People are Always the Point

Gospel of Mark, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Salvation

(NOTE: This post is part of a blog series on the Gospel of Mark. I am sharing a few little tidbits from my own personal study of Mark over the last few months. Below are a few of my notes from Mark 3.)

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. (Mark 3:1-6)

Notice that there is no mention of the man asking for healing. Jesus intentionally seeks him out on this Sabbath day. By healing this man in this fashion, Jesus wants to make an emphatic statement about what God values. People are always “the point.” When we elevate agendas, rules, or tasks over people, we are out of sync with the heart of God.

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Beatitudes, Kingdom of God, Spiritual Growth, Suffering

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

As modern Western Christians when we read the word “peace” in the Bible we build a fence around it. We shrink it down to size. We define it as “inner peace.” “Emotional peace.” “Spiritual peace.” “Peace of mind.” “Peace in my heart.”

Undoubtedly, Jesus gives us all of those things. But if that’s all we think of, we are limiting the biblical concept of peace in a way that is not warranted in Scripture and is not endorsed by Jesus.

In a world that is drunk on hatred and hostility, it is the kingdom of Jesus Christ that brings peace. Shalom. The prophets talked about it incessantly as a recurrent theme. Here’s just one familiar example.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Peace among hostile groups. Peace among the nations. World peace.

It’s the wish of dippy beauty queens. But it’s also the dream of the prophets.

Book Recommendation: “Prayer – 40 Days of Practice”

Books, Kingdom of God, Poem, Prayer, Solitude, Spiritual Disciplines, Spiritual Growth

Back in April, I was browsing through a bookstore and found a book with an interesting-looking cover. The title was Prayer – 40 Days of Practice.

Because prayer has been a subject of great interest to me, I picked it up and began thumbing through it. I discovered that this was quite a unique book, indeed.

Each page includes a thoughtful one-sentence prayer with an accompanying illustration on the opposite page. The prayers are written by Justin McRoberts and the illustrations are created by Scott Erickson.