Tag: <span>gospel of mark</span>

Summary: As it begins a story about Jesus feeding a crowd isolated in the wilderness, the Gospel according to Mark comments that Jesus felt compassion for the people because he saw them as “sheep without a shepherd.” They were people denied leadership. People who were considered expendable. People who could be manipulated for the gain and pride of their so-called leaders. Bad leadership has a way of dehumanizing people, because bad leaders choose domination and intimidation as their tools. The wider context of this part of Mark’s narrative, with its focus on numbers of people attracted to Jesus, reminds us that Jesus was not the kind of leader who imposed his will on others or who sought out followers. His qualifications were not about displaying his gifts, flashing his charisma, or manifesting courage; rather, he restored people. He demonstrated a commitment to their well-being and wholeness. Preachers might be inspired by this story to consider their own vocations as leaders. Sermons are opportunities to put leadership into action, not with the preacher insisting on their own authority or cleverness, but with the preacher offering the refreshment of the good news and reiterating the opportunity for all to share in God’s healing, restorative intentions for this work and its people.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Mark 6:30-34, 53-56. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers

Summary: Once Jesus’ ministry is rolling in the Gospel according to Mark, conflict emerges and dividing lines are drawn. Mark has a way with surprises; Jesus’ own family and religious authorities misunderstand who he is and what he is up to. But crowds of unnamed people remain with him, often doing little more than showing up and following. Jesus appears to welcome their presence, as seen in this scene when he describes a crowd as his true kin and commends them for doing “the will of God.” It appears Jesus is not calling for heroism or perfection. Rather, he seeks recognition. Down the road in Mark he will remind us that discipleship calls for our whole selves. But at this point in the story, being present and sticking around is what he’s looking for. This is good news for all of us, reminding us that faith is not so much about subscribing to doctrine and more about attaching oneself to Jesus and his efforts to bring the reign of God to fruition.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Mark 3:20-35. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: general audience

Summary: When Jesus calls his first followers, he makes a declaration to them and to everyone around him that it’s time for something new. Something, perhaps the arrest of John or the urging of the Holy Spirit, prompts Jesus to launch a public ministry to make the reign of God known. Preachers have a responsibility to make similar declarations, knowing when the time is right to take a stand or to direct a congregation into a new season of service and advocacy. That kind of discernment is difficult for any preacher, but we should be encouraged by knowing that many are longing for a time of liberation and that we do this work as followers of a Jesus who leads the way in announcing that the time of fulfillment has arrived.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Mark 1:14-20. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary:Jesus calms a raging storm while he and his disciples are trying to cross the Sea of Galilee. The event offers a stunning display of his power, yet it also exposes the faithlessness of his followers. It is a prime example of the Gospel of Mark’s tendency to depict Jesus as one who creates new, life-giving possibilities in the midst of circumstances that are full of danger or at the far edges of what might be considered predictable or secure locations.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: With two short parables about seeds that grow and flourish, Jesus describes the reign (kingdom) of God as something that will indeed blossom. It may take time for that to occur, and the outcome may not look magnificent according to conventional standards of power and greatness. The emergence of that new state of affairs is nevertheless definitely going to occur, possibly not what we were expecting, and certain to provide benefits.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Neither Jesus’ own kin nor the premier theological interpreters of his day could discern the truth about him and his authority to inaugurate the reign of God. Their confusion and skepticism cause them to fall back on labels—“demonic” and “insane”—that betray a lack of imagination and openness. Jesus responds by describing his work as overcoming humanity’s captivity to evil and as forging new familial relationships and identity. He thus declares his intention to bring about wholesale change.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: When Jesus’ actions and words concerning the sabbath upset a group of Pharisees, Mark’s Gospel begins to draw attention to why some of Jesus’ contemporaries found him so controversial. The two scenes in this passage illustrate the liberative character of God’s reign (kingdom) and show some religious leaders to be resistant to that liberation. Their resistance results in the narrative’s first indications of the opposition that will finally overwhelm Jesus.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Paying attention to at least five aspects of the Gospel according to Mark will allow preachers to show congregations this Gospel’s perspective on the world and the impact of Jesus’ life and ministry. Mark describes good news of incursion, deliverance, and mercy. Jesus brings God’s reign (kingdom) into being as he breaches and redefines presumed boundaries. He eludes easy definition. Mark nevertheless directs attention to outsiders who possess keen insights into Jesus. The Messiah’s rejection and death provide the model of discipleship.

Read the full article, the second of two, at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: The Gospel according to Mark depicts Jesus’ arrival, teaching, and actions as an incursion, as God’s effort to enter the world and defeat hostile foes for the sake of inaugurating God’s reign (kingdom). Mark depicts a Jesus who eludes ordinary means of perception; the Messiah defies conventional expectations. Those who preach from Mark do well to imitate the Gospel’s apocalyptic tenor by seeing their task as making visible the inscrutable activity of God.

Read the full article, the first of two, at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: When terrified women flee Jesus’ tomb on the first Easter morning, Mark’s Gospel comes to a jarring end, refusing to let us forget that the prospect of Jesus’ resurrection will deeply unsettle us. This Gospel seems to know that we view Easter from a place situated between hope and fear, between disappointment and fullness. What propels us forward, as we live in the midst of uncertainties and events that remind us how beyond control our lives are, is the promise that Jesus continues to go before us.

Read the full article, which is part of the ON Scripture–The Bible project, on The Huffington Post, Day1, and Patheos.

Bible commentary: general audience ON Scripture--The Bible