Somehow I got a chapter behind so let’s get caught up today. Philemon is yesterday. Paul was in prison. A runaway slave by the name of Onesimus was brought to faith in Jesus while Paul was in prison. Ironically, Onesimus’ master is a friend of Paul’s by the name of Philemon who lived in Colossae. This letter is to Philemon, begging him to take Onesimus back into his home. Verse 16 is the key: Paul begs, wheedles and cajoles Philemon, with every kind of possible flattery and appeal, to take Onesimus back. However, when done, to receive him not just as a slave but this time as a brother in Christ. This small little letter/book gives us great insights into the early church (how it met in homes, how it was a family calling each other “brother and sister”, etc). Moreso, it’s a letter about reconciliation and a new start for someone in the family of God. Today’s actual reading is Mark 1 (we begin today a day by day study in the Gospel of Mark, probably the first of the four written Gospels). Here are some of my insights:
-Mark quotes Malachi 3:1 about the one who will come before Messiah. Mark indentifies him as John the Baptist (vs 4). People came from all over to receive John’s baptism for the forgiveness of sin. Yet John said someone greater than he is coming who will baptize in the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s very life inbreathed into us!!
-John baptizes Jesus and Jesus hears a voice: “You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Every son yearns to hear this from his father, even God’s own Son!
-The Holy Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Note it’s the Holy Spirit who does this. Overseeing the devil’s temptations is our great God, using temptation to grow our faith. How else would we ever know if our faith is real unless we are forced to deal with the devil’s temptations?
-The first disciples are called. They respond to Jesus’ simple message, “The kingdom of God has come.” God’s power in Jesus came from heaven to earth, inaugurating God’s power over sin, disease, demons and darkness. The disciples immediately followed. It was common in that day for wandering teachers to ask people they knew to follow them. It was an honor to be invited. Jesus was well known and admired. That’s why the disciples “immediately” dropped their nets to follow him. They had seen his power, heard his teaching. So when he asked, they were more than honored “immediately” to drop everything and follow him. And their families understood...and were similarly honored.
-Note Jesus’ power and authority over the demonic world. They knew who he was too. That’s why they immediately obeyed whatever he said to them. The kingdom of God had come to earth.
-Vs 35 Jesus went into the wilderness to pray. He often did this. Prayer was the source of his power.
--Vs 38: other towns too had to hear and see his witness. Jesus’ coming was an evangelistic coming!
-Jesus heals a man with leprosy, God’s kingdom and power exist over all diseases! Jesus’ asks him to go to the priest and prove his healing (common in that day). Jesus also asks him to be quiet, his time had not yet come for all to know he was Messiah. But the man goes ahead and proclaims to all what had happened. You can’t blame him. Though he disobeyed Jesus, his life had just been given back to him. He had been healed of the most dreaded disease of that day.
-That’s why the crowds found Jesus, even in the secluded places! His ministry is growing.
The “Good News” is that God has come to us, forgiven us, lives inside us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now Jesus’ life is our life, proclaiming him everywhere, praying, proclaiming, healing!
It’s a privilege to serve this kind of King in the Kingdom.