Daily Bible Reading for March 15, 2014: Mark 1-2
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Author: John Mark, believed to have been recording the recollections of the Apostle Peter
Date: Written between AD 68 and AD 70
Context: The Book of Mark is the shortest of the four Gospels. It was written for Gentiles, especially Romans, and shows Jesus as the ultimate servant and a person of action. The Gospel of Mark skips over the lineage of Jesus and his birth, diving right into the story. Again, his intended audience is Romans; they are uninterested in lineage, preferring action instead. In the first verse of Mark, he identifies Jesus as "Jesus Christ, the Son of God." Jesus is His name, Christ is His title, and Son of God expresses His divine nature. Mark only mentions John the Baptist as a preparatory figure for Jesus. Following John's baptism of Jesus, Jesus goes into the desert to be tempted by Satan. In calling His disciples, Jesus says "follow me."No previous prophet called disciples to follow them. Jesus, as the Son of God, had that authority. The disciples gave up their livelihoods and families to follow Jesus. Jesus was unique in His teachings in the synagogue as He did not quote or cite the ideas of other rabbis, as most did. Rather He spoke with authority and gave His own, true interpretation of the scriptures. When casting out demons, exorcists would invoke the name of a higher power. It was also believed that being able to name the demon gave the exorcists power over the demon and vice versa. Jesus did none of these things. He simply commanded the demons and they did as He commanded! When healing, Jesus often showed compassion by touching the individual first. One of the lessons He was teaching through this was that serving is also a form of discipleship. Jesus also frequently showed disregard for the Pharisees' rules because they were the laws of man, not the Laws of God. The Pharisees viewed anyone who failed to follow their strict interpretations of the law as sinners.
World History: John the Baptist was the first to preach baptism for repentance as a public confession of sin. Prior to him, baptism was only required for Gentiles converting to Judaism. Leprosy, during the time of Jesus, was a catch-all name for several skin diseases. Once diagnosed, they were forbidden from having any physical contact with anyone else. They were considered living corpses. The IRS is one of the least popular divisions of government in the United States. Tax collectors were viewed even worse by the people of ancient Israel. In order to become a tax collector, one must purchase the rights to the business from Rome, which was expensive. After purchasing the rights, the tax collector could set up his toll station and charge whatever rate he wanted. Tax collectors were viewed as traitors and extortionists. They were not allowed to be on juries or serve as judges because they were considered untrustworthy. The city of Capernaum was a large city on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was also the home of Peter.