October – Responding to Jesus’ leadership
This month, in the gospel of Mark, we read of many ways that Jesus spoke about what it means to live within the kingdom of God. From marriage to wealth, correct use of power to seeing rightly, Jesus calls listeners to hear and follow his every command.
4 October, Mark 10:2-16
Jesus’ approach to divorce is not one of moral conservatism. He acknowledges as being necessary the correct conduct established about divorce.
There is neither mystery nor judgement in Jesus’ teaching about marriage. He simply states what is obvious when we see beyond the loaded emotional dynamics that are inevitable around a union as intimate as this.
Jesus’ comments regarding children indicate that sophisticated self-justifications are a hindrance when it comes to matters of God’s Kingdom. The survival strategies we employ as we grow, take us further away from the innate vulnerability of kingdom ways.
What are the sophisticated self-justifications you can observe among the people of faith who you know?
Such things are near impossible to see in ourselves (even when pointed out by others). Ask a mature person you trust and who knows you well to indicate a sophisticated self-justification they can see functioning in your own life (do you know anyone that wise/honest?)
11 October, Mark 10:17-31
This is perhaps the most troubling of all the encounters in the gospel for those formed by consumer culture. The man who approaches Jesus on this occasion is a person our culture would recognise as successful in every way. Wealthy, young and powerful – and he seems to have achieved all this in a socially/culturally/religiously acceptable manner.
Yet this man – who has everything – serves to expose the ‘everything’ he has is not really anything! This man who has everything is still searching for the life he identifies in Jesus.
What do you trust more than all else as the source of your richest life? (The clue for the true answer to this question is found in what you are willing to let go of and what you will hold on to no matter what!)
18 October, Mark 10:35-45
The measure of the mystery of God’s kingdom is that even Jesus’ closest followers had so little idea what it meant prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The power that Jesus exercised is always open to all… it is the power of self-giving love. Any person can exercise it and no person can take it away from anyone else.
We hold ourselves back from this power/authority. We fear the cost is too great and the reward not rich enough. It is precisely at that point that we fail to believe in Jesus. If following Jesus means anything it means following him in this!
To what extent have you tasted the awesome power and richness of the kingdom Jesus invites you into even now?
25 October, Mark 10:46-52
There is a sense in which church should be a place we find socially unexpected behaviour. The people who were keenest to follow Jesus frequently crossed the boundaries of established cultural norms in the process of their following.
The important thing in this story is that when Bartimeaus’ eyes were opened, he did not simply say ‘thanks mate’ to Jesus and go off to pursue his erstwhile life. Rather, he saw Jesus and followed him on the road to Jerusalem.
Many things may draw a person to Jesus. To what extent is Jesus the fulfiller of your desires/agenda and to what extent for you is Jesus a model for a new agenda/desires?
These Lectionary Reflections were prepared by Rev. Dave Gore, Ultimo Mustard Seed Uniting Church