“The Gospels are most like Greco-Roman popular biographies, and they follow similar conventions of reporting speech and events. Ancient biographers were not as interested in giving the precise details of a person’s life, as are modern biographers. They were more interested in presenting a sympathetic picture of their subject and in recording the hero’s words and deeds in such a way that it would present him or her as worthy of honor or emulation. This is not to say they wantonly presented false information but rather that they aimed at only a general degree of precision. Thus the Gospels don’t give us the exact words of Jesus on every occasion but instead His genuine teaching. The Gospels make virtually no claims to chronological reporting, and thus the events of Jesus’ life are often arranged on other principles, thematic or geographical, or even merely within the broad chronological framework. Unlike Greco-Roman biographies, the Gospels are concerned less to showcase Jesus’ character than to explain His significance within God’s program as the long-awaited Messiah, and each Gospel emphasizes a different aspect of this significance. Mark’s emphasis is on Jesus as the suffering Son of God. Jesus is presented as fully aware of His messianic identity and calling, while everyone else (except God and the demons) is baffled by Him. He is at once supernaturally powerful and authoritative and yet also humble, servant-like, and committed to the cross. Mark moves the reader quickly through the teaching and miracle-working ministry of Jesus to the climactic events of His death and resurrection. The Gospel reaches its high point with the confession of the centurion at the cross, “This man really was God’s Son!” (15:39).” (HCSB)

I found Alan Hultberg’s point of view in regards to 1:44 intriguing: “If Jesus was the Messiah, why did He not allow the man with the skin disease to spread the news about Him? Jesus did not want His program co-opted by others. He would reveal Himself on His own terms when the time was right. Jesus’ purpose was not popularity and political insurrection but discipleship and ultimately the cross. This point is particularly central to Mark, so Mark includes several instances when Jesus ordered those whom He healed not to tell others about it.”

3:5, “After looking around at them with anger and sorrow at the hardness of their hearts, He told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.” The background to this verse is when Jesus informed the Pharisees that He is the Lord of the Sabbath and that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. This particular verse is a demonstration that no one cannot not do anything on the day of rest. It is ok to perform good works on the Sabbath just like any other day. God does want us to have one day a week of rest to refresh and stay focused on what is important in life so that we do not completely burn out.

Alan Hultberg made the following comment in regards to 3:31-35: “Jesus’ language in this passage would have been shocking to His audience. Family relationships were very important in first-century Palestinian society. But Jesus was not being rude; He was making two forceful and related points. First, His family had come to take control of Him, and He was distancing Himself from obligations to family honor for the sake of His greater calling. Second, He commended those who make a similar choice. He underscored in the strongest terms the pursuit of God’s will as the highest value. Jesus’ family eventually came to be His followers.”

5:18-20, “As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed kept begging Him to be with Him. But He would not let him; instead, He told him, “Go back home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.” So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed.” After reading these verses, I could not help but wonder what if all Christians did as the demon-possessed man had done? After all, every one of us can certainly relate since we all have sinned and have gone our own ways. As soon as a person accepts Christ as Lord and Savior, it is natural to want to be with Him by constantly praying, meditating, and learn everything about Him. Here, Jesus is telling us to go to our hometown, and spread the word on the grace that was given. Although there are a minority of Christians that follow these instructions, many do one of two noticeable things. We either keep silent by staying in our Christian closet, going to Church once a week and then live our regular lives the rest of the time or we turn people away from God by preaching fire and brimstone. I confess, despite these journal entries, most of the time; I fall under the first category and remain silent about my faith unless someone inquires. I do pray that God will work through me in a way that will make people want to ask me why I believe what I believe.

5:32-34, “So He was looking around to see who had done this. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came with fear and trembling, fell down before Him, and told Him the whole truth. “Daughter,” He said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be free from your affliction.” This is truly an amazing testimony if the reader can only grasp the meaning. The background to this is that this woman had been suffering from bleeding for 12 years and had spent everything and endured much under several doctors. When she heard of Jesus and found that He would be passing by, she decided that she must get close enough just to touch His robe so that she may be healed. This woman did not feel worthy enough to stop Jesus for personal attention, nor did she have any intention to touch Him, just His robe. As soon as she did and was healed, that got Jesus’ attention and brought fear to the woman. When she confessed, Jesus personalized her by calling her “Daughter.” He could have just said “woman” like many have, He could have called her by name, but He chose to call her “Daughter.” If there is anybody reading this, that does not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, I highly encourage you to accept Him as Lord and Savior. As soon as you accept Christ in to your life, God adopts you and calls you His own “son” or “daughter.” The truth is, life does have its hardships and afflictions, and being a Christian does not prevent those from happening. Being a Christian simply means that you do not have to face life’s hardships alone. Jesus has already gone through everything and He wants to be with you through both the good times and the bad. Also, there is always the church that gives fellowship with other Christians and offers encouragement, support, and guidance.

Paraphrasing 6:45-52, Jesus saw that his disciples were being battered as they were rowing against the wind in the middle of the sea. He came toward them walking on the sea and wanted to pass by them, but when they saw Him, they were terrified. Immediately, He spoke with them and said, “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. What I love about this particular account is another great example of His grace that still applies to us today. When we are going through a heavy storm in life such as a loss of a loved one, job, financial difficulties, whatever it may be, our faith in Jesus could give us the courage to get through it with both feet set firmly on the ground. Jesus is in our boat of life and He wants us to trust in Him and know that no matter what, everything will turn out for the good for those who love Him.

In regards to 8:33, “Jesus intended His statement to Peter to shock some sense into the disciples. Chapters 8-10 of Mark form a transition from Jesus’ ministry to His passion. In this section Jesus three times prepared His disciples for the goal of His ministry—His death—by trying to correct His followers’ power-centered understanding of what His messianic role meant. Peter, like Satan, would undermine the purposes of God by self-centeredly seeking the glory of the messianic kingdom too quickly.” (HCSB)

9:23-24, “Then Jesus said to him, ‘If You can?’ Everything is possible to the one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe! Help my unbelief.” In this account, the father asked Jesus to heal his son, and Jesus uses semantics in order for the father to gain a better understanding of his faith. I love the father’s response, “I do believe! Help my unbelief.” I understand and have gone through similar circumstances where as a Christian, I would not doubt God’s existence or power, but rather would doubt God’s ability to help me in a specific situation. Certainly, the Creator of the universe has better things to do, other people “more” worthy and deserving of His assistance than me. The Bible teaches that God loves everyone; no one is better or worse than anyone else. Jesus Christ came down to die so that ALL who believe in Him will be saved. There are many examples in both the Old and New Testaments where God shows that He wants to be a part of every detail of our lives. Every now and then, the prayer of the father in Mark 9, becomes my prayer, “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

In regards to 10:21, 29-30 “The demand placed on the rich man was radical and one that Jesus did not require of all His disciples. Jesus’ goal was to discover the extent to which the man really desired eternal life and to underscore the radical self-denial of discipleship, self-denial more difficult for “the haves” (the first) than the “have-nots” (the last). Jesus did not promise health and wealth to His followers. That He was speaking hyperbolically is made clear by the promise of receiving a hundred mothers and fathers in return for the loss of one. Rather, Jesus did promise that Christians are amply compensated in the new community for what they give up of their former lives.”(HCSB)

Alan Hultberg made the following comment in regards to 14:7: “By focusing on His coming death, Jesus commended the appropriateness of the woman’s actions. In doing so He also tacitly admitted that He was worth the costly sacrifice made by the woman. He was not disparaging the poor or helping the poor but emphasized the value of His presence, which would soon be taken away.” This concept brings new light on the fact that when Jesus describes that whenever we help the least of the people, we have helped Him. We, as the disciples have done, will ask, “how have we helped?” Jesus’ answer is that when a person is in jail, we visit them; when a person is naked, we clothe them; when a person is hungry, we feed them; when a person is thirsty, we give them something to drink.

14:37-38, “Then He came and found them sleeping. ‘Simon, are you sleeping?’ He asked Peter. ‘Couldn’t you stay awake one hour? Stay awake and pray so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’” If you ever feel weak, pray for His strength, and He will provide within His time. These particular verses can provide a challenge, which is to pray and pray only for one hour. In all honesty, I do not even recall doing this myself, but is something I am working on. Please keep in mind that prayer is not just about talking to God, but consists also of listening to Him. Here is a test for both you and me, let us set a side one hour on one day where the television, radio, phone, computer, etc… are all turned off, no one else is in the room, for some one-on-one time with God. I know that just by successfully completing this test, the faith will be stronger, and the complete body (physical, mental, and spiritual) will be rejuvenated.
Good luck and God Bless.

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