On the way

Who do people say I am?

Huh. I admit every time a young celebrity does something stupid I tell my kids they need to prize obscurity.

Getting treated like a god can make you act like a moron.

Jesus, on the other hand, was God. He never acted like a celebrity. In fact, he distrusted the opinions and valuations of men. He knows we trade our souls for trinkets.

Which makes the question all the more interesting–who do people say I am? He is traveling through a region marked by celebrity conquerors and he asks the question-does public opinion matter? Do people get it right? Can we trust ourselves to see the truth?


Mark 6:44-46 (NIV)
The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand. [45] Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. [46] After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

People have noticed the breakneck pace of Mark’s story. Jesus moves immediately. The pace is direct and efficient. He gets stuff done.

The people counted in feed up time were men. Most biblical historians suggest that there would be about 4 women and children for each man–so the meal may have been 25000 people.


But the details are as interesting as the big stuff.

1. They cleaned and organized– leftovers are gathered and counted

2. Jesus sends his disciples on ahead immediately.

3. While he dismissed the crowd? Benedictions, personal instructions. What does it look like when the God who loves you tells you to return home?

Then he went home too. Jesus missed the close time with God, so he prayed. He prayed to maintain relationship. He prayed for rest and comfort. He prayed for us.

Glad he did. I need it.

You feed them

Mark 6:32-37 (NIV)
So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. [33] But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. [34] When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

First of all, picture the people. I see them scrambling to catch up, running over rocks and hills to get to him. They are sheepdog determined.

Jesus knew they would be. Why not stay close to town?

The solitude and quiet rest are important. Not just for Jesus’ disciples but for all of us. We need to be still, without distractions. We also need to commit. Running after the boat is unceremonious but it shows you care.

Jesus is worth pursuing…to the quiet, to the wilderness.

So he began teaching them many things.

Lessons for heaven…

Savage Paradoxes in a Broken World

Mark 6:29-30 (NIV)
On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. [30] The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.

When I write, when I look at the pairing of words, I look at the incongruities–the disciples are cruising around healing people while…the last OT prophet is imprisoned and murdered?!

Why not storm Herod’s palace? Kick some apostate butt?


God sees the big picture. I don’t. I just have to keep my eyes on him, on the Cross.

He died. For me. For you. For John.

The Big Picture: Calvary.

The truth and the prophet

Mark 6:17-18 (NIV)
For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. [18] For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”


The Bible does not tell us how John felt about confronting Herod’s sin. He was a sold out guy–locusts and honey and desert not being the marks of a casual faith. But he must have know that criticizing Herod for incest might be dangerous.

For John, God’s law trumps Herod’s or Rome’s. And he is right.

It all depends on who is the king and for how long.

Revelation 11:15

Daemons, spirits oracles and messengers

We have lost our history of words. The word demon comes from Latin which comes from Greek which is linked to Hebrew concepts of spirits, messengers, idols, and gods.

Socrates wrote about having a guiding spirit which counseled him. Plato discussed these spirit entities with a secular focus.

We moderns are uncomfortable with the idea–an invisible world of possibly invasive personalities?

The English translation of the Bible draws clear lines between angels (malak messenger) and demon (daemon spirit, idol).

Do we think that in our material world these have dissipated like a primordial mist?

Or are they still there? Trapped unless we listen? Perhaps we need to revisit Socrates and look closely at the way evil moves in the world. And good as well, depending on the power of the voices in our heads?

Preparing for the zombie apocalypse through Bible study?!

Mark 3:10-12 (NIV)
For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. [11] Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” [12] But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was.

First we see people with problems just like ours pressing toward him. He can heal them. So far sounds good…

Then things get weird.

Whenever the evil spirits saw him? What evil spirits? Whose eyes? When Mark says,

they fell down before him

it seems clear they are inhabiting bodies. Huh. Already in Mark we see demons in church and at public events, now they pop up at flash mob.

How did they get where they were? Where were they headed? How did they feel about Jesus?

Jesus was the penicillin for their infection. They couldn’t have been fond of him, but their reaction is worth noting–they bowed and acknowledged his deity.

They did not have a choice. He was God.

There is a time in his story where they might have thought he had been beaten–the Cross.

But even then in the mystery of death spent for us, I think they knew. That he alone could not be beaten.

The cowboy and the judge

Mark 2:1-12 (NIV)
A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. [2] They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. [3] Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. [4] Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. [5] When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” [6] Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, [7] “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” [8] Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? [9] Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? [10] But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, [11] “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” [12] He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

I love this story and I especially love the way it is portrayed in the movie The Miracle Maker, so I have been somewhat puzzled by why I could not finish this story. I have talked about it numerous times. It is not that complicated.

This is a story about waiting with or without hope. It is a story about faith and urgency. It is a story about love, value and forgiveness. And it is a story about willfully refusing to see.

Someone I love has a prominent tattoo on his chest. He likes to go shirtless a lot so it is easy to see. It says,

only God can judge me

His tattoo is true, but somehow incomplete. What it is missing is any understanding of love, fear, and holiness.

Love carries the man to Jesus
Love pushes through the crowd
Love punches through the roof
Love lowers the mat
Love forgives the man his sins
Love heals the man on the mat
Love never fails
When love shows his power and his judgment.
You better duck.

Because the guy who crushed the gates of hell and death for us?
He don’t play, cowboy, he sure don’t play.

Funny repent story

Mark 1:15 (NIV)
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”


When I was 6 I played t-ball. I am left-handed so when I batted I faced 3rd base. Often in the adrenaline of the moment I would hit the ball a modest distance and run toward…3rd base.

Repent means change directions. Jesus is telling everyone who hears Him–change directions, you are going the wrong way.

All of us are going the opposite direction.

So he tells us to turn around and run the other way. Toward the Good News.