We continue with our Sermon Series “On the Mend”. This week’s theme is “Healing Holdouts” and will focus on Mark 10:17-31. Here is what I wrote two week ago:
Mark 10:17-31 – The very familiar story of the young man who wants to know how to gain eternal life? Jesus gives a two part answer: only God is good and keep the commandments. “Yes,” the young man says, “I do all that.” “One more thing, then,” Jesus says, “sell everything, give to the poor, and follow me.” Well that was actually three things but the young man was shocked (SHOCKED, I say) and went away grieving for he was wealthy. It is very hard for the wealthy to be a part of God’s Kingdom. Our churches pay me a little over $40,000 a year in income. I earn more money than 98% of the world’s peoples. (Check your income here: how-rich-you-are) How then can I be faithful, follow Jesus, and serve God? The answer to my problem: “For God, all things are possible.” Question: does your wealth get in the way of faith or does your faith guide how you use wealth?
Some additional thoughts: 1) We don’t know what the young man ultimately decided. We assume he didn’t sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor but Mark never tells us. What if, after a period of reflection and contemplation, he did do what Jesus asked and became part of the fledgling Christian community we read about in Acts 2 and 4? 2) Let me reframe the question. Does your wealth get in the way of faithfully following the Way of Jesus or does the Holy Spirit guide your faith in the use of your wealth?
The Lectionary Readings for October 25, 2015 are:
Job 42:1-6, 10-17 – As we saw last week, God responds to Job and his friends in Chapters 38-41. Job does try to say something in 41:4-5 but it is not enough. In our reading Job gives a slightly better response to God by acknowledging that he cannot understand God’s ways and he repents. The verses that are skipped are God’s rebuke of Job’s friends and their poor counsel. The final verses report that Job’s fortunes are restored twofold and he and his wife have ten more children, three daughters and seven sons. Aside: This means that Job’s wife, and only one wife is mentioned, had twenty children in total. Maybe we should feel more sorry for her than him.
Psalm 34:1-8 (19-22) – The psalmist promises to praise God all the time because the Lord has answered his prayers and delivered him from adversity. In verse 8, the psalmists asks us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” How can we taste the Lord and how can we see him?
Jeremiah 31:7-9 – The Lord says that he will gather all of Israel together, even those dispersed to the furthest parts of the world centuries earlier. It won’t be just the strong and able-bodied, but everyone including the blind, lame, pregnant women, and even women who are in the midst of labor. They will return with God’s consolation and become God’s children.
Psalm 126 – The psalmist rejoices that when God restores the fortunes of Jerusalem joy and laughter will return to the people and others will note what God has done.
Hebrews 7:23-28 – This continues the author’s argument that Jesus is the great High Priest that does away with our need for someone to offer sacrifices (the literal killing of animals) for our sins. There were many priests because they could only serve until they died, but now there is only One High Priest because he lives eternally. Before, the high priests had to continually sacrifice animals to redeem themselves and others from their sins, but now there is no need for sacrifices because the Great High Priests gave himself as the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus could do this because he was “holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted in heaven.” It has been posited that ALL human societies began with a human sacrifice and they maintained peace with continued human sacrifice. Eventually animals were substituted for humans in the sacrificial rituals (see Genesis 22). Different societies made the substitute sooner than others (European explorers “discovered” societies in the Americas and Pacific Islands that practiced human sacrifice as late as the Twentieth Century.) According to Hebrews, Jesus is the sacrifice that makes all sacrifices obsolescent.
Mark 10:46-52 – Jesus and the disciples are nearing Jerusalem and they pass through Jericho. As they are leaving they find blind man named Bartimaeus. (Mark is redundant here when he writes “Bartimaeus son of Timaeus”. “Bar” means “son of”. Ha Ha). This is a simple story: Jesus leaves Jericho; Bart cries out; the crowds shush him; Bart cries louder; Jesus calls him over; Bart jumps up throwing off his cloak; Jesus asks him what he wants; Bart answers, “Let me see”; and Jesus heals him with a few words. Questions: are we bold enough to cry out and name our need? Will God answer the way we want? Will we follow Jesus no matter what the answer?
May the Lord Bless you in your work and in your home as you serve your neighbors.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor