“When Herod heard of it, he said, ‘John, the one I beheaded, has been raised.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)
What lessons do you draw from a story that doesn’t make any sense? Well, not many usually. But what if that story happens to be in the Bible? In that case it feels like you should get something from it. After all, why would God have included it in the Scriptures if not to teach us something? That’s the whole point of 2 Timothy 3:16, right? Well, yes, but as Andy Stanly likes to say, “All Scripture is equally inspired, but not all Scripture is equally applicable or relevant to every stage of life.” Sometimes a story is just a good story for where we are. Let’s talk about one Mark includes here.
“He was not able to do a miracle there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. He was going around the villages teaching.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Can anything stop the power of God? Of course not! Right? Yes! I think so… Why the indecision? Because this is yet another of those stories in the Scriptures that leaves you asking some hard questions at first read. The plain text here says Jesus was not able to do a miracle. Now, if it said He wouldn’t do one, that would be interesting, but okay. But couldn’t? Wasn’t He Jesus? Let’s talk about it.
“‘Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren’t his sisters here with us?’ So they were offended by him. Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his household.’” (CSB – Read the chapter)
America is unique in the world. That’s the case in a number of ways, but I want to focus in on one in particular with you this morning. Our nation was founded in part on the ideal of hope. No other nation was ever founded so uniquely on hope—that tomorrow could be better than yesterday was—as this one was. Even as we are facing challenges and tensions as a people unlike many have seen in their lifetimes, still hope persists in many places. This is a uniquely western cultural phenomenon that does not exist in many other places even in the western world. Understanding this, we can start to make a little more sense out of the reaction Jesus got when he preached a sermon in His hometown.
“They came to the leader’s house, and he saw a commotion–people weeping and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, ‘Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.’ They laughed at him, but he put them all outside. He took the child’s father, mother, and those who were with him, and entered the place where the child was. Then he took the child by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum’ (which is translated, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up’).” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Being a parent means wearing a lot of different hats. There’s the chef’s hat. The coach’s hat. The counselor’s hat. The boot camp drill instructor’s hat. The teacher’s hat. The pro-wrestler’s hat (if you have boys). The superhero’s hat (or so says my youngest about me). Lots of hats. My own boys are getting to the age where I’m having to don another hat more often than I like: the referee’s hat. It’s only natural, really. Sorting out issues with other people can be challenging, especially when we’re not willing to give an inch on our desired position. As a result, when we’re kids, we quickly appeal to a higher power to settle disputes for us: a parent. Wise parents know you can’t wear that hat too often or you short-change their opportunity to begin building some problem-solving skills of their own. But man is it tempting to solve things quickly for them so you don’t have to listen to the bickering anymore. The trouble is, when we sort things out, someone isn’t going to be happy. We’re going to be accused of playing favorites. And there’s some truth in that. We play favorites all the time. You know who didn’t play favorites, though, Jesus. And as we finally come to the end of this powerful story, we’re reminded of just how true that is.
As we continue in our new teaching series, A Fresh Start, we are examining yet another of the basic spiritual disciplines that all followers of Jesus need to be incorporating into their lives. This time it’s prayer. Like engaging with the Scriptures, prayer is basic. It is a foundation stone. It is one of those things we must get in place before we can do just about anything else. Let’s spend a few minutes thinking about why and how.
Taking a Pause
Have you ever been busy? Heh. How about, when was the last time you weren’t busy? Maybe the 13th of last Neveruary? We live in a busy world, don’t we? There’s always something to do. Even when there’s nothing to do, there’s still something to do. That’s the story of our household. Even when we don’t have any work to do, there’s still laundry to wash and laundry to fold and laundry to put away and bathrooms to clean and clothes to pick up and clutter to disperse and floors to vacuum and Nerf bullets…so…many…Nerf bullets to collect and Legos to build and the list goes on. Then there’s the list of things we actually want to do. It never stops. I don’t know about you, but some days I feel like the only real time I get to stop and breathe while I’m awake is when I’m in the shower. I’ll just about drain our hot water heater some days because that’s protected space. I can’t do anything for anybody else and I’m digitally disconnected which, for me, is even more important.