May 19


Mark 10-11

We are in the Christ Stream today reading about Palm Sunday and more. We are using the Common English Bible this week. | @7StreamsMethod | @serenatravis | #7Streams | @drakewtravis

Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for sharing your endless wisdom, your mind, your life and your eternal home with us.  Amen

1 – In case anyone is wondering: Jesus is in the final days – week or two at the most – of His life/ministry before He is crucified. It is the Springtime. If we put our calendar transparently right on top of the local calendar of the era and region we would be calling the month April. If you are into calendars, the Julian and the Gregorian and (it’s a laborious study so we will simply mention it here) The year is 29 A.D.
-Fascinating little study about the dates. But, on to Jesus’ march to Jerusalem. He has just come far south. He is still east of the Jordan and getting mashed in by a crowd again, He is teaching and some Pharisees are there. They ask him if divorce is permitted by law.  It’s always amusing when someone asks a question and they are not really on a quest to get their question answered. These Pharisees are tramps! They were the type to divorce and give out easy divorces for … a wife burning the food, for casually stating “she isn’t attractive to me anymore”. They treated women below dogs. And so over the years, most of these clowns had turned their wives into skittish, cowering ladies who lived with little value in their own minds so their own husbands were not drawn to them anymore. They don’t care that the Law forbids divorce. They are just trying to set up a situation where Jesus seems pitted against Moses. Makes one shake their head to watch these guys get “owned” or exposed like crooks in broad daylight. I like to say that Jesus tied them in a knot and left them baking in the sun. OK, that’s not very nice 🙁
Next we see Jesus blessing little children, and the disciples rebuke this. For them, children are a segue to nothing. They can’t be added to the “vital contacts” list. Jesus, always ready to create a teachable moment, does so and portrays “the child” as the ones who access God far more readily for they come to God for love. They come purely. No finesse, no secondary or hidden agenda. No attempt to deceive or be dubious. They just come to Jesus because they want HIM. Adults rarely do that, though children always do. And we better learn something here.

~Then there comes a rich young ruler; he has wealth, youth, time, and power. He wants to add Jesus’ wisdom to his arsenal AND have eternal life. Jesus basically says to him, that Jesus is to be the number one priority in his life. We’ve met people who glance over Jesus’ statement here and declare they can never follow Jesus. This is paper-thin scholarship. Just a few verses later

Jesus tells his disciples that ALL things are possible with God. Jesus asserts that those who serve Him wholeheartedly will be rewarded accordingly and they can “take that to the bank”.
-He tells of his Passion again – remember Jesus does this five times during this season of His ministry –  James and Johns’ little “I’m #1” squabble is turned into a teaching lesson for service. Interesting that Christians lead the world in service because of this passage right here!
-in the blind Bartimaeus story, notice that when Jesus calls to him, he throws off his mantle. This mantle was a cloak that was sanctioned by the government meaning he was ‘cleared’ to beg. BarT- throwing it away as soon as he hears Jesus’ voice means he KNOWS he will be healed. Do we come to Jesus’ with that confidence?!
11 – The triumphal entry is the event that is commemorated each Palm Sunday the world over. ‘Pretty bold of him to go straight to the Temple and bash all the bookkeepers and kaBoom the bazaar that had developed into an eternal fundraiser. To charge people for praying was disgusting and Jesus’ made is statement didn’t He.??  The fig tree incident can be analyzed for a lifetime, I’ll just pick one facet and say this, “we need to be producing something for God’s sake. Jesus is hungry and wants a fig. Are we going to be coming to God empty handed forever? Come on! He tells us to be full of faith and quick to forgive. Let’s do what we are told here.
-It ends today with the Temple leaders coming to him again with a question that is just a ploy to ensnarl Him. Again, their “question” is no quest. Jesus throws it right back at them and they fall dumbfoundedly silent.  This whole interchange is actually taught in law schools today for it’s brilliance and quick reply that exposes what is really going on.
-Looking over the two chapters today, let’s not come to Jesus with our “educated agenda”, let’s come like Bartimaeus and the children with our needs before us and excitement to be with Him.

May 12


Mark 8:27-9:50

We are in the Christ Stream today and reading from the Easy-to-Read Version this week. | @7StreamsMethod | @serenatravis | #7Streams

Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Jesus, the wild and varied road of discipleship with you is as exciting as ever. Thank you for including us as your disciples. Heaven is worth it, and so is each moment with you.

Mark 8:27ff – They are walking north from Galilee to Caesarea Phillippi (21 miles straight, rather longer than that on foot). The discussion that ensues needs to happen: “who is Jesus?” The disciples start quoting this guy and that guy and this guy… This was a trademark of Jewish scholarship. Jesus wanted to know what they thought.  Jesus asks us the same question today. And we need to answer it.  Our eternity rests upon our answer of this question. Peter and Jesus’ interaction here and in the next story are wedded truths that must both be accepted: Jesus is the Savior and he must be crucified as a sacrifice for us. Learning this –> IS discipleship. It’s not an easy truth to ingest. Peter’s attempt to correct Jesus gets a swift and stinging rebuttal.  We are to follow Jesus whole-heartedly, single-mindedly, boldly. Getting “on page” with Him is the issue. We are not to try to mold Jesus to fit our agenda and worldview. He shapes ours.

9 – The disciples would witness the coming of the Power of God – Pentecost is what they being assured of in the opening statement of ch. 9.

-The Transfiguration is a vital lesson in the revelation of paradise, eschatology (end times study), and Resurrection theology. The Israelites had a notion of heaven and the next world but it is an under-developed segment of theology for them. Most of what we believe about heaven/paradise/the next world we learn from Jesus’ teaching.  So here are three of the disciples that realize that Jesus has instant access to other worlds. That the prophets are not dead. They see Elijah – who had “died” 700 years ago, and Moses – who died 1300 years ago. What?! You’re alive? You’re here?!  Those who work for God and follow His Son do not die.  It’s quite a grand testimony, certainly worth telling to the world (when the time is right)!

Upon returning, there is another showdown centered around another demon-possession victim. Matthew and Luke tell of this same story in a much abbreviated 6-verse version. Mark tells it in full. The lynch-pin is that the 9 disciples who didn’t witness the Transfiguration gave it a go to free the youngster from Demons while Jesus was away. They did not succeed. Jesus’ reply to this development was tongue-in-cheek curt response to motivate them to move up to His level. Jesus wants them to be able to expel demons from people. We all hope the reaction was that they insist Jesus teach THEM how to cleanse the demon-possessed and not wither into insecurity because it sounds like Jesus might have insulted them.  Following Jesus in not for the faint of heart, btw.
Next, Jesus tells of his crucifixion again.  He did so five times between this session in Galilee and the arrival in Jerusalem. [Mark tells us of four of them]. Talk of his Passion during what we call Easter week wasn’t mentioned much prior to this. But Jesus wanted them to be certain of what was coming. However they are still not ‘getting it’ yet.’
-The next verse tale is proof that the gravity of what was coming at Calvary wasn’t sinking in at this point –> They are arguing about who’s the greatest, [as if Cassius Clay was among them as one of the disciples). Jesus teaching about serving and having a child-like heart is perfect timing again.  It’s still shaking up the leadership world today. Awesome.
-The word of Jesus and His powerful Name is spreading as someone other than them is ministering in Jesus’ name. The disciples aren’t sure what to make of this. “Jesus” wasn’t going to be a small club of 12 much longer so they best get accustomed to this.
-The final teaching is so needed today. We are to be inspiring and raising up and mentoring eachother.  An alarming amount of people today make a living from selling, promoting, and doing things that harm people and leads them into dark and unhealthy things. Jesus asserts that there is a horrid price tag for leading people astray.  The part about maiming one’self [if that’s what it takes to stop sinning] is too much to take: the issue is clearly this: SIN is NOT one of your OPTIONS.  Dietrick Bonhoffer explains this better than anyone if you care to look up his commentary on these verses. It is vital and beyond that no one is led astray from our example. We are to affect people in the opposite manner.

May 5


Mark 6:45-8:26

We are in the Christ Stream reading more about the miracles of Jesus. We are reading from The Living Bible this week. | @7StreamsMethod | @serenatravis | #7Streams

Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Jesus – you certainly show your wonderful deeds for us.  You feed and heal and instruct and love and welcome all who will come.  Thank you for being so marvelous and so loving. We wholeheartedly thank you. Amen.

Jesus is now into his second full year of ministry.  From the feeding of the 5,000 (last story we read last week), to the final story today, (the healing of the blind man) this is an 8-month period. It is spent much in Galilee, Herod’s jurisdiction, and the wonders of Jesus are making an eternal impression on many Greeks and Greek-speaking people as well. 

6:45ff The theme of Mark is “Jesus the Wonderful” and we certainly read of this today.  His walking on water is universal proof that this is God’s message bearer to us even to those who can’t bring themselves to surrender to Him as of yet. Walking on water is deity in action. He enters the boat and the storm calms immediately. Remember, that Jesus sent them on ahead and they are caught in contrary winds that have them basically rowing in place through most of the night.  Jesus comes, all is calm and they proceed. Perhaps this is a good place to make a devotional point –> in evaluation of this story, “if we try to go on ahead without Jesus, we will likely find ourselves in a storm that we cannot deal with, and wasting our energy.” We don’t want to parse that illustration in a myriad of ways but it seems to be a helpful dab of wisdom.  They soon land on shore and Jesus is healing EVERYONE he touches. Imagine the joy that was raging through the countryside like a wind of happiness!
Perhaps the day ended and the disciples -part elated, part in shock- and by nightfall they’re thinking, “uh, let’s stay with Jesus, avoid the storms, and watch all the wonders, eh?”
7 –  The Pharisees confront Jesus about how his disciples weren’t washing their hands properly before eating. The full explanation of this tradition could easily be a half day lecture /discussion so we’ll just ask this: “if you ran into Jesus personally do you ask Him to touch your life too or do you ask him about the sanitary status of His disciples hands?” Really! Jesus lets ’em have it over this one. He points out the real issue – the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and he details the matter. It’s a lesson that angered them to the point of no return.  Jesus does two more prominent healings in this chapter. [Remember there were thousands of other healings that we are not told of.] He heals a young girl of demon possession out west near the coast. The area was Phoenician. The area was cultic – thus the encounter, the mother’s reasoning and persistence, Jesus agreement and the blessing is all quite a story.  We can take away from this that we are to encourage people of any background that if they can’t get through to Jesus, keep pressing until you do – because you will.         Next he heals a deaf/mute man. Last story the request for healing came from the mother. This time it comes from everyone who knew him. What a great way to have the witness of Jesus’ power explode.  And everyone marveled.

8 – Jesus does another huge and miraculous feeding. The numbers are slightly different than the last time, but the lessons again are manifold and are to be taken to heart.  The disciples are worried about food when they should be ingesting the deeper lessons that were unfolding in front of them. The power that Jesus has is because of His deity. Notice that seven loaves becomes enough for everyone. The bread was broken in Jesus hands but it multiplied in the disciples’ hands. Seven = The Holy Spirit at work, and it happened in the hands of the disciples.  Memo to the Disciples is a memo to us today: “let the Holy Spirit use YOUR hands to do His work. Get in the Holy Spirit and stop worrying so to take part in the wonders of God.”

Next the Pharisees arrive and demand a sign and Jesus just walks away from them. I mean who’s got time for these jokers who have no intention of following Him?  He then heals a blind man from Bethsaida. This is a town that Jesus cursed for their unbelief. [Mt. 11:21 -It’s now a deserted archaeological dig with a sun god carving that’s visible even today, btw!] So Jesus takes him outside Bethsaida to heal him. Jesus heals him in his second “attempt” [2nd demonstration, actually]. The first gesture to heal has a comical result. Memo to the disciples and to us: “when you endeavor to minister healing and the immediate result is not the desired result – persist. Pray again. Reach out again. Be like the Syro-Phoenician woman and plead. With the deaf man, the whole town showed up to ask.  Get more people involved in healing ministry. Don’t go it alone. P.U.S.H. [Pray UntilSomething Happens] I mean, do you like to pray with quitters? Why would God ever want us to be quitters?