Wednesday, February 4, 2015

4 Episodes

I like it when I'm caught by surprise with inspiration. I was catching up in my gospel lesson reading in the Daily Office in the BCP when four episodes in the life of Jesus spoke to me. They follow each other in the eighth chapter of Mark. What I heard were lessons targeted at disciples, targeted at me.

Its interesting. There are three occurrences here where the revelation of Jesus is challenged. The disciples are present in these encounters. They ought to be more than witnesses. They ought to remain learners.

In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat." -- Mark 8: 2 

First, he has compassion to feed, but the disciples look at where they are and what little they have. To ever think Jesus lacks compassion for those he encounters is a misread of the gospels. The great crowd of Mark 8 has his attention. They've stayed with him and haven't eaten all the while. He engages the disciples for what they have, but they believe its too little.

My Lord Jesus, I'm moved by your love for these. There is power in your compassion. Here, take what I have to bless and display the power of your name.

And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” -- Mark 8: 12

Second, the Pharisees challenge him by demanding a sign. It appears to be an ambush. What would a sign do? The hungry didn't demand a display of power to prove anything.

My Lord Jesus, you won't provide a sign to appease the spirit of religion and the skeptical. We will love, as you do, but we won't succumb to the pressure, and there's always plenty to prove and to justify our loyalty. Our allegiance is evident in love and trust alone. We love you above all and all you love.

They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.” -- Mark 8: 16

Third, the disciples miss the Pharisees' challenge and turn it into an expression of faith in their lack though they witnessed him feeding thousands with little once before. There is confusion in following Jesus when he's challenged from multiple angles. Focus on him as your source of understanding in all circumstances. Focusing on our own inabilities or failures is not humble. It misguides our attention, and we miss what he offers us.

My Lord Jesus, you know I'm better off focusing on what you share than on what I lack. Your wisdom in all conditions satisfies me. Your power is in word and deed.

He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” -- Mark 8: 23

A fourth scenario that follows is not a challenge of the revelation of the Incarnation in Jesus. Its the simple circumstance when the sick come to him for healing. A blind man is prayed for twice for healing and receives it. Jesus is, first of all, persistent. Secondly, our Lord is in the moment. "Can you see anything?" Nothing is presumed. Jesus is there until he can see.

My Lord Jesus, the hurting come to you in faith for what only you can do. This is glorious! I will pay attention and learn of the power of faith.

In these circumstances, Jesus, if I were in any of them, I wouldn't want to miss what there was to learn and experience about you. Lord Jesus, I will continue to learn from you.

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