Proper 9B (OT 14)
Jesus’ family. Brothers James, Joses, Judas, and Simon, and unnamed sisters. Calling him ‘Mary’s son’ implies Joseph is probably dead (never mentioned in Mark). Mary is only mentioned here as Jesus’ mother. Mary, mother of James and Joses is named at the Cross.
Most Protestants would have no problem with the idea of Jesus having siblings, but many may still be surprised - especially by the number.
Connection to Mark 1 and 3 - “Generative Seam” (Ched Myers, Binding the Strong Man)
Rejection in the Synagogue (1:21-28; 3:1-6)
Withdrawal (1:29; 3:7)
Calling/Naming/Commissioning of the Disciples (1:16-20; 3:13-16)
Despite opposition the mission of Christ can and will regroup, re-focus and continue
Preparation for the end of the story - which sets up the need to regroup, refocus and continue the mission despite the pinnacle conflict: crucifixion
v. 1-6 Jesus rejected at home
Isn’t his Mary’s son
Accusation of the elder son economically abandoning his widowed mother
Insult hinting at his illegitimacy (not Joseph’s son, but Mary’s)
Luke’s Gospel: Joseph’s son
Jesus said to them, "Prophets are honored everywhere except in their own hometowns, among their relatives, and in their own households."
Jesus is without honor, homeland, tribe or family
Luke: Jesus says, “no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.”
This is the fourth rejection since calling the 12
3:12 Calls the 12
3:20 Crowd gathers, and family says that “he is out of his mind.”
3:22 Legal experts claim he is from Beelzebul
5:16 People on other side of lake plead with Jesus to leave.
v. 4 “He was unable to do miracles there, except that he placed his hands on a few sick people and healed them.”
There are other places in Mark where faith precedes healing. Just last week, Jairus and hemorrhaging woman each had faith before being healed, and Jesus called upon that faith as the reason for their healing.
That faith is needed for healing though, is oversimplification as other stories include healing without faith.
An inability to participate in the new Kingdom, makes the healings and uniting power of the new Kingdom inaccessible
v. 7-13 Jesus sends out the 12
Like Jesus, the disciples are sent out to rely completely on the hospitality of others
They are given the means to travel but not sustenance
They are told to stay in place for a time indicating they are not the revolutionary guerrillas who have to eat and run covertly, but are open about their presence.
In between calling the 12 and sending the 12, Jesus is rejected by his family, legal experts, foreign people across the lake, and his hometown.
Jesus rejected four times, and so he warns the 12 of what do when they are rejected.
Jesus knows what it feels like to share with someone the Good News, but have it fall on deaf - even hostile - ears.
Jesus gives the disciples precious little instruction, but allows them a cloak and a staff (more than what they get in the other Gospels).
Told to go to households - clearly things weren’t going well for Jesus in the synagogues and with typical religious authorities
Despite their apparent lack of instruction, they were successful. Passage closes with the disciples preaching repentance, healing the sick, and anointing with oil.
Thoughts and Questions
How is your church raising up leaders? Do our communities of faith recognize and value the ministry of their own? Do we raise up and nurture new leaders? How many new leaders do we dismiss because of their lack of lineage or status?
Joseph not being mentioned is important. Was he dismissed because he was raised by a single mother? When churches say that they are interested in attracting families, the important question is: What kind of families? What would a single mother, four boys, and at least two girls look like? How would they be treated if they walked into the door today?
What if these two stories are meant to remind us that we have a role to play. We are taught over and over that we are justified by faith alone. But what if God’s work also needs us to take some initiative? Is it works righteousness to declare that God needs us? Yet if it were not so, why call on 12 in the first place?
vv. 6-8 are a weird bit about the conquest of Jerusalem and the lame and the blind Jebusites….honestly I would skip it.
Wait...didn’t we make David King a month ago?
yes and no- David was anointed a month ago by Samuel, but only now takes the throne - only now is his anointing recognized by all of the Israelites
Part 3 in the “Let’s Make David King narrative”
1 Samuel 16 - the anointing of David by Samuel
2 Samuel 2:4a - David made King over Judah
2 Samuel 5:1-10 - David made King over the 12 Tribes of Israel
David is chosen to be King because of how he had led the people even when Saul was King
Conquering of Jerusalem- very wise as Jerusalem did not belong to any one of the tribes- neutral ground (like Washington DC)
Military and infrastructure- but mostly faith and nurture of the people
History is important- all we hear is that the Northern tribes make David king- to understand why- you need to read the history 2 Sam 1-5
Shepherd of My People Israel
David, the shepherd who was called from the field to be anointed and to fight Goliath, is now called to continue his ministry as a shepherd by taking care of Israel
Shepherd is a common image for Kings and rulers in the Ancient Near East
About using one’s power to protect the vulnerable (sheep) from that which would destroy them (especially seen in David’s testimony to Saul in his fight with Goliath)
Many great Hebrew leaders began as Shepherds:
Rebekah, Joseph, Moses, David, and Amos
Interesting choice of words. Covenant describes the Holy relationship between God and God’s people (Gen 9, Gen 15, Exodus 19)
David is set up as a kind of earthly reflection of God or the incarnation of the Ark of the Covenant
“LORD, the God of Hosts, was with him”
This Covenant would not be upheld - David’s own son, Absalom will lead the Northern Tribes in revolt (2 Sam 16-19) as well Sheba (2 Sam. 20)
Shepherds are called to both nurture and lead. They must care for the most vulnerable, but most also guide them if the flock is to flourish. How are you both nurturing and leading? Comforting and challenging? Protecting and holding them accountable?
How does your church shepherd its greater community?
In his Kingship David ends up healing and forming the nation of Israel. He is able to overcome the division (albeit temporarily) because he had 1) already built a foundation of relationship; 2) shown a history of good leadership; 3) put the needs of the greater community before himself and his own tribe (Judah). How are you and your church building a credible foundation in your community? Too often we want to jump straight to healing without having done any of the hard relationship building work.
“Person in Christ,” almost surely Paul. “Third heaven” is mysterious, but probably a reference to his conversion experience on road to Damascus. If so, this is Paul’s only mention of that event which is so important in Acts.
“At first sight when we read this passage, the experience seems to belong to someone other than Paul. However, the whole course of his argument depends on the fact that he has no one other than himself in mind.” (Ernest Best, Interpretation: Second Corinthians, p. 118)
His reluctance to claim the story is a part of his point of this section:
A person in Christ should not be making claims about extraordinary spiritual experiences.
Herein lies Paul’s dilemma. He is at the same time defending his authority and his apostleship while trying to defer attention away from himself and toward Christ.
Context within letter
Comes as a response to opponent’s claim that he is not a valid source of authority.
He doesn’t perform miracles or do amazing wonders. The proof they offer is that if he had done anything truly great, he would be boasting about it.
Paul’s response is a mix of sarcasm and theology. He boasts, but not in the way that others would expect.
Pairing with Gospel text (Below comes from editor Scott Hoezee, Abingdon Preaching Manual 2018)
Mark and Paul come at problem of theodicy from two different perspectives.
In Mark, lack of belief limits God’s power
In Paul’s letter, he believes that God chooses not to heal him.
“These two passages together… form the basis of the classic dilemma of theodicy… One must either change one’s perception of God’s omnipotence (which Mark in some way attempts to do) or alter one’s definition of God’s love. This is Paul’s conclusion. It is not that God wants Paul to suffer, but God is allowing Paul to suffer in order to strengthen Paul’s resolve, and so that God’s power can be perfected in Paul’s weakness.” (p. 92)
These two texts can give preacher a chance for people to ponder own conclusions over “What is it that I believe about God in the midst of my suffering?” (p. 92)
Strength in weakness
Paul doesn’t boast of his achievements to glorify God. In fact, he tells of times that his prayers were unanswered, and when God gave him a ‘thorn’ in response to his own arrogance.
So Paul is not boasting about what he has seen/done. Instead, he boasts in the power of Christ.
“We learn of Paul’s thorn in the flesh and the clear word that God’s true power comes to expression in weakness and not in the events that might otherwise seem to validate a mighty God - victories, successes, and the like.” (Beverly Gaventa, Texts for Preaching Year B p. 411)
“This is not a glorification of weakness as such for its own sake, but because in weakness, ‘the power of Christ’ dwells in Paul. Paul’s very weakness is transformed into strength.” (Gaventa, p. 418)
Thoughts and Question
Response to athletes who want to praise God after scoring or hitting home runs (Tebowing). We never see athletes point to the sky after a strikeout. I never saw Tebow kneel after throwing an interception.
A word for pastors today, who are told that they are not powerful, charismatic, young, experienced, old, educated, etc. enough.
Paul’s strength is not in his own ability (preacher, listen up). It is in God’s ability to use him.
For churches desperate to attract new people, the cries against Paul as not being ‘enough’ might feel familiar.
THANK YOU FOR LISTENING AND GET IN TOUCH:
Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Bryan Odeen for our closing music.