In the South Bay as it is in Heaven
We yearn to see God transform all of existence. “All of creation groans” for this healing. In the face of individual and social brokenness, we want to see God’s care restore our lives into full flourishing.
Throughout our series in the Gospel of Mark, we have repeatedly emphasized that Jesus’ most often expressed emotion is compassion. This week brings us to a major exception: the only known violent act of Jesus. He fashions a ‘weapon’ and runs people out of the temple. What would drive him to act so seemingly out of character? And what does it teach us about our worship today? Let’s talk about Jesus “Throwing Tables” (Mark 11:15-19).
Lord, Have Mercy!
This week brings us to the account of Bartimaeus. He was a blind beggar, who had heard about Jesus, and so he purposefully placed himself in Jesus’ path. Not only is the compassion of Christ on display, but also we see here an art of discipleship our society has largely lost in an era of incessant distractions. How might we place ourselves in the path of Jesus, so we too might ask “Lord, Have Mercy!” (Mark 10:46-52) Let’s seek him together.
Come Follow Me
How many of us believe in the words of that well-known urban poet, “more money, more problems?” But wouldn’t most of us rather have the problem of more money than no money at all? Wealth can be a sensitive topic both inside and outside of the church. This week we will look at Mark 10:17-31, where the rich man asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The answer and explanation may stun us, but it further points to a call of discipleship and surrender, and to let go of anything, not just money, that stands between us and God. Dallas Willard said, “The cost of discipleship is high, but the cost of non-discipleship is even higher,” and the rich man was not willing to pay that cost to follow Christ. Let us look to Christ who became poor for our sake, so that we may find our hope and riches in Him!
Two Shall Become One
This week brings us to a topic that evokes a lot of pain in our society: marriage and divorce. Jesus did not mince words here, but his goal was to give hope, not to crush. In general, he was so compassionate, the religious leaders wanted to prove he was soft on sin. So they asked him about divorce - thinking he would either alienate the 'sinners' who were flocking to him, or that he would jettison God's commands. He does neither. But how is this good news for us? I know this is a very sensitive topic for many. I myself am a child of divorce. Let's talk about God's design for our joy, whether married, single or divorced: the “Two Shall Become One” (Mark 10:1-12).
Millstones & Maiming
We come to a passage laden with violent images. They are often startling to a modern reader. Why would Jesus invoke such pictures, especially when discussing leadership? Jesus surprises - not only with painful words about exclusion, but also thoughts that would have been stunningly inclusive in his context. But why do those kinds of discussions almost always feel violent? Even in our society, where inclusion has become a theme, that topic itself seems ironically to have divided. How do we deal with that as followers of Christ? How could Jesus' words here be good news? Let's talk about “Millstones & Maiming” (Mark 9:33-50).
Help My Unbelief
We come to a painfully vulnerable scene in the Gospel of Mark. A father calls out to Jesus seeking pity for his suffering son. Intriguingly, Jesus arrives on the scene to find his disciples having failed to heal the boy and now arguing with others. Jesus then says some harsh things about faithlessness, which begins a spiraling conversation about weak faith. It culminates in this father crying out, "I believe! Help my unbelief!" You sense a dad's desperation to see his child no longer suffer. He'd say anything... and yet Jesus still heals his son. However, this passage inevitably invites a conversation about what is required of us. How do I know my faith is strong enough? What if I have doubts? Why do the disciples fail? So let's talk about the challenges of weak faith and the hallmarks of maturing faith. There's good news here: Lord, “Help My Unbelief!” (Mark 9:14-32)