Why did Jesus keep his ministry a secret? (Mark 1:29-34)

The Gospel of Mark
Mark 1:29-34

There was a peculiarity about Jesus’ ministry that may surprise you in today’s content-driven, media-crazed culture. Throughout most of his earthly ministry, Jesus kept his identity under wraps. If social media had existed in Jesus’ day, he would not have used it. He would have been the person at the party saying, “No photos online, please!” Continue reading

A Commitment Whose Benefits Far Outweigh its Cost (Mark 1:16-20)

fishers of people

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Mark 1:16-20

Commitment is waning in our society. Sociologist Peter Berger once said, “The modern mind is distinguished by this: to the modern person, our needs and our own fulfillment is more real to us than any other obligation.” Berger is saying that if it comes to choosing between fulfilling our own desires or fulfilling our commitment to another – say a child, parent, boss, our membership in a group, etc. – we have a greater tendency to choose fulfilling our own desires than we did several decades ago. Many sociologists say this trend has only gotten worse since Berger said this. Continue reading

The Mission of God’s Kingdom (Mark 1:14-15)

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Mark 1:14-15

The Gospel of Mark, and Jesus’ mission on earth for that matter, can be summarized in one verse: “‘The time has come,’ Jesus said. ‘The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” (Mark 1:15) Continue reading

The Big Event Before the Big Event (Mark 1:1-8)

The Gospel of Mark
Mark 1:1-8

Imagine a signpost in a field nestling a tributary of the Pine Creek. On the sign is written the words, “The Big Event Before the Big Event!” No one knows what the big event is, let alone what the big event before the big event necessarily means. Nevertheless, everyone goes out to check it out. Cars line up and jam up traffic. Energy can be felt in the air, as well as excitement, intrigue, and mystery. Everyone goes out. Everyone wants to know what is going on and what will come next. Continue reading

The Offering the Satisfies Debt (Leviticus 5:14-6:7)

The Lord Jesus in LeviticusLeviticus 5:14-6:7

I remember forgetting to return a library book when I was fourteen. I checked it out. I knew I needed to return it. Nevertheless, there it laid for weeks or months beyond its due date. I was tempted to not return it. However, the better part of me compelled myself to walk through the Library doors and face the music. The librarian took the book and in an unharmonious voice told me what I already knew, “This book is late.” The fine was twenty or so dollars, a small fortune for a fourteen-year-old, especially in the nineties. Continue reading

The Sacrifice that Cleanses (Leviticus 4:1-5:13)

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Leviticus 4:1-5:13

God understands sin more broadly than we. We might think of sin as breaking one of the Big Ten. However, for God, sin is insidious. It engenders every action, thought, and attitude that is contrary to God’s flourishing design for this world. Sometimes we sin without even knowing it. Continue reading

The Mission of Jesus Begins (Mark 1:9-13)

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Submitted by Craig Devenport. 

Mark 1:9-13

The first chapter of Mark has it all. Angels, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and even Satan are all in the same place at the same time, during the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist and Jesus’ temptation by Satan. Continue reading

The sacrifice that celebrates peace (Leviticus 3)

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Leviticus 3

The Hebrew word for “peace” surpasses most notions of peace today. Some think of peace as the absence of political or international conflict. Others of the absence of pain or presence of tranquility. Some think of relational harmony. The Hebrew concept of peace includes these things, but it goes further. It includes health, wealth, joy, and wholeness. But there is more. The peace that makes all other peace possible is God’s peace established between God and humans. Continue reading

The sacrifice that kills negativity (Leviticus 2)

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Leviticus 2

A critical spirit infects the world we live in. Instead of expressing gratitude, we are prone to grumble and complain. We complain about the school board, politicians, or the way people parent or spend their money. Our inner voice tempts us to think we could do things better in their shoes. The Israelites had an offering to counter such negative attitudes. It was called the Meal Offering (or “Grain Offering”). Continue reading

The sacrifice that reconciles (Leviticus 1)

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Leviticus 1

The late teacher and theologian R.C. Sproul once told about an encounter he had with the holiness of God. He was in college and a recent convert to Christianity. One afternoon, he felt compelled to leave his dorm, brace icy weather, and make his way to the chapel. There he sank to his knees, speechless. Terror overcame him, which gave way to deep peace. Continue reading