October 4, 2020
Everyone needs a break from the daily grind at times.
Even Jesus needed to get away. The physical and mental drain of being a celebrity in Israel caused him to flee to a Gentile city where he wasn't as well known and could get some much needed rest. This week's story in Mark 7:24-30 tells us that didn't happen. He was spotted and identified almost immediately, even by the Gentile people.
This story is different from all the healing stories we have read in Mark so far, because it is focused on Jesus and his purpose, and not so much on the miracles he is doing. Through Mark, Jesus tells us that his work is to fulfill the prophecies of Israel and show his people that he is the promised Messiah.
One of the hardest things to hear in this story is when Jesus, the Word of God, uses language that sounds offensive and racist with this woman.
Is he just repeating what his well bred Jewish disciples have been complaining about since Jesus took them into what they consider to be a nasty and unclean territory? Does it shock them when their words come from his mouth? Obviously so. It is still shocking to hear him say these words today.
Would it be shocking for us to hear Jesus say the self centered, petty, unfeeling things we call other folks? To hear him say our innermost thoughts out loud? Even though these folks are outside of our familiarity, nation, or community, don't we believe that they also beloved by God?
Earlier in Mark, Jesus reminded his disciples that the smallest seeds grow into huge trees, and then he explained that his kingdom was also like that. As Jesus traveled into unfamiliar places and uncomfortable territories, he dropped kingdom seeds along the way. Planting the tiny seeds of his kingdom that grew to enormous proportions after his death, and healing grace and mercy become available to all.
The disciples of Jesus' day weren't alone in their struggles with people who were different than themselves. We often find ourselves challenged to see others who are outside of our comfort zones as people of sacred worth.
This week, I challenge you to plant the small seeds of love and acceptance for others that Jesus will grow into mighty kingdom trees. Will you pray for those you feel have different political or economic views? Will you go out of your way to speak kindly to a person of another nationality or race? Will you invite someone who is outside of your circle of friends or family to drink a cup of coffee or eat a meal with you?
If you will, I believe that Jesus will lead you into a more abundant, joy filled, diverse and love filled life.
May the peace of Christ keep you centered in his love!