Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.’ Mark 14:9
What she has done will be told; but not who she was. Because however important this act might have been, Mark didn’t consider it worth even recording the name of woman who did it.
As he taught, he said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes … They devour widows’ houses …’ He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury … A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny … ‘she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’ fragments of Mark 12:38-44
Is Jesus praising the widow, as we always seem to read this passage? Or, in the light of his condemnation of the scribes just before and the prophecy of the destruction of the Temple just after, could he be condemning the system which had the poor giving to support the luxury of the rich? Is the widow an example to us, or a victim of the corruption Jesus had just described?
This is the normal pattern, which we encourage, because it has been found by generations to be helpful and lifegiving. But we will not impose it as a rule, for we do not have the wisdom to see all possibilities, and we dare not exclude people through our limited imagination of God’s grace.
My comment on a Facebook discussion about baptism, communion, etc.. But I think it has much wider application.
But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. Mark 9:32
Here’s the downside of Jesus speaking in parables – when he starts talking plainly to his disciples, they don’t understand.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the good news.’ Mark 1:14-15
I’ve often spoken about this text, and the idea of “at hand” – meaning something you can reach out and take hold of.
The other day I used that image with a bunch of eight and nine year old kids, and one of them said that to him, “at hand” sounded like something you were always reaching for, but was just out of your grasp, and so you keep moving towards it and it keeps moving away, leading you forwards. He acted this out, rather than putting it into words, so the language is mine, but the image is his. And I will now be rewriting my stock sermon in the light of this insight….
Even playful reading has limits!
Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.John 12:31
I’ve always read this as “now the world will be judged, now Satan will be driven out.”. But surely Jesus is truly the ruler of the world? Could it be the other way around? Could he be saying “now the world will make it’s judgement, and I will be driven out?”
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myselfJohn 12:32
But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’ And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt-offering instead of his son. Genesis 22:11-13
Reading this story with the kids last night, we wondered what might have happened if Abraham hadn’t heard the angel telling him to stop, and had gone on to sacrifice Isaac. J’s suggestion – God would have made the ram into the father of a great nation of rams.
Can’t help wondering if that would have been a better outcome.
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ Matthew 14:13-15
Jesus heard John the Baptist had been executed, and withdrew to a deserted place by himself. When the crowds heard it, they followed. And then the disciples turn up.
When did they arrive? Did they come with the crowd? Did they lead the crowd? Were they how the crowd “heard it” in the first place?
Was it their fault Jesus couldn’t get time alone without having to walk on the lake…?