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.
God is more concerned about our hearts and our being, more than He is about our doing—who we are as opposed to what we do. That sounds pretty radical.
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.
I want to pass along some thoughts by way of four simple reminders. Let's call them “commandments,” which apply to anyone graduating—as well as to those of us who graduated years ago.
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.
Good or bad things can be stressors therefore stress is unavoidable. Anything that stresses one aspect of our being affects our total being.
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.
We are to walk humbly with God on the path of justice and compassion. We are not allowed to privatize our faith and care only for our backyard. A social conscience extends compassion and justice to all.
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.