Devotions on Mark 10:32-52
Monday, February 15, 2016
“They were amazed and those who followed were afraid” (Mark 10:32a)
Amal loved rollercoasters. He enjoyed the anticipation of standing in line moving toward the loading platform. He relished the rush of the coaster its speed and the fact that one moment a person is excited and the next moment overcome with fear.
There are times when our lives as disciples of Jesus are very similar to a roller coaster. Sometimes we are in awe of God’s mighty works; the way the Lord moves in creation and in the events of our lives and the world. At other times we are scared. The Holy Spirit pushes us out of our comfort zones and we take steps of faith that we never imagined we’d be taking. There are also those times when the struggles are intense, the obstacles overwhelming and we feel powerless and alone—even though we aren’t.
That’s what discipleship is like, and like a roller coaster the best action on our part is to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Mighty Lord, help us in the ups and downs of life to rest in you. Amen.
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
“We are going up to Jerusalem” (Mark 10:32b).
Cassie accepted a job offer that meant she would need to relocate to the East Coast of the United States. Being from the Midwest this would be quite a change for her. Cassie’s new job would be challenging, but her move even more. She would need to find a place to live, find new friends, learn new customs and discover what the new city had to offer. Cassie looked forward to her move with a mixture of excitement and apprehension.
The bulk of Jesus’ ministry was spent in Galilee, which is in the Northern part of Israel. His ministry was now going to make a drastic change. After the events of the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus turned toward Jerusalem. There his predictions of his suffering and death would become a reality. Jesus’ disciples followed him, but they really didn’t know what would happen and how drastically their lives would be changed.
Jesus leads us to different places, into different ministries and into the lives with different people. We don’t know what is ahead. We don’t know how our lives will be changed or how we will affect the lives of others. As disciples of Jesus, though, we follow knowing that this is what we have been called to do.
Oh Guiding Spirit, change is difficult for us. Give us the will to change as we follow you. Amen.
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
“’Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left in your glory’” (Mark 10:37).
Jesus predicts his suffering and death to his disciples three times. Each time they respond by arguing about greatness, power and authority. They don’t want to hear what Jesus has to say. The disciples have their own plan for the future. Jesus is going to overthrow the existing governments and set up the kingdom of God. They will be his right hand men and enjoy power and privilege. They are so caught up in their dreams that they don’t hear Jesus. They don’t hear his call to service and sacrifice. They are deaf to Jesus forewarning them of his betrayal, torture and execution.
There are times when the Holy Spirit speaks to us and we don’t want to hear. The Spirit may convict us of one of our favorite sins that we don’t want to give up. We might be challenged to forgive someone who has deeply hurt us or love someone who we find unlovable. Sometimes the Spirit leads us out of our comfort zone and calls us to new places, ministries, activities and friendships. We cover our ears and refuse to listen.
It is important for us to be aware of the temptation to hear only what we want to hear. Open minds and open hearts are important attributes for disciples of Jesus.
Speak Lord for your servants are listening. Amen.
Thursday, February 18, 2016
“The cup that I drink you will drink” (Mark 10:39).
The pastor stood at the altar, lifted up the chalice of wine and said, “Again, after supper, Jesus took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink saying: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood….” The congregation came forward ate the bread and drank the wine. Together they received God’s gifts of forgiveness and life and declared their unity with God and with each other.
Jesus tells John and James that they will drink of the same cup. This is not a punishment for the request to sit beside Jesus in his kingdom. It is a statement of fact. As disciples of Jesus, James and John would serve and sacrifice like Jesus.
We also drink from the same cup. Discipleship is more than hymns of praise and answered prayers. Discipleship is service and sacrificing our wants and desires for the needs of others. The cup is not only the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. The cup also includes denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Jesus.
Loving God, as we receive your free gift of life, help us to be willing to bear the cost of following you. Amen.
Friday, February 19, 2016
“’Those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them’” (Mark 10:42).
One of the favorite games children played (before video games) was “King of the Hill.” A group of children would start to climb a hill. On the way up the hill, they would begin to push each other down in an attempt to be the only one to climb to the top of the hill. If one child made it to the top of the hill the others would try to run up and push him or her off the hill. The winner of the game was the child who could climb to the top of the hill and withstand all of the challenges to push him or her off the top of the hill.
It reminds us of the current presidential preliminaries. We don’t have to think very hard to see that the game is very similar to what happens in office politics, orchestras, sport teams and even congregational committees. The desire to be king of the hill is very strong in all of us.
Contrast the image of children pushing each other down in order to get up the hill to the picture of a child reaching down to help another child up. It is easy to see the radical difference the call of God makes in our lives.
Forgiving Lord, forgive us when we try to be king of the hill. Instead of pushing others down, empower us to build them up. Amen.
Saturday, February 20, 2016
“And to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
The word, “ransom” can mean to make a payment so that someone can escape a kidnapping or slavery. The word can also mean setting things right; placing them in a correct position. Jesus came in order to give his life as a ransom—to place us in a right relationship with God. This is the good news of Jesus.
Over twenty years had passed since the treaties had been signed that brought an end to the Second World War. Things had been “set right” and a new normal was in place. A Japanese soldier on a small South Pacific island did not know this, however. He had never been told the good news that the war had ended. For over twenty years he continued to believe that the fight was still going on. It wasn’t until someone found him on the island and told him the good news that he was able to stop fighting and experience that things had been set right.
So many people around us have not heard that Jesus paid the ransom and opened up a relationship with God to us. These people are still fighting a war that is no longer necessary. As disciples of Jesus it is our call to share the good news of the peace that has been declared and the new relationship that is ours.
God of Peace, you have given us peace and a new relationship with you. Enable us to boldly and lovingly share this good news with others. Amen.
Sunday, February 21, 2016
“What do you want me to do for you” (Mark 10:51).
Blind Bartimaeus wouldn’t be silenced. Jesus was nearby. Bartimaeus knew that Jesus was able to heal him if only he could make his condition known to Jesus. “Son of David,” he called out, “have mercy on me!” Jesus heard Bartimaeus and had Bartimaeus brought to him. “What would you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. Interesting. Jesus could see that Bartimaeus was blind. He knew what Bartimaeus wanted, but he wanted to hear Bartimaeus express his need.
A father watched his young son struggle to carry some toys out of the basement. It was hard work but the boy eventually moved his toys where he wanted them. With his task accomplished the boy turned to his father and asked, “Why didn’t you help me?” His father replied, “You never asked me to help you.”
Just as Jesus knew what Bartimaeus’ needs were, so he knows our needs, too. Just like he did with Bartimaeus, Jesus waits for us to acknowledge our need and ask for his help. It is good to remind ourselves who we are and who God is. Such a confession opens the doors for healing, renewed relationships and a new purpose in life.
Healing God, we need your healing touch in many areas of our lives. Make us whole so that we can celebrate life and share your love with others. Amen.