Living on Purpose. Gospel of Mark, 11.
Knowing our life’s purpose gives us meaning and direction. Even so, the dailiness of life--work, family time, church, relationships, exercise, fatigue, sickness—all of it can distract us from living on purpose, unless we are very intentional. Once again, we can learn from Jesus. Jesus’ purpose was clear: he came to bring good news of freedom, a new way of life, and forever with him. And. He. Did. But as we follow Jesus in Mark’s gospel, the distractions loom large. Distraction is a factor for every one of us, and it was for Jesus as well. Sometimes as we are reading the gospels, we can think ‘what in the world does this have to do with me?’ After all, we are the centers of our own universes, right? (funny face emoji here). Stay tuned. We finished off the second chapter of Mark’s gospel, I think. hmmm. Remember that while the words of scripture are inspired by God—‘God breathed’—the punctuation is not. Ever the English teacher at heart, punctuation is near and dear to me, but as for Scripture, it is assigned by editors, as are the verses and chapter breaks. So, while we finished chapter two, Mark is still clearly thinking about Jesus, the Sabbath, and those always looking to catch Jesus in controversy and plan his demise—the religious people, the scribes and Pharisees. Interesting, isn’t it? The people who gave Jesus the most trouble were religious people. Hmmm… Dear Father, may we not be religious people, but people who want to be like you. Help us learn from you, even in this passage, Father. Amen. Mark chapter three: He entered a synagogue again; and a man was there whose hand was withered. And they were watching Him closely to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do harm, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might put Him to death. Mark 3.1-6 It’s the Sabbath, Jesus is once again in the synagogue, along with a man with a paralyzed or useless arm; the Pharisees are watching to see what Jesus will do. Why all this talk of the Sabbath by Mark, you wonder? The Sabbath was representative of the religious pride of the scribes and Pharisees, looking to catch Jesus breaking the Law. I love what Jesus said to them, ‘You strain a gnat, but swallow a camel!’1 Please note: This man with a ‘withered arm’ does not come to Jesus for help; rather, Jesus sees him and bids him come. [Isn't that just like Jesus?] With the haters looking on, Jesus speaks healing over the unnamed fellow, keenly aware of the hateful thoughts of the legalistic onlookers. But here’s the thing--Jesus does not break the Law or violate the Sabbath…nothing in the Old Testament prohibited what Jesus did! The fourth commandment that God gave to Moses stated “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…”2 Jesus did not have to work when he healed; it was a mere thought, sometimes a word. Hatred of Jesus caused the religious leaders to conspire with the Herodians to plot Jesus’ demise--strange bedfellows indeed. The Herodians were secularists, politically driven, in cahoots with Rome; but to see Jesus executed, the Jews must have their cooperation. Describing these men and this scene, Luke says ‘they were filled with rage’3 because Jesus defied their man-made additions to the Commandments. At the heart of their sin? Insidious pride. >>O, how we must be aware and guard against pride creeping into our lives. Purpose. We all yearn for a deep sense of purpose; the Gospel connects us with our eternal purpose. How true and beautiful it is that “the glory of God is a human being fully alive.”4 We are never more alive than we are doing the thing for which we were created, my friend. No matter what comes his way, no matter what is said or done, Jesus never loses sight of his purpose. Intentional all the way, Jesus lives on purpose. Prayer to the King, beautiful! A song of purpose: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZmy0JRBtl8 Purpose...are you living yours? Christine 1 – Matthew 23.24 2 – Exodus 20.8-9 3 – Luke 6.11 4 – St. Irenaeus, early church father