This book is designed to help you study the book of Mark. It is like the Scripture study series–in that you will read a block of text, and I have included many questions that will help you to ponder the scriptures you read.
Additionally, each chapter includes several exercises that will help you to find patterns, themes, concepts, scripture chains, cross-refernences, etc. These exercises will help you to study each chapter in-depth. I hope that each time you use this study companion, you will be edified and excited about scripture study.
Sorry about the lack of posting. Things have been a little busy, but I hope to post about a few more mothers this month.
Today, I’ve been thinking about Herodias.
She’s pretty much horrible. She is exactly the kind of mother we don’t want to be! Herodias teaches her daughter to use her sexuality and beauty, to use her virtue, to get gain. Herodias understands the power of a woman, and understands that her daughter is young and beautiful. She uses her daughter (to seduce her own stepfather!) so that John the Baptist would be killed. The story is atrocious.
But there is something we can learn. We need to teach our children that the value of a virtuous woman is far above rubies.
The message about the worth of women that we get from the world seems to be focused on a woman more like Salome. I have to admit, I’m often confused about my own value as a woman. I forget that I’m more than an object. It is okay to be old. It is okay to have a belly that has borne children. Obviously, I want to be healthy, but healthy doesn’t necessarily mean what we see plastered in advertisements and on TV. I often wonder, why aren’t women able to age anymore? Why can’t moms be moms these days? Why can’t grandmas be grandmas these days? Why do they have to be sexy moms or sexy grandmas? It is crazy! I love how Sister Dalton teaches about beauty:
“…’deep beauty’—the kind of beauty that shines from the inside out. It is the kind of beauty that cannot be painted on, surgically created, or purchased. It is the kind of beauty that doesn’t wash off. It is spiritual attractiveness. Deep beauty springs from virtue. It is the beauty of being chaste and morally clean. It is the kind of beauty that you see in the eyes of virtuous women like your mother and grandmother. It is a beauty that is earned through faith, repentance, and honoring covenants. – Elaine Dalton
I don’t know what happened to Herodias or Salome after this incident. I can’t imagine that she felt valued as a woman. Maybe she felt valued for having a womanly figure, but that can only last so long. I mean, Herodias herself knew that she didn’t have the beauty of youth any longer, so she had to turn to her daughter for this favor. It would be sad, to have your entire identity wrapped up in appearances, especially when appearances, over time fade. If we don’t work on our inner, deeper, spiritual beauty, then we will not radiate as we age. We will not be blessed with confidence that we are beautiful women, beloved by our Father and Heaven, our children, our husbands.
I feel drawn to the story of Herodias and her daughter. I have three daughters. I worry about them – living in a world that seems to value hyper-sexuality. I want them to know that power does lie in their bodies, but not to be used in a wicked or evil way. They can be beautiful and do good, like Queen Esther, who also went before a king with a request. They are powerful, like Eve, in that they can bring forth life into this earth! They can be women who are sure in their faith and in their value as daughters of God. They do not need to give in to the pressures of society, and tarnish their own value: which is far above rubies. I want to be an anti-Herodias: teaching my children to be good stewards, and to treat their bodies like temples. They need to learn to treat marriage and family with reverence. And I want to teach them to sustain the prophets.
Herodias is such a good bad example.
What do you think, about Herodias, the beauty and value of a woman, and what we are teaching our children?
Learn more about Herodias for yourself. Download the PDF and read/study the scriptures. There are also questions to help you ponder the principles of this text. If you have trouble seeing the pdf file below, then click here.
While the Triumphal entry was a really high point during the last week of Christ’s life, it doesn’t take long to get back to reality.
Before approaching Jerusalem, the Lord laments.
“And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.” – Luke 19:41-42
His people were wicked. They didn’t recognize Him. Israel refused to know their Lord and see Him – even though He was physically before their eyes. This experience provides an interesting backdrop for what happens next.
(The accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke differ a little bit as to the chronology of events. So, I’m going to look at this following Mark’s chronology…I find his especially interesting).
The Cursing of the Fig Tree
When Christ approaches the fig tree and finds it barren, he curses it.
At first glance, it can seem like the Lord was being impatient or maybe in a bad mood. But I don’t think that this is the case. The fig tree hadn’t filled the measure of its creation. I feel like this is symbolic. The House of Israel – and the Jews especially had been a chosen people. They had been carefully planted and tended, yet they refused to bring forth good fruit.
In the allegory of the vine, the Lord explains:
“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away:…” – John 15:2
We know that we shouldn’t bring forth bad fruit, but that isn’t enough. We can’t simply “abide in Christ” and bring forth no fruit. We can’t be like the fig tree, without fruit. It isn’t enough to be a member of the House of Israel. We need to bear good fruit. We need to do good work.
Cleansing the Temple
When the Lord gets to the temple, he sees so many people there doing wicked things. The temple, He explains, is to be a house of Prayer. But the people have made it a “den of theives.” Christ takes this treatment of the temple very personally. And for good reason: It is His Fathers house: His House.
I like thinking about this in relationship with the cursed fig tree. Both the temple and the fig tree have specific purposes, and neither one was being met. In the case of the Fig Tree, it was cursed because it didn’t bring forth fruit. In the case of the temple, it needed to be cleansed and made Holy again.
Cleaning the temple wasn’t the only thing that the Savior did at the temple. There were some people at the temple who weren’t mistreating it.
“And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.” – Matthew 21:14
They understood the true reason for the temple – that through the temple, they could go and be with the Lord, partake of His goodness, learn of Him, and be made whole.
We are blessed to have temples now. Temples are the house of the Lord, and when we go there, we learn more of the Savior, feel His peace, and enable the healing powers of the atonement to infuse our lives.
“I hope you use the temple constantly because you will gain the blessings that are there that you cannot gain anywhere else on the face of the whole earth. The temple stands as a monument for all to see. It stands as a statement that we as a people believe in the immortality of the human soul. Everything that occurs in the temple is of an uplifting and ennobling kind, and it speaks of life here and of life beyond the grave. It speaks of the importance of the individual as a child of God. It speaks of the importance of the family as the creation of the Almighty. It speaks of the eternity of the marriage relationship. It speaks of going on to a greater glory. It is a place of light, a place of peace, a place of love where we deal with the things of eternity.” – Gordon B. Hinkcley
I truly love the temple. I know that through repeated temple attendance and worship, I have grown closer to the Savior. It is a holy and sacred place. The Lord cannot tolerate sin or wickedness to usurp His power found in the temple. This is why Christ needed to cleanse His temple anciently, and it is why we need to go reverently to the temple now.
The Cursing of the Fig Tree, continued
In the Account given by Mark, after the temple was cleansed, the apostles notice that the fig tree had been dried up and withered – all on account of Christ’s cursing it. The apostles are somewhat amazed by the withered fig tree.
That’s what it is all about – the cursed fig tree, the cleansing of the temple, healing in the temple, everything. It is all about having faith in God; Having faith in our Savior. We need to have faith in the power of God and Christ. He is the Master, the Creator, the Redeemer. He is our King, the Father of our redemption. If we have faith in Him, not only could we make a fig tree wither, or a mountain move, but through faith in Him and His infinite power, we can be healed – from pain, trials, and ultimately death and Sin.
What do you do to remember the Lord, to fulfill the measure of your creation, and to exercise faith?