Mark – Introduction; This is the Good News

This Sunday we will begin a new study in the Gospel of Mark. I am someone who believes that, as the church, it’s important to revisit the life and teachings of Jesus, just to be sure we’re tracking properly. The Gospel of mark is the shortest of the synoptic gospels, and according to surveys, the least popular of all of them. I think that’s a shame. Mark rocks, in my opinion.

As we begin this study, we’ll be reading chapter 1:1-8. Right off the bat, in the very first verse, we are confronted with several ideas which need to be explored. The Good News, Messiah and Son of God. We’ll be looking at the historic and religious contexts of those words – but let me suggest that to really get a good primer on the concept of Messiah, you can watch The Bible Project’s video on that subject: The Bible Project

How would you explain what the Good News about Jesus the Messiah is?

The writer of Mark wastes no time in getting us into the action. V2-3 introduces us to the expectations of Israel to set the stage. He quotes from Isaiah and Malachi passages that were meant to comfort the Jewish people who had gone into Babylonian exile that the Lord would return to his temple one day. God gave them a sign to look for – a messenger would come and prepare the way for the Lord’s appearance.

Why do you think it was important to connect John the Baptist with the promised sign? How can this encourage us about trusting God’s promises?

In v4-6 John is described, and he is one odd dude. He definitely didn’t follow the advice of today’s experts on how to attract people to your movement.

What does John’s dress, diet and location speak of to you? Why do you think people were so attracted to John’s message? What can we learn from that about our own ministry and church?

When John speaks in v7-8, he has a singular topic in view. Jesus. John is almost over-the-top in trying to pronounce the distinction and superiority of the coming Messiah.

In what ways can we follow his example? As we seek to minister God’s love to people, how can we keep our focus on Jesus without becoming self-depreciating? What do you believe John was describing when he said Jesus would baptize withe the Holy Spirit?

I’m really stoked to get back to posting in Wonderwhat! I’m looking forward to this study – I hope you’ll come to love Mark as much as I do! See you Sunday!

 

Kingdom Come – the Gospel of Matthew

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This Sunday we’ll be starting a new study in the gospel of Matthew! We’ll be reading all of chapter one. I’m pretty stoked about this as it’s my second time through this gospel. I know it can be a disappointing shock when you begin to read this story and realize it begins with a long genealogy. Not the exciting start we’d hoped for, but an important one for establishing Jesus’ claim as Messiah. The expected Messiah was most certainly supposed to be Jewish, and from the family line of King David. The list of names that Matthew provides establishes just that.

Now, pay attention to the names of the characters in this list. Look up Tamar and Judah. Do some research on Rahab and her occupation; Ruth and her origins. What event launched David and the mother of Solomon in thier relationship? Explore the lives of all those descendants of Solomon and look at the epitaph that they left behind, including Solomon himself. Does this look like a squeaky clean list of characters? Do you spy, with your little eye, any skeletons in Messiah’s closet? What does that tell us about God’s kingdom and who it chooses to work through? How can that combat any shameful past we may have?

V 21 and v23 give us names that declare mission and the nature of the mission of Messiah. What do those names mean to you personally?

Hey – the Bible Project has done a set of WONDERFUL introduction videos that lay out and explain the structure and emphasis of Matthew’s gospel. Please take the time to look at them in preparation for this study! Hope to see you Sunday!