We have heard with our ears, O God,
our ancestors have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
in the days of old
We don't bring lambs to be slaughtered at places that we consider holy. We don't overdo that Sabbath thing so much, either.
Jesus had told the disciples about the suffering he was to undergo and the requirement that following him also meant suffering. Jesus again tells his disciples that he will be betrayed and killed and will rise again.
Mark tells us that Jesus restricted this knowledge to the disciples because he didn't want anyone else to know it. I'm wondering if he really needed to be so restrictive about the information. After all, the disciples not only did not understand what he meant; they were afraid to ask him to explain it all to them.
Something apparently they did understand was priority. They argued about who was the greatest. Jesus answered this concern by giving a lesson and an example. An example that told them what greatest meant to him.
He said "Whoever wants to be first must be last and servant of all." He then showed them a little child and said, "When you welcome the weak and defenseless, you are welcoming me."
Not only are we great when we help the weak, we also see him in the weak.
One of the insiders approached Jesus with a warning. Someone that John had not pre-approved was doing the kind of work that John approved of--as long as it was done by the right kind of person.
We can consider several modern-day applications:
Sectarianism--should your denomination be allowed to claim to be part of the Body of Christ?
Another problem today is how restrictive should each denomination be in detailing membership requirements? Who gets to decide who is a Christian?
Who gets to decide who gets to join my particular congregation?
Are only Christians allowed to do the work of God in God's name?
Jesus then cautioned them about temptation. What happened to that sweet and mild Jesus image so often held up for us? The next time we try to malign the OT by talking about the violence in it, we need to remember this passage from Mark that includes some wrathful talk.
Was Mark speaking to the early church in terms that they would recognize from their own lives; i.e., were mutilation and drowning punishments used by Romans? Was he warning them that disobedience to Christ would have an even more severe punishment? (I've been reading Morna Hooker).
The punishments listed are dire. Consider the crime--impeding someone's progress. And let us remember verses 38-40--Jesus has a pretty loose definition of following.
He left there and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. Crowds gathered. Critics were among them. The Pharisees asked him if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife. Is there any reason to believe that the Pharisees had any sincere concern about women who were being divorced by their husbands, women who would have been left destitute?
They were asking a hard question hoping to catch Jesus in an embarrassing answer. Would he stick to Scripture?
In that particular confrontation, he did, and even quoted some additional verses.
And, we're left with a disconcerting lesson. Matthew modified it some. Paul, in writing to the Corinthians did, too.
We continue to struggle with the need to obey God's will in troubling situations.
And we continue to see instances of modern-day Pharisees trying to embarass other Christians.
Prayer for Today: O Lord, in our decisions to how we should live our life, help us to interpret the scriptures appropriately. And, Lord, help us not to be like those Pharisees. Amen.