represents Israel. The tenants are those placed as stewards over Israel, the chief priests and elders. Notice at the conclusion of the parable, rather than repent, the enemies of Christ hardened their hearts.What follows is an attempt to trip Him up theologically. If they can get Him to commit blasphemy or fail the test of a false prophet (but teaching false doctrine), they can claim their victory over Him.

Mark 12:13-17 (ESV) | Paying Taxes to Caesar

And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. 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?” But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 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.

Here, they were so sure they had Jesus in an inescapable trap between either speaking against the Temple or against Caesar, they were marveled by His answer. Truth has that effect. Jesus IS the Word of God made flesh, after all… He knows the Father and the Father knows Him. There is no tripping Him up.

Mark 12:18-27 (ESV) | The Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection

And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the manmust take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring.And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died.In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”

Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 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’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”

Pardon the anachronism, but this is a total #micdrop moment. Jesus began and ended with a flat-out “you’re wrong”. Sit down, Sadducees, you’re done here.

Mark 12:28-34 (ESV) | The Great Commandment

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?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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.’ The second is this:‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 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. 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.” 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.

This one is very curious to me. It seems as though this question started as a “gotcha” question anticipating some sort of answer that might over-emphasize one commandment against the others… but Jesus instead summarizes the whole Law and includes the second table in His answer. What is interesting is the apparent realization by the scribe at how completely Jesus answered the trick question… his response to Jesus demonstrated this understanding and garnered a comment of approval from Jesus. Here, Mark lets us know that from this time forward, no one dared ask Jesus any more questions. I think, given the context, Mark is talking about these sort of trap-questions, not legitimate questions.

Mark 12:35-37 (ESV) | Whose Son Is the Christ?

And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 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.”’

David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly.

Mark 12:38-40 (ESV) | Beware of the Scribes

And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

Mark 12:41-44 (ESV) | The Widow’s Offering

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 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. 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.”

Here, we see Jesus warning against the sin of pride and sinful pietism. The religious acts of the scribes were not done in service of their neighbors, but to make much of themselves. They enjoyed being regarded as the honorable ones, the pious ones. When Jesus comments on the widow’s offering, He isn’t so much rebuking the wealthy for contributing out of their abundance; rather, He is drawing attention to the offering of the widow. Unlike the scribes, He isn’t accusing the wealthy of sin; rather, He is pointing out that greater attention is given to the one who gave out of her poverty. This offering is clearly a gift of faith, for reason or abundance cannot explain this offering. It is her faith in the provision of God that is being credited to her as righteousness.

Brothers and sisters, let us resist the temptation of turning this into some sort of formula for manipulating the favor of God through “sacrificial giving”. Let’s look to Paul’s instruction in 2 Corinthians 9.

2 Corinthians 9:6-14 (ESV) | The Cheerful Giver
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.

When you serve your neighbor, do so bountifully in faith and love, as an extension of the surpassing Grace of God upon you.


Consider the empty tomb this week, consider the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, consider your baptism into eternal life in Christ Jesus. Until next week, spend time in the Written Word of God and do not forsake the gathering of the saints, hearing of the Preached Word… both Law and Gospel.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,

Gospel Wednesday | Mark 11

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week we covered Mark 10, where we saw Jesus clearly teach regarding marriage and divorce by reaching back all the way to Genesis 2. We are again reminded that Jesus came to die for our sin and then be raised up for our salvation.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 11 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 11:1-11 (ESV) | The Triumphal Entry

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples 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. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” 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.

In the future I’d like to get these devotional posts better lined up with the church year, but this one landed fairly closely. If you attend a liturgical church that moves through a lectionary, you probably read through this account or one of its parallels last week or the week prior. While this may seem an oddly specific request from Jesus, Matthew and John give us the reference to the following Prophecy:

Zechariah 9:9 (ESV) | The Coming King of Zion
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

It is so cool to see how completely Jesus fulfilled these prophecies and how once you see they are fulfilled in Him it becomes clear that these couldn’t possibly be about anyone else. Praise the LORD!

Mark 11:12-14 (ESV) | Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 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. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

When we worked through the parallel texts in Matthew, we spent a great deal of time pointing out how this encounter with the fig tree was prophetic, and it pointed to the religious leaders, the chief priests of Israel. They had a form of godliness (the leaves) but were not bearing fruit (faith in Christ Jesus). They were the fig tree that bore no fruit. This text is often used by unbelievers who seek to deny the Deity of Christ (Muslim and Atheist apologists and heretics who deny the Trinity) by accusing Jesus of being mistaken and not knowing it wasn’t the season for figs. Jesus knew, and this wasn’t about wanting figs nor was it about a prophet having a tantrum. Mark isn’t writing about the false teaching of the Pharisees here, he’s writing about the Authority of Jesus and his inclusion of the encounter with the fig tree is being used to build up to that moment.

Mark 11 (ESV) | Jesus Cleanses the Temple

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. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 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.” 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. And when evening came they went out of the city.

Here, the fruitless tree seeks a way to destroy Jesus, for they feared Him.

Mark 11:15-19 (ESV) | The Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 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. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 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.”

Notice here that the object of faith isn’t faith itself, it is God. Don’t allow others to mix this teaching with the mustard seed reference where the end result is a focus on whether or not you have “enough faith” as if it were gasoline in a fuel tank. Jesus isn’t telling them they will somehow grow into a power of their own, He tells them to have faith in God. What is the fruit that was lacking in the fig tree? Faith. What are we asking for in prayer? Forgiveness by the Blood of Jesus. Don’t look inwardly for a sense of forgiveness or some emotional experience confirming what the Scriptures say… when you hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaim you forgiven and set free, trust in His Word. And when you speak these words of forgiveness to your neighbor, trust in God’s Forgiveness for your neighbor as you do in your own forgiveness. Jesus is not merely teaching about signs and wonders to impress the kingdoms of this world, He’s preaching the Kingdom of Heaven.

Mark 11:20-33 (ESV) | The Authority of Jesus Challenged

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, and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. 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.”

In refusing to confess Him as the Christ, they suppressed the truth in their own unrighteousness (Romans 1). Jesus’ authority came from Heaven, for He is God the Son. He came to set the captives free, not to rule over them in this temporal life, for His Kingdom is not of this world.

Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV) | Christ’s Example of Humility
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus didn’t need to verbally proclaim His Authority at this time, for God had already testified of Him as did the signs and wonders and teaching of Jesus. Those who had an ear to hear did hear, and eyes to see did see. His sheep heard His voice and believed. We are still doing so today, for as long as the LORD tarries.


Consider the cross this week, consider your sin, consider the humble sacrifice Jesus, God the son, made on our behalf, that we might be called Children of the Most High God. Until next week, spend time in the Written Word of God and do not forsake the gathering of the saints, hearing of the Preached Word… both Law and Gospel.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,

Gospel Wednesday | Mark 10

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Two weeks ago we covered Mark 9, where we saw Jesus transfigured into His glorified form in front of Peter, James, and John. We also worked through some difficult passages. I’d like to remind my readers that if anything I write seems novel (new) to you, please discuss these things with your pastor, for I am but a layman sharing my thoughts as we read God’s Word together. Particularly in the difficult passages… do not simply take my word for it.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 10 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 10:1-12 (ESV) | Teaching About Divorce

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.”

We’ve discussed this teaching and the subject of Divorce before. This is a question of the Law, and Jesus answers it lawfully. To divorce is to sin against God. What God has joined together, let not man separate. Specifically it is the sin of adultery by virtue of having sexual relations with 2 different people. There is a tendency for Christians to provide an escape clause of sorts for those who have been abandoned and for those whose spouses have committed the sin of adultery. They don’t use this passage, they refer to the one in Matt 5:31-32. The intent is to relieve the consciences of those Christians. It is a noble intent, but we already have the best solution for that in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Law doesn’t provide an out as we see here. When it comes to righteousness coram mundo (in the sight of the world/neighbor) we do all that we can to save the marriage, bring reconciliation within the marriage, and seek forgiveness and absolution… there is no “easy out” of the marriage covenant. There are no “biblical divorces” that receive God’s blessing. It is sin. The solution for this sin is the same solution for all sin, the Cross of Jesus Christ.

In this sinful life, we have to deal with sin all around us and within us. There are times when a divorce is unavoidable and the necessary course of action due to sin and unbelief as is the case with the guidance of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7. There is repentance, forgiveness, and absolution by faith in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection. Marriage is a vital gift from God and divorce is a destructive and odious sin to be avoided. By the Law we uphold the highest view of marriage possible, and we cannot fulfill its demands on our own, we need the Gospel of Jesus Christ to grant repentance, forgiveness, and healing.

There is room for Pastoral care, teaching, and guidance in all things marriage related and it is necessary. There is a role for Church discipline regarding sexual immorality, marriage, divorce and even remarriage… but we must ever be Gospel focused in how we treat this subject.

Mark 10:13-16 (ESV) | Let the Children Come to Me

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 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. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

Jesus receives whom He will receive, and it isn’t for man to determine who merits the gift of God’s Grace. Praise the LORD!

Mark 10:17-31 (ESV) | The Rich Young Man

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?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 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.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 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.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

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!” 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! 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.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 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, 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. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

This man came to Jesus for confirmation that he was “good to go”… because he had kept the Law and was good. We see this first demonstrated in Jesus’ response to the man calling Him good teacher. The man didn’t catch on, and he even went further to claim that he had not only kept all of the commandments, but he believed he had kept them since childhood. Being the father of two precious little children myself… I know this cannot be the case. I love my kids… and they break commandments daily. So, we see a man seeking justification according to the Law, not understanding that the Law condemns everyone in sin… no one is good except God alone.

Mark 10:32-34 (ESV) | Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time

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, 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. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”

Mark takes us through tough encounters of teaching regarding the Law of God… and now he presents to us the Gospel in the foretelling of His death and resurrection. The disciples didn’t get it at the time, but praise be to Our God and Father for His patience and mercy on us, and Grace to us in His Son Jesus.

Mark 10:35-45 (ESV) | The Request of James and John

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.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 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?” 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, 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.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 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. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Quite the bold request made in ignorance. Jesus graciously redirects their focus away from a theology of glory and back toward a theology of the cross, of service to others in Christ Jesus. I believe the right hand and left hand of Jesus to be already prepared in Trinitarian Godhead. We know that Jesus ascended into heaven and exalted at the Right Hand of the Father (Acts 2:33). When we are all joined together in the Resurrection, the Holy Spirit of God will be there also. As for dividing up the Kingdom of God among the elect who are designated reign and rule with Christ (1 Cor 6:3), such things are not open for dividing up in the moment by contracts here on earth… such places have already been prepared according to God’s infinite Will and purpose, for His Glory Alone.

Mark 10:46-52 (ESV) | Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus

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. 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!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 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.” 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.

Praise the Lord. May that be our prayer today… “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!“.


Until next week, spend time in the Written Word of God and do not forsake the gathering of the saints, hearing of the Preached Word… both Law and Gospel.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,

Gospel Wednesday | Mark 9

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Two weeks ago we covered Mark 8, where we saw Jesus directly rebuked the Pharisees for demanding a sign from Him despite having rejected Him and the signs that had already testified of Him. Their demand for a special sign demonstrated their wickedness, it flowed directly from their unbelief, and He called them on it. We also saw Jesus feed the multitudes again, this time really driving home who He is… and Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 9 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 9:1-13 (ESV) | The Transfiguration

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.” 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, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 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.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. 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. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean. And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 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? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”

Here, for a moment, Peter, James, and John got to see Jesus in His Glory. They saw Elijah and Moses speaking with Jesus (these 2 represented the Law and the Prophets) for they pointed to Him. The Kingdom of God had come to fulfill the Promise of Salvation. Understandably, the disciples couldn’t quite put a handle on what they were witnessing and made some poor attempts at capturing the moment to preserve it… but the Voice of the Lord God spoke to them and what did He say? “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him.” Jesus wanted them to start understanding why He came and what He needed to do. I can’t qualify this statement with any hard facts, but I tend to think that whenever the disciples heard Jesus speak of raising from the dead, they probably assumed He meant sometime way out in the future.

Mark 9:14-29 (ESV) | Jesus Heals a Boy with an Unclean Spirit

And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 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.” 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.” 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. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 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.” And Jesus said to him,“‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”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.” 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.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

This is a tough passage for me, because I’ve been through so many bad sermons on it. Let’s focus on the clear, and leave the less clear for discussions with your pastor. What is clear here is the father lacked faith. He hedged his request not by “if you are willing” but by “if you can”. Jesus rebukes the mans lack of faith and the man repents, but notice in the repentance he makes a powerful statement, help my unbelief! It is God who gives us faith, by His Grace. Jesus saves us from the Kingdom of darkness. As for the last statement, what is clear is that what took place was nothing short of a miracle of God upon the boy. Much ink has been spilled in trying to parse out and dissect what Jesus really meant here, but I’m going to leave it now with the point that it is God who saves, and we should pray. I encourage you to seek out your pastor for more teaching on this point.

Mark 9:30-32 (ESV) | Jesus Again Foretells Death, Resurrection

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, 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.”But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.

Jesus is preparing His sheep for what was coming, and they were confused yet afraid to ask.

Mark 9:33-37 (ESV) | Who Is the Greatest?

And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 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.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

It’s good to see the humanity of these Apostles. Like kids, they got into a squabble over their relative greatness. We all do it. Jesus calls them out on it, and instructs them… and us… on what is most important.

Mark 9:38-41 (ESV) | Anyone Not Against Us Is for Us

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.

Jesus isn’t making a blanket philosophical statement like the easily refutable “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”… the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a singular road, a singular Way to God. EVERYONE who is not for the Gospel of Jesus Christ is against us, because all who are not of Christ are against Him, for the world hates Him. This verse should in no way be used to stifle Biblical discernment or the rebuke of false teachers, false doctrine, or spirits of error.

Mark 9:42-50 (ESV) | Temptations to Sin

“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.”

This is about false teaching. I hadn’t noticed it before, but this time reading through this text the words (emphasis mine) who believe in me really jumped off the screen at me. We deal with our own hearts tempting us to sin on a regular basis… woe to the one who tempts believers to sin. I think this particular warning is particularly aimed at the false teacher or one who engages in false doctrines. Jesus is speaking figuratively here regarding the cutting off of hands/feet/eyes since even doing so literally will not address the sin of the heart. From an individual perspective, it’s about dying to self, so that we might live in the Spirit. The references to being salted with fire is often explained as a reference to the Old Testament sacrifices, that they were salted before being offered up at the altar. In the New Covenant it’s the work of the Holy Spirit in us, salting us, and burning away sins and transgressions.

I’d like to offer up another way of reading it, but this is just me sharing my thoughts and I have yet to find a commentary that confirms this reading: I think this also points to church discipline if we read this not as an individual’s body but the local Church body. Reflecting back to the danger of leading those who believe in Christ away from Him, those within the Body of Christ who are preaching falsely and causing division by preaching falsely ought to be cut away rather than send the whole body to hell. I’m borrowing heavily from Paul’s treatment of the subject of rebuking and silencing false teachers as well as excommunicating unrepentant sinners so that they might repent, be forgiven, and restored.

Regarding the loss of saltiness, that isn’t something we can fix, because becoming salt wasn’t our doing in the first place. I think this is reflected in Hebrews 5-6 discussion of apostasy. Jesus ends with an encouragement to be salty and at peace with the Body of Christ. I think the encouragement of being salty is to trust in the Person and Work of God the Holy Spirit as He keeps us in Christ Jesus.


Until next week, spend time in the Written Word of God and do not forsake the gathering of the saints, hearing of the Preached Word… both Law and Gospel.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,