Living the Good News
Tim: Growing up Pentecostal, I often heard of Jesus’ many miracles. Whether it was casting out demons or healing the sick, Jesus is busy helping people in Mark’s gospel.
Shea: He wastes no time; there is no downtime in Mark.
Tim: But let’s talk about this. Why all the miracles?
Shea: Well, for Mark, it is important to establish Jesus’ authority from the get-go. It’s why after calling the first four disciples, Jesus moves into his local synagogue and teaches with authority. That authority is then exercised when he casts out the unclean spirit from the man. The people notice Jesus’ authority, even over spirits, even a power to heal, yet they do not know where the authority comes from.
Tim: And as one with divine authority, it doesn’t take long before Jesus gets in trouble.
Shea: Nope! Right after Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law, Jesus heals after the Sabbath sunset – a huge no-no! We will see, time and time again, that Jesus gets in trouble for doing the right thing at the wrong time. (Of course, the lesson here is that there’s never a wrong time to do the right thing!)
Tim: It also seems to me that Jesus can be read as socially restoring people with these acts?
Shea: Exactly. Notice the first man has an “unclean spirit.” We often think evil, even demonic, but unclean here is a buzzword that would pique one’s interest. There were very strict rules in Judaism within a paradigm of clean/unclean. As such, Jesus follows up this first cleansing with healing a leper (someone seen as unclean), that is, touching someone who was considered untouchable. It is clear, then, that from the beginning, Jesus, as the one inaugurating and enacting the Kingdom of God, has come to remove physical, spiritual, and social boundaries. That which was once unclean is how clean. There is no “outside” of God’s love.
Tim: I love that Jesus tells the once-leperous man to not say anything to anyone but the priest. In that way, it restores the man’s ability to worship God and to do so as someone that is clean, one that has dignity, one that is restored.
Shea: Love that! Yet, the story tells us the man went out and “declared it freely.” Jesus, the man from Nazareth, has compassion for these people, but he has no time for the religious rules that categorize clean/unclean or create rules that control and restrict others under the auspices of piety. People come to him in droves, desperate for this good news.
Tim: So Jesus: healer, exorcist, and rule breaker?
Shea: And so much more. Jesus is showing us the Way to new life in the Kingdom, to a personal connection with God, to relationships with others. I cannot wait to jump back into Mark’s fast-paced storytelling this Thursday night!
Join us this Thursday at L!VE Café, 163 S. Oak Park Avenue in Oak Park. Doors open at 7:00p, the study begins at 7:30p. If you can’t be with us in person, join us via Facebook Live.
We need your help!
As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!
Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea
Summer is the perfect time for a “walking tour” of Mark’s Gospel. The oldest and shortest of the Gospels, Mark is full of amazing details that capture the life and ministry of Jesus in fascinating ways. Mark’s Jesus is a man on a mission without much patience for folks who can’t keep up. He says exactly what’s on his mind. And the writer tells the Jesus story in an action-packed style overflowing with mysterious touches. Why is there no Christmas chapter? Why is Jesus so tough on the disciples? Why can’t they see who he really is? Why are the women afraid to tell the news of the Risen Christ? And what’s up with that naked man in Gethsemane (among other peculiarities)?
Join us every Thursday from June 7-August 30, as we spend the summer touring Mark’s Gospel. It will be a trip well worth taking!
As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.