This week we are looking at the Dilemma
Have you ever had one of those moments where you think you are getting one thing, but you end up getting something else? Like when you think you’re taking a sip of Coke and its actually sweet tea, and you just want to spit it out! Or when you meet someone and think you have them pegged as a specific Myers Briggs Type Personality but it turned out that you were wrong?
As we’ve journeyed through Mark so far, we’ve watched the disciples have moment after moment like that with Jesus. The Jews of that time knew deep in their souls The Messiah was coming; that wasn’t the problem. The problem was Jesus, and the Kingdom He talked about, looked nothing like who they had been picturing in their minds!
Just like the disciples, we have an idea of who Jesus should be and what His Kingdom should look like, even on a subconscious level. This image of Jesus is shaped by our family dynamic, cultural experience, wounds, giftings, and a general bias towards the self that every heart has. But as we continue to read this week, Jesus is establishing a kingdom that goes against everything an earthly king should look like. He confronts both the disciples and our idea what the Kingdom of God is like.
This week’s readings begin with the perfect example of this upside-down kingdom. The religious leaders see Jesus and His disciple’s eating food with ceremonially unclean hands. So, in an effort to make Jesus look foolish, they ask Him: “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?” (Mark 7:5). To which Jesus replies with a quote from Isaiah 29:13: “These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.”
Jesus’ response offers two key insights: 1. By quoting Isaiah, Jesus is showing that He is who Isaiah was prophesying about and showing the Pharisees that He is the ultimate Rabbi and 2. The Kingdom of God is not about mere religious traditions to impress other humans, the Kingdom of God is about loving God and loving others, especially from the heart.
As the disciples continue to be puzzled Jesus furthers His point as He makes it clear in Mark 7:20-23 “He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” This is why Proverbs 4:23 says “above all else, guard your heart, for everything else you do flows from it.”
We need to remind ourselves that the heart is the source of all good and all evil.
It’s easy to think of the disciples sitting around listening to Jesus going, “Wait .. what? .. Huh? .. but I thought …” I’m tempted to do the same: “but I’m quite a good person .. I haven’t killed anyone .. I’m not as bad as them.”
But in His loving kindness and great patience, God helps us understand Him. Later in this week’s readings we read another story of Jesus multiplying food. I think this story is another chance for the disciples to display faith in Jesus. Maybe it is to reiterate to the disciples that he really is the ultimate provider. Either way, we see Jesus’ faithfulness and patience on display, as the disciples, the religious leaders of the time, and you and I, do our best to wrap our minds around who He is and what He is doing.
As we keep reading, we will eventually see that Jesus confronts the disciple directly and asks them who they think He is. Until then, he is going to display it. The question is, do we see it? Do we hear it? Do we understand?
How have you experienced God’s patience in your life?
What do you believe about God that may not be true?
3What is one area in your life where you sense God is leading you to take a deeper dive?
Verse of the Week
“Do you still not understand?”