All New and Improved!! No, really, it is this time.

Our church is taking part in a study called the Amazing Race, and as a church we are reading through the New Testament together until the end of the year.  I thought I’d post my thoughts on the days readings, and I’d love to hear what you have to say.  If you don’t attend SCC, I’d still love to invite you to read with us, and weigh in with what you are learning as well.

Today we read Matthew 28:1 – Mark 3:6.

I think the thing that hit me as I’m reading through Mark is how he tells the story, compared to Matthew, Luke, and John.  Each of the writers are telling the same basic story, but the details show what their goal is in telling these stories.  Mark is out to show that Jesus is doing something new, something unexpected, something that challenges the status quo.  Here’s what I mean:

In chapter one, Jesus is introduced by John the Baptist.  John’s a freak.  Mark tells us what he wears, what he eats, and where he lives.  None of it is normal.  So, we start there.  When Jesus is baptized, the Holy Spirit comes down on Him, and immediately sends Him out in the wilderness as well.  These guys aren’t growing up in the typical church schools of their day.  They are getting trained in the wild, by God Himself.

As Jesus begins His ministry, He begins collecting disciples.  This is an act of a rabbi, or teacher.  But instead of collecting the honor roll students from Jerusalem Faith Academy, He chooses instead to head out and collect guys who are school dropouts.  He picks some fishermen, and then later a tax collector, who was basically a sell-out traitor that everyone hated.  Not the picks you would expect Jesus to spend his first round draft on.

When He goes home to Capernaum, He teaches in the synagogue He had spent time in as a kid.  But now, it’s different.  He teaches with authority.  He isn’t sharing his thoughts on what God might want us to do, maybe.  He teaches as one who knew God well.  To back it up, a demon possessed guy jumps up in the middle of church (really?!) and Jesus pulls the demon out of him right then and there.

He heals Peter’s mom in law.  Putting all of the potential mother in law jokes aside (mainly because I love my mom in law!), this wasn’t where a great healer and teacher should spend his time, in the small house of a fisherman’s family, taking care of a woman’s fever.  Surely there were more important things to do.  But, He did it.

Jesus walks away from a great potential healing ministry in His home town.  He disappears when everyone is wanting Him, so He can pray.  He tells the guys with leprosy to not tell anyone about the miracle, because He doesn’t want the fame and attention.

To top it all off, He forgives a guys sins.  Think about that. It’s cool that He can heal people, and He’s a powerful teacher.  But who does He think He is to tell someone that all of the bad stuff they’ve done in life is forgiven, when they haven’t even asked for forgiveness.  It’s not like the paraplegic guy on the mat was at the temple offering the sacrifices God called for.  He was laying on the floor of some one’s house.  Without the guy even asking, Jesus just up and tells him “Your sins are forgiven”?  Really?  That’s way too far.  Then He heals him, just to prove He has the power to do it all.

In case we don’t get the tie in to all of these stories, Mark spells it out for people like me who are pretty dense.  In chapter 2, verses 21 and 22 Jesus explains that you can’t take new things and try to tie them into old ways.  You have to start all new.  That is what Jesus’ actions are showing.  He is doing something completely new, unheard of, never before seen or thought of.  He isn’t playing by the old rules, He isn’t interested in how they used to do things.  He is starting fresh, and this fresh start is the Kingdom of God crashing into earth.

So, as we read Mark together this week, look for what is new or different.  Watch for where Jesus points out that He is changing things.  It’s a constant theme in the book.

Then, take the next step.  What does God need to do new in your life?  Where are you letting your old ways of living continue to define who you are and how you live?  What friends do you have that keep you anchored in a way of life that is dead?  What religious ideas do you need to let go of that aren’t really Jesus? What fears hold you back when Jesus is taking you by the hand and saying “Come on!  Let’s go!”?  Jesus is still about the new.  New life.  New hope.  New starts.  New dreams.  New habits.

What is it for you?  Weigh in, and let us know.