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Psalm 1 1  Psalm Title: The Way to Happiness
1 God blesses those people who refuse evil advice and won’t follow sinners or join in sneering at God. 2 Instead, the Law of the LORD makes them happy, and they think about it day and night. 3 They are like trees growing beside a stream, trees that produce fruit in season and always have leaves. Those people succeed in everything they do. 4 That isn’t true of those who are evil, because they are like straw blown by the wind. 5 Sinners won’t have an excuse on the day of judgment, and they won’t have a place with the people of God. 6 The LORD protects everyone who follows him, but the wicked follow a road that leads to ruin.

clip_image127Background 2

We do not know who wrote Psalm 1. It was probably a special start to the Book of Psalms. It tells us about two groups of people:

  • verses 1 – 3: friends of God, he calls them righteous
  • verses 4 – 6: enemies of God, we call them godless

Look after Psalm 5 to learn what the word “righteous” means. (We say it “ry-chus”.)
In Psalm 1, life is like a way or a road. The man that walks on the way with God becomes happy. The end is heaven. The enemy of God walks on a different road. He will never be really happy. The end is not heaven, but a very bad place that we call hell.

Biblical Truths 3

Verse 1: This tells us how to become really happy. We will:

  • not do what the godless say
  • not go where sinners are
  • not scorn what God teaches

Verse 2: This tells us more about the really happy man. The word “repeats” here means “talks to himself but not very loud”. He remembers words from the Bible.

Verse 3: These are some of the words that he might say from the Bible, from the Books of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Joshua. They tell us that he:

  • drinks the water that God offers
  • brings fruit to God
  • is strong in times of trouble

Verse 37 ‘In my name’ means ‘with my authority and for me’. Humble service is service to Jesus himself. ‘As you did it to one of the least …. you did it to me’ (Matthew 25:40). Jesus was working for God, who had sent him. Therefore, whenever people serve him, they are serving God.

There were already arguments in the early church about leadership when Mark was writing his book. Mark probably recorded this incident for that reason.

Items for Discussion

  • Where does humanity’s drive to know or become the “greatest” come from?
  • Where do you see it in today’s society?
  • Who do we hold up today as the “great” people?
  • What role do you see for humility in helping teach someone about Christ?
  • Why is it so hard to be last so that we are first?
  • Can we ever be last (or first on God’s scale) without Christ? Why?
  • If we are to look into the “mirror, mirror on the wall” what should we see in order to fulfill the lesson that Christ was teaching in Mark?

 

Mark 9:30-37
30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it. 33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” 36 He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37″Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

Background 4

The text of the Gospel of Mark is not viewed as impressive on its face. The Greek is often appears awkward and was smoothed out by later writers who used Mark as a source text. Events occur without apparent reason, in fulfillment of a design not clearly expressed in the text. Characters pop into existence for a verse or two, and then fade away. Many locations mentioned by Mark do not appear to have existed at the time the Gospel was written, and the travels of Jesus in Mark sometimes seem to run counter to common sense. All this is enhanced by the numerous clarifications and additions made to the text by scribes who tried to alter what they perceived as errors and misunderstandings.

Despite this, the brief Gospel of Mark, just 16 short chapters accounting for 25 or so pages in English, is perhaps the single greatest piece of literature ever written. The other canonical gospel writers all incorporated the Gospel of Mark into their own works, giving it tremendous influence over the subsequent history of Christianity, and later, of the world. Over the last two centuries, as scholars began to recognize the importance of the Gospel of Mark to the development of the Christian canon, scholarly interest in the Gospel has grown exponentially.

Biblical Truths

Verses 30-31 The period when Jesus was teaching publicly in Galilee was over. He wanted to avoid crowds so that he could train his disciples. ‘Handover’ means that someone would make it possible for the authorities to arrest Jesus. The words ‘hand over’ might also mean that God would allow Jesus to die. That was the only means by which God could save people.

Verse 32 The disciples were too frightened to ask Jesus to explain. On a previous occasion, Jesus had told them that he would suffer. They had opposed the idea then and Jesus had blamed them. Perhaps they did not want to risk such a severe reply again (8:32-33). They might also have learned something worse, and perhaps they preferred not to know.

Verses 33-34 Perhaps some of the disciples were jealous of the three men who had been alone on the mountain with Jesus. But they were all still thinking about a political kingdom in which Jesus would give them important places.  Jesus had taught them that he would suffer. And he would die. But that had not changed their wrong idea about the Messiah’s purpose. The disciples kept quiet because they were ashamed to tell Jesus.

Verse 35 Jewish teachers sat to teach their pupils. The fact that Jesus sat down showed that he was going to teach his disciples. If they wanted greatness in his kingdom, they must not try to take the most important place. They must not be proud and expect to be the masters. They must be willing to serve everyone.

Verse 36 In order to emphasise this need for service, Jesus acted a parable. He used a little child as an example. The Aramaic word ‘talya’ can mean both ‘child’ and ‘servant’. Children have no power and they have to depend on the help of adults. The disciples must serve even little children. But ‘children’ includes all people who are weak and in need of help. Paul said, ‘As for the man who is weak in faith, give him a welcome’ (Romans 14:1).

Verse 37 ‘In my name’ means ‘with my authority and for me’. Humble service is service to Jesus himself. ‘As you did it to one of the least …. you did it to me’ (Matthew 25:40). Jesus was working for God, who had sent him. Therefore, whenever people serve him, they are serving God.

There were already arguments in the early church about leadership when Mark was writing his book. Mark probably recorded this incident for that reason.

Items for Discussion

  • Where does humanity’s drive to know or become the “greatest” come from?
  • Where do you see it in today’s society?
  • Who do we hold up today as the “great” people?
  • What role do you see for humility in helping teach someone about Christ?
  • Why is it so hard to be last so that we are first?
  • Can we ever be last (or first on God’s scale) without Christ? Why?
  • If we are to look into the “mirror, mirror on the wall” what should we see in order to fulfill the lesson that Christ was teaching in Mark?

Discussion Challenge

  • How does a body of Christian believers support the process of teaching that last place as Christ defines it is really first place?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. http://www.easyenglish.info/psalms/psalm001-taw.htm
  3. http://www.easyenglish.info/bible-commentary/mark-lbw.htm
  4. http://www.michaelturton.com/Mark/GMark_intro.html
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