When I finish teaching through book I like to pause and reflect. There is what you think you know when you go in, and then there is what stands out when you finished. After working through books of the Bible it can be all too easy to feel expert about the book, rather than seeing the reverse, how much further I have to go. Here are my top takeaways, in no particular order, from preaching on Mark.
Heart, then culture, then politics, but always heart
From the start and throughout there is a clear theme of needing to win in the Spiritual first and foremost. Bible times as well as today people focused on political solution to solve their cultural frustrations. True in Jesus’s day as well as Mark’s when he wrote his Gospel. Changing hearts is the most effective and really only way to change a culture in a healthy manner. Aim for the heart and the rest will follow in due course.
Jesus is patient and frustrated
Jesus gets more and more impatient as Mark progresses. We see him getting agitated, stressed, and annoyed. Still, he engages with people and demonstrates miraculous patients. Mark presents the side of Jesus that Paul teaches Timothy about, lovingly and patiently instructing people. This really jumps out at the end of the book. We ask how a good God could let bad things happen, but in the Gospel we see our good God walking right up to it and enduring it. There was no other way. Jesus was real but did not give up on his mission.
The church was started by failures
This astounds me more than anything. The disciples failed. A lot. Often. Yet, they are the ones Jesus chose tp start his church. The denial of Jesus by Peter is no small thing, yet word is sent to tell “even Peter” that Jesus rose from the dead. Being broken or a failure is not disqualifying to do amazing things for Christ because perfection is not what makes us Christian, but what Christ did for us. ANYONE can become a Christian.
You can know your Bible, grow up in church, or be religious, and miss Jesus
The battle between those who knew their Bibles well and Jesus is striking and dumbfounding. And we can be so much like… the scribes… Knowing our Bible is essential. So is being engaged with the church. So is being religious. The danger, however, is that you can miss Jesus when doing such. Good things can become idols and missing what is best.
No means no, but Jesus still engaged
People rejected Jesus and he allowed that. Ultimately everyone said no by killing him. But Jesus engaged anyway. Jesus very much operated by “what if” and we know the results of that in Acts and history. We often create excuses for why something might happen. And we may very likely be right. Jesus knew what was going to happen and did it anyway.
I can’t shut up
A pattern in Mark is being told not to share what Jesus did, but people couldn’t keep their mouth shut. In the final verses they are instructed to share but don’t out of fear. But… We know what happened and they did not stay silent for long. Things begs the question for us. Mark is asking if we can’t help but share Jesus? Or, are we going to keep silent out of fear?