Jan 29, 2022

(Genesis 30, Mark 1; Optional Psalm 23, Proverbs 6:16-19)

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GENESIS 30 – What a sad, messy chapter! All kinds of human cunning and fleshly attempts at getting what different individuals want, with jealousy and anger dripping their acid throughout. Several times people have decided what God is doing (Gen 30:6, 18, 20, 27, 30). But only two times in this chapter do we quietly hear from the inspired narrator telling us for sure what God is doing (v 17, 22). And both times He is graciously listening to and answering the prayers of hurting ladies. Hurting partly because of things external to them but partly because of their own sinful responses. And yet God responds, quietly keeping His promises to Jacob in Gen 28:14-15. Don’t miss that this chapter summarizes YEARS of dysfunctional family life – what a sinful, murky mess! The only clear lesson I draw from this chapter is that even when it’s not EVIDENT that God is graciously and wisely working, He IS. We’ll get a little more clarity in Gen 31:1-16 on how God has been working during these messy years.

MARK 1 – Mark is the shortest of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and it’s full of ACTION. Mark skips over all details of Jesus’ birth and childhood, and jumps right into His ministry. Depending on your translation, you’ll keep seeing “immediately” or “at once” or “right away” (I did a quick count of 9 times just in Mark 1 – Mk 1:12, 18, 20, 21, 23, 28, 29, 30, 42).

Mk 1:1 – “gospel” – “good news”. “Jesus” – Jewish people would have said “Yahshua” or “Yeshua” – meaning “Yahweh saves,” because He came to save His people from their sin. “Christ” – close to the Greek word for “Anointed One” (“Messiah” is closer to Hebrew for the same idea). Christ / Messiah / Anointed One all say that Jesus is the Promised One through all the OT Scriptures, starting back in Gen 3:15.

Mk 1:2-3 – The Gospel of Matthew was FILLED with references to Jesus fulfilling prophecies, as it was written to more of a Jewish audience. Mark has much less references to the OT, but enough to remind us that Jesus IS the fulfillment of all God’s promises, and that the gospel is not a NEW message, but a continuation and clarification of the good news laid out through the whole Bible.

Mk 1:4 – Also see Mk 1:15 – John and Jesus both emphasized REPENTANCE; the need to TURN from our own sinful way and turn to Jesus, entrusting our whole lives to Him. Repentance and faith (or belief – same root word in the original Greek) are two sides of the same coin. Repentance is turning FROM our sinful way, and faith/belief is turning TO Jesus as our hope/Savior/Lord.

Mk 1:10-11 – God the Father declaring Jesus as His “beloved Son” (don’t miss echoes from Gen 22:2, 12, 16). This event answers the heresy of “Modalism” which pops up now and again through church history. Modalism is the false idea that God appears as Father in the OT, as Jesus the Son in the Gospels, and now as Holy Spirit. NO! Here we see God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all together in the same event. Somehow (only God could pull this off), God is ONE ESSENCE in THREE FULLY DIVINE PERSONS.

Mk 1:12 – Just after God calls Jesus His “beloved Son” with whom He is “well pleased” (Mk 1:11), the Spirit of God immediately sent Jesus into the desert to be tempted for 40 days. Run away from any teaching that says if God is pleased with you, everything will be comfortable!

Mk 1:13 – Don’t miss the contrast with the Fall to temptation in Gen 3! Adam was in a perfect place, surrounded by obedient animals and he STILL fell to temptation. Jesus (the “last Adam” – see 1 Cor 15:45) is in the wilderness, with wild animals, and He does NOT succumb to temptation (if you want more detail, see Matt 4).

Mk 1:14-15 – Don’t miss that the “gospel” (meaning “good news”) STARTS with what sounds to many like bad news – we are NOT ok but need to REPENT and come into God’s kingdom. “Kingdom” lets us know that Jesus is the King that we must follow, rather than following our own heart, our own desires and the values of our culture.

Mk 1:15 – Even though Jesus is the King who came to SERVE by laying down His own life (Mk 10:45), He IS clearly the King of the Kingdom He proclaims, and the first two chapters of Mark give rapid glimpses of His authority over EVERYTHING…  Mk 1:15-20 – Jesus’ authority over PEOPLE. He has a right to call them to leave anything/anybody in order to follow Him. Mk 1:21-22 – His authority in TEACHING. Mk 1:23-28 – Authority over DEMONS. Mk 1:29-34 – Authority over SICKNESS and DEMONS. Mk 1:35-45 – Authority over His PRIORITIES. Jesus does not succumb (like we so often do) to the “tyranny of the urgent” (and note the absence of the oft-repeated “immediately” / “suddenly” in v 35-41).

Mk 1:35-39 – Jesus quietly but firmly prioritizes time alone with His Father in prayer. And does NOT succumb to what the crowds are wanting (v 36-38). Even though Jesus CLEARLY has the ABILITY to heal every sickness and cast out every demon (v 32-34), that was NOT His main purpose (v 37-38)! Those were GLIMPSES of the completely whole life that His people will experience fully in heaven for eternity. But every person Jesus healed died several years later. So, wonderful and exciting as they were, every physical healing was TEMPORARY. But the healing that comes when someone REPENTS and BELIEVES in the gospel (compare Mk 1:15, 1:38) is ETERNAL!

Optional Psalm 23 – This beloved Psalm has comforted so many believers, especially during dark times. But make sure that it’s truly for you – this is for those who follow God as their Shepherd. Of course, since we are sinners, none of us follows as well as we should (or deep down WANT to, if we belong to Him). But the sweet comfort of this psalm is for those who gladly own up to God as the Shepherd / Leader of our life. Those who can’t wait to “dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Ps 23:6).

Ps 23:5 – Compare with the quiet confidence of Rom 8:37 – “…IN all these things (see the scary list in Rom 8:35-36) we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through Him who loved us.” We don’t have to wait for the full deliverance that WILL be the end of the story for all believers (that’s Ps 23:6) – there are hopeful glimpses of glory even in the presence of our enemies.

Optional Proverbs 6:16-19 – One of several lists in the Bible of sins that God righteously hates. God IS love, and part of godly love is righteous hatred of sin (compare 1 Cor 13:6). We need to remember this truth in a world that tries to redefine love to mean “You must support me in everything I choose to be and do.”