Digging in Deeper: Hebrews 13:10-13

“We have an altar from which those who worship at the tabernacle do not have a right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the most holy place by the high priest as a sin offering are burned outside the camp. Therefore, Jesus also suffered outside the gate, so that he might sanctify the people by his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing his disgrace.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

The first sermon series I ever preached was through the letter of Hebrews. I don’t honestly remember why now. It was probably because I was fresh out of seminary and feeling ready to take on the world with my preaching. I still have all those manuscripts on a hard drive somewhere. I don’t particularly want to go back and read them as they were probably all pretty bad. My congregation was gracious to remember I was fresh out of seminary and had never pastored a church before and endured them patiently. I do remember that I labeled all my sections and made sure my big idea was in bold. They would have gotten at least Bs on manuscript form alone were I still in class. I think I wound up doing the series in something like eight weeks, which after this journey of nearly eight months, I can’t even imagine. Were I to preach through Hebrews again, it would be a much longer and very different series. In those eight weeks, do you know what I didn’t cover? Chapter 13. I didn’t touch it at all. We got to chapter 12, and then went on to the next series. These four verses are a big part of why. I’m still not totally sure what to do with them. This morning is going to be a bit of an exercise in figuring it out, and you get to join me in that.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 9:29

“And he told them, ‘This kind can come out by nothing but prayer.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Are you a sudoku fan? I’m a word and numbers puzzle guy. You pick the puzzle. Crossword, sudoku, or something else doesn’t really matter. I don’t get to do them as often as I’d like, but I enjoy doing them. I maintained a USA Today subscription for a few months mostly so I could do the puzzles in them. The thing about these kinds of puzzles, though, is that there’s only one solution to the problem. You can try everything in the world, but if it’s not the right way, it won’t work. Well, sometimes life is a bit like a sudoku puzzle. You can try every way imaginable to overcome some challenge, but there is only one way that will ever positively move you forward. Jesus tells the disciples what it is here. Let’s learn with them.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 7:26-27

“The woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she was asking him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, because it isn’t right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Serving in ministry can be tough in ways many other jobs simply aren’t. I don’t say that as a complaint. I love what I do. I say it merely as an observation. I have a friend who was serving a church many years ago and had gone on vacation with his family during the summer months. While they were gone, someone connected to one of the prominent members of the church passed away. The member called him to let him know about it and fully expected that he would leave his family on vacation (or else cut short their vacation entirely), fly back home, and perform the funeral service. There are a few other jobs where that kind of thing might happen, but not many. Getting away – really getting away – isn’t easy to do. Jesus was trying to get away with the disciples here and ministry came calling. How He handled it leads to one of the strangest and hardest stories about Jesus in all of the Gospels. Let’s take a look at it together.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 6:45

“Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

One of the charges critics like to level at the Scriptures is that they are so riddled with contradictions that they can’t possibly be trusted to convey anything resembling the truth. In most cases this charge is fairly easy to dispatch. Occasionally, though, a thoughtful reading seems to suggest that some of these critics have a point. After all, when there are multiple versions of the same stories – as happens fairly frequently in the Gospels – and the versions seem to be contradictory at so many different points, what are we supposed to do with that? This morning we’re going to start talking about one of Jesus’ most famous miracles: walking on water. Before we get into the details of the event itself, let’s talk about why we think this really happened.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 5:30

“Immediately Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’”‬ ‭(CSB‬‬ – Read the chapter)

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. In fact, that’s often the case. And when it happens, we have to simply sit back and marvel at it. Trying to understand will just make our heads hurt. When it comes to the Scriptures, sometimes the things we find are too strange not to be true. This is especially the case when it comes to Jesus and the Gospels. Sometimes the stories the authors tell are so unexpected or seem so different from what we might expect that they have to be true. This is one of them.

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