This is an adventure. Jerry Pace, botanist and burn victim, is dragged into an expedition to a remote mountain in Venezuela to follow the trail of the Spanish in 1559. His best friend, Hector, and a woman who is paying for the trip convinced him he he might find a plant that has been extinct for sixty million years. But life is not always so simple.

Following the map left by the Spanish, they make their way up the Orinoco River, suffering setbacks along the way. Pace is ready to turn back but Hector, the historian, wants to finish the dangerous trek, even after he nearly drowned and the team lost most of their supplies.

It is a good story, though it did have a slow start. Oehler spent too much time getting them on the river, but otherwise a good read. It is not going to change your life though.

Mike Lawrence

I Know Who You Are

likely appearance of 1st century Capernaum Synagogue by Lean Ritmeyer
the basalt rock foundation of 1st century Capernaum Synagogue

the 4th century synagogue was built on the 1st century synagogue foundation, and enlarged

Deuteronomy 18:15-20 
Psalm 111
1 Corinthians 8:1-13 
Mark 1:21-28 

Mark opens his Gospel with eight verses about John the Baptist, five verses about the baptism of Jesus, two verses of Jesus proclaiming the Good News, five verses of the calling of four disciples, and now seven verses in the Capernaum Synagogue. The chapter runs to verse 45.

Having just called the four fishermen—Andrew, Simon, James, and John—Jesus leads them into Capernaum, their hometown. They were all born in Bethsaida, just six miles away, but lived now in Capernaum. Mark does add that hired hands were left to fish for the Zebedee family and it seems likely to have been true for Peter’s family as well. We know from other passages that Peter’s house was large for the time and next week we will look at Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law and many people who came to the house.

Each of the four Gospels opens Jesus’ ministry differently because they each have a specific message in mind. There is a reason we call them Gospels and not Histories.

We cannot say that Jesus went to a synagogue every Sabbat, but it seems likely that he went when he could. The same was true of the Temple when he was near Jerusalem. I think Jesus sets an example for all of us. He was always so close to God that he had no need for either meeting place. But he knew that we would need to get together with others to help reinforce our individual faiths.

Humans are creatures of habit. Communal worship reminds us weekly that God is real, and He cares for us. Without that habit, most of us slip away from God.

For a short span of time, Mark pictures Jesus teaching in an uncommon way. No other rabbi taught as Jesus did. It was his style. He used the same parables, but uniquely. His descriptions of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and Elijah were as though Jesus had seen them personally. Perhaps because he had?

That beautiful teaching was rudely interrupted by a demon. What do you want with us, Yeshua from Natzeret? CJB I think it is fair to say that this was not a common event and that everyone would have been upset.

I am, like many, uncomfortable with the whole demon passion thing. I tend to label it as mental illness. However, I don’t suggest that demons are not real or that they can’t control anyone who allows them to take over their lives. Nor do I suggest that going to church or synagogue will prevent demon possession.

At the same time, we can’t assume that anyone shouting must be demon possessed. Often, he/she just needs the right meds. Insanity is a medical issue. Demon possession is a religious issue.

Notice what the demon assumes about Jesus. Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are — the Holy One of GodCBJ

Get the picture. Jesus is teaching and the people are trying to guess how he came to have such knowledge. Some were thinking, ‘Even in Jerusalem no one teaches like he does. But his accent tells me he is a Galilean. How can that be?’

There were many there who never missed a Sabbat. Yet it was the demon who saw the Son of God.

Why are we so blind?

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence