EASTER BIBLE STUDY: 40 Chapters in 40 Days    Day 13, Mark, Chapter 7   ( For online convenience, you can read the Bible at http://www.BibleGateway.com  )

Gospel  Means “good news”    The Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are referred to as “The Gospels”; perhaps because they tell about the life and teaching of Jesus, sharing the good news of Jesus as Christ, the fulfillment of the promised Savior, Messiah.  For Christians today, the good news is the salvation found in Christ alone – that Jesus died as a sacrifice for our sins so that we can all be forgiven of our sins; and was resurrected and ascended up to heaven, promising eternal life with Him in heaven for all who claim Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.  This is what we celebrate at Easter!

Repetition of stories and teachings  As mentioned before, many of the same teachings and stories are found in the four Gospels.   However, there are differences in how they are shared, and reading something more than once helps us learn and remember better, so please read the entire chapters even if you have read the same story before.

Pharisees Just as there are various groups of Christians today, there were various groups of Jews in ancient times. One group was the Pharisees, which means “separated ones.”  History does not tell us what “separated ones” referred to in their time, but today it seems possible that Pharisees were separated from more common people as being religious leaders who were well educated in religious law.  That probably started out as a good thing, but by the time Jesus came along, Pharisees had become legalistic, teaching and believing that the way to please God was with strict obedience to law.  Pharisees became so legalistic that they created hundreds of their own rules for upholding the traditional laws of Moses.  The Pharisees upheld traditional Jewish teachings and beliefs (what we know as Old Testament teaching), but cared more about their appearance and status as religious leaders than about using their position to promote good for others.  They opposed Jesus because Jesus challenged their teachings and interpretations of the laws.

Piety/piousness:  Piety can be a good thing or a bad thing.  Christian piety is good when it is about righteousness, holiness, living in a Godly way with humility and grace.  Christian piety is bad when it evolves into self-righteousness or spiritual arrogance.

Jesus sends a demon out of a Gentile girl (Mark 7:24-30)  Please do not be offended thinking that Jesus was discriminating against the Gentile mother or that was he calling her a dog. No, not at all!  First, remember that Jesus came to save the Gentiles (non-Jews) as well as the Jews.  Also remember that Jesus spoke in metaphors.  The point He was making with his metaphor was that He was trying to provide for His family of disciples and followers.  The woman apparently understood and did not take offense because she replied with respect (was not argumentative) when she pointed out that even dogs are blessed by the crumbs they receive.  Notable here is that Jesus didn’t have to physically see or touch the girl to drive the demon away, for when the woman returned home, her daughter was lying quietly in bed and the demon was gone!  What authority Jesus had!

Shhh, don’t tell.   Again, Jesus commands the people not to talk about the miracles they saw or experienced. Why?  Because He didn’t want people following Him just because He could perform earthly miracles.  What He had to offer – forgiveness, salvation, eternity – was  much greater, and when the time was right, that was what He wanted people to know and talk about.  The same is true for us today!

Oh, Lord, please continue to be with us and bless our time reading the Bible.  Help us to learn more about You so we can try to be more like you. Please also help us to live in ways that lead others to You.   In Your Holy name we pray.  Amen. 

Tomorrow’s reading is Mark, Chapter 8.  God bless you!