Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Not Abolish…Fulfill!

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JesusFeetwTextJesus is going to teach one profound thing after another in the weeks to come. Life giving, gut wrenching, spirit challenging, mentally stimulating, life changing, in your face leading, disciple weeding… I could go on.

Our text for Sunday is Matthew 5:17-20. Jesus teaches in a Jewish context with a large mixed group of people that, “He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.” What did he say? First, it sounds like he claimed to have some super authority to be an expert on the law. Second, sounds kind of arrogant to also claim that YOU, meaning HIM, personally can fulfill the law. Third, the law (TORAH) is held in utmost honor, and who is Jesus to even comment on it or mess with its understanding.

The ironic thing about Jesus words is he doesn’t say anything new about the Law itself. God’s intention when giving the 10 commandments or any Old Testament law, from the beginning, was to write God’s law on our hearts. Jesus goes on to affirm the Law of God in three ways in just a couple sentences. And then, lowers the boom, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” WOW! Talk about an impossible saying… and that’s the point… It’s impossible!

In this irony, is Jesus point… The law of God is good, it is to be followed and obeyed. But its not about the outward life of obedience primarily – its about the obedience that springs from the ‘inside-out.’ (From the heart…) And in this, Jesus fulfills the law. More on that Sunday.

We tend to see rules, regulations and laws as restrictions leading to constrictions of freedom. But God’s gracious boundaries (laws) are meant to increase freedom, not limit it. When it comes to law, we tend to be ‘libertarian’ or ‘legalistic.’ And Jesus provides, teaches, lives, and fulfills a third way to live with God’s law.

Can’t wait ’til Sunday, the Word of God (law) is “sweeter than honey and more precious than gold. By them your servant is warned and in keeping them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:10-11)

Pastor Mark 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Follow Me!

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Our text for Sunday is from Matthew 4:13-25.  As Jesus begins his ministry, he begins to call some disciples to himself.  In Jesus day, it was a high honor and privilege to be asked by a Rabbi to follow them and be their disciple.

I want to highlight a verb in the text.  “As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers…”  Fisherman are on the low end of vocations in terms of status.  And more than that, Simon, Andrew, James and John were engaged in the family business (fishing).  This could mean a couple of things.  One, they were not very educated and second, to this point, a rabbi had not asked for them to be their disciple.

In the culture of Jesus day, a rabbi would ask a few to be their disciple in there early teens, or you could request to study with a rabbi, and they could accept or reject you.  There is good evidence that the disciples were mostly, if not all, teenagers.  It would follow that Simon, Andrew, James and John were already ‘passed over’ by other rabbi’s.  That would mean the disciples of Jesus were the ‘leftovers.’

How does that strike you?  When Jesus began calling disciples to follow him it meant total and complete commitment.  Commitment to his teachings, his way of life, everything.  You literally followed in the rabbi’s steps as you lived life together.
Jesus chose his disciples.  And they weren’t necessarily the best of the best.  Same is true for us today.  Isn’t it good to know that Jesus sees us, and calls us to follow him, and he chooses us to be his disciples?

To read more about Jesus day and discipleship, click on this link, www.thattheworldmayknow.com/rabbi-and-talmidim

If you are really ambitious, google “the land of Naphtali and Zebulun.”  And look at a couple maps and other information.  The Land of Naphtali and Zebulun is the region where Jesus did 90% of his geographical ministry and 75% of his teaching ministry.

Its no coincidence… for several reasons!

See you Sunday!

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog, Uncategorized

Prepare the Way!

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“Prepare the Way!” John the Baptist cries.  “Repent and be baptized for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!”  People responded to John’s message in droves!  They came from all around the region of Judea to be baptized by John.

What exactly was John preparing the way for?  For who?  For what?  Matthew doesn’t waste any time in answering these questions.  Immediately after 12 short verses about John the Baptist, Jesus comes on the scene.  The text for Sunday is from Matthew 3:13-4:11.

Jesus comes to John to be baptized by him.  And John objects, yet Jesus says this must happen ‘to fulfill all righteousness.’  What does that mean?

After Jesus is baptized a voice from heaven blesses Jesus, “This is my Son; whom I love, with him I am well pleased.”  Why is this so important?

And immediately after Jesus baptism the Spirit leads him into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  Why the desert?  Why 40 days?

Notice how Jesus responds to every temptation.  (Scripture).  Where does Jesus quote from? What book of the Bible?

There is so much going on behind the text.  I’m going to make a claim to you that someone made to me about 10 years ago… “There isn’t a word that Jesus said or a story he told or an action he made that doesn’t have some grounding in the Hebrew Scripture.” (Old Testament)  If this is true, which I have come to believe it is, then dig a little deeper with me.  Are there parallels with Jesus Baptism and Temptations that you can find in the Old Testament?  Scripture references?  Motifs? (like Israel being delivered from Egypt and then led into the dessert to be tested? – for example)  I’ll point you in some directions… Psalm 2, Isaiah 42, Exodus 20 and 24, Deuteronomy  6 and 8… to name a few.

See you Sunday!

Pastor Mark

 

Pastor Mark's Weekly Blog

Starting the Journey

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jordan-river5….4….3….2….1…. wait a minute!

We are about to start on a journey together through the book of Matthew.  Our eyes and our hearts will be focused on Jesus.  We will listen to his teachings, observe the miracles God works through him, watch with agony as Jesus is rejected by his people and crucified.  His death isn’t the end of the story, but I continue to get ahead of myself!!!

Before we blastoff on this Jesus journey, we need to engage in some ‘preparation.’  “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!”  John was a prophetic kind of man who came on the scene before Jesus began his ministry.  He was a relative of Jesus who spoke with boldness a fiery message up and down the Jordan River from the Dead Sea to the Sea of Galilee.

The passage for Sunday’s message comes from Matthew 3:1-12.  As we prepare for ‘Jesus coming’ by learning more about John, check out Mark 1:1-8, Luke 3:1-19, and John 1:1-34.  Every Gospel ‘prepares’ for Jesus coming by talking about this man named John the Baptizer.  And each Gospel mentions John’s mission and message as being a fulfillment of Isaiah 40.  (Read that as well for additional preparation!)

What was John’s core message?  (Something about repentance, baptism, and a ‘Kingdom.’)  And how does this prepare the way for Jesus?  Can’t wait for Sunday.

If you wanna dig deep, google recent news about ’12th Qumran Cave found’, or ‘essene commuity’ and see what you find out.  Its possible that John was a part of this desert community before heading on his baptism tour.

See you Sunday!

Pastor Mark