Category Archives: Bible

October 25, 2021

Mark 10:52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.”
This is a story of a blind man begging along the road who cries out to Jesus to have mercy on him. Jesus calls him and asks “what do you want me to do for you?” The blind man responds, “I want to see” and Jesus comes back with the verse above? What does Jesus mean that the mam’s faith has healed him? Is he teaching that if you just believe you will be healed you will be? There are people who teach such things. It is not just the faith but the object of that faith, Jesus, that makes the difference. Faith is like an electric cord. It can transmit all sorts of power if it is plugged into a power source. When it is not plugged in, it doesn’t do much. This blind man had faith in Jesus. What is the cord of your faith plugged into?

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

October 18, 2021

Mark 10:44,45 “Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.” (The Message Bible)

In a kidnapping case, a ransom is demanded by the bad guys. As some folks read these verses in the second and third century AD they considered to whom this ransom, this “life in exchange for many who are held hostage,” was paid. Some said it was to Satan who held humanity captive in sin. Some said it was to God who needed a payment to release those under his judgement. Paul wrote in Romans 3:25, 26; “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” The mechanics may be beyond us but the idea that Christ does for us what we cannot do for ourselves is clear. What do you think happened as a result of Jesus’ death? 

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

October 11, 2021

Mark 10:25 “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

I popped a button on a pair of pants recently and thought I would sew it back on. What was I thinking??!! I got out my mother-in-law’s old sewing kit and set to work. Do you know how small the eye of a needle is? It was nearly impossible for me to get a little piece of thread through let alone a huge animal. But of course, Jesus is using hyperbole to make a point. The point being that humans are obsessed with money and the things it can buy. They are so obsessed that it easily distracts and diverts them from the things God had in mind right from the beginning, like trust and love and focusing on the general welfare and the good of others. Get a needle out if you haven’t done so recently. See if you can get your camel through that! 

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

October 4, 2021

Mark 10:14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

What Jesus saw was the disciples rebuking those, presumably mothers, who had brought their children to Jesus to be blessed. What Jesus became was indignant. What does it mean to be indignant? https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/indignant tells us it is, “feeling or showing anger because of something unjust or unworthy.” We become indignant about so many things in our time, sometimes rather petty things, that it seems a normal way of being. But for Jesus it was unusual. To have his own followers keeping the small and vulnerable away who wish to be blessed by him was more than he could let slide. On the occasion of World Communion, we pray that Jesus’ followers today don’t deserve such indignation for similar exclusions.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

September 27, 2021

Mark 9:42 “On the other hand, if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.” (The Message Bible)

A few verses earlier Jesus “put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me” (36-37). In this verse the “simple, childlike believers” are Peterson’s term for the “little ones (micron) who believe in me.” In a world where bigger is better and everyone wants to be the smartest one in the room, having regard for the little ones isn’t often a great value. But it was for Jesus and he would like it to be for us. Who are the little ones that are taken advantage of around you? What can you do about it for Jesus’ sake?

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

September 20, 2021

Mark 9:36-37 “He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, ‘Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.’” (The Message Bible)

The he is Jesus who is talking to his disciples here. There was a time not so very long ago when the prevailing wisdom was that “children should be seen and not heard.” While parental love was part of the human condition, the actual tasks of caring for children were given to paid servants if such could be afforded. Of course, it was always a small minority who could afford it. The rest changed the dirty diapers and wiped up the drool and taught discipline to out of control kids on their own. But here Jesus is indicating that those dirty diapers and that drool and those out-of-control moments were a place to learn the way God loves. He doesn’t farm out our care to others. He comes to us in Jesus, in his Spirit, through the scriptures and the church, his people. When we embrace the children around us and the child in all those around us and the child in ourselves we find a little bit of God, and a little bit of God goes a long way.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

September 13, 2021

Mark 8:34-37 Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? The Message Bible)

If you read this passage in any other translation, it becomes clear that Peterson is doing a lot of interpretation in the Message concerning Jesus’ words. But that is what we do all the time with the Bible, make these words from long ago the Word coming to us today. So, he writes, “You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am.” Jesus’ disciples had been looking for a leader. Someone to drive the car, so to speak. Now that driver was saying that they weren’t going exactly where they thought when they got in the car. They could have jumped out at the next light. They actually did for a short time around the trial and crucifixion. But eventually they saw that Jesus was taking them where he promised. You probably don’t know all that will happen to you in the future. The folks that went to the World Trade Center on that Tuesday morning 20 years ago anticipated another normal day. It was not to be. In the end, we all realize that we are not in the driver’s seat, at least not all the time. So, who is then?

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

September 6, 2021

Mark 7:32-35 Some people brought a man who could neither hear nor speak and asked Jesus to lay a healing hand on him. He took the man off by himself, put his fingers in the man’s ears and some spit on the man’s tongue. Then Jesus looked up in prayer, groaned mightily, and commanded, “Ephphatha!—Open up!” And it happened. The man’s hearing was clear and his speech plain—just like that. (The Message Bible)

This all seems very weird, doesn’t it? Why doesn’t Jesus just snap his fingers and get the healing over with? Is he using some magic with his actions? I don’t think so. How do you communicate with a man who can’t hear or speak to you? Remember, Jesus took the man off by himself according to the narrative. They were alone. Could it be as simple as Jesus indicating to the man what he was going to do? He handles his ears. He touches his tongue. The spit, I have read, indicated healing. And then he heals these parts of the man. Is it possible that in the deaf and mute aspects of our own lives Jesus is touching us and indicating how he can change us? It’s not magic. It’s faith. Where are you being touched by God this week?

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

August 30, 2021

Song of Solomon 2:10 My beloved spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.”

I know it is said that absence makes the heart grow fonder but only to the extent that it wants that absence to end. The Genesis two account of how God made humans makes the profound statement “it is not good for humans to be alone” (verse 18). The innate need for intimacy causes people to make the risky proposal, “come with me.” It sounds a lot like Jesus’ call to his first disciples in Matthew 4:19 as he tells them, “Come, follow me.” Love is not content to admire from afar. God does not want aloof appreciation. Love calls “be with me and let us travel the road of life together.” How do you answer God’s call of love? 

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

August 29, 2021

1 Kings 8:27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”

This is Solomon talking to God (Yes, we call that praying) at the dedication of the Temple. There were two Temples in Jewish history. This one, built by Solomon around 950 BC, and the one expanded by King Herod in the time of Jesus. They were incredibly important to the Jewish nation so it is significant that this verse insists that God is not contained to the Temple in Jerusalem. Still, there was a sense in which God was encountered by myriads of Jews as they came to Jerusalem for festivals and worshipped in the Temple. Of course God is everywhere, but just as God gives us special people in our lives that inspire our faith and have a greater significance for us personally, God may give us special places that do the same. The Temple was one of those places for God’s people in the past. Many have found that their home churches are that sort of place for them. Do you have a special place that helps you connect with God? I hope so!

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible