Eden Reflections: Mark 16

Mark 16 Reflection by Alex H

Mark 16:17-18 NIV

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands-on sick people, and they will get well.”

This bit from the extra add on in Mark 16 is an exciting challenge. As we think about our ministry and what's ahead for us as Eden wouldn't it be amazing if we saw this! If our work on the Lincoln as believers in Jesus saw this stuff happening!

I'm fired up from the Eden conference right now so maybe it's that, the sleep deprivation and sugar rush from my hot chocolate talking but I believe we could see it.

The more I reflect on your reflections, our recent training and the Mark passages, I'm so encouraged that what you want most is to be Kingdom focused with Jesus heart at the centre. 

I don't know what that looks like or how on earth you fund such stuff but that’s how it should be! Thank you for not settling for a youth project.



Eden Reflections: Mark 15

Mark 15 Reflection by Ed M

In Mark 15 we really get to the crux of the matter (literally!). The passage starts with Jesus' trial at the hands of Pilate. As Jerusalem was occupied by the Romans, the Chief Priests were required to bring their case before him. The thing I find fascinating about this section of the chapter is that Pilate just cannot understand what Jesus is supposed to have done wrong. When he pushes the crowd on these charges they have no answer, just a braying mob shouting for Jesus to put to death in the most horrific fashion.

This makes me reflect on three things:

- the sheer injustice of Jesus' death. Of course they had no charge as he was perfect. But he took the weight of injustice on himself when he died for us.

- it reminds me of Christians around the world who still face persecution and are subject to public show trials where they face death unless they renounce the Truth. What amazing courage!

- it also challenges me to reflect on how often I am caught up in the judgmental mob mentality. How easy it is for us to be stirred to a place of hatred and judgment.


In the end, Barrabbas, a violent murderer is released. Total injustice, and yet perfect justice. This is the topsy turvy world of grace!

We are made fully aware of the total innocence of Jesus. No charge could be brought against him. This deliberately precedes Jesus torture, death and burial. Jesus paid that cost, not because he deserved it, but because we do.

There is so much in the rest of the chapter that I can't do it justice in a short reflection. Spend some time reflecting yourself on this passage and what our perfect sinless Saviour did for us by dying on the cross.

Eden Reflections: Mark 14

Mark 14 Reflection by Steve L 

Wow, there is so much going on here!

Mark 14:1-11

First, I love it how it starts off with Jesus just hanging out at “Simon the leaper’s” house, so Jesus! It’s here that the famous pouring out of perfume, worth around £40 in today’s money, happens!  This moment, where an unnamed woman pours the perfume on Jesus, is both beautiful and intimate but  it’s also too controversial for the disciples who couldn’t see that it was preparation for Jesus’ burial. This “waste of money” appeared to be the final straw for Judas who left point to speak to the chief priest and begin his betrayal.

Where are we making excuses like “we could have sold that and given it to the poor” instead of taking time to first acknowledge Jesus pouring out sacrificial praise which costs us.

To be honest, I think I would have been the same as the disciples and thought what she is doing!!


Mark 14:12-31

We then go onto the famous last supper where we see the transfer from the promises of the Old Testament, made between God and Abraham, to a new covenant. Jesus uses the Passover meal to point towards the fulfilment of his ultimate sacrifice (dying on the cross and being raised back to life) to bring forgiveness and a freedom for which the exodus story is just a foretaste.

It’s also here that we discover that the disciples are going to scatter and leave Jesus once he is arrested. While Peter thinks he is above all that, Jesus knows that he will deny him 3 times. There is also the revelation of the betrayer Judas. I know I’ve had times where I’m so full of joy and confidence in the Lord one day and then the next day I’m almost embarrassed to say I’m a believer. Where are we ashamed of the name of Jesus. When talking to non-Christians, do we name everything we did on the weekend apart from church? In a way I find comfort in the fact that the disciples weren’t perfect, like Peter in this moment. but I’m challenged by the way they lived after the resurrection.


Mark 14:32-52

Next, it’s the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus sweats drops of blood. He is fully God and Fully human, but here we really see the human side of his anxiety, pain and stress. The disciples are asleep, and Jesus feels alone. Many others have been crucified but he is the only one to do it in order to take on the sins and brokenness of the world, past and future. No wonder he was not at peace in that moment!

For me this story raises the questions, where are we asleep spiritually, when we should be at watch? It’s so easy to get distracted by trivial things which are not bad in themselves, but if indulged in take our eyes of Jesus. 

Jesus is finally arrested and put on trial. They struggle to find genuine charges against him and they humiliated him by blindfolding him, spitting at him and hitting him. This is the moment when Jesus’ prediction of Peter denying him 3 times comes true and Peter is devastated when he realises!

Thankfully this isn’t the end of the story for Peter as we discover later. Are any of us feeling like Peter in this moment, is there any guilt or shame that we are carrying from anything which we need to hand over to Jesus, or even forgive ourselves if we know God has forgiven us?

Eden Reflections: Mark 13

Mark 13 Reflection by John H

Mark 13: 1-13

Let's not get carried away with the religious paraphernalia. Herod's temple was reputed to be one of the world's most beautiful buildings, but Jesus’ reaction suggests God is not interested in its magnificence.

More importantly, we need to be certain of what our faith means; even if there are alarming threats or opposition. These can be like "birth pains", i.e. sufferings that precede new life.

Be patient, God often isn't in the hurry we are.

In the meantime, don't worry or be panicked by our circumstances. Speak and be led by the Holy Spirit. "Stand firm to the end" (vs 13), even if we're betrayed by those who are close to us. At some undefined point, new birth will happen so that justice, peace, mercy and truth will flourish.


Mark 13:14

To end my reflection, verses 14 signifies there may be times to flee oppression/injustice rather than stand up to it. We must be alert, keep watch and awake, not complacent. Only God knows the timetable of events. Where human organisations oppress us unjustly, there may be a place for us to warn and denounce, but also for us to get out. Let’s also pray for those who currently face such dilemmas and persecution.

Mark 13: 1-13

Let's not get carried away with the religious paraphernalia. Herod's temple was reputed to be one of the world's most beautiful buildings, but Jesus’ reaction suggests God is not interested in its magnificence.

More importantly, we need to be certain of what our faith means; even if there are alarming threats or opposition. These can be like "birth pains", i.e. sufferings that precede new life.

 Be patient, God often isn't in the hurry we are.

In the meantime, don't worry or be panicked by our circumstances. Speak and be led by the Holy Spirit. "Stand firm to the end" (vs 13), even if we're betrayed by those who are close to us. At some undefined point, new birth will happen so that justice, peace, mercy and truth will flourish.


Mark 13:14

To end my reflection, verses 14 signifies there may be times to flee oppression/injustice rather than stand up to it. We must be alert, keep watch and awake, not complacent. Only God knows the timetable of events. Where human organisations oppress us unjustly, there may be a place for us to warn and denounce, but also for us to get out. Let’s also pray for those who currently face such dilemmas and persecution.

Eden Reflections: Mark 12

Mark 12 Reflection by Jo E

Parable of the Tenants (Mark 12:1-11)

When someone rents a field they make an agreement with the owner- that they will look after the land and pay rent as agreed. In the parable the tenants, the tenants fail to respect the agreement, so the owner repeatedly sends his servants remind them. The servants are repeatedly ignored, beaten up and sent away. I feel like most landlords in this situation would be looking to evict the tenants and send them to prison but instead the owner gives them another chance, by sending his son. Each time someone goes to collect the rent they remind the tenants of their relationship agreement, the covenant God made with Abraham- something they’ve agreed to, bought into and are receiving the benefits of. I’m really amazed by the Landlords faithfulness to the tenants here- he doesn’t give up on them, repeatedly giving them chance after chance to come back into their agreement. And even though the tenants’ treatment of the servants gets worse, there is no mention of a demand for increased payments as reparation. As God’s servants I think this points to his call for us to be persistent in sharing who God is with the young people we work with and to continue being loving no matter the response we get.

The landlord gives the tenants one final chance, sending his son. This is an obvious nod to Jesus as God’s son and what will happen to him. In the context of a landlord’s son going to collect rent, this is a horrific story, shocking, violent and brutal! I think it also clarifies, some people will ultimately still reject God even if they have had his message shared with them in the most generous and loving way. Having said that, we can’t know what the end result will be for any of our young people, so we’re still called to that persistence I mentioned earlier. I think it’s also a warning that we may also face pain, suffering and rejection for sharing God’s message. Even though this section of the story is brutal, Jesus still points to goodness ultimately coming out of this situation, nodding again to his death and resurrection by quoting Psalm 118.22-23 in vs 9-11.


Paying Taxes (Mark 12:13-17)

Like the Pharisees and Herodians trying to claim taxes for Jesus, are there things we are trying to claim for God that he doesn’t want or need?

I’m not sure but worth thinking about.


Marriage and Resurrection (Mark 12:18-24)

There will be resurrection! AND our God is also the living God! Both these truths are so exciting! Our God promises to provide for us now and forever more. And he promises to have thought of everything so we can trust in him and know his plans are awesome.

Something to remember when considering if there’s anything God might be calling us to let go of…


Life living under the living God (Mark 12:28-44)

What does life look like under the living God, you ask? It looks like love above all else. Meeting people where they’re at, rather than trying to fit a legalistic mould. I love that this is the heart of Eden and hearing all your stories about practically doing this on the ground are incredibly inspiring. Thank you all for taking this commandment seriously and being amazing inspirations.

We might not be honoured or recognised for what we do, but that’s not what matters. Jesus is the God who is down to earth with the down trodden, vulnerable and lowly. He shows them respect and love as his priority.

Jesus challenges us to give all we have, and this is also part of God’s message and truth for those we want to meet him. Not just that they would give all they have to God, but that they can- Because Jesus is more than enough and he provides of our every need. Are there ways we can model this more clearly? New ways God is calling us to give? Maybe even talents and gifts we are developing or recently discovered.

Eden Reflections: Mark 1 1

Mark 11 Reflection by Harriet C

Mark 11 starts with the triumphal entry, an absolute classic, the political statement that declares Jesus as king.

One of the things that always amazes me about this is the exchange (vs 4 – 6) is that the disciples are so faithful to Jesus that they fulfil this bizarre request to get the tiny colt, but even more amazing that this is the reaction of the colt owners. We have no knowledge to who they were or whether they knew Jesus, and yet they let their colt go into the hands of those who were probably strangers. How trusting is that!? But because they let it go God used it in the most amazing way and they and their colt are part of God’s narrative for the whole of time.

It makes me question, is there anything we are holding on to so tightly that we aren’t giving God the opportunity to work. Are we holding our young people too tightly and not actually giving space for God to work and doing everything under our own strength and means? 

Mark 11:12-22, again, contains another iconic moment of Holy Week- the clearing out of the temple courts. It also contains a rather odd interlude about a cursed fig tree. This leads into the final part of Mark 11 when the Pharisees question Jesus’ authority. Once again Jesus gives a third way of dealing with the question. Rather than be aggressive or over confrontational, he asks them a simple question. One which they cannot answer without giving Jesus the upper hand or without the people turning on them. Jesus is the master at finding a third way. Where are we following the worlds way of looking at/doing things rather than finding the Jesus third way?

Eden Reflections: Mark 10

Mark 10 Reflection by Louise M

This is a FULL ON chapter! Let’s start with divorce:

Jesus is not talking about modern, westernised divorce. It didn’t exist then. This is about man’s ownership of a woman. It had become his to take and send away. All a man needed was a piece of paper to ruin a woman’s life. Jesus says this way of thinking is old and worst of all God will judge them for it. Instead, Jesus talks about commitment and how marriage is about unifying two people together completely so that nothing should separate.

What does Jesus mean about being like little children? When I look at any 3 or 4 year old what I see is someone who is curious, completely trusting, will laugh at anything and constantly learning. If this is what it means to be part of God’s Kingdom then I’m 100% in!

 The difficulty of inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven if you’re rich is tricky. We live in a time of constant consumption, where every need and want is met instantly yet so many people go without. The rich/poor divide gets bigger every year and we’re in the midst of it. What can we do but pray? Whatever our circumstance, whether we’re rich or poor we should pray for God to keep our hearts soft to the world around us and to give us the true gift of generosity.

This leads nicely on to the request of James and John to sit either side of Jesus’ throne. Jesus makes it pretty clear in vs43-45 that we are to be humble and gracious to those around us. We may have to do things that we think are beneath us or we hate, and we are to demonstrate the Kingdom of God as we do them. Because ultimately God is love and we are loved by Him.

Throughout this whole passage the disciples are described as continually amazed and in awe. This is eclipsed by Jesus’ description of His death and the healing of the blind Bart. This chapter is clearly demonstrating Jesus’ authority with His words, His actions and His ability to speak truth in all things.

Eden Reflections: Mark 9

Mark 9 Reflection by Lou C

Following right on from Jesus's teaching at the end of chapter 8, that to come to him you have to deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow him; it's becoming clear that the people who Jesus is investing the most in (his disciples) just aren't getting it. The transfiguration surely would have been amazing! Moses represents the law and Elijah is the forerunner to the Messiah, all up a mountain (think Mt Sinai and encountering God's glory again) and Peter doesn't get it.

I loved that on the way down the mountain, Jesus literally tells them that the Son of Man will rise from the dead and then 'they kept the matter to themselves discussing what rising from the dead meant'! More and more it's obvious that the disciples don't quite get it. I often wonder how they could have not understood- Jesus himself was literally telling them! But maybe we easily miss stuff- God is still actively at work in our lives and around us but maybe we just don't grasp the fullness of him.

I also was intrigued by the boy who had the evil spirit in him (versus 14-29). When the boy is bought to Jesus initially, he is thrown to the floor by the demon and 'rolled around foaming at the mouth'. If I was the boy’s dad, I wouldn't be okay with that- he took his son to the disciples who couldn't do anything, and now things seem to look worse with Jesus there. Even in the face of this though he has the boldness to say he believes and asks Jesus to help him overcome his unbelief! What crazy faith. Afterwards, the crowds say the boy is dead because he looked like a corpse. But Jesus has actually just given him life! Maybe pointer to the resurrection, that things might look like they're going from bad to worse but God is working!  

My last reflection is about when the disciples are arguing about who is greatest. Jesus has been challenging them to realise who he is (the Messiah), but what that means for him is suffering and ultimately death, whereas for them it doesn't look that way. The disciples again aren't getting it, but Jesus doesn't give up on telling them. Again, God's kingdom does things in an upside-down way- where do we need to think more upside down about things?


Additional thoughts from John H

Perhaps part of what God is saying is that we won't know the fullness of what is happening until later, possibly not until after we've died. Faith+trust are key!

Eden Reflections: Mark 8

Mark 8 Reflection by Anne H

Mark 8:1-28

Firstly in this passage (Mark 8:1-13) we read about a miracle when Jesus feeds four thousand people with 7 loaves of bread and a few small fish. This sets the context for the next section of the passage where Jesus is with some confused disciples. There’s lots of people and a few Pharisees, lots of bread and a warning about yeast from the wrong sources. I’ve always avoided this yeast discussion before (after all, if the disciples didn’t understand, how can I?)!! But here we go, briefly. 

Jesus draws the disciples’ attention to both of his multitude-feeding miracles, the one we’ve just read, and the feeding of the five thousand (Mark 6:30-44). He highlights how much left-over food there was at both of these events, suggesting they don’t ned to worry about their access to food. Instead, is he saying that with the right yeast (or input- Jesus), multitudes receive the life-giving help they need, and they’ll even be a surplus?! Jesus contrasts this to the Pharisees, a group of Jewish leaders who were trying to understand and teach the law. He points to their hearts and their self-centred, arrogant attitude which locks in anything they know of God, so it does not bring the fragrant knowledge of God to those they mix with. The irony is that this was that the Pharisee’s knowledge of God was supposed to bring the people life as they shared it, being keepers and a practisers of the truth.

We can laugh at this, before we stop and ask ourselves how we are doing with our own primary calling, are we spreading the yeast of Jesus or the Pharisees? It’s by God’s grace we’re his and Jesus’ disciples. How are we doing in holding onto our faith with humility alongside our confidence in God? What do we each bring to the groups we mix in? Is it always the light and life of God? And what about Herod’s yeast, looking for security in money, possessions or power?  We’ll influence others by what we value – let’s bring the life of God, generously. Maybe we could ask the young people we know what they see as being valued by different people, including us?


Mark 8: 27- 9:1

The realisation of the disciples that Jesus is the Messiah is followed closely by learning he’s going to die soon and that they might have to as well – although, to be fair, all of the crowd hear this last bit.

In talking to anyone about being a Christian, I might say it is about following Jesus. But do I add that this means ‘taking up my cross daily’? I feel challenged as I don’t think I’ve chatted about this passage for decades. How honest am I/are we in presenting the Christian life as involving asking for God’s help in choosing his way and coping with self-denial every day? Can we do this in talking with Muslim neighbours, in groups and in mentoring, where appropriate? Jesus tells us not to be ashamed of his words.

Following the denial discourse, those who are still there are encouraged that some of them will see the Kingdom of God come in power (Mark 9:1). Let’s continue to pray and work towards people around us coming to know our amazing, gracious, powerful God through his son Jesus, who we shall one day actually see sitting on his throne in heaven.

Eden Reflections: Mark 7

Mark 7 Reflection by Harriet

Mark 7 has 3 distinct stories to it. The first being Jesus schooling the Pharisees telling them that it isn’t the food they eat that makes them unclean, it is the posture of their heart. In the process Jesus also makes all food clean which is pretty epic. The third story is an amazing healing of a deaf and mute man. It’s pretty epic that our Jesus heals! There are loads of things to get from both of these stories. 

However, the second story in this chapter of Mark is actually the one I felt I should focus on. Mainly because it is a story that has never sat well with me. The Jesus that we meet in Mark 7:24-30 is not a Jesus that I am comfortable with. a) He throws an insult at a woman, calling her a dog, who only wants her daughter freed of a demon, something Jesus has done before. b) Jesus refuses to do this until she convinces him to do it.


There are multiple background threads to this story that help understand the language and Jesus’ intention

1)Jesus is in Gentile territory - Mark states that Jesus is in the vicinity of Tyre. Tyre was not a Jewish province and contained people who knew of Jewish customs due to proximity to Judah but they themselves were Gentiles.

2)The woman was about as “unclean” as you could get - For a start she was a woman, on top of this she was not Jewish, probably pagan, and had a daughter who was possessed by a demon.

3)The woman was so courageous - This woman would have known she shouldn’t approach a devout Jew, let alone approach a Rabbi. Yet she does anyway and begs him to help. This isn’t just a one off ask, the word behind “begged” in the passage states that it is a continuous unrelenting begging. She has so much devotion to her daughter and faith in Jesus that she begs and begs and refuses to take no for an answer

4)Jesus doesn’t actually call her a dog - Well sort of. The word behind “dogs” is better translated as puppies. So he describes her as a puppy. Still not great but better that dog right?

This background initially still doesn’t help the passage sit right with me. But it is still important to know this as you delve deeper.

The main thing I struggle with is this line (vs 27) ,“First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” I hated that in this line Jesus appears to be calling the Jews children and the gentiles dogs (puppies), after all aren’t we all welcomed in to be God’s children? 

There is a hidden reality to this line, he doesn’t actually say no to removing the demon, what he says is not yet. Jesus is very clear in his ministry that he is teaching to the Jews. He doesn’t leave the Jewish provinces very often. This line is almost mirroring the idea of the great commissioning, Judea, Samaria, then to the ends of the earth. Jesus has set his ministry to be for the Jews at this time. This is who he is discipling and then ultimately who he will send out to tell the whole world about him. Jesus knows this, so his statement is not a refusal, or saying that she isn’t a child of God. He is saying that right now this is not God’s plan or his ministry. Not the easiest thing to sit with. I personally think it is significant that Jesus refers to Gentiles as puppies. If he referred to them as dogs, in that culture most dogs were wild scavengers, then he is almost saying that they are big enough to look after themselves they don’t need me. Puppies shows that Jesus knows there is an innocence there and something that needs to be protected. It just isn’t time yet.

The woman, however, understands who Jesus is and use this in response. She would have heard the stories, why else would she have approached him. She knows he can heal, that he is good and generous. So, this is where her response comes from. At no point does she question Jesus ministry she has understood his message. She knows that she doesn’t deserve what she asks for, but asks anyway because Jesus is good. We have all received what we don’t deserve because of Jesus’ goodness, he died on the cross and rose for us. Here we see one of the first people to recognise that if Jesus heals someone, it isn’t because that person is good or because of what they have done, it is because Jesus is good, and she is an unclean gentile woman. She understood the gospel in a way that no one before her had quite got. Jesus’ generosity to his “children” had overflowed to her and was able to transform her life.

Jesus knew his ministry and stuck by it. However, when there was genuine need, even if didn’t quite fit at that time, but was part of the overarching God mission, his goodness and generosity meant that his love poured out and changed the world of those around him.

This got me thinking, what is our ministry both as a team and individually? What are our yes’? What are our no’s? Are we Good at sticking to these? Do we stick to our call to be youth workers too fiercely and not move where we see a need or God moving? Do we let God’s love and generosity overflow from us and our ministries to change the lives, not just of those who we are called to, but those around them too?

Eden Reflections: Mark 6

Mark 6 Reflection by Alex H

The first thing that struck me about the start of this chapter, where Jesus is rejected from his home town, was that, as young people we work with journey with Jesus, we might have to let them go... That they might need to go elsewhere to really grow in their ministry. That sounds heart breaking to me in many ways, to not get to be part of that next bit of the journey. But as John wrote about Mark 5, we need to be thinking about this as a part of our work with young people and growing them in leadership.

Later in the passage I was struck by how Herod was more inclined to believe a man he knew was dead (because he'd seen his severed head having given the order for his beheading) had come back to life than believe that Jesus could be the messiah. It got me thinking about how people might believe all sorts of things instead of the truth we try to share because for them that seems easier. I'm not sure exactly what the reflection or learning point is on this, but perhaps it's to do with having patience as we share the gospel, and a willingness to keep sharing in different ways. 

Something else that stuck with me was from verse 31 that says the disciples got so busy they didn't even have time to eat. Made me think of us and how many of us have been sharing how busy we feel. Jesus sees it and says come with me and have some rest. What a beautiful invitation. 

I'm not sure how restful the boat journey would have been (might have been lovely on the water or hard work, really no idea about the sailing environment), but when then get to the place of rest they don't get one, instead they get caught up in Jesus' compassion and the story of the feeding of the 5 thousand happens. They get to see an amazing miracle, but then they are back in a boat and this time it's clearly hard work in the storm. They freak out at Jesus on the water and when they eventually land it's back to ministry. 

It doesn't sound like they got that rest Jesus promised.

 It's an interesting thing to reflect on as I think about us saying that we are tired and need rest. Jesus took time out by himself and got rest. He saw that the disciples needed rest and invited them to come with him, but they don’t seem to ever get it! I’m honestly not sure what I make of this! Perhaps, I was expecting them to have a weekend retreat, a two week holiday by the water. Perhaps, that boat time with Jesus was restful, or could be if they wanted it to be. Maybe we wait for the weekend, or the fortnight off that rarely comes when what we need to find are the regular small moments to rest and be present with Jesus. The long rests are important but that can’t be that often or we’d never do anything else! Perhaps we need to look at our working week, or daily routine and see where we can get 10 minutes, an hour, an evening. It might be choosing to be present with Jesus as we commute to work, go for a run or prepare meals. Then finding the hour or two in the week and then the half day or full day each month. Maybe it’s having a new perspective on ‘rest’.

Eden Reflections: Mark 5

Mark 5 Reflection by John B

Hot off the back of the calming of the storm, Jesus and the disciples scoot on over to the other side of the lake, where they're met by a demon-possessed, freakishly strong, self-harming, cemetery dwelling, mad man! In a nod back to chapter 1, we've got ourselves some straight up spiritual warfare here...and it's kinda weird.

Yes, we've got the testimony of the demons rightly identifying who Jesus is (thanks for making it nice and clear to us), but rather than a quick and clean 'Out you go', there seems to be a bit more of a dialogue and in v. 7 we have the man saying to Jesus "...I command you in God's name not to torture me!" A demon possessed guy, commanding Jesus, in God's name...WHAAAAT!?!? Even in the midst of an undeniably strong demonic strong hold that Jesus is going to liberate, through some next level spiritual warfare, there seems to be an understanding and recognition of Jesus' authority, bestowed on him by God. That understanding and revelation meant the demons knew the power dynamics here, and that it was game over for them, reducing them to begging. I'd love to KNOW that clarity of revelation, and to see in practice the reality of God's authority, bestowed upon us, liberating ANY demonic strongholds in our community.  What's also interesting is the reaction of that community. This societal menace...outcast...lost cause, delivered back in to his right mind, and the community freak out about the pigs and beg Jesus to leave. God's kingdom coming was too unsettling for them. Props to this guy being a boss evangelist back in the Ten Towns though when Jesus said he couldn't leave with him.

Quick nip back over the lake and WHAM - here's the crowds again. Jairus is on his knees begging Jesus to heal his dying daughter. Unsurprisingly, Jesus is game. But even on the way there, he's hijacked by a desperate and faithful woman who knows that, where worldly wisdom has exploited her and left her wanting, Jesus will restore her, in so many ways. What a head-spinning time for the disciples; there's so much going on. And even when you think you know what the plan is, to heal a dying girl (amazing enough in itself), Jesus is then asking you who, in the mass of the crowds, has touched him? This got me wondering how often I minimise God's kingdom in to the well intentioned plans I can get my head around, and would ignore or struggle to deal with the kingdom interruptions that could bring life, but would disrupt and disturb my handle on existence?

Anyway, spoiler alert, Jesus does heal Jairus' daughter (no thanks to the mocking mourners), and I love this little model of Jesus' discipleship in how it goes down. Jesus selecting three of the apostles to be with him in this, experiencing it with him, learning from him, being built up and taught through it.

This chimes so well with a challenge we have been recognising with Eden, about how we're developing our young people and increasing their sense of ownership and empowerment. Here Jesus is giving us this hint that we’re on the right track, let's not shy away from it!

Let the adventure continue! 

Eden Reflections: Mark 4

Mark 4 Reflection by Steve L

The first thing I noticed when reading this chapter was that there was so many people coming to listen to Jesus that he had to get into a boat(!) which is pretty cool! But this also might show that, at this point, people were more interested in seeing more miracles and healings than to hear his teaching, which a funny mix of being hugely wide and inclusive but also the very narrow and costly!

The next thing I noticed was the parable of the sower. After reading this I realised that the seeds were being consistently scattered landing on all sorts of different ground and soil. 

Jesus describes the seed as the “Word” and I’m guessing the farmer is any person sharing the word, which is also called described as the “Kingdom” in Mathew. It is apparent that we shouldn’t pick and choose where we scatter the word or spread his kingdom as we don’t know where the good soil is.

I was thinking about our context and personally challenged about the temptation to predict which sort of young person would be “good soil”, as they might not be the person we would expect. The person of peace might not be a person of peace in terms of a worldly surface level.

 I was challenged by the thought of not picking and choosing where and which young people we sow seeds in but to sow generously. Time will tell where the good soil is and it could be the young people we least expect who go on to bear fruit “30, 60 or 100 times over”. It is often those from the most dysfunctional messy backgrounds who are the most powerful evangelists.

This also takes the pressure off us to be in control as it is apparent that our responsibility is to scatter the seeds and is rarely down to us when people drop away as Jesus described the many distractions etc.

In verse 30 Jesus describes the kingdom of God like a mustard seed, a tiny thing which ends up growing into one of the “largest of all garden plants”.  Where are we seeing tiny seeds which seem barely significant at the moment? This parable is an encouragement that Gods kingdom can grow into a wild and out of control movement, bigger than any other in the garden. Are we praying for a move of God on this estate which is messy and uncontrollable? It’s a scary but exciting thought!

Eden Reflections: Mark 3

Mark 3 Reflection by Lou C

This is the last in this little chunk about Jesus performing miracles and he's really showing us what his message of good news (1v1) is about. Different people have had different reactions to him, but now the Pharisees and Herodians (who would have been natural enemies) are coming together to plot to kill Jesus. I'm always struck by how extreme this reaction is, and that so early on in Jesus ministry that he's stirring things enough for people to want to genuinely kill him. It makes me wonder how radical we are being.

 At the end of the chapter Jesus asks the crowd ‘who are my mothers and brothers?’ while his family are right there. This definitely seems uncomfortable but his mindset is totally different- he’s not saying that to hurt his family but to show we are all part of a family in the kingdom. Sometimes I find it hard to live like that, with my mind focussed on the things God tells me are important and not what I see as important.

How much do we step out and do things that upset others and stir up things like Jesus? He doesn’t do it to be a controversial figure like so many we read about in the news now, but because the agenda of the kingdom is so radically different from all our own ideas about how to live. If we're truly following his example, should we be annoying religious leaders and political leaders in what we do and say? The kingdom of God that Jesus is showing us is really radical- he is setting people free and healing so many but this is uncomfortable for others, and I think it should be uncomfortable for us too.

We've seen in the last two chapters that there are crowds and crowds of people following Jesus around, some, probably just because it's a crowd, others for healing, but others who simply want to know more about who this guy is and what’s going on.

In verse 13, Jesus goes up a mountain (a definite pointer to God's presence, think the temple, Abraham on Mt Moriah, Moses up Sinai...) and chooses 12 apostles 'that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons'...what a commission?! I think I would be a bit scared if Jesus had said that to my face, but actually that *is* what he calls us to- join me in being terrified and excited all at the same time!

We're called to walk and talk the good news of the kingdom, to use the authority God gives us to set people free and to kick out the kingdom of the enemy. This reminded me of a sermon Cris did a while ago where he said the strategy of the enemy was division and separation, and unity was the strategy of the kingdom. So Jesus has called together disciples into a community to do things together, based on following him. Sounds familiar....oh yeaa...Eden!!! Let's pray for unity with each other, with Jesus and with church today :)

Eden Reflections: Mark 2

Mark 2 Reflection by Hannah M

Only 2 chapters into the gospel of Mark and we’ve read 3 stories of what Jesus is up to already. Boom! feels like we can sense the excitement in the way this gospel is being written- the writer isn’t messing around, he’s getting straight to the action- Jesus transforming lives! THIS is what animates the gospel writer, it’s what he’s writing and living for, what he’s found himself caught up in and can’t help expressing.

I love that we’re called to this same excitement. The joy of our salvation- this good news of Jesus right here at our fingertips to share. Something we can live and breathe and bubble over with.

So....what exactly is Jesus doing in this chapter? Something I noticed while reading is, he seems to be surprising people! We get three stories of surprise:

-       a lame man is lowered through the roof and he gets up and walks

-       a tax collector is picked out as a disciple

-       Jesus’ followers don’t religiously fast, in fact they nom on field fresh grain on the sabbath! (Mmmm)


Mark 2:1-2

You can’t hide Jesus! At the end of the previous chapter Jesus takes some alone time. But now he’s back and word is out. As soon as he arrives, he’s recognised. Everyone knows who he is and gathers around.

Maybe it’s a slightly loose link, but this was a little reminder to me that I always want to be recognised for my Jesusy-ness. For people to recognise him in me, walking the streets, around the estate. Don’t want his presence to be unnoticed.

Mark 2:3-12

The man who gets lowered through the roof by his friends:

First, I questioned- Where am I in the story? How desperate for Jesus am I?

Would I be part of the crowd, lingering around the busy door out of interest, hoping maybe to catch a glimpse of Him...or would I be smashing a hole in the roof determined to get to him face to face?!

Then I wondered, what are the ceilings preventing young people round here from encountering Jesus?

How are we creatively making ways through those ceilings for them to meet him?

Verse 5 of the amplified translation says this of the lame man’s ceiling-smashing friends: ‘When Jesus saw their active faith, springing from their confidence in him...’ — I love this. Active faith! Springing from confidence in Jesus!

This is what God loves to see in us too. Perhaps this is an encouragement to continue allowing everything we are and do as Eden to spring from our confidence in him.

In verse 12 the lame man is walking- ‘this amazed everyone’- Jesus can do amazing things! Let’s be amazed! This builds on Jo’s point from yesterday, to not stop believing Jesus can work incredible stuff in this place.


Mark 2:14-17- Jesus and the tax collectors

Out of a crowd Jesus has time for the individual. ‘A large crowd came to him’ yet: ‘he saw Levi’.

I want to be like this, someone who SEES a person. notices them. Who values them.

And Jesus calls this pretty unlikely seeming guy out as a disciple -‘follow me’.  A tax collector- corrupt, dishonest. Yet he’s invited. He’s who Jesus has come for and wants to share dinner with.


Mark 2:18-27- Sabbath snacking

We reflected on this passage together at our Eden Retreat and I couldn’t help thinking back to some of our reflections. I still love the image of Jesus walking through the fields snacking with his friends. The freedom of it. Jesus hasn’t called us here to put unnecessary burdens on us.

In verse 27 Jesus says, ‘The sabbath was made for man’ - rest is a gift, maybe even a weapon for us. The stuff we do comes from a place of resting with him.

Eden Reflections: Mark 1

Mark 1 Reflection by Jo E

Mark 1 begins with John the Baptist pointing the way to Jesus for those who don’t know who he is. Reading this I was struck by the similarity between John the Baptist and our aims in the Eden Team. It reminded me that, while we know and carry Jesus with us, we aren’t Jesus. We might encourage our young people to make good decisions, hoping their lives will be transformed in practical ways but it’s Jesus who has the power to transform lives, not us.  

John the Baptist was very clear about this, he never wanted to be mistaken as a saviour but instead clearly and repeatedly pointed to Jesus. Let us never run the risk of mistaking ourselves for being the saviour or allowing anyone else to think that, thinking that our teaching or advice could be the answer. John never forgot his job was to point to Jesus, let us do the same. Even when flocks of people were gathering to hear his teaching and follow him. John paved the way for Jesus, always pointing to him, remembering his role and never being distracted.

John was teaching about Jesus and pointing to him as Saviour, even before Jesus’ ministry had fully begun. He was even imprisoned and killed before much of the gospels. There’s incredible faith in teaching like that. John had faith the Jesus would come and be saviour and transform the Jewish faith through it, so like John, we have to have faith that Jesus will come, that he’ll come into the lives of our young people. And when he does, then we’ll see miracles. Like Simon and Andrew, Jesus will call our young people into lives we could never have imagined for them.

As I continued reading, I continued to imagine the impact Jesus could have on the lives of young people we know, thinking of them as the disciples. I was reminded that we can’t offer them that kind of journey or experience, only Jesus can. And what a whirlwind live that would be.

It’s simply our job to faithfully point to him like John the Baptist did, Jesus will do the rest.

Reflections on Mark

Hello! Welcome to Eden Bow’s take-over of All Hallows Blog. Over the last year or so we have been reflecting on a few different books of the bible as a team, thinking about what God has to say to us through them.

We’ve taken turns within the team to write and reflect on each chapter in the book, sharing them with one another. We’ve all been inspired by what God has said to us through one another and thought why not share our reflections with the whole church.  

I hope, as you read these reflections, not only will you get some insight into what we do as an Eden team, but that you’ll be able to apply some of our reflections to your own life and the way you share Jesus with those around you. We are often making it up as we go along, doing our best to follow God and get involved with what he’s doing. That might look different for you that it does for the Eden team, but God might be asking you some of the same questions.

When we wrote our reflections, we were specifically thinking about how God might want to use the passaged to speak directly into our lives. You’ll find we often raise questions we think God might be asking us to think about. I invite you to spend some time with God, praying into these questions as they come up and asking him for his perspective. The answers may be different for each of us depending on what’s going on in our lives, but God meets us there- where we’re at.

I hope that God speaks to you through what we’ve written.