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Mark: He Came to Serve

The Gospel of Mark, the second book in the New Testament, is 16 short chapters long, the briefest of all the Gospels, and therefore easy to read in one sitting. Its brevity is probably the reason it is the most often translated book of the New Testament. The Wycliffe translators, I understand, almost invariably begin their translation work with the Gospel of Mark because it is so short and gives the whole story in one brief compass.This Gospel has a completely different atmosphere from the Gospel of Matthew. If you go on to read Luke and John, you will see that they are still different from Matthew and Mark, Matthew, Mark and Luke are more similar to each other than any of these three are to the Gospel of John. Nevertheless, they are all different.There is a reason for this, designed deliberately by the Holy Spirit. We make a mistake if we think these four Gospels are four biographies of the Lord. They are not biographies at all, they are character sketches, intended to be different, intended to present different points of view. Therefore, they constitute four distinct views of our Lord and of his work.The Gospel of Matthew is written to present Christ as the King. The Gospel of Mark presents his character as a servant. The Gospel of Luke presents him as the Son of man -- as man in his essential humanity. The Gospel of John presents him as the Son of God, that is, his deity, and there you find the greatest claims for his deity.

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What about Divorce? (Mark 10:1-12)

In the tenth chapter of Mark we have the account of a new journey our Lord took with his disciples, leaving Galilee for the last time. The first verse sets the scene:

13 Sep 2018

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The Weakness of the World (Mark 5:21 - 6:6)

Today we want to look at three incidents in the life of the Servant of God, as Mark records his ministry -- the intermingled incidents of the raising from the death of the daughter of Jairus and the healing of the woman with the issue of blood, as recorded in the latter half of Chapter 5, and then the second visit of our Lord to his hometown of Nazareth, in the opening words of Chapter 6.

21 Sep 2018

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The Way of the Cross (Mark 8:34-38)

I had anticipated studying the Transfiguration with you at this time, but, as I worked through the passage, I found that the closing paragraph of Chapter 8 is so important, so central to the message of this entire Gospel, that we dare not hurry over it. With it we begin the second half of our study in the Gospel of Mark. We have been watching One who came as the servant of man -- healing, helping, comforting, restoring -- yet with such power and authority that, along with the disciples, our eyes have been opened finally to see that he is nothing less than the Lord of glory himself, that he is "The Servant Who Rules" in all the far-flung creation of God. This has been the theme of the first half of our study in Mark.

16 Sep 2018

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The King is Coming (Mark 11:1-25)

We return now to where we left off in our series of studies in Mark. As Chapter 10 ended, our Lord and his disciples were making their way to Jerusalem, toward those climactic events of his last week there which ultimately would issue in his death and resurrection. And now we find the Lord and his disciples approaching Jerusalem.

9 Sep 2018

Rank #4

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False Forces (Mark 3:7-35)

We are beginning the third natural division of the first half of Mark's wonderful picture of the Servant who rules and the Ruler who serves. We have seen that the first division describes the authority of the servant -- the tremendous command Jesus exercised in many realms. The second division brought before us his knowledge of our humanity -- the penetrating, incisive understanding of man Jesus exhibited.

25 Sep 2018

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The Ambitious Heart (Mark 10:32-52)

Our study in the Gospel of Mark finds Jesus and his disciples now on the road to Jerusalem, heading for the tense drama of that last action-packed week before the cross. As we read this account we will see how clearly the Lord Jesus foresaw the cross and all that it would involve, and how resolute was his determination to go ahead and face what was coming. We will also see how blind and foolish the disciples were, how stupidly they acted in the face of the revelation which was given to them. And we will see how Mark illustrates all this with an incident which occurs as Jesus leaves the city of Jericho.

11 Sep 2018

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The Plight of the Overprivileged (Mark 10:13-31)

Our passage in the Gospel of Mark today brings before us two familiar stories: Jesus' blessing of the children, and the story of the rich young ruler. Mark links these two stories together; preachers seldom do. Almost always these are treated in separate messages. But it is very helpful to see how these two incidents tie together, and how they will lead us into an understanding, from the lips of Jesus, of what money and riches and the pursuit of wealth will do to us. We start with the story of the blessing of the children, found in Mark 10, beginning with Verse 13:

12 Sep 2018

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The Glory that Follows (Mark 8:38 - 9:29)

Today we come to one of the most dramatic events in Scripture -- ranking perhaps only after the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord -- the transfiguration of Jesus. This event follows his announcement of the cross, and of the way of discipleship -- both what it would cost those who are to be his disciples, and what the blessings would be as well. It is evident from Mark's text that Jesus knew the transfiguration was coming. He announced it at least six full days before it happened. He had led the disciples, all twelve of them, to the foot of Mount Hermon in order that they might prepare for this event.

15 Sep 2018

Rank #8

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Top Priority (Mark 12:28-44)

I am sure that this time of the year finds you, like me, feeling something of the pressure and the complexity of life. I think I could have gone to a graduation exercise every evening last week, and probably should have, but, because there were other demands upon me, I did not attend them. Sometimes life can get so full and busy that you wonder how in the world you can ever handle it all. Well, the answer to this complex riddle of life is what we will be looking at this morning in this passage from Mark's gospel. Where to begin? What do you do first? And where do you go from there? We will get great help from Jesus' words found in the twelfth chapter of Mark.

7 Sep 2018

Rank #9

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Love's Extravagance (Mark 14:1-25)

In our series of studies in the gospel of Mark, we have come to the fourteenth chapter. As you recall, Mark is bringing us to those eventful moments of the last week our Lord spent in Jerusalem and its environs just before his crucifixion and resurrection. In this chapter, Mark does what he has done frequently throughout this Gospel -- Mark brings together certain events and themes which occurred at various times during this week and deliberately places them side by side so that we might see the contrast in certain emphases. Like an artist, he draws together two lines of truth, taking that line of thought which centers around hate, and that which centers around love, and braiding them together. In Verses 1 and 2 you have Mark's account of the hatred of the priests toward Jesus, followed by the story of the love toward him of Mary of Bethany. Then in Verses 10 and 11 you come to the story of Judas' mounting hatred and enmity against Jesus, followed by the story of Jesus' love for his disciples, as exhibited at their last Passover together, and the mingling together of these two themes in the disclosure by Jesus of the betrayal of Judas at the table of the Lord.

5 Sep 2018

Rank #10

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Smite the Shepherd (Mark 14:26-52)

We return to our studies in Mark, stepping again into the infinite mystery that always gathers around the events in the closing days of our Lord's earthly life, the scenes that lead to the cross. I am sure that the twenty-third Psalm, the Shepherd's Psalm, is the best-loved psalm of all. I know thousands of people who have been helped and strengthened by those opening words, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." The thought of the Lord as shepherd of his people -- watching over his flock, guarding them, protecting them, leading them into green pastures, making them to lie down beside the still water -- has comforted many of us, I know. I am sure that fulfilling this psalm was much in our Lord's thoughts as he gathered with his disciples in the upper room.

4 Sep 2018

Rank #11

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Jesus and the Priests (Mark 14:53-72)

These studies in Mark's gospel have taken us to the action packed week of our Lord just before the cross and the resurrection. To some of you, these events that occurred 2,000 years ago and so far away may seem rather remote from your own experience. Sometimes we are so caught up in our daily lives that these events seem rather dull because of their familiarity, especially in contrast to the exciting events of this week, such as the capture of Patty Hearst, the continuing trend of inflation, the events of the Middle East, and the visit of the President to our community. But all these current events will be nothing but a dim memory ten years from now. Just think back to the things that were happening ten years ago and how unimportant they seem to us now. Little will be changed by what happened to us this week.

3 Sep 2018

Rank #12

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The Place to Begin (Mark 1:1-8)

I have just spent two weeks in Mexico with the Wycliffe Bible Translators, and I have realized anew that the Gospel of Mark is the most translated book in all the world. No other book appears in as many languages. Almost all Wycliffe translators, after they have reduced a language to writing, begin their translation of the Scriptures with this gospel. I am sure that the fact it is the shortest of the gospels has something to do with that decision! Bible translators are human beings like the rest of us, and no one wants to start with a gospel as long as Matthew or Luke. But it is also a fact that Mark is particularly suitable for introducing to the Scriptures people of all backgrounds, classes, and tribes. It is the one gospel of the four which is aimed at the Gentile ear.

30 Sep 2018

Rank #13

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Jesus Came (Mark 1:9-15)

We are studying Mark's record of what happened when Jesus came to Israel. Those two little words, "Jesus came," are always a formula for dramatic and radical change. I spent a delightful evening this week listening to a man tell about what happened in his life -- the changes in his home and family -- when Jesus came into his heart.

29 Sep 2018

Rank #14

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A Day in the Life of Jesus (Mark 1:16-39)

It is a popular literary style today to trace through the events of one day in the life of a person. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has given us a remarkable book in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Perhaps you have read some of Jim Bishop's books, like The Day Kennedy Died or The Day Lincoln Died.There is something similar in the gospel of Mark, as Mark traces for us A Day in the Life of Jesus.

28 Sep 2018

Rank #15