A Syrophoenician woman - who had never seen Jesus at work before - was pushed by her incredible faith to come to him and humbly reveal her deep understanding of his power and who had access to it.  Jesus’ parable, something he uses to filter out and identify those who are truly seeking him, calls her to question whether his power and message are indeed for her.  From her response Mark reveals she not only knows she as a Gentile can come to Jesus but also understands the real strength of his power.  Even a crumb is enough to satisfy her need.  Her ability to respond in parable to Jesus’ parable exposes a level of faith surpassing that of the Jewish characters we have seen in the story so far. Her faith shows that Jesus can heal her daughter without seeing or touching her even though they are Gentiles.

Reflections on Mark 5:21-43

A man with power and high status.  A woman with tremendous pain and isolation.  Both seek out Jesus to find restoration.  Neither is turned away.  To receive the healing they so desperately want, they must show courage and faith.  Their fear needs to push them toward Jesus and not further away.  The large crowd, news of a little girl’s death - these things could have deterred them - but they find their way to him. 

The result: Two daughters are restored to life.

Reflections on Mark 11:27-12:12

Coming back to the temple adds to the tension of Jesus clearing it the previous day.  It wasn’t a one-off event and there’s something larger that Jesus is trying to accomplish in the temple.  As the chief priests question his authority, Jesus’ cautious use of a parable makes a point without directly accusing them of anything.  It offers them a chance to change their minds about him.  

The chief priests respond in a political way.  Their fear of men reveals the opinion of others is more important to them than the opinion of God.  If these men, who were responsible for leading the temple and God’s people, are on the side of men rather than the side of God, what hope is there for the temple under their leadership.  The temple system needs to be cut off to prevent it from leading people astray.  The priests are dangerously close to fulfilling the parable of the vineyard, risking destruction by the master and losing access to the vineyard’s fruit.  This parable is a moment to choose differently than the tenants.  What will they chose?

Reflections on Mark 4:1-20

Having to engage in a process of uncovering a secret increases the understanding and meaning we can gain from it.  Secrets can’t be taught because understanding it in its fullness requires having to work at bringing it into the open.  Giving a direct answer robs people of the experience of being in relationship with Jesus as they have to ask him questions to discover the secret.  The confusion around the secret is not meant to be cruel but rather serves as an invitation to interact with Jesus.  The most important thing in understanding the Kingdom is to come to Jesus with your questions.  What does it mean for us to get closer to Jesus in order to ask him our questions?

Reflections from Mark 3:20-35

Being a disciples means to follow Jesus but also to multiply what he is doing by preaching the word and casting out demons in his name.  Jesus chooses to bring his message by narrowing his attention, investing in a smaller group so that the message can be spread through them.  Its like owning a coffee shop franchise.  Authority to use the name, business plan and product come from the head office (Jesus) and is made available to more people by opening multiple locations (disciples).

Reflections on Genesis 2:4-7

The creation of the earth does not seem complete without partnership between the Lord God and humanity.  The Lord provides rain, the man will till the ground, and together this creates new life in the garden.  Man is not created to do the job that the Lord himself is not willing to do but rather is formed of the earth and given the breath of LIFE and authority to care for creation with the Creator himself.

Reflections on Mark 9:30-end.

We struggled to understand Jesus as we studied this passage where he redefines greatness.  He who is the greatest lowered himself, welcoming the lowest and exemplifying humility, taking a completely upside-down approach to being first in God’s Kingdom.  Recognizing our own desire to elevate ourselves causes us to push others down.  Our pride not only separates us from doing God’s work but can cause us to prevent others from doing this same work.  Our choice is to let it fester or cut it out and only one leads to LIFE.

Reflections from Mark 1:14-45

What were the fishermen expecting as they left their nets to follow Jesus?  Did they expect to follow for the day or join him for longer? As Jesus starts to heal the sick and cast out demons, did they know he had this power?  What were they thinking as Jesus, the one with all kinds of authority, starts using it in ways unseen before?  Would they ask questions about how Jesus interacted with women, demons and lepers? What do these fishermen know that compels them to obey ” Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” ?

Reflections from Mark 9:2-13

The mountain, the shiny, the changing of form, the prophets returned, the voice from the cloud, the naming of Jesus, all this is a culturally rich statement of the authority and glory of God.  The Transfiguration is the renewing and redefining of commitment to the promise of God to meet withHis people, from generation to generation.  The tension remains in suffering being a piece of His glory being revealed.