22nd Sunday after Pentecost
Ambition to Serve
Text: Mark 10:35-45
What a journey! The disciples had been on quite the road trip with Jesus. They were meandering their way south through Judea down toward Jerusalem for the final time. Jesus was making his last trip there to accomplish his mission and our salvation.
But even more extraordinary was the spiritual journey the disciples were taking along the way. Parents had been bringing little children to Jesus and the disciples rebuked them and tried to send them away. Jesus was indignant with them. Then a rich man runs up to Jesus and the disciples let him right through. But they were amazed when Jesus told them how hard it is for the rich to inherit the kingdom of God. Then Jesus began to teach them more specifically about what was coming, that he was going to suffer and die and rise again in Jerusalem. The disciples were astonished.
And now this. James and John approached Jesus and tried to secure seats of honor on Jesus’ right and left in the glory of heaven. That made the others indignant with James and John.
What is going on here? Up and down the disciples go in their journey of faith. Mistake after mistake. Wrong motives. Weak faith. Hidden agendas. What kind of faith did they have here anyways? Well they had a faith much like mine. That’s certainly true of the story today. Read the rest of this entry
20th Sunday after Pentecost
Children: Our Mission and Our Model
Text: Mark 10:13-16
I’m sure most have a picture in their minds of this story. It’s one of those feel good, warm your heart kinds of stories. You picture Jesus, perhaps sitting on a big rock. You envision young kids maybe around the age of kindergarten to third or fourth grade. They’re gleefully running up to Jesus, nearly piling on him like they would a fun uncle who came to visit. In your mind you see Jesus with a great big smile warmly welcoming these kids.
That’s the picture most have in their minds. That’s what we see in paintings and portraits. That’s even the scene that my father’s church has in a 40 foot tall stained glass window that was built over 100 years ago. But that’s not exactly what happened.
We’re told in the story that people were bringing little children to Jesus. While you and I have an idea for what constitutes a little child, in the Greek culture they used that word specifically for children ages zero to four. When it says they were bringing little children, it means really little children. Perhaps there were others kids, but these were mostly babies, toddlers, and preschoolers being brought to Jesus. Read the rest of this entry
6th Sunday after Pentecost
Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe.
Text: Mark 5:21-24, 35-43
Have you been there before? Have you been there with Jairus? On your knees. Begging. Pleading. “Please Jesus. Please. Help.” You know there is absolutely nothing you can do and it is completely out of your control. You know there is one and only one who can help. So you beg and earnestly plead with tears flowing and humility showing. “Please Jesus. Please. Help.”
When that is you, side by side with Jairus in impassioned prayer, do you actually think Jesus will help? Do you really think he is listening? Do you really think he will do anything about it? Do you really think he can solve the problem or fix your trouble or heal the disease? Do you really think he can take away the cancer or save from death’s door? Do you really think he even cares? Do you believe these things?
Or do you pray because it’s your last ditch effort? Nothing else is working so this is your last chance, your last try. Maybe, just maybe, it will work and Jesus will help you. Read the rest of this entry
Remember This Sight . . .
Text: Mark 9:2-9
There are certain Bible stories that are simply tantalizing to the imagination. Especially stories with Jesus in them, many impress us and leave us in awe. Feeding the 5,000. How did that work? Walking on water. What was that like? Healing the blind and the crippled. Definitely miraculous! But then there are certain stories that are completely captivating. I think Jesus’ transfiguration is one of those stories.
Obviously Peter, James, and John had seen their share of miracles over three years. But even after all that, this brief scene on the mountaintop left them in speechless awe.
Don’t you wonder what that was like? Jesus leads you up the mountainside. Okay, you might not know what he’s doing, but you figure Jesus has something up his sleeve again. You start to doze off a bit (which was normal for these three) when suddenly you wake up to see a flash of light brighter than the sun. It’s Jesus! And he’s beaming bright with clothes whiter than any bleach in the world could make them. Seeing this glory makes you realize why Moses had to veil his face to hide its brightness when he came down from Mt. Sinai where he was in the presence of the glory of the Lord.
Speaking of Moses—there he is! Standing next to Jesus! And there’s Elijah too! Two of the greatest heroes of faith, standing right before you and talking with Jesus! Read the rest of this entry
3rd Sunday after the Epiphany
Why Follow Jesus?
Text: Mark 1:14-20
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said. We do. We follow him. We’re Christians. But why? Why Follow Jesus? Have you ever thought how strange it is to be a Christian and follow him?
Everyone else sleeps in on Sunday morning. They sip coffee in their jammies and watch the news while I’m hustling to make it here on time. Everyone else goes home from work and hangs out with the family or unwinds or cleans up a bit around the house. But I make my schedule even more busy (as if that were possible!) by going to midweek Bible studies and dinners and services coming up during Lent. That’s strange.
Here in America, the king country of consumerism, my fellow Americans make money and buy whatever they want and can possibly afford (sometimes even what they can’t afford). Meanwhile I first plan and pray about my money. I set money aside—money I worked hard for and earned—and I give it away to support God’s work. And I’m directed by God to do this cheerfully and joyfully and before I even think about how I would like to spend that money on anything else.
Speaking of prayer by the way, I find myself at random times of the day with folded hands and bowed head showing utmost humility and trust in a God that I’ve never met and never seen. That’s strange, too. Read the rest of this entry