Pastor's Ponderings: Meandering through Mark 3:20-21 bible study (October 3, 2023)
Updated: Oct 4
Praise to our Lord Jesus Christ on this cool desert morning filled with the light of creation, and filled with the Light of Christ for all who allow the Spirit to move them to faith.
Please remember that 2/3 of our nation is caught in a heat wave today, and it will certainly last into tomorrow. Please pray for those who do not have, or cannot afford to run, their cooling for their homes. We have also reached the peak time for many in our nation for the glorious colors of autumn. I have gone peeping with Melody even in high school. Northern Michigan is beautiful beyond measure as the trees move to full fall color. Please offer a prayer of thanksgiving that our member, Kandice, is OK after experiencing a fall. She is home after a trip to emergency. Thanks to God, too, for the nine year old who was kidnapped while on a bike ride in the campground where her family was. She was found safe, and the perpetrator was arrested. Our lives are filled with unforeseen happenings. Some are wonderful, but others are troubling and frightening for everyone involved in them. It is so good to know that in both the good and the bad, our God, through His Son Jesus Christ, has gifted our living with the Holy Spirit who strengthens our faith, gives us comfort, or lifts our courage to face the unknown, while celebrating with the hosts of Heaven when are lives are filled with joy.
Today in our bible study, we move to Mark 3:20-21. It is an extremely small, but important passage about how Jesus approached His ministry as He moved ever closer to the conflict that would bring Him to the cross, and the Salvation that is ours through His sacrifice. What is really interesting about the passage, 22-27 which follows, is that in the other Gospels there is so much that is not in the Gospel of Mark. In Matthew, we have the Sermon on the Mount and much more, and the same thing is true of the Gospel of Luke, but in Luke it is the Sermon on the Plain. It isn't until we get to Mark 3:22-27 that we begin to see some parallel material being shared again between these three Gospels. We must remember that John carries many passages not shared in any of the other Gospels. I will give the verses in the other Gospels that are similar when we get to that part of chapter 3.
In this passage, we discover what the world of people, and even Jesus' own family think about what he is doing. "He has taken leave of His senses!"
First of all: Jesus had left a business in Nazareth that supported His family. He picked up and left for Galilee. According to this text, His family moved with Him. Since he was the oldest child, He was responsible to keep the family pulled together and cared for, though that certainly does not seem to be His primary concern at this time. At a time of Roman intervention and religious legalistic fervor, Jesus left the stability of His trade, and left His home behind. We hear Him say that a prophet is never welcomed in His own home. Perhaps He meant his immediate family, but after his later experience in Nazareth, it may well be a comment about the community in which He lived and worked. There was no way that they would support the radical approach which Jesus was taking. He was to become an itinerant preacher and healer of the people, depending on the generosity of others for the money to survive.
Secondly: Jesus was definitely on a collision course with the orthodoxy of the Jewish faith leaders who were rule-laden at every turn. That problem for them could have been a matter of generational experience with the Law of God, or it may have been for the convenience of maintaining wealth and power. Either of these could be true, or maybe both were true. No sensible man would move to a head-on confrontation with the people who had the authority to literally destroy Him. As His family who loved Him was able to understand, Jesus would not fare well in that kind of conflict.
Third: Jesus was surrounding Himself with a quite strange little troupe of men, and called them His friends, having only just come to know them. Of course, you and I have some more of this story. Jesus was able to know the hearts of those He called to share this ministry with Him, just as He knows our hearts! That may be a little frightening when we consider that the fullness of our lives is an open book to the Savior.
Most of us have a sense for what it takes to keep our lives as secure as possible. The direction which Jesus was headed was anything but the world norm for Him.
He had thrown away His security for a life filled with what we would all think of as uncertain and troubled.
He had thrown away His safety when most people would do whatever it would take to be safe.
Jesus had shown Himself to be totally indifferent to the verdicts of society of His day.
Let me take a few personal minutes with you at this time. Jesus was confident in the truth and power which He brought to the world. When clergy are called to serve in a new community, like Me, Melody, and the first family of four children, we left a much more financially secure call in Michigan, knowing that I was hearing a call to change to a new location. We had to face a much lower income, the loss of a car which my previous parish provided, more vacation, and higher payments to my pension plan. Somehow, though, for us, none of that was the most important part of making a risky move cross-country to Tucson, and American Lutheran. And, like Christ's family, my family, especially my brothers, were extremely angry with us for taking such a distant call, so far away from the rest of the family. Though we have been home a number of times to visit my oldest brother, and Melody's only brother, none of them have visited us in our home in Tucson, nor did they ever visit our home at the call in Ann Arbor. To this day, I am pretty certain that they never understood the urgent call of the Holy Spirit for me to make this move. We came not knowing if the call would be long lasting, or fulfilling for our ministry as a family. The safety net of all those better benefits had to be set aside. There was, and continues to be today, a call on my life to serve the Gospel of Jesus Christ here in Tucson.
Jesus knew the very same thing. The security, the safety, the shock of family and friends, all had to be left behind. The Gospel call is the priority for clergy life. When we arrived there were plenty of "alligators" here, but the faithful with hearts for service and loving kindness held us in Christ's Love through the good and the tough times. When I see Christian service, it is not about holding oneself up on a pedestal, rather, it is the lovingkindness and hope that fills a person's life, making it possible to be and do more than most people think is a possibility for their own lives. The self-giving of Jesus Christ is the model for all of us today, tomorrow, and always!
I guess that these two verses for today were enough on their own. We will move on to 22-27 tomorrow morning. On Thursday, we begin the new study of Ezra in the Old Testament. Be sure to give Christ's Spirit a home in your heart.
In Christ, Pastor Kim Taylor