Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mark, Chapter 9

At times, I don’t like the picture that Mark’s gospel paints of Jesus. I know that in part it comes from the Reader’s Digest style of writing, but it make’s Jesus come off as impatient and even arrogant. An example of that is in today’s reading on chapter 9. At other times, especially in this chapter, it seems as if the Word doesn’t even make any sense because it is disconnected. The impatience and arrogance seems directed at the disciples here, but that may come from the fact that they spent so much time with Jesus, yet still struggled with issues of faith. This brings a human element to the character of the disciples, which is needed to ground the gospel. In that, I do think the impatience shown by Jesus serves a purpose.

17A man in the crowd answered, "Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not."
19"O unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me."
20So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
21Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"
"From childhood," he answered. 22"It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."
23" 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."
24Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
25When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again."

I like the part of this story where the boy’s father asks Jesus to help him overcome his unbelief. It paints such a picture of humanity’s inherent weakness and need for Christ. This man believed that Jesus was capable of healing his son, yet he knew that unbelief within him could not be overcome by his own faith. He knew that even in believing, he needed Jesus’ help. The people around him were unbelieving as well, and this frustrated Jesus. The boy’s father, however, recognizes his weakness in his unbelief and admitted it. This show the type of humility that Christ asks of us. We must recognize that we can do nothing without Christ. Once we do that, we begin to truly grow with Christ, as opposed to without Him. That humility is exhibited later in the chapter here:

35Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all."

In accepting the mantle of being the last, we humble ourselves before God. Each person’s method of serving is different as well, depending on what we are called to do. The way I am called to serve is completely different from the way my wife is called to serve. This is what makes God such an awesome God, because he can manage the needs and missions of more than 6.5 billion people at the time down to the last exquisite details. Personally, I can’t wait to ask God how He does it.

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