Pastor’s Blog – Reflections from 10/25/2015
- Job 42:1-6, 10-17
- Psalm 34:1-8 (19-22) (UMH 769)
- Hebrews 7:23-28
- Mark 10:46-5
The Gospel of mark, this week, teaches an important lesson which far too often goes overlooked in our fast past society. The lesson appears not so much in what Christ says, rather in what Christ does; it is the action that is taken that is key for our understanding of this particular text.
We know that Mark is probably the first Gospel to be written. It has some interesting attributes that are certainly worth mentioning before examining this text closer. First it is the only Gospel that does not originally include a resurrection story. It also does not include a birth narrative. Simply summarized it is a story of a man who ushered in a messianic age. Essentially this new age means a new way of living. The messianic age is supposed to be a time of righteousness and it is mark by a messiah. As Christians we have come to know this to culminate an extraordinary revelation of Christos, the one that overcame; even death.
As Christians, we are a people who testify the recognition of incarnate deity; we understand that, through Jesus the person, God makes God’s presence known here on earth. Therefore we are given a mind and example of how to reason and live into a holistic pattern. We expect that by embodying this holistic teaching of Christ the world will somehow be transformed. We expect that through this transformation the kingdom could possibly be known on Earth as it is in heaven.
In this particular story in Mark we are given a lesson in action. But in order to understand the intricacies of this story we must understand it’s location in the entire narrative that is the life of Jesus the Christ. First we must understand that the Christ that we find in Mark is often times upset with the disciples and their inability to grasp his teaching. Time and time they fail to live into the example that is being provided. Again and again Jesus delivers this wisdom in the form of parables and examples of action which the disciples fail to comprehend. Christ performs miracles in order to show them just how important this teaching is and tells them not to speak of these things, but over and over they spread the rumors throughout the country side. Finally in this story of the blind man Christ makes little display of the healing that takes place.
We must also understand where it is that the disciples are coming from in this story. They have encountered hope in this figure that calls himself Joshua bar Joseph. As an oppressed Jewish population of the country side they have come to find hope in the gospel that Christ is beginning to bring to them. They are a population that is doubly oppressed by the roman rule and by the religious leaders of the city center temple of Jerusalem.
Christ is offering these blue collar workers not located in the city centers a new teaching. It states that the Jewish leaders have become corrupt and only use the law of tradition for the own favor and well-being while neglecting the plight of the margins. The Jewish leaders are a body who are in alliance with the roman forces. These roman forces are making their presence increasingly known in this country landscape.
The hope that these people have found in Christ is much like the hope that the Israelites first saw in Moses when the prophet led them from their oppression in Egypt straight to the brinks of the Holy Land. Moses people saw peace for many years in that land, but that same location where the Israelites made home has since become hostile and the larger Roman Empire is beginning to cause disturbances in the socio-economic, political and demographical underpinnings of the region.
In short, culture is clashing and people are pretty upset. So the disciples are excited about this man from Nazareth. They find the good news that he has to bring to them very compelling. The winds for freedom, prosperity and peace are blowing for them. Christ is the answer to their earthly struggle. But Jesus knows something that they don’t get just yet. Jesus knows that he is going to be crucified. He knows that what he has started cannot be stopped despite his pleadings against his own imminent torture and crucifixion coming to pass.
But the disciples don’t know this yet. And so they are feeling good. They have bonded together in the time that they have shared following Jesus to this date. That are much like the groups that we form today. They are like cliques of friends and like minds that we surround ourselves with when we go out in public. They are the lions group in their jackets strolling into town to do a service project. They are the group of girls walking into cafeteria, waving and greeting friends. They are the fraternity boys wearing their letters as they stroll across campus together. The Jesus swagger here is certainly on fleek at this point.
Christ has warned them about this sort of thing. While Christ compassionately and inclusively performs miracles there is a sense of humility that is kept about him in doing so. In this particular story the blind man calls out “Son of David.” In order to get Jesus’ attention amidst the crowd of those who surround him. And the disciples pass him by as if they have heard nothing. They form their ranks tighter around their leader in order to protect him from such harassments. Yet Jesus does not even rebuke them this time. He simply calls the man forth in spite of their efforts and heals the man with a simple word.
Often times when we get into our groups they become pockets of exclusion for others not considered to be a part of the rest. We are prone to fall into the pack mentalities of serving our own. But Christ does not fall into these patterns of this sort of thinking. Christ contemplates his own existence and perhaps even grins at being referred to in the very understanding that he is attempting to challenge. Being called “Son of David” connects his privileged position as leader of this group of followers with a very deeply rooted Jewish hierarchy of Kings. This hierarchy and rule of order is what Jesus has come to so often to question when addressing the Pharisees. In fact Christ has made his entire life about being the unlikeliest of kings. Christ himself embodies the notion of what it means to live on the margins. Christ is the outsider in the New Testament. Therefore, the continuation of passed on perceived sense of privilege is the thing that Christ’s ministry is attempting to dispel and so he tells the blind beggar seated at the side of the road, the one that has no group to call his own, that his faith has made him healed.
This is not so much a story of miracle as it is of disruption. Christ has been referred to as the “Son of David” He and his group of misfit followers are becoming recognized as the force that destroys the unrighteous tyrannies of overbearing rule. Christ himself goes on to provide the further lesson that no one shall be left out of his blessing.
How do we make ourselves immune to the plight of the margins? Are we so far removed from these fellow human beings? Are we so far removed from Christ?