I’m so impressed with Jesus.
Does that seem funny to say?
While reading the book of Mark several times now I have had a lot of thoughts- a lot of reactions which might be confusing if I write all of them down here.
The big thing that hit me at about the third reading is something a classmate expressed really well. She said, “the Jesus that we pray to? He’s the same guy we’re reading about right now.” For me it was more of a feeling or a kind of paradigm shift. Reading this “action” gospel, this telling of the ministry of Jesus which uses the word “immediately” so much as to be comical, I was suddenly reading a letter written by a friend about a friend. It stopped being a history book or even a “holy” book and became a first hand account of a man I know well. He is right here….
With this in mind, the story becomes both funnier and harder to read. His disciples, for instance, are unbearably slow to understand. He comes to them walking on the water one night. Walking. On. Water. It says in Mark 6 that the disciples are in a boat, crawling along under wind and that Jesus was walking on the water and “meant to pass by them”. Wait. What? He’s just out for a late night stroll on the lake??? He would have just meandered past them but they see him and freak out. So he gets in the boat and the wind calms. Then? The disciples are “utterly astounded”. By the walking on water and His control over the wind? No. They are astounded about the loaves of bread that had been multiplied earlier. Huh?
What is telling is that by this point Jesus had done A LOT of miracles. He’s healing people, casting out demons, walking on water, calming storms with the words of his mouth and they’re like “man, that was a lot of bread!”
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And I see his face. His face is looking right at them, searching the crowd, knowing their hearts. Jews, Gentiles, tax collectors, religious leaders, fishermen, demon possessed, paralyzed, blind. )
All of that and then he is betrayed. And then he is arrested and put on trial, mocked and murdered. This time I read the story and feel so angry and upset that this was done to my friend.
no images were foundIt’s also harder to read because while Jesus is giving value to broken people- people who are so desperate for what Jesus has….(The woman with the 12 years of bleeding? The man possessed by the legion of demons? The blind man in Bethsaida that Jesus leads by the hand out of the village to heal? I hear their voices- “If I only touch His robe I will be healed”, “Please can I go with you, Jesus?!”
To the disciples in chapter 8 Jesus asks, “Do you not yet understand?” Yes, there is miraculous provision. Yes, I will heal sickness. But will your heart turn to me? Will you believe? When I offer my hand will you take it? Or, like the Pharisees will you get caught up in your religion or like Herod will you stay caught in your world of people pleasing and parties?
Currently one of my favorite songs is by Misty Edwards. She sings “He’s not a baby in a manger anymore. He’s not a broken man on a cross. He didn’t stay in the grave and He’s not staying in heaven forever….. He’s alive!”
Do you understand? Are you ready?