Wednesday, 14 January 2015
Applying Mark 2: Derailed by Dread
Nothing derails my day like a poor night’s sleep. And nothing ruins my sleep more easily than dread of what the next day might bring.
A recent example is typical. After a full day that finished with a long session at my computer, I grabbed a book and headed to bed. I was all set to read myself into oblivion when my husband asked an innocent question, “What’s your day like tomorrow?” I mumbled a quick reply and slid into sleep. But the damage was done. My words had awakened a subterranean demon, a Balrog of dread stirred.
In the night it surfaced.
- what if I can’t focus tomorrow and my study day is a waste?
- what if I get distracted by interruptions?
- what if this person doesn’t follow through on what I asked them to do?
- who do I think I am to commit to this?
As you may remember from the Lord of the Rings, Gandalf lost his battle with the Balrog. It looked like I was going to lose mine.
But Jesus didn’t lose his battle. He wasn’t derailed from his mission by external or internal pressures. That’s clear in the four scenes of Mark chapter 2. The hostile questioning of the Scribes and Pharisees could have intimidated him into defensiveness or inaction. But it didn’t. His courage shines clearly as he stays the course. The demons of dread had no effect on our Savior.
Why? Where did his internal strength come from? “He’s God,” we tend to answer, “it was easy for him.” Correction, he is the God-man, who willingly laid aside his divine power to live a human life the way it was supposed to be lived. And how was that? True humanity was never meant to be lived alone, but in conscious relationship with the Triune God. As we saw in Chapter 1, Jesus lived in daily dependence and responsiveness to the Father and the Spirit.
The Good News Is Better Than I Realize
But Jesus is not just our example, he’s our Savior. He came not just to live the life we were supposed to live. He came to pay for our moral failures with his atoning blood. His mission wasn’t just to preach good news, but to be the good news. Mark 2:1-12 shows us that. Jesus came to forgive sins, which could only happen if someone paid the price of the offense. This scene points to the cross.
But the good news is even better than forgiveness. It is a restored relationship with the God of the universe, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the one we were created to know and love and enjoy. I find that truth easy to forget. In fact it wasn’t until Day 4 that it jumped off the page at me.
In Jesus’ own words:
- My son, your sins are forgiven. In six words Jesus sweeps away the barrier of sin and proclaims a new relationship. He didn’t have to say “My son,” he chose to.
- Follow me. I tend to put the emphasis on the word “follow” and forget who it is I’m following. When you follow someone, you’re have to stay close to them. Jesus wants me close to him.
- Can the wedding guests fast when the Bridegroom is with them? Of course not. But the wedding ends and the guests go home. We, however, who have believed in Jesus aren’t the guests at the wedding, we’re the Bride! We go home from the wedding to him. Though the Bridegroom has ascended, he is at our side through his Spirit, until the day he returns.
- What David did…how he entered the house of God…and ate the bread of the Presence. How did David dare to enter the holy place and eat the holy bread? There’s only one qualification: because he was holy. If the blood of goats and bulls could cleanse him, how much more has the blood of the Son cleansed us. The bread of the Presence sustains us, too, with his Presence.
Four Ways To Say the Same Thing
This is four ways to say the same thing: Fear not! You are forgiven therefore I am with you. Today. Tomorrow. Everyday. Every step of your day.
Follow me on my mission into your day. Proclaim this good news to those around you: Jesus came to forgive your sins and be with you forever.
That’s the good news I heard this week. What about you?