Questioning our Way: Mark1:14-20

The Message

At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”
At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him.
  1. Are you living in submission to the Father? Jesus placed himself under the authority that God had ordained—John—to be baptized. God is not a mean boss, a disapproving father. Look at how he responds to Jesus’s submission, “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love.” This same favor is extended to all who submit to him.
  2. What voice are you listening to? God’s voice is one of favor and delight. Even in moments of conviction, God’s love is spoken. Other voices, however, tell us we are not good enough for God’s love, have sinned too greatly, lack the right gifts to be useful, or will only mess up God’s work.
  3. Are you willing to follow the Spirit? Following the Spirit might take us into surprising places. Jesus, after being baptized and receiving the Spirit, does not march into the ministry of healing and preaching, but rather enters the wilderness for a period of temptation.
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Preparing Ourselves for Him: Mark 1:1-8

Will you join me on questioning my way through the Gospel of Mark? By questioning, I don’t refer to doubts or cynicism, but rather using questions as a tool to dig into our hearts and motives and draw closer to Jesus. I’ll be asking questions here every Friday (or thereabouts). Please, feel free to share your answers.

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.”
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.’ “
John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.
Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

 

  1. Have you prepared your heart? John preached repentance, which in Isaiah’s terms is “making straight paths.” This might be a painful, long, process, but it’s also the daily picking up of our crosses.
  2. Do you expect Jesus to show up today? John built expectancy in his followers. “After me will come . . .”
  3. Have you been baptized by the Holy Spirit? Don’t be turned off by this biblical term. Simply put, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit, and He sent him on Pentecost. If you love Jesus and He’s your Lord, you have the Holy Spirit. So recognize that and be thankful. Depend on the Spirit’s power and presence in your life. Only through the Holy Spirit can you do the work of preparing, making straight paths.

Share with me. How do you prepare yourself? How does the Holy Spirit help? How does Jesus answer your expectations for him?

At a recent Bible study, we delved into an honest heart-to-heart conversation revolving around one word: Why? We were studying Hosea, and had discussed how God had lured his people into the desert, the wilderness, the place of infertility, in order to redeem her. He stripped his people of good things so that she would know Him as the source of those good things.

Why is it that God has to break us before he heals us? And why does that breaking have to hurt so much?

Why

Wrestling with this one worded question can harden a soul to the point of bitterness. Or it can harden a soul into a fierce gripping faith in the goodness of God.

How do we come to terms with the fact that God is beyond our understanding. The paradox is, God doesn’t hide himself. He sent his Son to take on flesh so that we might know him. Really, truly know him with an intimacy that goes beyond our human relationships. He took the initiative to come to us. He took the nails.

But eventually, every Christian comes to the place of why. We come to the end of our mental capacity and must wave the white flag. We don’t get why God has written history as he has. Why God has allowed something to happen, or not healed, saved, protected, guided, given…..as we think He should.

If we let it, this question can choke our joy and squeeze the life right out of our souls. Which is why in the same breath we utter, “Why?” we must also cry out what we know, “You are good. You are sovereign. You are just. You created all things and in you all things hold together. You have ultimate victory over sin and death and hell. You hold my heart in your hands.”

Some of us are Questioners. The questions will call us from sleep and pound us at night. Others of us are Answerers. The questions swirl in our minds, but they don’t plague us. We rest in the answers we know (or think we know).

How about you? Are you a Questioner or an Answerer? When was the last time that question of “Why?” cut open your heart and bled out your hope? And how has Jesus met you there? Because be assured, Jesus wants to meet you there.