Chapters 1-2

Why was Jesus, who is without sin, baptised? (1:9) That has puzzled me for a while. I figured it was a symbolic act – marking himself for God’s service, but it still seemed a bit odd. Even John thought so – in Matthew it says he tried to deter Jesus from being baptised. (Matthew 3:14) The NIV notes helped me understand a bit more. They say the baptism marked the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and that it was done: (1) to indicate that he was consecrated to God, (2) as a public announcement of the arrival of the Messiah, (3) as a sign that Jesus identified himself with man’s sin, and (4) as an example to his followers. So that’s that sorted.

Mark’s account seems to mention demons more than the other gospels. It’s interesting that Jesus has authority over them, in that he won’t let them testify about who he is (1:33b), but some of the people he heals don’t obey his instructions and run around town blabbing. How bizarre that the demons are perhaps more obedient than we are! [Pardon me if that is a heresy.]. And it would seem that people had never before seen exorcisms or such miracle healings (1:27, 2:12b) – so it’s no wonder word about Jesus spread like wildfire, or that the Teachers of the Law visited his home to hear him teach. I think sometimes we give them a bad rap, portraying them as the baddies of the story. Maybe they were genuinely curious and wondered if he might be the Messiah. Wasn’t this a time when many proclaimed themselves to be, or others thought someone was the Messiah?

Can you picture the spectacle of the crowds packed around Simon’s house on those early nights? Jesus was probably up most of the night teaching and healing, and yet he still rises early next morning (1:35), and goes out to a lonely place away from the town to spend time in prayer. How many of us hit the snooze button for a few more minutes under the doona? This is a man of incredible discipline and devotion. Verse 41 is my favourite verse in these chapters, where Jesus says in response to the man with leprosy, “I do want to.” [GNB] He wants to heal us, restore us, forgive us. He loves us. [15-03-2008]

Chapters 14-16

Just observing that at the Last Supper, having given them the cup, Jesus says, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (v.24-25) [ESV] and then twice during the crucifixion, he is offered wine and refuses to take it. First on the walk to Golgotha (15:23), and then on the cross (15:36). I wonder if there is commentary somewhere about the connection between the Last Supper and the analogy in John 15-1-6 of Jesus being the vine. [03-05-2008]

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