If you have been reading my blog for a while you have probably figured out by now that I love writing things that are funny and irreverent but also things to help people love Jesus more. So I have had an exciting, perhaps dangerous thought: what if there was a Study Bible that was full of bad facts and dubious application (you know, for the laughs), but that also had useful things to help people read the Bible and know Jesus? I can’t really imagine Zondervan making this a priority, so I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I’m hoping this isn’t terribly offensive. Below is Mark 1:1-20. If it’s good, I might keep doing it or it might become another one of my unfinished great ideas (like that time I started a tourism blog). If it’s blasphemous, I’ll repent and stop immediately. I know it’s not very pretty, think of it as an early draft. Let me know what you think.

Before we get started, here is the key:

Dubious Fact

These are facts that are probably not true. Alternative facts if you like. Don’t believe anything they say.

Shallow Insight

These are insights into the text that, while possibly true, may not be worth having.

Bad Application

This is how not to apply this part of the Bible to your life.

Actual Fact

This is something that may be worth knowing.

Helpful Thought

This may actually help you to know Jesus better and live for him.

Now without further ado, here is the first installment of the Dubious Study Bible:

1 The beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in the prophets,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.
3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord!
Make his paths straight!’”

Dubious Fact

This is a quote from the Prophet Isaiah. Isaiah was famous for being incredibly eloquent and handsome. He was known as the Ladies’ Prophet as he had many female admirers, however, he always remained faithful to his wife. He also invented tea.

4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching the baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins. 5 All the country of Judea and all those of Jerusalem went out to him. They were baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins. 6 John was clothed with camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey.

Shallow Insight

John the Baptist was not very fashionable and often itchy.

Bad Application

The John the Baptist Diet is the best way for a Christian to lose weight and get great abs. This God given recipe of one honey and locust smoothie every morning will give you both beauty and youth and is guaranteed to help you lose 30 kilos in 30 days.

7 He preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and loosen. 8 I baptized you in water, but he will baptize you in the Holy Spirit.”
9 In those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

Helpful Thought

Jesus was baptized, not because he was sinful, but because he was identifying with sinful humanity. This is pointing us to the end of his earthly ministry when he will not only identify with us in our sin but take all our sin upon himself at the cross, enduring God’s punishment so that we might be forgiven.

10 Immediately coming up from the water, he saw the heavens parting, and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 A voice came out of the sky, “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Dubious Fact

Some scholars suggest that the voice proclaiming Jesus’ divine sonship was not actually an audible voice from heaven, but was a time traveling public transport information officer with a loud hailer who Jesus had lined up beforehand to make this announcement. This is hotly debated among Bible Scholars, Time Travel Scholars, and Public Transport Scholars alike.

12 Immediately the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness.

Dubious Fact

When the Holy Spirit drives he pays for petrol and you get to pick the music. Good Guy Holy Spirit.

13 He was there in the wilderness forty days tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals; and the angels were serving him.

Dubious Fact

Jesus was running a circus in the desert. He had lions, tigers, bears, ponies, seals and many other wild animals in the acts, as well as clowns who would squeeze into the Holy Spirit’s car. The angels were the ushers and other circus personnel who served Jesus in his circus enterprise. No animals were mistreated in Jesus’ circus because Jesus is good and kind.

Actual Fact

Satan is bad.

Helpful Thought

Jesus was tempted by Satan for forty days. Here is just one more way that Jesus identifies with humanity. Jesus knows what it is like to be tempted to sin. When you feel tempted, you don’t need to feel guilty, Jesus was tempted too. What’s more, Jesus gives us the same power to resist temptation that he had, we too can have the Holy Spirit if we trust in Him.

14 Now after John was taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Good News of God’s Kingdom, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and God’s Kingdom is at hand! Repent, and believe in the Good News.”

Helpful Thought

These are the first words of Jesus recorded in this book. Pay attention. They’re probably significant if you want to know what Jesus is all about and what he expects of you.

16 Passing along by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.

Shallow Insight

Fishermen cast their nets into the sea for they are fishermen. Good fishermen collect them again, bad fishermen leave them there, waste a lot of money on nets and never catch any fish.

17 Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you into fishers for men.”

Dubious Fact

Jesus loved puns. Jesus has many names and titles, one of these is “Lord of all Puns”.

18 Immediately they left their nets, and followed him. 19 Going on a little further from there, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them, and they left their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired servants, and went after him.

Dubious Fact

Zebedee was famous in the Nazareth club scene as DJ Zebe. His career highlight was when he played the famous Jerichosonic Festival in 26AD to 20,000 screaming male fans. The women were not allowed to attend but thought the festival sounded boring when their husbands related the whole set to them in great detail when they returned home the following day.

Helpful Thought

Following Jesus always means leaving something behind. For the disciples, right from the start, following Jesus meant leaving behind their careers. In the long run, it would cost them much more. If you follow Jesus, be prepared for it to cost you. If you are already following Jesus but it hasn’t cost you anything, are you sure you’re really following him?