Mark 6-7
(No Challenge Too Great)
October 15th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

- Mark 7:37 (NRSV)

Summary of Chapters

In these chapters Jesus encounters a number of setbacks and obstacles as he travels the region but persists in moving the ministry forward. The first setback was the rejection he encountered in his hometown, but he responded by going to other villages and then sending the twelve disciples to a multitude of villages.

Next, Mark records the tragic events leading to the beheading of John the Baptist as ordered by King Herod, who had been tricked by his wife into doing it. Herod then heard about Jesus and thought he was a reincarnation of John.

The disciples returned from their mission and they sought to take some rest with Jesus, but so many people had heard of Jesus’ great works that they ran after him. Jesus showed compassion by stopping to teach them and then performed what became one of his most well-known miracles by feeding 5,000 men and others with five loaves of bread and two fish.

Jesus finally had a chance to pray alone but the disciples had gone ahead in their boat. Seeking to join them he walked across the water to their boat. This frightened the disciples who did not yet fully understand the identity of Jesus. But in doing this act, Jesus further established himself as LORD over all elements on earth.

The next challenge came from the Pharisees who rebuked Jesus for not requiring his disciples to wash their hands in the right manner. Jesus had already overcome limitations of food and the structure of H2O, so the Pharisees were not much of a challenge for him.

Jesus explained that the most important aspect of cleanliness is what comes out of the insides of a man:

    Don’t you see that what you swallow can’t contaminate you? It doesn’t enter your heart but your stomach, works its way through the intestines, and is finally flushed.” (That took care of dietary quibbling; Jesus was saying that all foods are fit to eat.)

    He went on: “It’s what comes out of a person that pollutes: obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness—all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution.”

    - Mark 7:18-23 (MSG)

The challenge encountered in the next town came from a foreign woman who asks for healing for her daughter. Jesus initially refuses because it was not yet time to help the Gentiles, but he relented because he was impressed by her persistence. He then announces that he has healed the girl from a distance. At the end of the chapter, Jesus heals a deaf and dumb man and tells the people to keep it under their hats, but they could not restrain from sharing this good news.

Reflection and Application

We are likely to face setbacks in our faith journey. When we do, we could turn to this passage and observe Jesus’ persistence.

The people that we would have assumed would be the first to support him were the last to come around (the first shall be last). The one who prepared the way for him met an untimely and ugly death, foreshadowing the treatment that Jesus would receive, although his final suffering would be more prolonged.

But these obstacles and the knowledge of the future did not thwart Jesus’ plans. The ministry was active, successful, and exciting, but it was operating at a hectic and tiring pace (can anyone relate?). The disciples returned from their mission trip, perhaps hoping to have some quiet time with Jesus, but were unable to because of his popularity. Jesus is divine, but was in a human body that also needed rest. Nevertheless, he showed compassion by arranging a meal for thousands of people.

Finally, after the big feast, Jesus had some time alone, and modeled for us a good practice when we finish a series of stressful events – sit quietly in prayer. We may be tempted to celebrate in other ways, but we are well-advised to begin in prayer: Thanking God for getting us through our trials, reminding ourselves of our weaknesses and asking for help. Perhaps if the disciples had stopped to pray for a while before rushing off to their boat they might have had time to ponder Jesus' identity and would not be so surprised to see him walk on water or perform any other type of miracle.

The Pharisees came at Jesus again because they didn’t like the way the disciples washed their hands – not that they didn’t wash their hands at all, but they did not do it the right way. The prescribed ritual for washing hands was not part of the original Mosiac law but was something that men had added. Somewhere along the line someone thought it was within the spirit of the law to explain exactly how to wash hands – holding them up then holding them down, letting water drip off, etc. But Jesus explains that the Pharisees and others are wasting their time. Their focus should be on how they cleanse their hearts. How does this apply to us? We also try to look clean on the outside, but need to take time to make sure our hearts our pure, our sins are confessed, and our hearts are pointed in the right direction.

The foreigner that Jesus subsequently encountered is a good example of this point. Unclean on the outside as far as the Pharisees would have judged, but she was pure of heart. She acknowledged who Jesus was, approached him with humility and expressed her faith in what he could do.

What about the deaf and dumb man? The LORD had warned the prophets that many of the people would be deaf to his word. This man was literally deaf, but his heart was not closed. He recognized who Jesus was without hearing a word. Instead, he used his other senses and knew in his heart that this was the Savior. Each of us may have limitations that prevent us from recognizing everything that Jesus does for our world, but we if we acknowledge him in our hearts, then that is sufficient for receiving his Grace.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What type of fish or seafood do you like to eat?
    2. What are the situations in which you would like to stop what you are doing, take a break, and use the break to pray?
    3. How can we avoid being deaf to God’s word for us?

    Recommended Prayer
    Father, we know you can see into men's hearts and allow them to hear without ears. Help us to use our senses to hear and accept your words of instruction and love.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Those who are hearing impaired

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Mark 8-9 (Who is the Greatest?)

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