We all make mistakes. Some are small and just a bit embarrassing, but others feel like permanent limitations on us. Throughout the course of Mark, the disciples fall short over and over again. The most notable failure, though, belongs to Peter. He vehemently denies knowing Jesus and curses those who confront him. If anyone should have been crippled by failure, it was Peter. But Jesus doesn't leave us in our failure; he restores us.
In the final hours before His death, Jesus celebrates Passover with his followers for the last time. Originally, its purpose was to remind Israel how God rescued them from slavery in Egypt. However, Jesus gives new meaning to the bread and wine. While the Passover signified Israel's deliverance from bondage, Jesus' body and blood gives all people freedom from the bondage of sin and death.
Everyone has a value system. We place more or less value on the things that are more or less important to us. The challenge for us is aligning our priorities with Jesus' priorities. For the woman Mark 14, Jesus was worth abandoning social norms as well as losing an enormous amount of money. For Judas, Jesus was worth a few pieces of silver. The question is, what is Jesus worth to you?
Seeing the world the way Jesus sees it is always a challenge. In fact, his way is often the complete opposite of our way. While people judge outer appearances, Jesus sees through appearances and looks at the heart. When it comes to generosity, we often marvel at large gifts or sums. In this passage, Jesus sees the heart of the poor widow who gives all she has, even though the amount itself is small. He is much more concerned with the heart of the giver than the amount of the gift.
We all have problems keeping our lives organized. So many things pull us in different directions to the point where it’s hard to remember and focus on the most important things. When someone asked Jesus what was most important, he responded with the greatest command: love God, love people. Everything else in life hinges on this command.
On two separate occasions in Mark 11, Jesus becomes frustrated by a lack of fruit. First, he curses a fig tree for its literal lack of fruit. Then he drives vendors and money-changers out of the temple for using it as a way to make a profit. In the same way that Jesus judged the fig tree for being all leaves and no fruit, Jesus judged Israel for being all temple and no life change. As Christians today, are we all church and no life change?
In our world, power is everything. We all want to be influencers at some level in the areas we are most passionate. Even the people closest to Jesus wanted to leverage their relationship with Him into a position of power. But Jesus tells us the kingdom doesn't work the way the world does. Jesus prescribes service to others as the antidote for power-hungriness. In His kingdom, serving others is always better than being served.
Jesus has always been clear about the life he requires his followers to live. But it seems that from the beginning, no matter how simply Jesus states his mission, his followers have the habit of missing the point. The disciples argue with one another about dividing power amongst themselves once the Kingdom comes. But when Jesus is King, there is no power to be had; there is only submission and service. In the kingdom where the King washes feet, towels are greater than trophies.
Jesus has always had high expectations of those who choose to follow him. He modeled the way we should live by becoming not a conquering king, but a suffering servant. In our culture, being part of a church is usually easy and often expedient. But being a disciple means giving up everything and following Jesus to the cross.
If what Jesus has said is true, then the most important question in the world is the one he asks his disciples in Mark 8 - "Who do you say I am?" Based on his radical claims, he must be either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. It's a question we all must answer for ourselves. So, who do you say Jesus is?
This is the weekly podcast of the Sunday morning message.