Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. Yet…” (John 7:21-22a, NIV).
In the passage I read this morning from John’s Gospel (John 7:14-9:12), the tension between Jesus and the Jewish people is palpable. They simply refused to acknowledge who He was, debating and arguing and reasoning their way out of faith in Jesus–even when He was performing miracles, teaching Scripture, calling them back to God, showing love and compassion without measure, and living without sin in every way. The Jews were amazed by Jesus’s miracles, yet angry with Him for healing a man on the Sabbath, and they were even accusing Him of being demon-possessed.
Jesus was incredulous, and rightly so! In spite of everything He’d done for them, they still refused to believe in Him. He does one miracle and the crowds are amazed by it… yet, not amazed enough to actually follow Jesus and receive Him as Lord.
How many times in my own life have I been amazed by God, but unmoved in my heart? Too many to count! I have often heard others say (and, I’ll confess, sometimes I’ve thought myself) these seven deadly words, “I know what the Bible says, but…” Oh, that those words would never escape our lips! May we never fail to be moved by the wonder, the grace, the Truth, and the beauty of God’s Word and the Savior it reveals to us. Be amazed and be moved this week.
In Mark 3:20-35, Jesus’s own family says He’s crazy and the religious leaders accuse Him of being demon-possessed. But Jesus points out that while some may think He’s a lunatic and others that He’s a diabolical liar, those who seek to do God’s will recognize Jesus for who He really is, the Lord.
In Mark 2:13-17, Jesus once again breaks the rules. This time, He calls Levi, a tax collector, to follow Him, and He even goes to Levi’s house to eat with other tax collectors and sinners. How could Jesus, a good moral teacher, a religious leader, a respectable man associate with “those kinds” of people?
He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. (Luke 19:3-4, NIV)
When I was a kid, I used to love climbing trees, and although it seemed at the time that I was climbing high enough to touch the clouds, I probably never actually climbed much higher than the roof of a one-story house. In 2012, I went on a mission trip to Brazil to build a church building in a jungle village on the Amazon River. The kids in the village put my tree-climbing skills to shame, easily climbing 30-40 ft or higher in some of the trees!
Climbing trees is not something you typically see an adult do, yet this is exactly what Zacchaeus did so he could see Jesus. No doubt some onlookers thought Zacchaeus was acting foolish or that he was being childish. But Zacchaeus didn’t care. He was willing to do whatever it took to see Jesus. He wasn’t worried about how others would judge him or what they might say about him later. His focus was on seeing Jesus, and that’s just what happened.
Sometimes I wonder how willing I am to do whatever it takes to encounter the Lord. Am I willing to have a childlike faith? To act foolish (in the eyes of the world)? Would I climb a tree to see Jesus (yes, like Zacchaeus, I’d probably have trouble seeing over the crowd and need to climb a tree)? Would I read my Bible in the break room, even though my co-workers can see what I’m reading? Would I be willing to talk to my neighbor about Jesus, even though they might think I’m a Bible thumper? Would I pray for a meal at a restaurant?
We can find Jesus everywhere if we are willing to look for Him and climb the occasional tree to get a glimpse of the Lord. My prayer for us this week is that we will be less concerned about what others think and be willing to look for the Lord even if it means stepping out of our comfort zones.
They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat (Luke 8:53-55, NIV).
I love this story of how Jesus was interrupted by a woman who’d been sick for 12 years while on His way to heal a very sick little 12-year-old girl (I’ve always thought it interesting that the girl’s age was the same amount of time the woman had been sick–12 years, but it’s probably just a coincidence). The interruption delayed Jesus long enough that the little girl actually died. Undeterred, Jesus went and raised her from the dead.
Wait… He did what?!? Yes, He raised her from the dead! Wow! What an amazing miracle! And then after performing one of the most incredible, miraculous acts in human history… He told them to fix her supper. Jesus is so practical! If I’d just seen my own child raised from the dead, supper would be the last thing I’d be thinking about! But no doubt this little girl was hungry, and Jesus doesn’t just look after supernatural needs, but everyday ones, too.
This brought to my mind the question of how well do I look after my own everyday needs, like, say, sleep! Or rest, or relaxation, or eating healthier, or… exercise (yes, I used the “e-word”). If Jesus cares about me eating supper, maybe I should, too! And if Jesus is concerned for the practical needs of others, so should we be. Sometimes people don’t need a miraculous intervention, they just need a cup of coffee with a friend who will pray for them. My prayer for us this week is that we will remember to eat, sleep, and wrestle with our kids, do the everyday, practical things that Jesus cares about, and have a very normal, “mundane” conversation with someone who just needs a friend.
This is the second message in a series through the Gospel of Mark. In this scene from Mark’s Gospel, Jesus encounters an untouchable–a man with leprosy comes and begs Jesus to make him clean. Jesus’s reaction to this unclean leper turns the world’s kingdom upside down and reveals that Jesus makes the unclean clean, and the unholy holy.
On Sunday, we kicked off a new series through the Gospel of Mark, Who Is This Man? Jesus never wrote a book, but more books have been written about him than anyone else in the world. He never wrote a song, but more songs have been written about him than any other person in human history. He never traveled more than 200 miles outside his hometown, but he left his footprint on the whole earth. Who is this man whose life has changed the course of human history and inspired billions of people over thousands of years to follow him? Your answer to that question will change your life… forever.