Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lent Day #16 - Mark 6:1-29

This post is one in a series of reflections for Lent.  I invite you to go back and read the previous reflections.

Jesus and the disciples have made their way to Nazareth.  The hometown boy has come, but the homecoming is not what I imagine the disciples would have expected.  The people of the town see Jesus as being very simple.  After all, he is just the son of Joseph and Mary.  He is just a simple carpenter.  The text says that Jesus was unable to any miracles in Nazareth, because of their unbelief.  God has held back some of his wonders from the people of Nazareth, because they refused to believe in Jesus.  How often does God do the same with us?  How much more would he do for us if we were just had more faith?

Jesus has been preparing his disciples.  He has prepared them for the mission that they will be called to after the resurrection.  He is now prepared to send the disciples out on a training mission.  They are being trained to minister to the people, but more than that, they are being trained to trust God.  He gives the disciples authority.  This is a huge deal.  The Son of God gives the disciples his authority.  He tells them to make no preparation at all.  No food.  No money.  No directions.  Just trust God and go out to the people in pairs, and preach the kingdom to the people.  The disciples leave and are able to many miraculous signs among the people.  They are able to cast out demons and heal the sick.

Shift gears for a second.  Herod Antipas was a very wicked man.  He had married his brother's wife Herodias.  John the Baptist calls him out on it.  John brings a message to the King, and it brings about a response.  Herod and Herodias have two completely different responses to his message.  Herod is troubled by the message of John.  He is feeling guilt and conviction for what he has done.

Herodias has a completely different reaction to the message.  It makes her angry.  She resents John for his message, and she wants John dead.  She realizes that she will never be able to have him killed without Herod's approval.  She is going to have to come up with a sneaky trick to have John killed.

Now Herod's daughter comes and dancing for the king and a group of people.  Men have a tendency to talk much faster, than their brains can operate.  He is so pleased by her dance, that he promises her anything she may ask for.  His daughter doesn't know what she should ask for, and so she asks her mom.  Herodias has been handed the opportunity that she has been waiting for.  She tells her daughter to ask for the head of John the Baptist.

When his daughter asks for the head of John the Baptist, Herod once again shows a deep-seated lack of character.  The right thing for him to do, would be to deny her request.  He is too proud.  He has just made this promise in front of so many people.  His pride could not bear the shame of backing down from his promise.  We are told that he had a lot of respect for John.  He believed that John was a good and holy man.  He is sad that he has spoken without thinking, but he is too proud to back down now.  He carries out her request.

Jesus has called us to his mission.  He is the source of our authority, and he is our sustainer.  There is a time when we moved past the preparations that we have tried to make.  At some point, we will be asked to step out in faith and just do.  God will never let us down.  Not only that, but he will astonish us with provision that he will provide for us.  We merely have to trust him.  We don't want him to hold back his wonders, because of our unbelief.

What is right is always right.  Even when our mouths move faster than our brains.  We have to be willing to do the right thing, even when we may look like a fool.  If our pride is more important than doing the right thing, then we are placing ourselves on a throne that belongs to God alone.  We all make pretty crummy Gods.  Humility puts things back where they belong.

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