Luke, chapters 8 & 9

“And the Twelve were with him, as were certain women who had been cured of wicked spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had come out […].”
~Luke 8:1,2

“As Jesus got out onto land, a demon-possessed man from the city met him. For a considerable time he had not worn clothing, and he was staying, not in a house, but among the tombs.”
~Luke 8:27-36

How does a person succumb to demon possession and why did it seem to be so commonplace in Jesus’ day?
Insight On The Scriptures” defines it as “the captive control and influence of a person by an invisible wicked spirit.”
That influence may manifest itself physically, emotionally or mentally through the victim.
Luke’s account demonstrates that it is possible for a person to be possessed by more than one demon, and it is possible for a demon to possess an animal.
When a person opens a portal into the occult, be it by superstitious practices, trying to communicate with the dead, diabolic entertainment, or through witchcraft, he makes himself vulnerable to demon possession.
In the case of King Saul, a demon began to attack him when he became arrogant and defiant in his service to Jehovah and lost God’s holy spirit. (1 Sam. 15:10,11,22,23; 16:14-16,23; 18:10-12)
When Jesus walked the earth, many Jewish leaders in particular had strayed from true worship and their attitude was heavily influenced by demons. (John 8:44)
Modern Christians do not practice exorcism, which tends to combine rites and chants or a combination of words, as if a person could be liberated from demons through magic.
Rather, they put on “the complete suit of armor” of Christian lifestyle and outright reject evil practices. (Eph. 6:11-18; Jas. 4:7)

Mark, chapters 11 & 12

“When you stand praying, forgive whatever you have against anyone, so that your Father who is in the heavens may also forgive you your trespasses.”
~Mark 11:25

It can be particularly difficult to forgive others when we consider their sins to be much graver than anything we ourselves have ever done.
Jehovah himself has standards for forgiveness.
For instance, Jehovah expects wrongdoers to repent in order to receive his forgiveness. (Luke 17:3,4; Acts 8:22)
But even if we cannot know the heart condition of someone who has wronged us, forgiving them is key to achieving inner peace. (Eph. 4:31,32)
What’s more, Jesus taught that we should not judge others and that we should pray for our enemies. (Matt. 5:44; 7:1,2)
It helps to remember that the person, like us, was born imperfect. (Ro. 3:23)
The Bible encourages Christians to try to conquer evil with good, and to leave matters that are beyond us in God’s hands. (Ro. 12:17-21)
And we do well to keep a humble view of ourselves, knowing that Jehovah “has not dealt with us according to our sins.” (Ps. 103:10-12)

Mark, chapters 7 & 8

“[…] He sighed deeply in his spirit […].”
~Mark 8:12

Jesus was a man who clearly expressed his emotions.
This is the only passage where the greek verb “anastenazas,” or exasperation, is used in the Scriptures.
It describes how the Pharisees’ lack of faith made him feel.
But Jesus also sighed when speaking sign language to a deaf man he was about to cure. (“estenazen,” Mark 7:34)
He did not simply go through mechanical motions like an overworked doctor.
His sigh conveyed heartfelt empathy, a quality he reflected from our heavenly Father.
People may respond favorably or critically to God’s message, and they can move us, encourage us or drain us.
And like Jesus, we will need to discern who truly is appreciative of the good news and keep looking for them without becoming disheartened.

Mark, chapters 1 & 2

“[…] He was at home. And so many gathered that there was no more room, not even around the door, and he began to speak the word to them.”
~Mark 2:1,2

When I think of Jesus’ ministry, I do not think of him as having people over for brunch, but rather picture him as a wanderer, reaching out to others wherever they were at.
But he did have a home based in Capernaum, which was close to Nazareth, the town he had grown up in. (Matt. 4:13)
What strikes me in this passage is Jesus’ hospitality, even towards those who did not have faith in him. (Mark 2:6,7)
Not only was his privacy overcrowded in an unannounced manner, but some even removed the roof to bring down a paralytic man. (Mark 2:4)
Jesus remained helpful and compassionate as always. (Mark 2:5)
When we in the Christian congregation are encouraged to be hospitable, it is not a suggestion based on culture or personal preference. (1 Pe. 4:9)
The way of hospitality is part of Christ’s example.

Matthew, chapters 27 & 28

“Again Jesus called out with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.”
~Matthew 27:50

Jesus struggled to stay alive until all prophecies relating to his earthly life had been fulfilled, including the one in which he would be given vinegar during distress. (Ps. 69:21; John 19:30)
By yielding up his spirit, he willingly let himself expire.
He carried out his commission thoroughly even during the most painful and humiliating moment of his life, until it was time to let go of it.
Sometimes we may want to give up on life when our bodies still have a decent amount of living in them.
Jesus’ example shows me that it’s important to see things through to completion, not losing focus of God’s purpose, even on darker days.

Matthew, chapter 26

“From now on you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
~Matthew 26:64

Jesus knew he was about to be executed, but he never lost sight of the greater picture. (Matt. 26:55,56)
He understood his role in God’s purpose and was positive he would fulfill it. (Da. 7:13,14)
He had resolved to obey his father, even at great personal cost. (Matt. 26:39,42,44)
He became the “Perfecter of our faith,” the model whom we can follow when we start to lose hope. (Heb. 12:2,3)

Matthew, chapter 25

“Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things. I will appoint you over many things. Enter into the joy of your master.”
~Matthew 25:20-23

In Jesus’ illustration of the slaves and the talents, one slave was responsible for the equivalent of 102 kg of silver (~225 lbs.), or what was back then about 100 years’ wages for a common laborer.
The second slave was responsible for 40.8 kg of silver (~90 lbs.), or about 40 years’ wages.
They both doubled their master’s initial capital by immediately investing it. (Matt. 25:16,17)
Jesus focused on the effort each made and in the story, each received the exact same compensation.
This shows me that God does not value my service to him depending on how many privileges I may hold within the congregation, but on how much effort I individually put forth in serving him wholeheartedly.
He focuses on quality, and as long as I am doing everything I can to be a true Christian, I will receive as many blessings as someone who perhaps bears more responsibility. (Matt. 25:29)