Monthly Archives: April 2014

Review: An Infinite Journey: Growing Toward Christlikeness

An Infinite Journey

I read Tim Challies’ blog, and It was from him that I heard of this book. I had big expectations for this book too, but, unfortunately, I had a hard time reading this book. I can’t say it’s so much because of its length (it’s over 400 pages, and I’ve read longer), but I felt as if I kept losing the plot. Or maybe Davis does. Or maybe I do. Or maybe I can’t figure out what’s going on.

Dr. Andrew Davis is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Durham, NC. He graduated with a BSME from MIT, and received his Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and his PhD in Church History from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From reading this book I can tell that Davis wants to glorify God with all that is in Him. It is his desire in this book (it’s over 400 pages long) to point the believer to God so that the believer would desire to live for God with all of his heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Davis quotes author Henry Scougal (K. Location 2542-2544) saying,

“‘The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its desires.’ If we desire worthless things, it shows something about the excellence of our souls. Conversely, if the object of our desire is something great, noble, and virtuous, that also speaks of the excellence of our souls.”

When we are saved by Christ there’s a change that occurs inside of us. We begin to love what He loves and begin to hate what He hates.

His purpose is to give a thorough description of sanctification, to instruct people concerning the fullness of the Bible’s teaching on Christlikeness, and to encourage people to strive daily to reach that goal.

Clearly, Davis wants us as believers to desire to follow after Christ and to have our character formed into what is Christlike. And the book is all about that: the infinite journey we embark on to know an infinite God who supplies us with an infinite power to complete our journey. There are two journeys we go on:

  1. The external journey where we proclaim the gospel to all tongues, tribes, and nations to the world
  2. The internal journey where we grow in likeness to the one who paid it all, Christ.

Chocolate Milk

Davis attempts to map out the journey, sort of a systematic theology of sanctification. He puts our sanctified growth under four main headings: Knowledge (chs. 4-5), Faith (chs. 6-10), Character (chs. 11-16), and Action (chs. 17-28). Davis doesn’t act as if these are separate events, for knowledge leads to faith, faith to character, and character to action. So-called “Head-“knowledge doesn’t have to be a bad thing, for, we do have to know about Christ to believe in Him and His work. But “head-“knowledge should lead to true faith, leading to right character, leading to right action.

Desiring to show us a general idea of the peaks of progress (and lack thereof) in different Christian lives, Davis provides a few graphs on Christian sanctified progress. He explains they are not representative of every person, but he puts them there to give a visual of how our lives, if put on the graph, could look like in the end. A few examples are the Consistent Fruitful Christian, the Late Bloomer, the Thief on the Cross, the one Restored from Great Sin, etc. They’re presented “to capture the variety of experiences that the people of God have in sanctification” (Kindle Locations 675-676).

Spoiled Milk

I’ve seen another reviewer mention this, and I have to agree. A weak section I found was on how the Lord guides us. He talks of David receiving constant guidance from the Lord, and Paul receiving loads of guidance from the Lord in Acts. Yet how constant is constant? And Paul’s three missionary journeys took place over a number of years. But I can’t expect to have the Lord at my bedside numerous times there to encourage me. I won’t refuse Him, but does it really happen just like that?

He agrees that supernatural visions, dreams, angelic visitations, etc are not the norm, but says “the Lord speaks to us as he did to Elijah in the cave on Horeb, in a “still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:12, KJV)” (Kindle Location 2153). Though he does agree that these impressions should be tested by Scripture itself, he doesn’t elaborate any more on what the still small voice is like.

Main Issue

I always felt lost. I forget where I had come from, and I couldn’t remember where I was going. The illustrations were usually alright, but there were a lot. The book itself is 477 pages (and according to Kindle, 4% is due to the introduction pages and endnotes) which leaves a lot to be read. Long books aren’t bad, but I felt like this had more talking than explaining.

I felt like Davis was always losing the plot. He repeats himself at times, and, while not direct re-quotations, it’s bound to happen when you write a 477 page book on sanctification. However take out the fluff, and this would be an easier, more consistent reading. It was as if I was reading one long topical sermon where everything is on topic, but the flow in between can be hard to find.

Recommended?

This book couldn’t hold my interest. For other people, this book is great! (Just read the reviews on Amazon. Most are 5 star ratings). I kept thinking to myself that I would have to push through it to make it to the end. Really, I only made it 45% of the way, and I had made up my mind. It’s good to take this book in smaller chunks, but this book simply isn’t for me.

[Special thanks to Alison at Ambassador International for sending me this book for review! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book.]

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Review: Divine Government: God’s Kingship in the Gospel of Mark

Divine Gov't 3

What would “the Kingdom of God” have meant to Mark’s first readers? What did Jesus mean when he said the kingdom would come “with power”? Can we figure out the meaning of those passages which seem to suggest the coming of the “Son of Man” will happen within the lifetime of the first disciples? This book was written to help many Christians avoid the risk of distorting Jesus’ own words on the ‘Kingdom of God” and of trivializing the depth and richness of His teaching.

Richard. T. France was a man who was committed to deep scholarship in the academic world, and yet he saw himself as being called to interpret and apply the New Testament to the life of the church. I’ve found this to be true throughout this book, “Divine Government: God’s Kingship in the Gospel of Mark.” Many (if not all) of France’s books are written in a clear, attractive style, this book not excluded.

Why the Kingdom of God?

France sets out to find out what Jesus mean when He spoke on the “Kingdom of God” in the Gospel according to Mark. How far did Jesus take up this theme that was already current in the world at that time, and how far did He challenge His listeners to “new ways of thinking and of responding to God as king?” (p. 2).

Why Mark?

…Mark begins his book with a prologue designed to appeal to Jewish expectations of the fulfillment of the hopes of Israel, and to point to Jesus of Nazareth as the one in whom that fulfillment is to be focused. At the same time he has alerted his readers that the stage on which the drama is to be played is not merely that of human relationships, even of national politics, but of the cosmic encounter of the Son of God with the kingdom of Satan (p. 21).

France agrees that there is something to be gained from individual Gospel treatments. Matthew uses “kingdom” terminology some fifty times (kingdom of heaven), while Mark gives it a meager fourteen uses (kingdom of God) in his gospel letter. The focus here is on Mark because of the “general agreement that it is he who offers us the earliest…account of the teachings of Jesus” (4).

France wants us to read Mark as Mark (which we should). It’s not wrong to look at Gospel harmony, but what is Mark trying to show us in his story? There’s a plot, flow, unity of text, and dynamics of Mark’s understanding of Jesus and His mission. Though the phrase “kingdom of God” is used infrequently, it is a major clue to the mission of Jesus (it’s encapsulated in the first words that come out of Jesus’ mouth in Mark [1.15]).

5 Chapters of the Kingdom

France exposits and applies Jesus’ use of ‘kingdom’ terminology in Mark in only 5 chapters. A kingdom speaks of a king, and the “kingdom of God” speaks of God ruling. It has drawn near [1.15] and comes with power [9.1] as an active, independent force that grows without human help (though it uses human help) [4.26-29]. People’s response must be to wait for it [15.43] and to welcome it [10.15], but all will respond [4.14-20]. God has drawn near to save through Jesus Christ. It was previously being prayed for by Jews [15.43, Lk 2.25], but it also needs to be fought for [1.25-26].

This government is revolutionary because it is here where the first shall be last, and the last shall be first. Jesus is the true ‘Israel’ and goes against many of the Jewish leader’s teachings. He makes the claims as to what really defiles a person, how marriage should work, and how children are to be perceived. The kingdom is received by the character traits the world sees as “the last.” Children receive any gift they can, whereas the rich man can’t let go of his treasure on earth for the treasure in heaven, eternal life. He prefers his riches over a relationship with God.

In going to Jerusalem in Mark 11, Jesus fulfills Zechariah 9.9 which speaks of the king riding in to Jerusalem on a colt. Jesus could have ridden into Galilee and have been widely accepted, but that would not fulfill Zechariah’s prophecy. Jesus “had not come to lead a Galilean liberation movement, but to restore the kingship of God over his people as a whole. It was to Israel that his mission was directed, and Jerusalem was the centre of the life and worship of Israel” (p. 87-88). And it was Jerusalem that hated Jesus. When Mark speaks of the Jerusalem leaders, they are in confrontation with Jesus. When Jesus is “on the way” to Jerusalem, he is on the way to the cross, to be tortured, crucified, and finally rejected. And He knows it.

Tepid Milk

From p75-82, France gets into his preterist stance. He says that the ‘coming’ terminology in Mark 8.38, 13.26, and 14.62 deal with the enthronement of the son of Man after His ascension, rather than His parousia – second coming.

I can’t go into a massive discussion about it (I don’t know the in-and-outs of it all), but I don’t agree with France’s position. Oh, parts of it make sense, but then other parts do not and he doesn’t have the space to go into deep discussion. He’s clear in what he touches on, but it’s only a touch. It’s not an in-depth grasp for me to wrestle with. I suppose I would have to go to one of his bigger commentaries for that (Matthew; Mark).

Though 8 pages is fairly significant in a book that’s 106 pages long, it was interesting to see how France understood and explained his position. I enjoyed reading about it because his explanation was clear. And though this is the “tepid” (meaning lukewarm) part, I still have to commend France for being a scholar who is able enough to hold my attention even on  another view. Even though I do have to admit that I want to learn about the other views so that I can explain the pros/cons rightly and clearly to other people.

Recommended?

If you’re studying Mark, yes. This is a great book to read to understand Mark’s understanding of Jesus’ kingship. “…[T]he man who proclaimed the arrival of God’s kingship in Mark 1.15 is presented in the story that follows as himself a king…. And his kingship is the kingship of God….The government is upon his shoulder. As God’s Son, he occupies by right his Father’s throne, for he is himself no less than God” (p. 105).

With clarity France brings together parts of Mark to present it as a unified whole. You may not agree with everything France says, but you will come away with a better understanding of Mark after reading this book. You won’t regret it.

Richard Thomas France passed away on February, 10, 2012.

Lagniappe

[Special thanks to Bill at Regent College Publishing for sending me this book for review! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book.]

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Review: Slogging Along in the Paths of Righteousness

Sloggong Along 2

I might as well repeat what everyone else has been saying and say Dale Ralph Davis has done it again. The Bible tempted him (in a good way) to write up a few (or twelve) more expositions of the psalms (See? I told you it was a good temptation). Davis takes us farther into the psalms in this next work, “Slogging Along in the Paths of Righteousness” which is fitting as he again brings up worldwide Christian persecution, we are helpless sufferers who need a defender, and we are God’s special people.

There is muck that we slog ourselves through. It’s thick. The moving is slow. But we aren’t stuck there. We suffer, but we have a defender. He is the defender who will “answer us in the day of trouble” [Ps. 20.1]. He will preserve those who put their trust in Him [Ps. 16.1]. He “enlightens our darkness” [Ps. 18.28]. He “prepares a table for you in the presence of your enemies” [Ps. 23.5].

Davis has a way of writing about the Old Testament (of all things) and making it come alive. Almost as if it were written for me and you. Davis isn’t sentimental, always reminiscing about the good ol’ days and speaking about the pretty parts of the Old Testament. It’s as if I’m reading about real people who had real struggles and really called out to God just as many do today.

Exposition

Psalm 14

This psalm is a mystery to scholars as to what kind of psalm it is. While it’s understandable that they would want to know it’s background, Davis looks at it, say it’s like a mongrel mutt. It’s a little bit of everything. And what do you do with a mutt? “Love it, receive it, and – in the case of the psalm – listen to it. The message of the psalm is pretty straightforward: Mankind is universally depraved, yet there are a people who have been – and will be – delivered” (p. 27). This is encouraging because, looking at the world, it feels as if we’re getting the shaft. It’s all going downhill. But God has some who will be delivered. This world is not the end.

Psalm 15

There are challenging psalms too. Psalm 15 is a cure for flippant worship. “…[I]t seems to say; how do you know you are one of the worshipers the Father is seeking to worship Him? (cf. John 4.23)” (p.42).

The psalm (v1) asks, “Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?” And verses 2-5 gives us the answer (and they’re not easy). Psalm 15 is a stark contrast of Psalm 14. “There is one who dismisses God [14.1 – the fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’], but here (15:1) is one who desires God, who seems to think that nothing is quite so important as meeting the conditions for enjoying Yahweh’s fellowship. Sadly, is is a priority we easily lose sight of.”

How do we respond in the difficult, mucky paths of life? When it seems the Lord’s hand is nowhere to be found. Do we give in to a bout of depression? Will faith carry us across? We are to think about God’s Word as we read through it. How is each psalm put together? Do we skim over the difficult parts, or do we reflect on them, accepting that as the psalmist went through difficulties so it is for us to go through them too. And in them, we lean on the power of God.

Psalm 19

Liberal scholars claim the Bible is ripe with inconsistencies throughout its pages. But Davis says, “the psalmist is trying to make us think” (p. 108). In his book Through New Eyes, James Jordan says, “A proper reading of any ancient text, including the Bible, would take the apparent contradictions as stimuli for deeper reflection” (p. 14).

Psalm 19.3-4 [translated literally from the Hebrew] says, “There is no speech [fro the heavens], and there are no words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone forth throughout all the earth, and their words to world’s end.” Wait, in v3 the psalmist said the heavens have no words, but in v4 they do. What gives?

They give us a mute testimony of the greatness of God. Like a wife tapping a husbands leg under the table saying, “It’s time to go,” the heavens speak of God’s glory through non-verbal communication.

Chocolate Milk

Each chapter is 10-12 pages long with 3-4 main divisions that show the main idea and bigger picture of each psalm. Davis’ expositions stay sane, simple, and saleable. Not only that, but he makes it seem easy to study the Bible. Of course, it’s not so easy, and it does require diligence, but it seems possible when reading Davis. Not because he’s a simple mind. He’s a sharp mind who simplifies the text to be understood by any reader.

Spoiled Milk

I have no negatives, except that near the end of the book I started to skip Davis’ stories. Some of them are really good. Other ones go over my head in names and old history. Not all applicable stories are about history. But if you’re familiar with Davis you know what to expect by now.

Recommended?

If you want a sane, devotional commentary on the psalms, get this one. He looks at the flow of the text, questions why it works that way, and makes a way to show it works. He’s a sharp tool to have on your bookshelf. Get his stuff. It takes work to live as a righteous man/woman. Reading this book will help a little bit with doing that.

Lagniappe

But it on Amazon or from CFP!

(Special thanks to Christian Focus for sending me this book for review! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book).

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Divine Government

I’m enjoying co-teaching the Gospel of Mark this semester. It’s wonderful to see the flow and unity of a single Gospel. I thought I would give you a quote from R. T. France’s “Divine Government: God’s Kingship in the Gospel of Mark” on the kingship of Jesus as it is presented in Mark,

“…[T]he man who proclaimed the arrival of God’s kingship in Mark 1.15 is presented in the story that follows as himself a king. His kingship is misunderstood and rejected by those around him, and finally its unthinkable culmination in his execution as a rebel against Rome, the very concept of kingship from which he had so clearly distanced himself. But beyond that apparent anticlimax he has pointed to another level of kingship altogether, and one to which his earthly humiliation will mysteriously prove the appointed means, the heavenly enthronement of the Son of Man. And his kingship is the kingship of God….The government is upon his shoulder. As God’s Son, he occupies by right his Father’s throne, for he is himself no less than God” (p. 105).

Jesus is the Christ [8.29], the Son of God [1.1] who has come as the Messiah, the Son of Man to give His life as a ransom for many [10.45]. Yet throughout Mark we see people who don’t understand His mission; people who don’t understand Him. At the end He is crucified, a death only reserved for the cruelest criminals and revolutionaries. Yet, by being the stone which the builders rejected, he has become the chief cornerstone. It was the Lord’s doing. His divine plan, and it is marvelous [12.10-11].

It is because of this humble obedience to the Father that He is exalted and given the name above all names to which every knee will one day bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord [Phil. 2.9-11]. It was how the Lion of the tribe of Judah had prevailed to open the scroll and loose its seven seals: by being a Lamb which had been slain [Rev. 5.5-6].

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
– Mark 8.34b-38

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Review: Basics For Believers: An Exposition of Philippians

Basics For Believers, Philippians

Can an ivory-tower academic really write a basic commentary on Philippians for the general population of believers? Yes, he cane (and in fact, he’s not so “ivory-tower” as you might think, if you’ve ever thought that).

It’s not that Philippians is a basic book for Christian’s to start with before they can move on to harder, meatier books of God’s Word. But Philippians shows that the Gospel and its truths are very basic to learn, yet very difficult to put into practice. Why? Because of our own self-centeredness. We want to be the center, but we have to make room for others, including the One of most importance, Jesus Christ Himself!

Basic Truths of Philippians

Carson goes through many of these basic truths:

  • Putting the Gospel first
    • In your prayer life
    • In your fellowship with believers
    • In your aspirations and goals
    • In your self-denial
    • Adopt the Son’s sacrificial death as your outlook
    • Pass the Gospel truths that we have learned on to others
    • Emulate worthy Christian leaders
    • And characteristics/who not to emulate
    • Never give up the Christian walk

And Chapter 4 has a slew of application for the reader: Resolve to pursue like-mindedness with other believers … to rejoice in the Lord  to be known for gentleness  not to be anxious about anything, but learn instead to pray  to think holy thoughts  to learn the secret of contentment  to grow in the grace of Christian gratitude and courtesy

Sounds easy? Not when you’re a self-centered wretch in needs of God’s daily new graces and sanctification. And I’m speaking to myself! I’m sure you’re not like me at all (thank goodness).

The Chocolate Milk

Compared to other commentaries on Philippians, Carson’s is not overly technical, has no Greek at all (from what I can remember), and is very applicable to the believer. His tone s very warm and caring. This is more of a preacher/Bible study commentary. The members of the church are more likely to read a commentary like this rather than one like Moises or Fee. There’s nothing wrong with those commentaries. In fact, they’re some of the best on Philippians!

But most church goers are not going to want to delve into parsing Greek terms, or differentiating between the correct doctrines of hypostatic union and kenosis vs. Jesus emptying Himself of divine attributes. This is a valuable resource to the preacher/teacher for Carson focuses on application all the way, yet pulls it from the text. The application always comes from the text. Carson never tries to fit it in there.

Carson is very relatable in this book. He doesn’t merely own a lot of knowledge, but he has a lot of heart to back it up. He cares about the body of Christ. He cares about their spiritual walk and growth in Christ. He wants them to have a true, living relationship with God; to be able to sit quietly in prayer to Him and know that He listens and cares and loves, and then to turn around and take that affection received and give it to others. He wants to see that the church is living up to, enduring, and persevering in the Christian walk. What do you do when you have anxieties and worries? Pray to God. What do you need when you are down and out? Relationships: a true relationship with Jesus Himself and with other Christians to be encouraged by them and to give them encouragement in their struggles. The more you see “He cares for you” [1 Pet. 5:5-7], the more you will care for your own brothers and sisters in Christ. Growing in the grace of Jesus, Christian gratitude, and Christian courtesy will “strengthen your own discipleship and edify your brothers and sisters in Christ, [and] you will be multiplying the resolution of the church never to give up the Christian walk” (Carson, Kindle Locations 1703-1704).

The Spoiled Milk

This book might not be as “basic” as one might think. Perhaps the title is misleading. It’s more so a basic commentary on Philippians. “Basic” believers may not be as open to this book as would be those who are more educated in the fields of philosophical pluralism, Hebrew-to-Greek-to-English translations, and theological discussions of “propitiation vs. expiation.” Yet with careful reading, the pastor/reader would be able to use what Carson says and break it down even more for the church body. Philippians contains basic truths relevant to all believers. Carson does do a good job showing that in his book, but I think that some readers will be put off by some of the subjects and areas covered in his book.

Recommended?

Yepp. Carson covers the basics without being basic. This can be a good or bad thing. Maybe this book will be basic for you. If it is, there will still be plenty for you to learn and talk about. Maybe this book will be difficult and not-so-basic. If so, I hope you’ll stick with it and try to stretch your mind. To be honest, I enjoyed this more than Chandler’s To Live Is Christ. I like Chandler (I was able to see him at a conference up in Scotland), but as an author and expositor, Carson’s book trumps in clarity, application, and overall enjoyment. I was never bored in this book. Every section dealt with the text and me. How does this affect my Christian walk? How will I better die to myself? Carson doesn’t twist Scripture to apply it to our lives in certain ways. There is too much application in the Bible to cause us to need to go further and twist for more. This is a very good book. Give it a shot (it may still be cheap for Kindle on amazon?)

Lagniappe

  • Paperback: 124 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic (April 1, 1996)
  • Amazon
  • Reading Level: High school on up  (with a dictionary in hand)

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The Gospel According to Mark: Part III

Mark

In my previous post I gave a brief summary of Mark 1-2 along with the first 4 of the 5 conflicts found in Mark 2.1-3.6. Today I’ll go through the final conflict [ending the chiasm, Mk. 3.1-6] where we see the sort of heart that the Pharisees have compared to the kind of heart Jesus has.

2.1-3.6 is divided up into 5 sections:

Healing [2.1-12]
        B Eating [2.13-17]
               C Fasting and Piety [2.18-22]
        B’ Eating [2.23-28]

A’  Healing [3.1-6]

Again He entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand.
And they watched Jesus, to see whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him.
And He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.”
And He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent.
And He looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against Him, how to destroy Him.

While there’s a lot here, I simply can’t cover everything. In fact, even what I am putting into this post risks overkill. So I will try to focus on Jesus’ use of Deuteronomy 30.15 here in Mark 3.4, why He uses it, and what it means to us today.

WITHERED

The imagery of withering rarely (or never) owns a positive image in the Old Testament. It is sometimes used when speaking of God’s judgment (of Jeroboam [1 Kings 13.4], of Wicked Shepherds [Zech. 11.17], and of Israel in Exile [Jer. 12.4]). It is the opposite image of the prosperous tree in Ps 1.3.

By being withered, the Jewish leaders may have thought this man to be judged by God. And being judged by God, they wouldn’t want to help him.

Why Use Deuteronomy 30.15 Here?

In verse 4, in asking “Is it lawful” Jesus is dealing with the law. “To do good or to do harm…” echoes the very choice the Law itself offers in Deuteronomy 30.15 (See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil).

In Deut. 29 Israel has just witnessed Yahweh’s mighty deeds: delivering them from Egypt. They had yet to receive a heart to understand, but through the long provision (Passover protection, Red Sea crossing, provision of manna and water, battles won, etc.) in the desert, God brought Israel to a point where they could understand. In having this understanding, Israel was warned of the severe consequences of turning away from God to walk in “hardness of heart” against Him.

Then Deut. 30 assumes they will turn away! God will “drive them to nations” and “later restore them if they repent” [Deut. 30.1-3]. Moses then reminds the Israel that the covenant can be fulfilled because it is on the heart and is so close it can be spoken from the lips.

God sets two options before the people: Life/Good/Blessing or Death/Evil/Cursing. Israel is to obey the commands of God, walking in His ways, and they will have life. Whereas apostasy from Yahweh leads to death. Israel’s fate lays in their own hands.

Decisions, Decisions

Mark 3.6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against Him, how to destroy Him.

Jesus’ question, like that of Moses, calls for a decision. Does Jesus have authority as the Son of Man, the Lord of the Sabbath, to do good and heal on the Sabbath? Like the terms of the covenant, His terms are clear: Israel must choose.

Yet, as Mark 3.5 show us, Jesus is grieved at the Pharisees’ hard hearts for they have rejected walking in God’s ways of “life and good” for their own ways of “death and evil.” The Pharisees offer no mercy to this man, while Jesus offers healing and gives him a new hand in the house of the Lord.

The high point of the exodus was Yahweh’s self-revelation through His Word. It was near enough for Israel to hear and speak. Now the people can hear, see, touch, and even smell Jesus! Jesus upholds the heart of Torah, fulfills it, and surpasses it. He does only what the Torah could point to by doing only what God can do [1.44]. But having rejected the heart of the Torah, Israel’s leaders reject the Son of Man. The sin here is rejecting, not God’s will in Torah, but His will in Jesus Christ [3.34-35].

Just as rebellious Israel in Deuteronomy had hard hearts despite God’s mighty deeds, so do the leaders of Israel in Jesus’ day possess hard hearts despite Jesus’ mighty deeds. Moses warned Israel that God opposes hard-hearts, and it would be the reason why Yahweh would become their enemy and send a rebellious Israel into exile. It would be the reason for the cleansing of [11.15-17] and destruction of the Temple [13.2].

Defiled Hearts

In Mark 2.12, the people praise God for Jesus’ healing the paralyzed man. Here, there is no praising God. Instead, the Pharisees show their defiled hearts [Mk 7.20-21] by their desire to kill the Son of God [Mk 12.7-8]. 

They hold counsel with the Herodians (rich families who favored the rule of Herod the Great, another person who doesn’t understand the works of Jesus [Mk. 6.14; 8.15]) on how to destroy Jesus.

Jesus was accused of blasphemy in Mk. 2.7 [A  Mark 2.1-12], but now [A’  Mark 3.1-6] the religious leaders are blaspheming Jesus by plotting to kill God’s anointed Messenger. We will see more on blasphemy in chapter 3. The plots to kill look forward to an ominous time when the Bridegroom will be taken away.

I leave you with this: Do we have the heart of the Pharisees or that of Jesus? Do we honor God with our lips but have hearts that are far from Him [Mark 7.6]? Do we speak evil of one another, judging one another, also speaking evil of the one true Lawgiver? The one who is able to save and destroy [James 4.11-12]? Are we angry at our own hard hearts [Mark 3.5]? So much so that we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God [1 Pet.5.5-7]?

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