This is part of the familiar old story of the Fall of Mankind. The scene is in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve have everything they could possibly want, including a loving intimate relationship with God their creator. Everything is perfect. There is only one rule in the entire, perfect world—stay away from one tree, and don’t eat the fruit! They eat the fruit.
- For the first time in their lives, they feel shame and guilt, and hide from God. (v. 8)
- God, knowing full well what has happened, engages in a little question and answer with Adam. (vv. 9-11)
- Then, the blame game begins. Adam blames Eve. Eve blames the serpent. (vv. 12-13)
As I’ve said before, with these Old Testament stories, I’m always looking for the God Lesson. All too often, we get so wrapped up in the detail that we miss that lesson. I believe that this story teaches us the truth about our basic human nature. If you or I were given a perfect life, without a care in the world, but had to obey only one rule, we would break that rule. Don’t believe me? When you see a sign that says “Do not touch. Wet Paint”. What is your first inclination? You probably wonder if that paint is still wet. You want to touch it. It is our nature! But it is also in God’s nature to be loving and compassionate. Sure, he gets angry in verses 14 & 15, but in the end, He makes clothes for them. (v. 21, not part of today’s selection)
2 CORINTHIANS 4:13-5:1
In the verses ahead of today’s passage, Paul talks about the sufferings that the believers in Corinth, as well as Paul himself, are enduring. In the previous verses 8 & 9 we find words like afflicted, perplexed, and persecuted. The overall message is positive, but this was their reality.
- Paul begins by quoting from Psalm 116. (The words don’t match exactly, because he is quoting from a Greek translation common at the time.) But the writer of Psalm 116 kept his faith through a time of severe illness. Paul lifts up this example to his readers, who are suffering for their faith. Paul simply says that we can’t NOT speak about Jesus, because we really believe this stuff! And best of all, we know that whatever happens to us, we will be raised with him. (vv. 13-14)
- If Paul were Southern, verse 15 would read “Yes, everything is for y’all’s sake…” In the original text, Paul’s “your” is plural. He is talking about the whole church, and not just one person. All of our talking is so that the church will grow, and more and more will glorify God.
- So, the point is there to encourage us to keep talking. We should keep talking about Jesus, even though we might suffer “momentary affliction”. We keep our focus on the horizon (the eternal) and not on today’s troubles. (vv. 16-18)
- I love this cute illustration. Paul calls our bodies ”earthly tents”. We all know how temporary and frail a tent is. We also know how solid and permanent a well-built house is. Keep your focus on the house, and not the tent!
We all will experience troubled times in our life. And, as we get older, our old “tent” seems more and more frail. Let us refocus our attention on sharing the Good News to those around us, and not worry about our silly old tent. Someday, we’re gonna get a real nice house!
Even though Mark’s gospel is only 16 chapters long, this passage is very early in the story. Already, Jesus has been baptized an tempted. He has healed people, taught people, and called disciples. He is drawing more and more attention.
- Jesus is drawing a crowd, and his family decides to “restrain him”. (As if they could restrain him!) The family reappears at the end of today’s lesson. (vv. 20-21)
- Religious authorities from Jerusalem intercept him, and start calling him names. They claim that he is from the devil. Beelzebul (or Baal-zebub) is a foreign, false god. Jesus employs some crafty logic to show the folly of their accusations. (vv. 23-27)
- Jesus then tells them that all sins are forgivable, except blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. This they had indeed done, when they called the Holy Spirit “unclean”. (vv. 28-30)
- Jesus’’ biological family renters in verse 31. It is clear that they are here to perform an intervention. They want Jesus to tone it down, or cease altogether. Jesus must have been aware of this, because he does a peculiar thing. He sort of half-disowns them! Instead, he makes a foundational statement—“Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister.” This statement reinforces what we learned last week. We, Jesus disciples in this time and place, are the adopted children of God, and Jesus is our brother!
At first, I found it shocking that Jesus would turn his back on his own family. But consider this. Jesus’ #1 mission was to preach, teach, heal, and die for us. Anything that stood in the way of that was going to suffer the consequences. The scribes from Jerusalem were just another example of the resistance he experienced. But in this case, his own family was standing in the way of his mission.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
God has a purpose for each one of us. Our task is to determine what that is, and do it. Nothing should stand in our way, not even our dearest relatives. Do we have this level of conviction?