The crowds in Judea celebrate the coming of King Jesus, as they should. The story challenges disciples of Jesus in America to remember that Jesus is our King. He has promised - and proven - that he will provide everything we need. He is worthy of our celebration every time we gather to worship in his name.
Jesus leaves Jericho on his way to Jerusalem. As Mark tells the story, nothing of importance happened in Jericho at that time. Jesus is focused on getting to Jerusalem for the showdown with the authorities of the Jewish establishment. He plans to reveal himself at last as the Christ, the long awaited savior, the "Son of David."
Mark has been careful so far to preserve this secret identity of Jesus. Anytime demons proclaimed his authority and divinity, Jesus silenced them. Those who were healed were often admonished to say nothing about it. It has only been very recently (Mark 8) that even the Twelve began to put things together and understand Jesus is "the Christ."
Why, then, does this blind beggar, Bartimaeus, already know that Jesus is "Son of David"? The answer directs us to know how to be faithful disciples in our own time when so many blind their eyes to the truth of Jesus.
2021 has already been off to an eventful start. For those who love the truth, Big Tech censorship of anyone questioning election integrity, for example, seems to set the tone for much more trouble ahead (2 Thess 2:10). How should disciples of Jesus Christ respond? How should we engage the challenging times ahead? In a capstone lesson on discipleship to The Twelve apostles, Jesus calls us to see cross-shaped opportunities to serve others, rejoicing in the chance to drink the "cup" of Christ, being baptized in the fire of the emerging Kingdom of God.
Why does Jesus teach the disciples that it is impossible for a wealthy person to enter the Kingdom of God? What hope is there for Americans who are all wealthy compared to many places around the world? In this study we learn that Jesus can save even wealthy people, if we will humble ourselves to receive from him the gift of salvation.
The disciples think they're helping Jesus in his Kingdom of God work by shooing the children away. Jesus shocks them by telling them that if they want to be a part of the Kingdom they need to become like those children! In this lesson, we consider Jesus' example to understand what it means to have a child-like faith.
In teaching the truth of God's will regarding divorce, Jesus teaches all disciples an invaluable lesson of discipleship. Disciples seek the will of God, not loopholes for their own will.
John and the other apostles saw themselves positioned as elites in the Kingdom of God Jesus was establishing. However, when their words and actions bring this to Jesus' attention, he rebukes them. He reminds them that they are disciples not the master. As disciples, it is their place to serve Jesus along with others Jesus may call into service. If John or even Peter get in the way of the service others are offering to Jesus, it is John or Peter who is at risk of being "cut off" from the Kingdom, and from eternal life. The warning is to all of us: "be at peace with one another."
Jesus taught the disciples to welcome mere children in Jesus' name. John responds by telling about an exorcist that John and the others prevented from doing such work in Jesus' name. Jesus takes that opportunity to teach all of his disciples how to recognize one another and have fellowship with many new friends in his Kingdom.
After the amazing "mountain top" experience of the transfiguration, Jesus, Peter, James, and John return to the base of the mountain to find Jesus' gospel movement in crisis. The other nine disciples created a scandal for Jesus when they couldn't drive out a powerful demon from a man's son. Jesus gets the job done. In the process, he teaches a crucial lesson about what it means to be his followers. Disciples can follow Jesus and do the good works of his way only by prayer.
In this passage, Jesus explains to the twelve disciples, and to the crowds gathered with them, that a genuine disciple must "deny himself, take up your cross, and follow me," (v. 34). He says this in the context of his own path to Jerusalem and to the cross that awaits him there. So, any genuine Christian heeds this calling from the Lord to take "self" off the throne of our hearts and let Jesus be there; to embrace the path Jesus calls us to walk, which is often shamed by this world; and to stay the course to our last breath.