April 14



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Mark 1:1-2:22

We are in the Christ Stream as we start the book of Mark – the expedient gospel. We are reading from the Lexham English Bible this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Mark is the expedient gospel. One person compared it to an old detective show where the inquisitor would cut off a testimony that was getting too mired in detail to interject, “just the facts, please …”  Mark jumps straight to the baptism of Jesus to begin his gospel. Jesus is 30 years old.  He wants to make sure that the proof of his wonders gets known to the world.  His is the shortened, most concise gospel. The childhood of Jesus is not in Mark. There are no angel announcements, genealogies, John/Baptist buildup, childhood stories to include Joseph, wisemen nor shepherd visits, Jesus as a baby or as a 12-year-old in the Temple.  We see the word “immediately” in Mark dozens of times, markedly more than in the other gospels. Mark wants us to know the wonders of Jesus and then the next wonder, and the next and next.

Mark does make a point that all kinds of people were coming from all over to be baptized by John in the Jordan. The managers of all the synagogues had to wonder “where is everybody?” Matthew notes this detail too as he also was writing to Jews mainly. Wait until Jesus comes along and the crowds looking to encounter him grow exponentially! Then there’s really going to be sparse crowds left behind for the priests to speak to. Only Mark mentions John/Baptist’s ‘impressive’ outfit and diet.  At any rate, Jesus is baptized and all four gospels include that the Holy Spirit came down upon Jesus at that time.

Mark’s piece on Jesus’ temptation is very brief whereas Matthew and Luke are quite descriptive.  There is a year of time or thereabouts that passes between Jesus’ temptation and the Galilee ministry; [btwn Mark 1:13and  v.14.]   Biblical scholar Robert Stein refers to this as Jesus’ ‘year of obscurity’.  John tells of Jesus doing about eight notable things during this timespan. The pressure from the Pharisees must have been growing worse, so Jesus retreats to the north to do his earth-changing ministry around Galilee.  This Galilee portion of ministry that begins Mk. 1:14 goes through Mk. 10:1 when Jesus left for east of the Jordan and Judea to the south.
He then calls four of the disciples (two sets of brothers) Simon and Andrew, then James and John. Remember, “Simon” is the prominent disciple; Peter. They all follow Jesus immediately. James and John were Jesus’ cousins.  Their mother Salome was Mary’s sister; Mary as in Mary and Joseph- yes, that Mary. So their mothers being sisters makes them ‘first cousins’. [ Following Jesus was a family matter.]  Mark sets out then to assert Jesus’ ability astonish people. He teaches … and people are in awe. He drives out a demon and the reaction is the same. Then more people came at dusk. They came in large numbers. This is the time that people wrap things up and go home for the night. But this is different. This visitor is different.  His results are different. The entire city comes to Jesus and more. And He demonstrates inexhaustible ability to heal and cleanse. Jesus thereafter travels all over Galilee. He does a salient deed in healing a leper with a skin problem. By now, all Galilee and Judea and leaders from Jerusalem were present to witness Jesus at work.  The stage is set for a very prominent story: …
Mark 2 – The paralytic let down through the roof is a miracle that becomes a great hinge in Jesus’ ministry. He gives the initial assertion by declaring the paralyzed man forgiven. He then proves that it is not empty talk when he heals him. This verifies Jesus ability to heal and save and that the link between the two is secured –> and that the source of those two gifts is Jesus.  The resentful scribes and Pharisees think it’s their secret right to question Jesus who then announces his reply to a question that was not openly asked. Surprise! Jesus sees through everything and executes a move that echoes through ministries for all time. The rest of his ministry results and can be perceived in light of this miracle and the statement tagged with it. Jesus HEALS AND SAVES. Again, all are in awe – all except the leaders who sense their grip on the people slipping away.
Jesus then calls Levi; Matthew (a sinful tax collector for Rome!) to be his disciple. Interesting that the phrase, a tax has been ‘levied’ still applies today and it comes from biblical literature.     The reading today ends with a question about fasting.  It comes from John’s disciples. John has been imprisoned and so the focus is completely past him and moved to Jesus and Jesus’ followers are acting rather differently than John’s. Jesus responds with three illustrations: the bridegroom, patching a garment, and wineskins. Jesus is the bridegroom. As for patching? Quit trying to patch the old with old ideas. It’s time for the new. The wineskins – same lesson proved a different way.  Jesus has so much to teach them.  And Jesus is not discarding the old Law of Moses.  He just told the leper in the prior story to go show the priest like Moses commanded. Jesus reveres Moses too.
Lord, you are talking to us when Jesus is talking to us.  The people saw it and came running to you.  The leaders saw Jesus and resented Him. We want to pay attention to all that you have to show us.  Thank you for coming to us.  Amen.

April 13



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Hosea 3-4

We are reading from the Exile Stream today while using the Lexham English Bible.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

God wants to love His people and to bring them back.  He asserted that come chapter two of Hosea. But all they seem to want to do is run in another direction.

Someone called Hosea’s writing the throbbing of a broken heart.  It certainly is.  The passage today is filled with the words that clearly indicate that the horrible behavior of the people that once inhabited Canaan is reigning again. They ARE now fully behaving like the people they were to drive out.  What is God supposed to do for, pity sake? This symbolic marriage that Hosea is ordered to walk through is making God’s pain [that we are inflicting on Him] all too personal to us.  If God could have gotten to Israel another way perhaps He would have.  But what works anymore with these “moral hyenas” ?
3 – Israel is completely behaving like pagans and Judah is too to a point. So God is buying them back and He will chasten and discipline them. After this they will fear and follow God … yes? maybe? soon? ever? when?
4 – reads like a guilty verdict – because it is. Israel is so bad in its sinning that the land itself is suffering, and so are the animals.  This is a subtle theme that is still seen today. We’ve seen a land that is blessed turn thorny and repugnant, Gen. 3. Then Gen. 6 brings on a cleansing flood because of sin; nothing else brought on such weather.  There are vast deserts in the world today that were productive and fruitful farms back when they were a Christian majority. But violence and paganism and false religion came in and since Living Water (Jesus) was expelled, H2O / water left too.   Don’t get mad at God for this!.  No mystery here! It’s obvious. Read v. 3 again and there’s the testimony. Sin left undealt with ends up punishing the whole place. From top to bottom, Israel has gone amok. They act like they don’t know God; —-> and it’s NOT God’s fault!  They told Him to “get out!”
v. 8 says “they feed on the sin of my people…” This may sound puzzling, but it’s a billboard in all of our faces that there’s a terrible amount of money made off of wrong doing. It’s been going on so long in so many realms that the people can’t see it any other way.  Think of all the occupations that would be out of business today if all sin would stop.  Plenty of leaders and politicians worldwide perceive sin as something that must be massaged to keep employment numbers up.  A sinless world is very frightening to the analytical type and especially to the political type. I’ll leave this alone.
The list is bad in ch. 4: the whoring, prostitution, drunkeness and contests that exist to keep the people this way are astonishing in their lewdness. (God’s love on the other end of the scale is equally astonishing, btw) .  Symbolically the land is going to spit these people out at the rate they are going.  God’s main contention is with the Priests who are steering this nation into darkness and doing so aggressively.  The Priests are making sure of this.

v. 14 may seem strange, “I will not punish…” Sometimes a rascal of a kid in a classroom is so unteachable, that it becomes a waste of time and energy to even try anymore. So they are dismissed and the teacher needs to stop even caring where the kid ends up just to save sanity.  That’s the case here in Israel.  Disaster is on the whore-izon

God, keep us in your Word, for what we have read today is the “Way of all Flesh”. The song says that we are prone to wander (Lord, I feel it).  Thank you God for hanging on to us even when we haven’t the strength to hang on at all. More than being astonished by the sin, may we be amazed by Your Grace; Your Amazing Grace.  Amen.

April 12



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Isaiah 55-59

We are in the Prophetic Stream as we read from the Lexham English Bible this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

55-56  God is talking and it is soothing for this first 21 verses.  All of 55 and the first eight verses of ch. 56 is about the work of God expanding and blessing and feeding and watering and including and welcoming more to himself. People are so satisfied and God is shepherding and elevating and assuring. The whole world is invited to come; to come be cared for and ministered to the way God has been reaching out to the Hebrews since Abraham’s day.

56:9 ff – from here to the end of today’s reading, the boom gets lowered and God is giving some of His final warnings.  It isn’t pretty stuff, and God will avenge upon those who are playing the Joker in God’s face. Have you ever seen a kid, a teenager per se~ who was raised in a well-to-do family.  As has been said about what can happen to these types (especially the unmentored), they were born in the palace, so they think they own the place though they’ve done nothing constructive from their beginning.  Well the leadership in Jerusalem is thinking they are blessed regardless and since they have the “inside track” to God, they can bend His rules as they please and God is just going to let this arrogance slide forever.  Well He isn’t.  God is going to cut loose on these men soon. They are blind, ignorant, selfish, stupid, gluttonous, and partying like plastered college sophomores and could not care less about anything; oblivious as well as careless.
57 – By this time Isaiah is calling everything what it is and Israel is acting no different than the pagans, heathens, the godless and satanic people all around them.  Even child sacrifice is going on! for shame!  Their behavior is approaching the bottom if not there already and it’s been there awhile.  It’s nauseating to even mention what is going on. The sin is generational by now and many don’t remember anything different, they don’t know anything is wrong.  Trying to point things out to these people is like lecturing skunks about bad odors. Prostitution is rampant and soon there will be nothing left before long.        Even with all this, God will receive back those who will repent . . . When will He have had enough and just smash the place ?  wow.
58 – What’s going on is corrupted justice, manipulation of the people, “cherry-picking” through the Law and obeying what makes them merely feel holy and having no actual concern for holiness.  God is pointing out their injustice, the brutalizing of each other, the judgmentalism.  God is ordering them to stop this. He wants them to come back to Him. He wants to bless them.  They still aren’t letting God love them however.  They seem to prefer to love themselves [as if they even knew how to!]. They’re singing “i’ll do it my way”
59 – This is the final chapter of this run; this litany of horrid problems with God’s people. Again God is well into a monologue of accusation: There’s blood on their hands, their feet chase evil, their thoughts are all wrong, there’s no justice, and the sinning is endless.  God still has a plan for His nation and it is a good one.  He is going to send a Redeemer to those who will come to Him and turn from sin.
God we can ask, “how can you keep loving these people?” And yet you do.  How can you and why do you keep reaching out to us? It’s better that we just say thank you and not question you. And so we thank you for loving us as we are and yet loving us too much to not Redeem us to better living and better service to you.  Thank you Lord.  Amen.