Why did the tiny band of twelve disciples explode over all the Roman world?
What news could have turned that world upside-down?
As Keller writes in this final chapter,
there were dozens of movements where the leader claimed to be the Messiah,
but when the leader died, the movement collapsed.
Not so with Christianity.
Here is a map of how Christianity exploded throughout the Roman Empire in the 1st century:
And below is a map of where we are today. (The gray areas represent other world religions.) As Keller has said, “80% of the members of all the world religions, with the exception of Christianity, still live in the areas where they were founded. But Christianity is everywhere!”
Because, indeed, our Founder has risen from the dead.
If you are in a church that teaches the Resurrection is simply a metaphor for spring following winter, ask yourself:
“Would that have turned the world upside down?”
It is this news that changed the world:
N. T. Wright questions why 40 days of Lent and mourning should be followed by a single day of celebration on Easter Sunday. Indeed, every day of the Christian life should be a celebration of all that Easter Sunday means, and we are certainly going to celebrate and ponder this all week.
Father, it is July of 2020. But please fill our hearts with that same wonder, excitement, and joy that the early disciples had that first Easter Sunday! May we learn new things together as we look at your powerful Word, filled with truth and glory.
Peter and John running to the tomb.
Highlights from Last Week:
From our own Rebecca, who has traveled with us on this blog from nearly the beginning. She was my administrative assistant for many years, and we have all come to love her. She wrote:
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- Do you have a God Hunt to share?
Monday: A Radical Re-Evaluation of Women
N. T. Wright says that “The resurrection shows a radical re-evaluation of women, for they are front and center.”
3. Read Mark 15:40-16:3
A. List whatever you learn about the women involved in the life of Christ.
B. How is this different from other world religions?
C. Why do you think God entrusted women to be the first with this message? (I’m not sure!)
D. What does this mean to you as a woman?
4. Read the opening three pages in Chapter 18 of Keller’s book and share your notes and comments.
Tuesday: Really Risen
5. Though Jesus had told the disciples 3 times in previous chapters in Mark that He was going to die and rise again on the third day, no one was expecting it. Why, do you think?
6. Read Mark 16:3-7 and find all the evidences that something supernatural had happened.
7. Why do you think God entrusted women with this message?
8. Read up to He Has Done It in Keller’s book and share your notes and comments.
Wednesday: What Happens To Those Who Die Before Christ Returns?
Keller does not cover the very end of Mark, perhaps because the earliest manuscripts don’t have Mark 16:9-20, but goes into other passages and thoughts about the resurrection. So we will ponder as well.
I’ve been reading N. T. Wright’s book “Surprised by Hope” about heaven and the resurrection. He believes, and this seems supported by Scripture, that our souls rest in Jesus when we die, but we don’t receive new bodies until Jesus returns and resurrects them. “Paradise” may be different than the new heaven, may be the place our souls rest until the new heaven and new earth are joined together. It is a mystery, perhaps beyond our ability now to comprehend, but this makes sense to me. For those of you who have pondered the phrase in the Apostles Creed that Jesus “descended into hell, or descended to the dead,” I found this article from The Gospel Coalition helpful:
Christ’s Descent to the Dead
As this article says, perhaps Jesus descended into paradise, where souls await, and this is why he said to the thief, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Perhaps there is a resting place that is good where souls wait until the renewal of all things, including our bodies.
9. Thoughts on the above?
10. Read the section in Keller’s book entitled He Has Done It and share your notes and comments.
Thursday: A Remembrance of The Future
11. Read this last section of Keller’s book and share your notes and comments.
Friday/Saturday: Reflection and Review
12. Would you take 10 minutes or so to review Mark and list three take-a-ways?
13. Now, do the same with Keller’s book.
14. Did you like doing the blog this way or not? If so, how was it helpful? If not, how not?
As you know I am in the biggest trial of my life so far and in pain as I write this. Yet I want to share with you how He is meeting me. Whoa am I experiencing Galatians 2:20 in a deeper way but it is HIM in me helping me to live by faith in the Lover of my soul who loved me and gave Himself up for me! I have days that I fall to anger, or worry, or desire for revenge, or a desire to just fall into depression and escape. I often cry out-help! Oh, He is giving me this unnatural self control-I can’t explain it for my flesh desires to lash out and just leave to punish this person that wounded me. Yet He is giving me this calm and self control I can’t explain. I am amazed at the courage He is giving me as He frees me from relational idolatry..it is truly amazing-it is Him, not me and I want to tell the world. My sister in law said that she knows God is going to be glorified in this for He already is in her life-for she has been encouraged. She knows this is not me but Him..It’s all HIM. 🙂 🙂 🙂
So I come to the blog and He tells me this-He is turning toward my storm setting his face like flint and IS setting me free …Yes He is..and He is also guarding me from the foxes that would come in to destroy the fruit God is tending in my life through this. That last paragraph of “The End” in Keller’s book encouraged my heart like you wouldn’t believe. “Because of Jesus’s death evil is a passing thing-a shadow. There is light and high beauty forever beyond its reach because evil fell into the heart of Jesus. The only darkness that could have destroyed us forever fell into his heart.” Over the past few months I asked God for Wisdom in my situation and slowly but surely He is giving it . This evil won’t destroy me for it fell on Jesus’ heart.
On a personal note, so many of you came to encourage me on my decision to give my husband morphine, against his initial wishes, at the end of his life. You are dear. I don’t know that I was right, but I do know I am forgiven, and God allowed Steve to wake at the end and to say “I love you” just before he died. How good is our God!
Also, congratulations to each one of you who stayed the course through 23 weeks on Mark. Well done! So grateful for your faithfulness.