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?
We are creatures of habit. Patterns and predictability give us a way to understand the world around us. But anything can become an idol. For the religious leaders in Mark 7, their traditions became more important to them than the things near to the heart of God. All of us are susceptible to elevating traditions beyond where they should be. While people are often concerned with outward appearances, God cares about the heart.
We are forgetful people. It's part of our human nature--we have trouble remembering things. Specifically, we often remember the bad things that happen to us better than the good things. But God has always been good, and even though our minds are often dominated by negativity, we need to be deliberate about keeping God's goodness in the front of our minds.
We've all experienced inadequacy in our lives. No matter what obstacles we encounter, at some point we're all faced with the difficult truth that we simply can't do it on our own. But the message of Easter is one of hope--no matter how dire the circumstances may seem, the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us. It's not about our power, it's about His!
Jesus shows his power over every conceivable force in the first five chapters of Mark - disease, dark spiritual forces, nature, even death. But when he returns to his hometown, the people’s familiarity with Jesus limited their faith in him to the point where he didn’t have the opportunity to exercise his power. When the congregation fails to believe, the community suffers.
Jesus interacts with two different people in this passage: a man with a twelve year-old dying daughter, and a woman who suffered bleeding for twelve years. Neither situation seemed hopeful for them until they met Jesus. No matter how little hope there seems to be in a situation, the touch of Jesus can change everything. Knowing this, how much do we really trust Jesus, and what will we trust him with?
We all go through storms in life. The question isn't "Will I go through a storm," but "Will I go through the storm with Jesus?" Even though we don't always see him, even though we may feel like he doesn't care, Jesus promises his presence throughout all the troubles we experience in life. No matter what you're going through, no matter how hard it seems, remember to trust Jesus in the storms.
We all have a past. Sometimes that past can feel like a hindrance or a hurdle that makes it difficult to move forward. But Jesus breaks down all kinds of barriers to get through to us. He broke all kinds of rules and customs to meet the demon-possessed man in the Gerasenes. Not only that, but this man was the first person in Mark's gospel that Jesus empowers to be a missionary. In Christ, your past does not paralyze you; it propels you into purpose.
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