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Pursuing Jesus: PUSHING PAST THE OBSTACLES

Sep 20, 2019

The Gospel of Mark is a fast-paced look at the life of Jesus. Multiple times through Mark’s gospel, we see the word “immediately”. As we study, we move through multiple events in each chapter, and it’s easy to get caught up in these events and miss valuable application for our lives.

The gospel of Mark was most likely written after the death of Peter. But of course there’s debate about this among the church fathers. What we do know, is that Mark was a disciple of Peter and that Peter refers to Mark as his son (1 Peter 5:13). 

Mark was an interpreter for Peter, and was also in the middle of a discussion between Paul and Barnabas. Written sometime between AD 67–68, the Gospel of Mark is also referred to as the “memoirs of Peter” by Justin Martyr in AD 150. Mark committed to writing down all he could remember about Peter’s teachings on Jesus.

One story from the gospel of Mark can summarize several miracles that Jesus performed in the first ten chapters.

We read that Jesus is in Capernaum at Peter’s house (Mark 2:1–12). If you’ve ever been to Israel, such as on the Israel tour with Kay Arthur or with the Canadian ministry, you can probably picture a small house that now sits under a Catholic church. It’s not a big place, and just steps from the synagogue.

Jesus was there, teaching a packed house of people. The Scripture tells us that people were packed in right to the door. The real action was taking place on the roof. Scripture doesn’t tell us how many men were on the roof with the paralytic man. But most likely a few men would be needed to raise a man laying on his bed to the roof, and then lower him down. (Most of the homes in Israel would have had a flat roof, and for some reason I picture a home like the one from Fred and Wilma Flintstone.) The men on the roof must have had to do some serious work to make a hole in the roof big enough to lower the man into the room with Jesus.

There is much more to the story. We know the man was healed, and that the Pharisees questioned the statement that the man’s sins were forgiven. But what stands out is that as Jesus is teaching the gospel, men are diligently digging to get this paralytic man to the feet of Jesus. They knew that Jesus had power and authority over sickness, and that demons fell at His feet when they were in His presence. These men knew Jesus would heal their friend. Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son your sins have been forgiven.” Not only did Jesus heal this man physically, but spiritually as well.

In Mark 5:25–34, we see another instance of faith. A woman with a hemorrhage for 12 years spent her life savings looking for a cure with no relief in sight. She’d heard about Jesus, and as Mark records, “For she thought, ‘If I just touch His garments I will get well.’” This woman fought through a large crowd and made her way toward Jesus. As she touched His garments, Jesus felt power leave Him, and instantly the woman was healed! “Daughter your faith has made you well.”

As I think through these two stories, one simple question comes to mind: To what extent are we willing to pursue Jesus? Are we willing to put the work in like the paralytic man’s friends who dug a hole in the roof to get their friend to the feet of Jesus? Are we willing to fight the crowd and push through to be in the presence of Jesus? When you think through these two questions, it’s not as easy as we think, is it. What are those obstacles that hinder a full-out pursuit of Jesus?

Together, let’s evaluate a couple of possible obstacles that hinder our pursuit of Jesus:

Time: I’m so busy with work, family, and life in general, that I can’t commit any time to really dig into God’s Word.

Distractions: I have every intention of digging in, but when I start, something always pulls me away from my study.

Procrastination: It’s a priority, but I keep putting it off. I’ll get to it.

Preferences: There are several different ways I can pursue Jesus that don’t involve Bible study.

Feeling lost: I don’t know where to start. Bible study is hard!

 

Some of these statements are heartbreaking. Bible study is an easy and effective way of pursuing Jesus. The Old Testament is filled with truths about God. We learn about His character and how He interacts with a sinful and stubborn people. We see His plan for redemption, starting in the book of Genesis, and completely fulfilled by the end of Revelation. Through the Old Testament, we read about God’s amazing promises to Noah, Abraham, Israel, and David. In the New Testament, we learn about the better covenant through Jesus’ blood. We learn how to live a godly life. We learn how to live in expectancy of Jesus’ return.

Engaging in the study of God’s Word keeps the engine running and in full pursuit of God. Like the friends of the paralytic, as well as the woman with the hemorrhage, who knew the result of being in the presence of God. These are the things we must keep focused on as well. Eternity with Jesus.

As you read this, thousands of students and leaders across Canada are in churches, classrooms, or sitting around the kitchen table studying the Bible using Precept’s inductive study method and Bible study tools. Please pray for them as they pursue Jesus.

There are thousands more who are searching, trying to work through the many obstacles that hinder them from a full-on pursuit of Jesus. We can remove some obstacles through our training workshops.

We offer two free workshops all over Canada: A Taste of Inductive Study and Essentials of Inductive Study. We’re seeing full classrooms in many locations. Your financial gifts to Precept ensure that these workshops are free and make them accessible to anyone.

Would you partner with us as we engage more people in relationship with God through knowing His Word? Consider a one-time gift or join our E-Team as a partner in monthly prayer and financial support.

When you give this month, we’ll send you a copy of the book Teach Me to Study the Bible in 28 Days for you to use or give to someone you know who needs to break through their obstacles. *(Offer expires October 1, 2019) The tax-deductible portion of your gift, if less than $150, will be reduced by the fair market value of $15 respectively according to CRA rules.

Thank you for your continued support of Precept Ministries in Canada.

Blessings,

Mark Sheldrake
Precept Ministries International (Canada), National Director

Yes, I want to partner with Precept so they can continue to raise up and train Bible Study Leaders across Canada!

Hear from one of our trainers, Sandra, about what the Lord is doing through Precept in Ottawa.

Hear Christa’s journey of how Inductive Bible study has changed the way she interacts with God’s Word.

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