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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Day 89: Mark 12:28-44 & Psalm 90 - How Can our Bible Reading Help Us Develop a More Biblical Worldview?

Today's Reading: Mark 12:28-44 & Psalm 90

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How Can our Bible Reading Help Us Develop a More Biblical Worldview?

And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” - Mark 12:38-40, ESV

One of the benefits of reading through whole sections of the Bible, and not just picking out isolated verses, is that we can get a better understanding of the connections between different verses, teachings and ideas that we had thought of a separate. In joining these pieces together into an integrated whole, we begin to develop a more complete biblical worldview.

One way we can learn to stitch together these pieces as we read is by asking questions as we go and looking for the answers. As we ask questions and understand the answers, we come to think as God thinks and wants us to think. For example, from today's passage: 

  • Why are loving God and loving others the most important commandments? 
  • Why was this scribe "not far from the kingdom of God"? What was he still missing? 
  • What is hypocrisy and how is it related to God's most important commandments? 
  • What does real sincerity in loving God look like? 

In today's passage, we continue to see some of Jesus' final public interactions with religious leaders in Jerusalem before His crucifixion. The leaders have been asking Him questions to test Him, and He had passed every test. Now a final questions comes from a scribe. He asks, "Which commandment is the most important of all?" This is a much more important and sincere question than the previous ones about taxes and marriage in the resurrection. 

Jesus answers this scribe clearly and perfectly, of course. He says that loving God with all that we are and loving our neighbor as ourselves are the most important commandments. The scribe agrees sincerely with Jesus, and Jesus tells him he is not far from the kingdom of God.

Why are these commandments most important? Because God is love and is the most worthy object of our love and devotion. All people are made in the image of God equally and we are called to love others as ourselves.

Why was this scribe "not far from the kingdom of God"? Well, understanding what God requires gets you close to the kingdom of God, but only knowing God's Son gets you into the kingdom. This scribe needs who Jesus really is, which is why Jesus tells him that the Messiah is greater than just being the son of David.

What is hypocrisy and how is it related to God's most important commandments? Jesus condemns the scribes for their religious hypocrisy because they use religion as a tool for self-promotion and self-exaltation. This is the opposite of loving God; they use God to exalt themselves. Their hypocritical religion led to the abuse and exploitation of their neighbors and not love. 

What does real sincerity in loving God look like? Finally, Jesus gives His disciples a clear illustration of what sincere devotion to God looks like. A poor widow comes into the Temple to give her last two copper coins to God and Jesus makes sure His disciples see and understand her devotion. Loving God leads to a full trust in Him, even to our last penny.

By asking questions and seeing more clearly the flow of this passage, we can see that Jesus is teaching us what it looks like to be His disciple. We can understand the priority of love, the person of Christ, the danger of hypocrisy and the marks of true faith. 

Prayer Based on Psalm 90:

Lord, You have been our dwelling place
    in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting You are God.

You return man to dust
    and say, “Return, O children of man!"
For a thousand years in Your sight
    are but as yesterday when it is past,
    or as a watch in the night.

You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
    like grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
    in the evening it fades and withers.

Because of our sins, we are brought to an end by Your anger;
    by Your wrath we are dismayed.
You have set our iniquities before you,
    our secret sins in the light of Your presence,
    for nothing is hidden from You.

In this fallen world, all our days pass away under Your wrath;
    we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
The years of our life are seventy,
   or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
    they are soon gone, and we fly away.

Who considers the power of Your anger,
    and Your wrath according to the fear of you?
So teach us to number our days
    that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Return, O Lord! How long?
    Have pity on Your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Lord please make us glad for as many days as You have afflicted us,
    and for as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be shown to Your servants,
    and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
    and establish the work of our hands upon us;

    yes, establish the work of our hands!

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