Morning Musing: Mark 15:24

“Then they crucified him and divided his clothes, casting lots for them to decide what each would get.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

There are certain moments when you know things have changed. If you happen to be a fan of the Oakland Athletics, in their 2014 Wild Card game against the Kansas City Royals, that moment came in the bottom of the 8th inning with their ace, John Lester, pitching against Royals shortstop, Alcides Escobar. Lester had been dominant all season and he had led his team to a 7-3 lead against a Royals team that had surged late in the season, but had over the course of a generation perfected the art of crushing the hopes of their fans. Then, on a 1-1 pitch, Escobar sent a drive right up the center. Both the shortstop and the second baseman ran for it, but as they crossed paths just beyond the bag, the ball went rolling on to the centerfielder, and Escobar was safe at first. That moment marked the turn in the game. It was the moment the A’s lost it. All the momentum then shifted in the Royals’ favor and they went on to complete a comeback for the ages. (And, as a Royals fan, it marked the two greatest seasons they’ve had in my lifetime.) This highlight video is worth watching, and if you’re really interested, you can actually watch the game in its entirety here. What has me thinking about that day this morning (beyond wishful thinking as the Royals are wrapping up another barely mediocre season) is that for Jesus’ followers, we have reached the moment in the text when they knew things had changed. It was the moment they knew they had lost. Let’s talk about it.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 10:31

“But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Play to win. That’s the mantra – spoken or unspoken – of pretty much every sports team ever. If you’re going to play, you might as well put forth the effort to win. Otherwise, why bother? But just what exactly does it mean to win? Well, it means you beat everyone else. When all of your opponents are defeated and you are the only ones left standing, you have won. My Kansas City Chiefs played to win all last season until they got to the Super Bowl. Then they played to…whatever else it was they were doing…and got absolutely decimated by Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Always Tom Brady… In any event, we did not win. This is just how life works. Well, that’s not quite true. It’s just how life works here, but not in the kingdom of God. There winning takes on an entirely different look.

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Morning Musing: Zechariah 12:2-3

“Look, I will make Jerusalem a cup that causes staggering for the peoples who surround the city. The siege against Jerusalem will also involve Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who try to lift it will injure themselves severely when all the nations of the earth gather against her.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

I want you to imagine something for me for a minute. Imagine that you are part of a people who have known persecution. No, that doesn’t mean you haven’t been able to get a good parking spot at the mall in ages. It means that you have been regularly and intentionally made the victim of injustice and prejudice for a long period of time. Victimhood is part of your psyche in a way people who don’t think through a lens of persecution can’t understand. It was taught to you by your parents—even if unintentionally—and you have taught it to your own children because your people are victims so often that you simply assume you’ll be a victim at some point even if it hasn’t happened yet. Got it in your mind? Depending on the color of your skin or the country in which you were born that may not take much work to imagine. Now, here’s my question: What is it that you want? Zechariah here gives us one answer.

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Morning Musing: Zechariah 9:9

“Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you; he is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Yesterday we talked about the fact that a persecuted people rejoice at the notion of their enemies being conquered more and in ways that a people who have not known persecution don’t. God understands this and gave Israel a picture of His commitment to stand against their enemies. What we see here is the other side of the picture–the victory that will come. But, while the first part of chapter 9 may have been more for them than for us, the second half matters a whole lot more to us. Let’s talk about it.

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Morning Musing: 1 Samuel 17:26

“And David said to the men who stood by him, ‘What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?'” (ESV – Read the chapter)‬‬

David understood something that the rest of the Israelite army, including Saul, failed to see. The conflict with the Philistines and specifically Goliath here was not simply a battle between two opposing armies. It was a spiritual battle between two opposing Gods. Goliath wasn’t just challenging Israel’s ability to field a suitable champion to face him in battle, he was challenging the efficacy of the God of Israel to oppose him in battle. Read the rest…