The Call to Discipleship in The Gospel of Mark, Day 16
7 Jesus departed with his disciples to the lake, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; 8hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. 9He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; 10for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him.11Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, ‘You are the Son of God!’ 12But he sternly ordered them not to make him known. Mark 3:7-12Jesus has had a rough week. Every time he turned around he was challenged about his ministry and then those challengers get together to try to get rid of him. So Jesus returned to the lake. A place where people heard the word of God and followed. And even though Jesus is regrouping, the word of God cannot be stopped. The net has been cast, the Good News is being spread and the people gather. The people come from near and far, they are gathering around seeking to touch him and be healed.
Jesus seems to be in a strange place. He knows of the plot against him and tries to withdraw, but the crowds follow. Even with the crowds, he seems to want to get away from the need and tells them to have a boat ready. And with those who recognize him as the Son of God - he orders them not to speak, not to talk. The very ones who are considered evil are the ones who name Jesus for his identity and connection to God - the Holy One of Israel, the Son of God. Even with Jesus rattled, the word of the Good News continues to spread God's dawning kingdom can't be stopped. The Good News will spread and the people will come.
So today, people say they love Jesus but hate the church. Is part of the problem that we don't preach Jesus, we water down the Good News and make it compatible with our lives? We play down those parts that trouble us and call us to live and be differently. But when the Good News is shared, when Jesus' word and actions are shared the kingdom grows, the crowds gather. Do we need to be more honest about the Good News, teaching the hard parts, the parts that inspire and challenge? Do we need to live like we truly believe what the Gospel tells us?
In the book Unbinding Your Heart, there is a prayer practice by Martha Grace Reece that I invite you to try today. I want you to find a set of stairs. On each step, stop and ask God who or what you should pray for. Pray. Take another step and pray again. Listen for the Spirit to gently lead you to prayer for people you don;t know, or for situations you don't know much about. Be open to the spirit. What do you notice? Is there a feeling of who you should pray for in the days to come?
You are Mine by David Haas