Digging in Deeper: Mark 15:40-41

“There were also women watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. In Galilee these women followed him and took care of him. Many other women had come up with him to Jerusalem.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

The church has a rough history when it comes to the position and treatment of women. Much of this is our own fault. We have too often taken our lead from a culture that has undervalued, underappreciated, and otherwise treated women terribly, and wrapped such harmful assumptions in a religious garb in order to sanctify them. Recent major revelations have shown we are far from rid of such sinful behavior. Where we have done this (and do it still), we have rightly taken our lumps from the world around us (even if such lump-giving is deeply hypocritical). But although we have perhaps done much to sully our own reputation, none of this has been in line with the ethic of Jesus. Let’s talk this morning about His position, that of the early church, and why the church should be the safest and best place for women in the world.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 15:37-39

“Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed his last. Then the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing opposite him, saw the way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Did you ever have anything as a kid that your parents made off limits to you? What was it? Sometimes parents put restrictions on what their kids can access as a matter of selfish convenience, but most of the time, they do it for an entirely better reason than that. My parents made throwing dirt clods from the garden at the shed off limits for me when I was growing up. If you’re wondering why they had to do that at all, just put yourself in the mind of an elementary-aged boy and you’ll understand. The explosion of dirt when those clods hit the wall of the shed was just so satisfying. I ignored this restriction, of course, and soon thereafter broke the window in the side of the shed with an errant throw. That was why they put that restriction in place, by the way. Other times a restriction is put in place because the thing on the other side of the line is genuinely harmful for us. There are fences and no trespassing signs around power substations. Those are to protect people from being electrocuted. Restrictions generally have reasons. Well, the people of Israel had a restriction around God. You didn’t go into His presence unless you were prepared for it. This restriction was actually put in place by God Himself. And it held until God took it down. Actually, He ripped it in half. I mentioned yesterday the tearing of the temple veil when Jesus died. This morning let’s dig a little deeper into just what that meant.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 15:33-34

“When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What do you do when you feel like God has abandoned you? Where do you go? To whom do you turn? For many folks, when God seems to be absent, they get angry and turn from Him as if that’ll somehow show Him. We might turn hard into some kind of sin like a small child turns to bad behavior to get the attention of parents he feels aren’t giving him enough. We may simply turn to apathy toward Him, convinced that if He doesn’t care, then we won’t either. While all of these reactions are totally understandable, none of them will ultimately accomplish their aim. Pushing away the very person you want to have near doesn’t accomplish anything like what you are trying to achieve. Jesus, hanging and dying on the cross, felt utterly abandoned by God. Theologically, we know that He was. Where He turns offers us a good reminder of where we should turn in our own lives when we are feeling alone.

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Digging in Deeper: Proverbs 14:12

“There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What would you say if Captain America was British and female, Black Panther was an outer space Robinhood who reasoned Thanos out of destroying half the life in the universe, and the Avengers all got turned into super-powered zombies? I’d say you were reading a version of the comics different than the one most people have heard of. That would be correct. Marvel’s latest offering on Disney+ delves into a corner of the comics realm that is decidedly outside the norm and purposely so. Using a comic book line that first appeared in 1977, the latest Marvel series takes viewers on a beautifully animated journey into the question of “What if?” Now that the multiverse has been unleashed following the Loki series, each episode of What If? explores the universe that might have been created if a single event or decision by one of Marvel’s main characters had gone differently. This morning, I’d like to explore one of these with you.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 15:2-5

***This is an update of an earlier post from Thursday. Sometimes things come out right on the first try. Other times they need to go back to the drawing board for a bit of reconsideration. Thanks for growing with me.

“So Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ He answered him, ‘You say so.’ And the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate questioned him again, ‘Aren’t you going to answer? Look how many things they are accusing you of!’ But Jesus still did not answer, and so Pilate was amazed.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever been in one of those situations where you didn’t know if you should speak or not? Sometimes a well-spoken word can lift a hard situation up out of a pit and make it better than it was before. On the other hand, there are times when even a single word, no matter how well-intentioned it may be, will only add to the weight already pressing down on another person. Sometimes an eloquently arranged argument can diffuse a moment of great tension or change a mind and heart forever. Other times, whatever comes out of our mouths (or off of our fingers) will only be used as more fuel for the fire. When we are in these kinds of moments of decision where we have to decide whether to speak or hold our peace, we should know that we aren’t alone. Jesus has been there too. Here’s a story of one such time.

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