Reflective Bible Study.
Listen to this episode and/or subscribe on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com...Year in Mark – Finale: In the second part of our annual two-part finale, discover some of the biggest insights we discovered during the last half of this past year moving through the gospel of Mark. Read the transcript: In our last episode, we began our annual two-part finale looking at some of the big insights and ideas we discovered during the first half of our year focusing on Mark’s gospel. For this episode, let’s pick up where we left off and focus in on the second half of this amazing gospel, looking at themes leading up to Jesus’ time on the cross, and what we can learn from Jesus’ amazing sacrifice and resurrection. However, as I always take a minute or so to do during our last episode each year, I think it is important to take a brief look at where we’ve been and where we are headed for the coming year. If you’ve been listening for a while, a few years ago, while we were focusing a year of podcasts looking at the miracles of Jesus, I had the idea of taking a set of four years and focusing each year on one of the four gospels. Well according to that plan, we have just reached the half-way point. Last year we focused on Matthew’s gospel, and the year we are ending in this episode has been entirely focused on Mark. Following this plan then leads next year’s focus to be on Luke’s gospel, and that makes me really excited. Luke included some amazing things in his gospel, and I can’t wait to dive in and discuss them with you! However, before I jump too far ahead, we still have a bunch of insights to cover from the last half of our year in Mark. So with that said, let’s look back at what we learned during the second half of this year in Mark’s gospel. Our first part of this finale ended focusing on episode 24. Episode 25 focused in on the disciples being concerned about other people casting out demons using Jesus’ name that weren’t part of their group. In this episode, we were challenged with the truth: Christianity was never meant to be an exclusive club for sinners saved by grace. Christianity is united by people following Jesus Christ and giving Him the glory, the praise, and the credit for everything. Everyone is given the option to choose Jesus or not. It is a choice we are freely given, and one that we all must make. Moving forward to episode 26, which focused on some challenging themes regarding marriage, we learned that while this passage contains some pretty significant challenges, Jesus did not come to judge people; He came to love, forgive, and redeem everyone who wants to be loved, forgiven, and redeemed. In the next episode, number 27, Jesus predicts that the trip He and the disciples were taking to Jerusalem would end in His death. In this passage and episode, we discovered that we shouldn’t fear death. Instead, we should be determined to walk along the path God has placed before us and not be concerned if that path ends in death. Whether we live or die following the path God has for our lives, we can look forward to the resurrection that Jesus promised and the resurrection Jesus experienced. Jumping ahead to episode 30, we looked at Jesus chasing the moneychangers and commerce out of the temple. In this event, we see Jesus push back against a me-focused worship experience. Worship is not about our preferences, our likes or dislikes, or about anything to do with ourselves. Instead, worship is all about God and what He wants.God wants His house on earth described as a house of prayer for all nations. Our worship is not for our own benefit. Instead, when we worship God, we are to focus on bringing Him what He wants, and God is interested in gifts that contain our hearts. Skipping forward to episode 35, we looked at two short verses that contained a powerful truth that predicted the magnificent temple Jesus and His disciples were leaving would be destroyed. In this episode, we were reminded that the best humanity can create or build is nothing when it comes to what God has in store for us in heaven. Culture wants us to minimize God while glorifying what humanity is capable of building. Jesus challenges His followers to glorify God while being realistic about what humanity is able to accomplish. Natural disasters, terrorism, and other catastrophes can easily destroy in minutes a building that took years to construct. This is why Jesus challenges His followers to not focus on amazing or extravagant buildings. Buildings come and building go, but what matters above everything else is giving glory to the One who created life, and the One who gave His life for each of us! Moving forward, episodes 36 and 37 focused in on Jesus sharing details surrounding His return. In these episodes we are reminded and challenged that through Jesus and what He accomplished for us on the cross during His first coming, God opened the way for Jesus’ second coming. While Jesus’ first coming is God coming to be near His people, Jesus’ second coming will usher in God’s people leaving earth to be near God. Everything Jesus described leading up to His return is so dramatic that if there is any doubt in your mind regarding Jesus’ return, it is likely a false Jesus coming, rather than the real one.Setting a date for Jesus’ return is pure, 100% speculation. Instead of spending mental energy on trying to figure out a date, we should live each day with the expectation that today could be the day, being ready if Jesus comes, while also planning our future lives in case tomorrow happens. We don’t want to assume there will always be a tomorrow, because if we do, Jesus’ return will catch us off guard. Let’s jump forward again to episode 42, which focused on Jesus’ trial before Pilate. In this episode, we were amazed to discover that Jesus willingly chose to take the place of a rebel, a murderer, and a sinner, and in this event Barabbas, the clearly evil, condemned-to-die person, represents you and me. Barabbas represents every human being who has ever lived who deserves to die for their sins but who gets the opportunity of a new free life because of Jesus! Following Jesus’ trial before Pilate in episode 42, episode 43 focused on Jesus being beaten by the soldiers. In this episode’s passage, we see the soldiers mocking Jesus by dressing Him up as a king. We also discovered and were challenged with the truth that above any other gift, God wants our hearts. If our hearts are not included in our worship to God, then our worship is no more pleasing to God than the soldiers mock worship was to Jesus. The following three episodes move through the time Jesus spends on the cross. Episode 44 focused us on the place Jesus was crucified, Golgatha, and we learned that the place Jesus died was connected with the origin of sin and with humanity’s fall. When we place our faith, hope, trust, and belief in Jesus and His sacrifice, Jesus accepts our sinful lives as being included in His death, and He gives us the assurance of the life He deserved. Episode 35 focused in on the insults Jesus received while He was on the cross. However, as we looked a little closer at what was said, we discovered Jesus’ chose not to save Himself so that He could save every person who wants to have a new life with God. Jesus used these insults that were thrown His way as subtle encouragements to remind Him why He was on the cross, which was to save sinners, and that the cross would end with resurrection on the third day! Jesus used the biggest insults His enemies had and He had masterfully planned for them to be a source of encouragement in His darkest, most pain-filled hours leading up to His last breath. Episode 36 focused in on the darkness that covered the land during the last hours of Jesus’ time on the cross and Jesus then taking His last breath. We were challenged to realize that it is tempting to think God is with us in the good times and that He has abandoned us in the bad times, but if we choose to believe this, we may be believing a lie Satan wants to trick us with. I believe that regardless of the source of the darkness, and regardless of Jesus’ cry out to God about feeling abandoned, that God was 100% focused on this moment in history. Even though Jesus felt like God had left Him, I don’t believe for a moment that God turned His back on Jesus’ sacrifice. Satan wasn’t strong enough to convince Jesus that His cries to His Father would not be heard. Satan is powerless to stop our prayers from being heard by the Father, and Satan is powerless to stop the Father from being passionately in love with us! Everything worth anything in life hinges on Jesus’ death, and because Jesus died on the cross, we are able to accept the gift of eternal life through Jesus that extends into eternity! In our year podcasting in Mark’s gospel, we learned many things and were challenged in many ways. However, Jesus’ death didn’t really end Jesus’ story. To wrap up our year-end finale, Mark concludes His gospel by sharing Jesus’ resurrection. In episode 48, which is a great episode to finish our finale looking at, we are reminded and challenged by the truth that even when we fail God, He never gives up on us! If you have felt as though you have failed God, don’t give up on God because He hasn’t given up on you. Instead, return to Him, ask for forgiveness, and restart your walk with God from a place where you are a little older and a little wiser than you were before. With God, we never restart our spiritual journeys at the same place, but every restart is further ahead than the last one as we continue walking through life towards eternity. Listen to this episode and/or subscribe on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com...Read this article on the web on it's official page: Year in Mark – Finale: Part 2