Tuesday, March 06, 2012

A Lenten Journey: Climbing to the Cross - Day TWELVE

Mark 3:19b-35, The Message:

Jesus came home and, as usual, a crowd gathered—so many making demands on him that there wasn't even time to eat. His friends heard what was going on and went to rescue him, by force if necessary. They suspected he was getting carried away with himself.

The religion scholars from Jerusalem came down spreading rumors that he was working black magic, using devil tricks to impress them with spiritual power. Jesus confronted their slander with a story: "Does it make sense to send a devil to catch a devil, to use Satan to get rid of Satan? A constantly squabbling family disintegrates. If Satan were fighting Satan, there soon wouldn't be any Satan left. Do you think it's possible in broad daylight to enter the house of an awake, able-bodied man, and walk off with his possessions unless you tie him up first? Tie him up, though, and you can clean him out. 

"Listen to this carefully. I'm warning you. There's nothing done or said that can't be forgiven. But if you persist in your slanders against God's Holy Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives, sawing off the branch on which you're sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives." He gave this warning because they were accusing him of being in league with Evil. 

Just then his mother and brothers showed up. Standing outside, they relayed a message that they wanted a word with him. He was surrounded by the crowd when he was given the message, "Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside looking for you." 

Jesus responded, "Who do you think are my mother and brothers?" Looking around, taking in everyone seated around him, he said, "Right here, right in front of you—my mother and my brothers. Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys God's will is my brother and sister and mother." 


He's getting under their skin.

The crowds are bigger each day,
     the authority with which he speaks and acts is notable,
          his obvious spiritual power has everyone's knickers in a twist.

His friends are sure he's either crazy or full of himself.

His enemies accuse him of partnering with the Dark Side.

His mother and brothers are demanding equal time.

He's definitely astounding, mystifying, frustrating - perhaps even frightening - the very ones he should be closest to: his cronies, the religious hierarchy, his family.

And he cares not.one.whit.

Not one.

And that is perhaps the most astounding thing of all: 
     here is a man who is so confident and so centered 
     that he moves ahead with his own agenda, 
          despite the opinions, concerns and criticism of others.

I'm not sure I've ever in my life had a thought, performed a deed, said a word that I didn't at some point think: "What will they think of me?" For me, it's almost instinctual to care about the opinions of others.

Not so for Jesus.
Not so at all.

He sidesteps the request of his friends to rein it in.
He punctures the rhetorical bubble of the religious leaders.
He chooses to declare his own family-in-the-making rather 
     than relinquish himself or his ministry in order to soothe
     the troubled (embarrassed?) hearts and minds of those
     related to him blood.

In these three small vignettes, Jesus models for us 
     what it looks like 
          to live so fully in the center of God's will, 
               so closely aligned with the Spirit,
that the opinions of others fall into their proper place. 

He does offer a warning in the midst of these stories - a warning to those who would falsely accuse him of consorting with the enemy. 

And it is in that warning that we begin to see how he does what he does - both the miraculous displays of power and the confident refusal to be swayed from his mission:

The very Spirit of God is at work in him.

The very Spirit of God.


Lord Jesus, I stand in awe before you today, recognizing how much you have to teach me about living rightly. Help me to know, way down deep in the crevices of my soul, that your Spirit - the same Spirit that filled you - is alive and well and wanting to steady me, to counsel me in the doing of your word, in the living of a Jesus life. Amen and amen.

Click here for day one of this series and an explanation of what it's all about.