Discipleship 101

Mark 8:27-38    (Micah 6:6-8)      September 12, 2021

There are times when a plan or a decision must be made and we find we have a different opinion than that of a person we love.  Often each one of us is pretty sure that our way of doing it is better, faster, healthier, or easier.  Because of the close relationship, we are comfortable offering our own perspectives and expertise, and we tend to feel freer to disagree with someone we love.  We are more likely to be polite or acquiescing with a person we are not as close to, keeping our perspective and our expertise to ourselves. 

By the time we get to the midpoint of the gospel of Mark, the disciples and Jesus have been together for enough time to develop a close relationship.  That does not mean they were always on the same page regarding the content of the teaching and the recipients of the gift of healing or the overall direction of the ministry.  There were plenty of times that Jesus’ words or actions caught the disciples by surprise.  In the gospel of Mark there is a commonly held understanding that the disciples are in the dark about who Jesus really is.  It has been identified as the messianic secret—something that Jesus knows, and they do not grasp.  It also happens to be something that readers of this gospel know since we already know the end of the story.  Throughout the gospel, the disciples make certain assumptions about Jesus being king-like or governor-like.  That is their vision of where all of this is heading— they are looking for Jesus to take over and run things “the right way”.  The interchange on the road which we read this morning reveals some strong feelings on the parts of Jesus and the disciples, feelings which do not appear to be held back or minimized in any way.

Continue reading “Discipleship 101”

Won’t you be my neighbor?

 James 2:1-9;   Leviticus 19:18;  Luke 10:25-28        9.5.21

The most obvious definition of “neighbor” is the family who lives next door or the older couple down the street.  Neighbors are people in close proximity.  You can have a neighbor sitting next to you in a classroom (hopefully not too close right now).  You can have a co-worker as a neighbor in the next office or cubicle.

How did the people of Israel define “neighbor”?  Was it any human being?  Was it the residents of the nations around them who were usually seen as a threat?  Or was it only the people of their own community? According to Michael Fagenblat, a senior lecturer at The Open University of Israel, in an article titled ‘The Concept of Neighbor in Jewish and Christian Ethics,” in the Jewish Annotated New Testament, the ancient law found in Leviticus 19, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself”, would have had the narrower definition of “neighbor”.  For the people of Israel, neighbors were members of one’s own community, and particularly, one’s faith community—fellow believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  These neighbors were to be loved, warts and all.

Continue reading “Won’t you be my neighbor?”