Wednesday, 2 October 2013
Mark 2: How Do I Stay On Track?
When you were a kid did you ever ask questions in class just to get your teacher off topic?
Mr. Wheat was a tough nut to crack. He was so single-minded about teaching math that he erased the chalkboard with one hand while he wrote the next problem set with the other. His erasers were actually twice as long as normal ones, and sometimes he used two at once. He could clean an entire wall of algebraic symbols in seven seconds flat.
We took him on. “Mr. Wheat, how’s your dog? I heard he was sick.” “Fine,” he mumbled into the cloud of chalk dust and called the next five students to the board. “Mr. Wheat, who do you think will be homecoming king this year?” He glanced at the questioner, “Not you,” and finished writing the equation.
We changed our tactics. “Mr. Wheat, why do we have to learn this stuff? What’s the point of calculus (or trig or algebra or geometry) anyway?” He stopped writing and cocked his head. With a clink he dropped the chalk in the tray and sat on the corner of his desk. “You know, I used to think that, too, but I remember when I was about thirteen…”
Score. We stretched back in our chairs and smirked at each other.
Still On Track
Jesus was in danger of being pulled off course by the demands of the crowds. When he took on our nature in the incarnation, he became susceptible to our weaknesses. He was temptable–by confusion, by popularity, by seeking the approval of others, by the adrenaline of success. Just like you. Just like me.
Watching him makes me realize that I find it hard to stay on track every single day. In fact, some days I can’t even find the track. I’m so encouraged to think of him dealing with that same human weakness. Really dealing with it. Feeling the pull to the point that he was losing sight of his purpose. How did he fight it?
Well, he didn’t pull out the divine trump card, flipping some invisible switch between his human nature and his divine nature to solve the problem. And then quickly flipping the switch back. No, he dealt with his sense of confusion the same way we are meant to do it. He went to his Father and talked it over. He lived by faith.
I’m encouraged to see that the life of faith in my Father is real. That it works. And that there are no shortcuts. Jesus showed me that. But I’m even more encouraged to know that he is more than my example. He lived that life for me, in my place. His perfect life of faith becomes my record when I believe in him.
I’m free to follow his example imperfectly, because he followed it perfectly. And now I’m with him.
His Clarity. Their Questions
Jesus emerged from his early morning prayer session with the Father with laser clarity. Preaching the gospel was first. The healings and miracles were meant to support that. Popularity wasn’t the measure of success, his Father’s approval was. With an ear turned upward, he pressed on. He would need that clarity for the road ahead.
In Mark 2 we will see Jesus speaking and acting in line with his purpose. But we’ll also see that his actions and words provoke a lot of questions.
In each of the four scenes in chapter two pay attention to the questions. Who asks them? What motivates them? More importantly, how does Jesus respond to them? How is his mission affected? What does that mean for me today?
If you’re not doing the Tim Keller Gospel of Mark study with us, use these questions to help you dig into the chapter.
Day 1: Context–Review Mark 1. Read Mark 2:1-12
- What was Jesus identity according to Mark 1:1
- What was Jesus’ mission according to Mark 1:15 and 1:38?
- Where had he been just prior to Mark 2:1?
- How is the opening scene of Mark 2:1-12 similar to what just preceded it?
- How is the opening scene of Mark 2 different from the last scene?
Day 2. Observation. Read Mark 2 as four separate scenes.
- What is Jesus doing in each scene when the questions are asked?
- Who asks and why do you think they asked?
- How does Jesus answer?
- What does he do?
- Is there any response to his answer? What?
Day 3. Meaning: Read Mark 2 as one coherent essay.
- What do we learn about Jesus’ identity?
- Jesus came to __________. How would you summarize what we learned in this chapter?
- Which scene is different from the rest? How?
- What do you think is the theme of this chapter?
Day 4. Application: Read Mark 2 and pick a verse.
- Each scene contains good news. Which one makes you glad today? Take time to rejoice!
- How does this chapter clarify your mission as a follower of Jesus? Write out your renewed perspective.
- How has this passage strengthened you this week?
Did you pick a favorite verse from this chapter? Write it out and put it somewhere you can see it often.