I opened a new translation/paraphrase (it’s about half & half) to read from, called The Voice. If you haven’t heard of it, look it up. It is not only composed by Bible scholars, but by creative writers and musicians. I recently won a copy of the NT, so that is what I read from. It reads like a story or a play. I opened to Mark and began to read like I had never read this story before, and that is truly why my eyes were opened to see so many new details. Also, the Voice really works to create scenes and it is so easy to picture things. Again, look it up here.
I only made it to chapter 5. I just kept stopping to meditate & talk with Jesus about passages He was revealing to me.
The first place He stopped me was chapter 2. The story of the paralytic and his four friends. Jesus was teaching from inside the house where He was staying. People from all over gathered in and around the house, until they overflowed into the streets. Picture it. Four men come up to the back of the crowd, carrying their friend on a mat. They know that if they get him to Jesus they can be healed. The crowd probably knows this as well, because Jesus’ fame has spread so much that at the end of chapter one, he could not openly enter a town anymore. But they come, seeking their friend’s healing. Picture them trying to press through the crowd. Maybe some let them through. Then others stop them and tell them to go away. They can’t get in. No one will let them through to Jesus. I love how the Voice puts it–“the crowd prevented their carrying him close enough to get Jesus’ attention…” (v. 4). The crowd prevent them. I instantly thought of God’s people today. Are we so busy gathering around Jesus that we are preventing others from entering into His redeeming presence?
At the end of the story, when Jesus commands the man to get up & walk, to prove that He indeed has the power to forgive, the man did just that. He stood, rolled up His mat, and “walked out into the streets.” Picture it now: the crowd parting like the Red Sea letting this man out. I was shocked by the man’s silence. There was no praise on his lips. I listened to his defiant walk, showing the crowd what they would have missed if his friends had not gotten him in there by any means possible. But then the people erupt in praise, because they had never seen anything like this. But they might have missed it. It took those four friends’ faith for a miracle to happen. For a man to not just be healed, but be forgiven forever.
Just a few verses later, He stopped me again. Jesus is dining at Levi’s house, with many tax collectors & sinners. The Voice comments (v. 14) that Jesus attracted a large following. Do we attract people? Not with ourselves and what we can do and what fancy gizmos and gadgets we may have. No. If WE are attracting people in our own abilities and our own attractiveness, then they are missing out and so are we. That is not our aim: Jesus is the attractive one. The only one. Him in us should attract people around us. They are to see the light within us and glorify God. If they are seeing our light, they will glorify us. Period. Or the god we create from our own image. We are the image bearers, not God. We bear His image. I don’t feel very attractive, but I can look back on my life, even in just the past few weeks (believe me, two weeks in the hospital does nothing for your appearance!) and see how Jesus in me, even in my utter weakness, was attracting people to me. Even in crazy ways like seeing literally every specialist in the hospital because they had (have) little clues to what is wrong. And the majority of my doctors? From India & the Middle East. 🙂
Yeah, chapter two was full of stuff. I won’t rant about the other times He stopped me up to the end of chapter 5, but I will give you the verses from the Voice and I’m praying that the Helper will teach you through them as well.
2:21–(Jesus is teaching on why his disciples are not fasting now)–“These are new things I am teaching, and they cannot be reconciled with old habits.”
3–note on healing the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath–How can anyone care so much about the words of the law and so little about the spirit of it?
4–parable of the sower–notice the number of seeds for each place. I’ve heard in class that this is like a manuscript error or something, but I think it has significance on its own, personally. Mhmm: the explanation of the sower is SO good.
I won’t type it out, but if you want to know it, shoot me a message or something!
Ok, I’ll stop. I’m going to continue reading through at whatever pace God wants for a few days before I dig into the Keller study on the book, and I’ll continue sharing it with you as He prompts me.