The parable of the fig tree

“Learn this parable from the fig tree: Whenever its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near” (Mark 13:28 NET).

When we approach Mark 13 we must be aware not only of the context of what he was teaching but also the context of that week. This parable from the fig tree is placed in context when we consider an incident that took place a few days earlier. Continue reading “The parable of the fig tree”

True greatness

“Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach. They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them. They do everything to be seen by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people’” (Matthew 23:1-7 CSB).

The scribes and Pharisees often received criticism by Jesus – and rightly so, as we can see in the opening of this chapter. Continue reading “True greatness”

Jesus came to call sinners

“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax booth. ‘Follow me,’ he said to him. So he got up and followed him. As Jesus was having a meal in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard this he said, ‘Those who are healthy don’t need a physician, but those who are sick do. Go and learn what this saying means: “I want mercy and not sacrifice.” For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” (Matthew 9:9-13 NET).

Have you noticed those whom Jesus spent time with? He wasn’t concerned to appear politically correct and only spend time with the movers and thinkers of his day. His concern was the everyday, normal people. Continue reading “Jesus came to call sinners”

Why was Jesus baptized?

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John to be baptized by him in the Jordan River. But John tried to prevent him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?’ So Jesus replied to him, ‘Let it happen now, for it is right for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John yielded to him. After Jesus was baptized, just as he was coming up out of the water, the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my one dear Son; in him I take great delight.’” (Matthew 3:13-17 NET).

It is sad that baptism for many has become a hotly disputed topic. Although there are those in most Christian groups who have gladly accepted baptism, there are many who refuse to do so because they do not think it is necessary. It is instructive to look at Jesus’ baptism and see what this can tell us. Continue reading “Why was Jesus baptized?”

The greatest person

Who is the greatest person who ever lived? Who is the greatest ruler or king of all time?

Those questions could cause fights.

Some people may point to a particular president or even a dictator as the answer to either one or both questions. There are others who would also like consideration.

Let’s complicate the issue a little. You must prove your answer with the incontrovertible truth. Continue reading “The greatest person”

Jesus: the truly qualified teacher

Jesus was expected to travel to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Tabernacles.

It was fall in Palestine, about the 15th of Tishri (October 12 on our calendar), and the harvest of wheat and olive oil was complete. It was a time of plenty and thanksgiving for God’s blessings.

The Feast of Tabernacles commemorated the wilderness wandering of the Jews at the end of the year.

Although Jesus would go to the feast, he continued walking in Galilee. He knew the Jews were seeking an opportunity to kill him. Jesus’ brothers came to him and warned him to stay away from Jerusalem. Continue reading “Jesus: the truly qualified teacher”

The greatest injustice

Jesus suffered arrest even though he had done nothing wrong and not even the false witnesses could agree on what he had done.

Jesus preached love, joy, and peace in a world that needed all three. He helped people understand their need to obey God and live according to God’s word. He pleaded with the Jews to abandon their hypocrisy and become the shining lights the world needed.

For all this, Roman soldiers and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus, bound him and delivered him to Annas and Caiaphas, the two men acting as high priests.

They hated Jesus for no other reason than they were envious of him (Matthew 27:18; Mark 15:10). Continue reading “The greatest injustice”