Exploring Mark

QI fact: Mark’s Greek nickname was Colobodactolus which means ‘stubby fingered’! Hardly the most flattering of names for the writer of a gospel, but then Mark is not the most obvious author of such an account. Although he spent time with Jesus he was not one of the apostolic band and any references to Mark himself in the gospels are cryptic and elusive. He does appear again later in the New Testament but only ever as a ‘number two’; first as an assistant to Barnabas, then Paul and Barnabas together and finally to Peter. It was from spending time with Peter that he gathered together the material for his account of the Good News about Jesus.

Mark captures Peter’s sense of action and adventure by emphasising what Jesus did more than what he said, prioritising miracles over parables and discourses. Unlike most modern biographies, a third of the book concentrates on the last week of Jesus’ life. The snappy, news bulletin style appeals to 21st century people used to sound-bites and tweets, making this a refreshing way to encounter Jesus. In this book Mark exposes us to the manifestation of the Kingdom of God. He also depicts Peter’s weaknesses rather than his strengths pointing to a concern to ensure we focus on the person and work of Jesus.

During October and November we will be ‘Exploring Mark’ on Sunday mornings to complement Exploring Christianity’ midweek. If you have never read a gospel from beginning to end in one sitting I encourage you to read Mark this coming week. It will take you between 30-45minutes and will give you a broad overview of Jesus’ life that will open your eyes again to the things he did and said.

My prayer over the next two months is that however long you have been following Jesus you will find your walk revitalised as together we take a fresh look at him through the eyes of Mark.

This blog post featured in the October 2013 edition of Lifelines

What is the evidence for evolution?

This challenging video shows Ray Comfort inviting various scientists to provide him with observable evidence for evolution. Their responses are thought provoking.

I am indebted to Adrian Warnock who posted this video on his blog.

Pointless

One of the quiz shows that Ann and I enjoy watching is ‘Pointless’. In case you haven’t seen it, the format is based around the players giving the most obscure answer they can to each question. Prior to the show, 100 people are each given 100 seconds to give as many answers as they can to the questions that will be asked during the show. Correct answers are assigned a point value equal to the number of panellists who gave them, so that less commonly given answers have lower values. Players on the show attempt to give answers worth as few points as possible, aiming to have the lowest score amongst the players in each round, ideally finding an answer that no one gave – a pointless answer!

This month we are embarking on our Big Questions series where we are answering the most common question submitted to our survey in June. Many gallons of ink have been spilt over the centuries tackling these issues from various philosophical angles. Our conviction is that, tough though these questions are, they all have answers that can be found in the pages of scripture. Our goal is to be neither popular nor obscure in our responses, rather to proclaim the revealed truth of God.

However, this whole exercise becomes pointless if all we do is answer the questions, regardless of how compelling those responses might be. Jesus told a story about a wealthy farmer who made a great profit in his business so he retired to live off the wealth he had earned anticipating many years of leisure and luxury. That very night he died and lost everything, including his soul. Jesus’ punch line in that story was “…whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” Luke 9:24–25

In other words a life lived without Jesus is pointless. However successful you may appear to be, however intellectually satisfying your worldview, it all counts for nothing if that is what you are living for. Jesus says ‘you can go your own way if you want, but please don’t! If you do you will lose your soul, the most valuable thing you have.’  The biggest question of all is addressed to you: Are you willing to give up your own agenda and become a follower of Jesus?  Until you do that, everything else is pointless.

This blog post featured in the September 2013 edition of Lifelines