- 7-4-96 / Jesus in Jerusalem has the acclaim of the crowds and the enmity of the elite, who test him by trying to trap him with a question about taxes. Should people pay taxes to the Roman rulers? As told in Mark 12:13-17, which is the basis for our lesson, Jesus evades this particular trap not with mere cleverness, but by asserting a profound moral principle.
- 7-28-96 / Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem, and the crowds go wild. In literary terms, this is the turning point of the gospel account. In human terms, it is the high point of Jesus' earthly glory.
Yet, as our lesson makes clear, the crowds -- like the disciples before them -- don't understand what Jesus' role really is. The lesson asks us to consider: do we?
- 7-7-96 / Clueless. Yes, in our lesson from Mark 10: 32-45 we find Jesus' disciples in their usual role as loyal followers who really haven't figured out what this "Messiah" business is all about. They are looking for earthly power, and Jesus promises them the cross. This is not, the lesson suggests, mere random ignorance, but the result of their (and our) human nature which rebels against the message of the cross.
- 6-2-96 / Mark 10: 1-12 finds Jesus' enemies trying to trap him by getting him to take sides in a rabbinical dispute on the issue of divorce. Jesus does not evade the issue, but he does redirect the attention of his listeners from the legalistic question ("what does the law require") to the spiritual one ("what does God want").
- 5-5-96 / In this weeks lesson, from Mark 10: 13-16, the issue is children. The disciples, as usual in the gospels, are clueless about the basic principles involved. As is usual in the gospels, they represent the attitudes we too often hold. Greg challenges us this week to take our children as seriously as Jesus did.
- 4-14-96 / We return to the study of Mark, and Jesus' meeting with a man traditionally referred to as the "Rich Young Ruler." Greg's lesson from the text deals with a question most Christians have to face: what does it mean that I am less successful, less affluent, and less esteemed in the community than others -- including others who are not Christians and may even flaunt their hostility to Christianity. Does this mean that we lack God's favor?
- 4-7-96 / This week's lesson is a break from the study of Mark. Greg Spencer shares his thoughts on the notion of a "shared life" among Christians. While this does not mean that a Christian must attend every activity offered by a local congregation (and become frazzled in the process) it most emphatically does mean that committed, active membership in a
local congregation is absolutely required for a Christian to live an obedient and
- 3-31-96 / This week, our lesson is from Mark 9:30 - 10:16. Jesus continues his task of avoiding the crowds so that he may teach his disciples some important lessons. As usual, they look to us to be slow learners -- although with a little honesty we have to doubt that we would have done any better. Jesus uses a little child to teach important lessons about service and humility.
- 3-24-96 / In our lesson from Mark 9:14-29, Jesus is confronted by a man whose son is possessed by a demon, and the disciples have been unable to drive it out. The father is torn between belief and unbelief, but Jesus drives the evil spirit out of the boy, and then retreats with the disciples to teach them an important lesson.
- 3-10-96 / In this week's Bible study Jesus promises that the Kingdom of God is at hand. But just what in the world (or what in the other world) does that mean? It's an issue we today -- like the disciples and the crowds who heard Jesus -- must grapple with.
- 3-3-96 / In our previous lesson, from Mark 8, Jesus confirmed to his disciples that he was indeed the Messiah. That might seem to be a joyous thing, but how will the disciples react when they learn that following the Messiah may mean suffering and hardship? The lesson for March 3rd explores that issue -- and raises the issue of how we will react.
- 2-18-96 / This week's Bible study, from verses 27 through 30 of Mark 8, deals with the most fundamental question of the scriptures: just who is Jesus? Is he a prophet, like Elijah or John the Baptist, or is he the Messiah? And if he is the Messiah, just what does "Messiah" mean?
- 1-28-96 / This week's lesson continues to follow Jesus in Mark Chapter 8, and continues to show him beleagered -- this time by the unbelief of most of the people of Bethsaida. After pronouncing a curse on the place, Jesus leads a blind man out of town. As the man's faith increases, Jesus heals his disease and gives him his eyesight back. A personal preface from Greg Spencer details a very trying Christmas season.
- 1-14-96 / Our lesson from Mark, Chapter 8, shows Jesus in a rather beleagered situation. He must face, first, the attempts of the Pharisees to discredit him, demanding a "sign." But he must also face the boneheadedness of his own disciples, who are worried that they have only one loaf of bread -- notwithstanding that they have seen Jesus' ability to multiply loaves as needed.
- 12-24-95 / This week's Bible study, provided by Rob McRay, is a collection of readings about the birth of Jesus. These are the familiar texts telling about the prophecy of the Messiah, Mary as the woman chosen by God to bear the Child of Promise, the journey to Bethlehem, and the visits of the shepards and the Wise Men. You've seen these verses before, but they will probably have new and richer meaning as you mature in Christian faith.
- 12-17-95 / The lesson for December 17th looks at Mark Chapter 8. Jesus, as usual, is being followed around by a large crowd, and after three days they are quite hungry. Unwilling to send them away without food, Jesus does another miracle and feeds four thousand people. This sounds a lot like his earlier feeding of the Five Thousand, with one major difference. The people he is feeding now are Gentiles. Jesus is doing something that confounds the sensibilities of pious Jews, and confuses his disciples.
- 12-10-95 / In the lesson for December 10, Greg Spencer shares his thoughts on Christmas and the Spencer family, and then turns to a lesson from Mark Chapter 7. Here we find Jesus returning to Palestine, not by the direct route, but by way of Decapolis. Jesus is famous in the region for his earlier healing of the demoniac, and the people bring him a deaf mute, asking that he be healed. Jesus takes him aside and heals him.
- 12-3-95 / In this week's Bible study, Greg Spencer discusses Mark 7:24-30. In this passage, Jesus has left Israel and retreated to a house in the vacinity of Tyre, apparently to avoid the crowds that increasingly flock to him. He cannot keep his presence secret, however, and a non-Jewish woman (a Greek born in Syrian Phoenicia) comes to him asking him to help her little girl, who is possessed by a demon.
- 11-26-95 / A Thanksgiving meditation
- 11-19-95 / Mark 7:14-23 -- Jesus' discourse on "clean" and "unclean"
- 11-12-95 / Mark 6:53 - 7:13 -- Jesus confronts the Pharisees
- 11-5-95 / Mark 6:45-52 -- Jesus walks on the water
- 10-29-95 / Mark 6:30-44 -- Jesus feeds the 5,000
- 10-22-95 / Mark 6:14-29 -- News of Jesus' work has reached Herod Antipas
- 10-15-95 / Mark 6:7-13 -- Jesus sends out his apostles, two by two
- 10-8-95 / Mark 6:1-6 --- Jesus returns to his home town: Nazareth
- 10-1-95 / Mark 5:27-43 -- Jesus raises Jarius' daughter
- 9-24-95 / Mark 5:21-36 (continued) -- Jesus and the sick woman
- 9-17-95 / Mark 5:21-36 -- Jesus returns to Capernaum
- 9-10-95 / Meditation on Psalm 73
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