Comfort, O comfort my people says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. — Isaiah, prophet
- I cannot get past the first couple of verse of this week’s text: “Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near, repent, and believe in the good news.” Yes, I know there is a beautiful text on calling going on but Jesus is not just calling these people. He is calling with a purpose.
- Think about this for a moment: When do you go out and ask people to help you or support your cause or work? Just imagine if someone came to you and asked for your help and support, even your time but really could not state if there was a cause or what its ends where or why it was important. You would assume that he was selling Amway and was, rightly, embarrassed about it.
- No, all this calling disciples and building a circle of disciples and supporters, hangers-on and curiosity seekers had an actual purpose. Jesus actually has a cause. Not just an idea or a really neat blog post or web site and is not a life coach with a new book of holistic exercises for your brain and your body, complete with appendix on diet.
- More important, he is not “missional” in these verses. He is not trying to bring people to himself. He is looking for allies to enact a plan. The kingdom of God, God, is close in every respect of the word. Come to your feet. Dust yourself off. Call out strong for the Son of David is passing by, the lamb of God, the Son. (Mk 10:46-52)
- I am captivated by the story of Bartimaeus in Mark 10. Yes, that is at the other end of the story, right before the trial and crucifixion. Bart is a true contemplative, waiting, maybe desperately, for the presence of God. Longing deep inside to see the face of God, a sign or symbol of God’s gracious presence.
- If we are honest we all long for God to be revealed. If we are further honest, we are happy and quick to dismiss any claims or experiences that suggest that God was indeed meddling and moving in everyday life somehow. Epiphany makes questions of these two sentences. Do we look for God to reveal himself? Is not the incarnation a hint that God just might still meddle in the affairs of humans? He did it in the past in Jesus, he did it in pillar of cloud and fire, he did it in tongues of fire, are you so sure God does not still work in significant ways?
- If you cannot assume or accept the latter, can you ever be Peter, or James, or John? Either God does not act for his people or you follow Jesus and confess him as the Christ, Son of God who came to earth and walked upon it. We can only have it one way here.
- If we chose the latter, then are we listening for the traces of his passing? If the kingdom of God is near then we indeed need to turn and look around. Maybe that is why repentance is called for here. Turn around, look about with new eyes (Bartimaeus), the kingdom is near. Dare to look and dare to believe that things are happening. More-so, dare to believe that it is good news and not to your doom.
- Why does this require the assembly of a posse? Because it is too easy to believe that God prefers to be far away. It is easy to make faith an intellectual matter and thereby confine God to heaven to be seen and experienced at death or second coming, or resurrection, argue the reality and efficacy of each at your leisure. There have to be those who dare to look and then tell and point to the new reality: It is here, yes, here that you will meet God. How will you recognize that? The church, the continued memory of the experience presence of God from the disciples on, is charged with being the curators of that wisdom. Is she and her members looking for the presence of God and the passing of the Son of David? Is she using the eyes that Jesus gave to Bartimaeus?