Although the shortest of the four Gospels, the book of Mark wastes no words portraying the Saviour as a servant to others. The tone is practical, which appealed to the Roman mindset. We want to observe the Servant at work in this account of His life, noticing especially how clearly the key verse of the book (Mark 10:45) outlines the two major phases of His earthly existence and ministry.
Matthew, a tax collector by trade, wrote his book to emphasize Christ, the King. The book includes numerous facts and expressions, which would have appealed to the Jewish reader. The fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and the presentation of Jesus as Messiah are clearly emphasized. When we understand the book of Matthew we bow before King Jesus, the promised Messiah of Israel.
We now begin the second phase of our safari through Scripture. Our desire is to see all 27 books as a whole—to see how they fit together, how they relate to us, and the value of each section to the person who reads and believes the Bible. Of special interest is the “flow” of thought carried through these books and letters of the New Testament.
All of us need heroes to inspire and challenge us to live authentic lives of integrity. Centuries ago, one such hero of integrity kept himself afloat in the swamps of ethical compromise. His name was Daniel, and he serves as an example of authenticity for us to become heroes in our own generation. A life well lived not only inspires others but also results in great rewards both in this world and in the world to come.
A silent battle rages in every one of us: the conflict between the sin of pride and the virtue of humility—the desire for significance versus the goal to be Christ-like. We should not be surprised that when God led the prophet Micah to tell us what He expects of us, He included “Walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Contrary to popular opinion, humility—not self-promotion—marks the path of a life well lived.
Micah 6:8 reveals the second character quality of a life well lived: kindness—a quality often expressed in mercy or forgiveness. Few things catch the attention or remain in the memory more than acts of unmerited kindness, but it sometimes seems that everything around us works to block those acts. Of all the biblical examples of amazing acts of kindness, Joseph's treatment of his brothers may shine the brightest.
In Micah 6:8, the bold prophet answered the question many people wonder about today: What does the Lord expect of us? Micah's answer is comprehensive: to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God. The first of these three expectations means to do what is right, regardless of the consequences. This kind of courageous obedience is illustrated for us in the lives of the first-century apostles.
The last stage of marriage is that period of time when the nest is empty—either empty of the children or of one of the mates—or both. This is a critical stage in the home. All sorts of strange and unpredictable feelings transpire, and we find ourselves in need of stabilizing thoughts and direction.
Death is one of the greatest fears in life! Many people would do anything to escape it. But there it is, refusing to go away. When pain, suffering, and death threatened Job, he asked, “If a man dies, will he live again?” (Job 14:14). Job didn’t ask whether or not a person will rise from the dead at the end of time, but whether or not he or she will continue to live, even though his or her body waits in the grave.
Everybody gets older whether you admit it or not. The question is, “Will we grow sweeter, or will we rot?” Once all the children have left the nest and two people who honeymooned together 25 or 30 years ago are left to “start over,” how can they resist negative tendencies and stay young at heart? How can they support one another's growth toward spiritual maturity?