Jesus and Opposition

Cross, Gospel of Mark, Jesus, Kingdom of God

(This post is part of a blog series on the Gospel of Mark. I am sharing a few little tidbits from my own personal study of Mark over the last few months. Here is the post regarding chapter 1).

A Few Notes From Mark 2

And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 

Take note of the phrase, “When Jesus saw their faith…” Faith is always demonstrated beyond the level of thought or intent. It involves a specific action or series of actions that are often visible and observable.

Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? 

At the end of verse 8, the NRSV translates Jesus’ question as “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts?…” But I really like the way N.T. Wright translates it in his KNT (Kingdom New Testament) version: “Why do your hearts tell you to think that?” The origin of their question was not from their intellect. The question originated in their hearts and then began to take shape in their minds. Jesus accurately diagnoses that their issues with him were way beyond the cognitive level. The actual issue was resistance within their hearts.

My Trip to Russia

Jesus, Kingdom of God, Missions

Several months ago my friend, Scott Holmes, invited me to join him for two weeks on a trip to Russia. Scott and his wife Kara (along with their two children) were missionaries in Siberia for several years beginning in 1993 (not long after the “Iron Curtain” had fallen). Since then, he returns for a short-term trip on an annual basis, usually bringing someone with him. On this particular trip we were preparing to speak at a pastor’s conference (among other things).

Prior to this trip, my knowledge about Russia was (and probably still is) embarrassingly lacking.

I knew the names of two cities: Moscow and St. Petersburg. I was familiar with the names of several of their communist leaders from the 20th Century (Lenin, Stalin, Kruschev, & Gorbachev). I had heard stories about the KGB. I also knew a bit about the historical prominence of the Russian Orthodox Church.

A New Era Emerges

Gospel of Mark, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Salvation

(Note: A few months ago I began an in-depth study of the Gospel of Mark. For the next several blog posts, I plan to share some of my ongoing reflections on a chapter-by-chapter basis. Nothing fancy. But I hope you can gain something in each entry. For space reasons, I will only include a small portion of my actual notes & reflections. Unless otherwise noted, I will be using the New Revised Standard Version. For theo-nerds like me, my primary commentary sources are Ben Witherington and N.T. Wright).