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Apr 17 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Meditations In Mark – chapter 6 – 04/16/2023



Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Good morning, RefleXion Community!                        The Lord is with you!

I’m still thinking about Resurrection.  In John Ch. 11—you’re familiar with the story–Lazarus had died, had been dead a while.  Jesus told Martha that if she believed she would see the glory of God.  Jesus brought him back to life by a command:  Lazurus!  Come out!  He calls each of us out by name too.  He made a way for all, yet it is a personal coming to life, isn’t it?  And the next verse intrigues me, The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with graveclothes, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to the friends who had gathered:  Unbind him and let him go.

A couple of things I notice:  The man—though brought to life—was still wearing his graveclothes, and his face was covered.  Graveclothes are entirely appropriate when one is dead; but once we are brought to life, they are not!  Lazarus came to life but was still wrapped, still bound up.  Jesus could have done it all.  After all, when He rose from the grave, He left all his wrappings behind.  But now Jesus asks the community to help.  Graveclothes/wrappings/bandages/coverings—they all remind me that the man is still bound up with things that won’t allow his full movement and a face cloth that covered his true identity.  Bandages protect wounds, coverings protect shame; wrappings create an illusion or an image that we want others to see. Lazarus, though in life, is still bound up with things that won’t allow his full movement and true identity.

I am Lazarus; I am the community.  Where are my bandages wrapped around my identity?  How do these make me feel substantial, or safe?  Who’s helping us unbind?  Who are we helping take off their graveclothes and feel the freedom of life in Christ?    Are we?

Let’s pray: 

Dearest Lord Jesus, thank you for bringing us to life in you.  Thank you for giving us each other.  Let us not take that lightly.  We were all dead for a long while and may stink a little—or a lot, but it is our privilege and purpose to care for each other.  Let us see those opportunities and love one another as you have loved us.  Let us remove our graveclothes that yet may hinder our free movement in The Holy Spirit.  May the Peace of God fall on us this morning, in Jesus’ Name.  Amen

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary . . . ?” And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. Mark 6:1-6

Intro: Years ago, a woman who worked at the church experienced an emotional or psychological breakdown
– her therapist recommended a clinic for in-patient care
• when she was allowed visitors, her family asked me to go see her
• right away I noticed she looked different – lighter, like a weight had been lifted
◦ she was definitely in a better frame of mind
◦ brighter, positive and hopeful
– she explained that to get well, she had to detach from her family
• she could no longer be around them
◦ hearing that shocked me–in fact, it upset me
• I knew her family – they missed her and wanted her back
◦ but I didn’t know them the way she did – so I just listened
◦ my responsibility was to support her progress, not question her therapy

In the church subculture, we expect God to fix families
– for Christians to repair ruptures and to reconcile with brothers and sisters,
• for spouses to develop closer connections in prayer and shared activities,
◦ and for children and parents to negotiate healthier relationships
• but at times the real breakthrough requires a break up
◦ some people must escape their family’s control or abuse
◦ otherwise, they will never become their true self
– there are good families, that are safe and nurturing
• but there are many others, even Christian homes, that are not
◦ to insist that people stay in an abusive relationship, perpetuates the abuse
• my encounter with that woman in the clinic opened my eyes
◦ and what I’ve learned since then has informed my meditations on the Scriptures
◦ especially Jesus’ teaching regarding family and way he treated his own family

In this chapter, Jesus is full of surprises

He surprised the people of his hometown – and they didn’t like it
– he surprised his disciples by feeding a crowd of thousands with small rations
• then surprised them again when he walked on water and calmed a storm
• we’ll begin with Jesus’ reunion in his hometown
– although his old neighbors knew of his “mighty works” (v. 2), in verse 5 we learn,
he could do no mighty works there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them
(I would be ecstatic if I ever touched a few sick people and they were healed!!)
◦ we’ll come back to this
• instead of celebrating their hometown hero, they took offense at him
◦ Jesus explained that a prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household
◦ so I’m sure he anticipated their reaction
• three of my meditations were formed around their rejection of Jesus

We create problems if we refuse the role we’ve been assigned

Let’s back up to chapter 3
a crowd gathered, so that [Jesus and disciples] could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind” (Mk. 3:20-21)
– why are they not able to see Jesus for who he is?
• because they knew him for who he was
• when Jesus lived at home, he conformed to their expectations
◦ he became what he had to be for their sakes
And he came to Nazareth with [his parents] and was submissive to them (Lk. 2:51)
◦ but now, as an adult, he was doing the will of his Father
– in a family, everyone is assigned a role
• I suppose there are a few rules about this
◦ for instance, “Children should be seen and not heard”
◦ but for the most part, it’s an unconscious process
• it has to do with individual personalities, how they mesh,
◦ and what is required for the family to function
◦ in time, family dynamics depend on everyone playing their role
– the dynamics and the roles may not be reasonable or healthy
• they may not even be sane–e.g., a child caring for alcoholic parent
◦ if someone outgrows their role, it throws the family off balance
◦ then the others will try to hammer them back into their role
(sometimes they face criticism or mockery, such as “You’ve become too big for your britches”)
• it is tragic that many people comply with their family and continue to wither
◦ they don’t want to cause problems, or feel it’s their duty to stay and conform,
◦ or they’re afraid they can’t survive without their family’s support
• Jesus tells us to put him above our family
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Mt. 10:37-39)

We must try to see our family members and friends for who they are

It can be really difficult to accept a loved one’s personal growth
– especially if becoming their true self changes our relationship with them
• I knew a hippie, who when he became a Christian, his mother told him,
“I liked you better when you were on drugs”
– it is always fair to renegotiate our relationship with others
• if the old ways of relating no longer work, renegotiate
• we may not enjoy the friendship in the same ways as before,
◦ but we’ll preserve what is best in a relationship

What we think we know may interfere with our faith or even cancel it

Regarding Jesus’ old neighbors, Mark says, And he marveled because of their unbelief (v. 6)
– earlier they were astonished at him, now he’s baffled at them
• what was their problem? They thought they knew Jesus
Is not this the carpenter . . . ?
◦ that was the extent of their knowledge
• remember Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus?
◦ that literal-minded Pharisee asked Jesus, “How?” but there is no how when it comes to something only God’s Spirit can make happen
◦ Jesus’ old neighbors were asking questions like this, Where? What? How?
– we think we know or that we need to know, when in fact what we need is to believe
◦ I think we have a constricted worldview of what is and is not possible
◦ and it gets in the way of our faith
• no one can exert more control over me than my own mind
◦ I create mental barriers for myself
◦ faith and hope are always sources of creativity and possibility
• the slender volume of my mind is not enough space for faith to do its work
◦ I need to believe and trust with all of my heart

I have often meditated on what the unbelief of the hometown crowd cost them
Matthew says,
And he did not do many might works there, because of their unbelief (Mt. 13:54)
– in one of my meditations, I wrote,
“It is truly tragic that I am able to limit what Jesus does for me. Do I ever leave him marveling at my unbelief? If so, I want to change this.”
• nothing God wants to do with me or in me depends on me or on what I can comprehend or figure out
• if God has something for me, I don’t have to get it to receive it

Another subject I have often meditated on is Jesus’ compassion for crowds (v. 34)

In vv. 33 and 55, we find people running to Jesus, literally
– wherever he went, Jesus drew desperate people
• what did he do for them when they reached him? he began to teach them many things
• what? Basic Bible doctrine? Be more judgmental? Decipher the day of his return?
◦ most likely he taught the kingdom of God–in parables
◦ how heaven enters us and transforms us
◦ and how we then affect others through his love
– the practice of Pharisees was to exclude people from their circle
• exclusivity is our nature; we draw lines and build barriers
• inclusivity is the nature of Jesus; he loves all and build bridges

Conclusion: There’s so much more here

For instance, we have the story of John the Baptist’s execution (verses 14-29)
– I once wrote in the margin of my Bible app:
“It is chilling to think that the fate of a great prophet of God could be subject to such trivialities as a birthday party, a girl’s dance, and a king’s ego. The death of his saints is still precious in God’s sight regardless of how their lives end. The glory or dishonor of our death is determined not by our exit from this world, but by our arrival in heaven.”

For our last meditation, Jesus took a stroll across the lake
– walking on water and calming the storm had his disciples “utterly astounded”
Mark says their reaction was because they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened (vv. 51-52)
• he is suggesting that after witnessing the “miracle meal,” nothing else that Jesus did should have surprise them
The benefit of soaking our souls in Mark’s gospel is that it feeds our faith
Absorbing these stories of Jesus as much as possible will deepen our faith in him
So when you read and pray and work and go to bed at night,
leave the doors of your mind open to faith,
because all things are possible

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