Numbers 1-4, Mark 1-3
The beginning of the Good News of Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of God:
It is written in the prophet Yesha‘yahu,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare the way before you.” “The voice of someone crying out:
‘In the desert prepare the way for Adonai!
Make straight paths for him!’”
So it was that Yochanan the Immerser appeared in the desert, proclaiming an immersion involving turning to God from sin in order to be forgiven. People went out to him from all over Y’hudah, as did all the inhabitants of Yerushalayim. Confessing their sins, they were immersed by him in the Yarden River. Yochanan wore clothes of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed: “After me is coming someone who is more powerful than I — I’m not worthy even to bend down and untie his sandals. I have immersed you in water, but he will immerse you in the Ruach HaKodesh.”
Shortly thereafter, Yeshua came from Natzeret in the Galil and was immersed in the Yarden by Yochanan. Immediately upon coming up out of the water, he saw heaven torn open and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; then a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, whom I love; I am well pleased with you.”
Immediately the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by the Adversary. He was with the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.
After Yochanan had been arrested,Yeshua came into the Galil proclaiming the Good News from God:
“The time has come,
God’s Kingdom is near!
Turn to God from your sins
and believe the Good News!”
As he walked beside Lake Kinneret, he saw Shim‘on and Andrew, Shim‘on’s brother, casting a net into the lake; for they were fishermen. Yeshua said to them, “Come, follow me, and I will make you into fishers for men!” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Going on a little farther, he saw Ya‘akov Ben-Zavdai and Yochanan, his brother, in their boat, repairing their nets. Immediately he called them, and they left their father Zavdai in the boat with the hired men and went after Yeshua.
They entered K’far-Nachum, and on Shabbat Yeshua went into the synagogue and began teaching. They were amazed at the way he taught, for he did not instruct them like the Torah-teachers but as one who had authority himself.
In their synagogue just then was a man with an unclean spirit in him, who shouted, “What do you want with us, Yeshua from Natzeret? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are — the Holy One of God!” But Yeshua rebuked the unclean spirit, “Be quiet and come out of him!” Throwing the man into a convulsion, it gave a loud shriek and came out of him. They were all so astounded that they began asking each other, “What is this? A new teaching, one with authority behind it! He gives orders even to the unclean spirits, and they obey him!” And the news about him spread quickly through the whole region of the Galil.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Yeshua got up, left, went away to a lonely spot and stayed there praying. But Shim‘on and those with him went after him; and when they found him, they said, “Everybody is looking for you.” He answered, “Let’s go somewhere else — to the other villages around here. I have to proclaim the message there too — in fact this is why I came out.” So he traveled all through the Galil, preaching in their synagogues and expelling demons.
A man afflicted with tzara‘at came to Yeshua and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Yeshua reached out his hand, touched him and said to him, “I am willing! Be cleansed!” Instantly the tzara‘at left him, and he was cleansed. Yeshua sent him away with this stern warning: “See to it that you tell no one; instead, as a testimony to the people, go and let the cohen examine you, and offer for your cleansing what Moshe commanded.” But he went out and began spreading the news, talking freely about it; so that Yeshua could no longer enter a town openly but stayed out in the country, where people continued coming to him from all around.
Mark 1:1-28 & 35-45
After a while, Yeshua returned to K’far-Nachum. The word spread that he was back, and so many people gathered around the house that there was no longer any room, not even in front of the door. While he was preaching the message to them, four men came to him carrying a paralyzed man. They could not get near Yeshua because of the crowd, so they stripped the roof over the place where he was, made an opening, and lowered the stretcher with the paralytic lying on it. Seeing their trust, Yeshua said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Some Torah-teachers sitting there thought to themselves, “How can this fellow say such a thing? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins except God?” But immediately Yeshua, perceiving in his spirit what they were thinking, said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier to say to the paralyzed man? ‘Your sins are forgiven’? or ‘Get up, pick up your stretcher and walk’? But look! I will prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” He then said to the paralytic, “I say to you: get up, pick up your stretcher and go home!” In front of everyone the man got up, picked up his stretcher at once and left. They were all utterly amazed and praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Yeshua went out again by the lake. All the crowd came to him, and he began teaching them. As he passed on from there, he saw Levi Ben-Halfai sitting in his tax-collection booth and said to him, “Follow me!” And he got up and followed him.
As Yeshua was in Levi’s house eating, many tax-collectors and sinners were sitting with Yeshua and his talmidim, for there were many of them among his followers. When the Torah-teachers and the P’rushim saw that he was eating with sinners and tax-collectors, they said to his talmidim, “Why does he eat with tax-collectors and sinners?” But, hearing the question, Yeshua answered them, “The ones who need a doctor aren’t the healthy but the sick. I didn’t come to call the ‘righteous’ but sinners!”
Then he entered a house; and once more, such a crowd came together that they couldn’t even eat. When his family heard about this, they set out to take charge of him; for they said, “He’s out of his mind!”
Then his mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, asking for you.” He replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Looking at those seated in a circle around him, he said, “See! Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does what God wants is my brother, sister and mother!”
Mark 3:20-21 & 31-35
I’m finally back on track with my bible reading plan after taking a few extended detours in Exodus and Leviticus. It’s been a while since I read through the book of Mark. The shortest of the four gospels, it presents Jesus as the “Suffering Servant.” It is also extremely fast paced and lacks a lot of the intricate details that we find in the other three. However, after reading through the detail oriented writings of Moses in Exodus and Leviticus, and now moving into Numbers, I find it kind of a refreshing tempo.
Mark quickly moves into action, no lists or genealogies, no retelling of the divine and humble birth of our Savior, no pointing to the prophecies that He fulfilled in His coming. Instead, Mark gets straight to the point, identifying Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God right off the bat in chapter one with Jesus’ baptism. From there he quickly relays Jesus’ tempting in the wilderness and then jumps into presenting Jesus on mission; proclaiming the Good News, calling out His followers, teaching with undeniable authority, rebuking and correcting the religious errors of the scribes and Pharisees, and healing the sick and casting out demons.
Mark moves so quickly from one event to the next that it’s easy to miss some of the details he does include: The immediate responses from Peter, James and John when He calls them to follow Him; the amazement and astonishment of the people upon hearing His teaching and healing the sick; the way He was moved with pity and struck by the faith of a paralyzed man’s friends; how he stole away early in the morning to pray to His Father; the fact that His own family thought He was crazy.
This urgent and sober-minded portrait that Mark paints of Jesus, to me, makes me realize how intentional He was with every second of His time. He knew why He was here, He knew what His mission was, and every day of His ministry was spent advancing God’s Kingdom and moving toward His ultimate purpose – to die for the sins of the world so that through faith in Him me could be reconciled to God. Jesus knew God…He and the Father were one. So there was no greater purpose not deeper passion in His life than working to fulfill His mission and purpose, because He knew that we were meant to be with God too and that it was only through Him that the broken relationship could be restored.
Though I will never be able to achieve the deep passion and drive that kept Jesus intentionally on mission all the time, it does remind me to refocus my mind on Christ, and the things that are above, the things that are eternal. In my short time on earth what will I look back on as having made an impact for God’s Kingdom? How can I be a player in what God is doing to restore others to a right relationship with Him? That needs to be what motivates me every day. Whether it’s simply the way a speak to my daughter and husband inside our home, to how I shine His light in the relationships and community He has placed me in, that is my goal – to proclaim the Good News that Christ has come to die for sinners such as me so that we can live with God forever!
LORD, help me to focus on what my true mission is – to proclaim Your goodness to the world! Lead me to opportunities where I can shine Your light each and every day, and to live with the purpose and passion for this mission that Your Son demonstrated during His earthly ministry. AMEN!