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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Today’s Reading | Mark 3:7–12

Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” But he sternly ordered them not to make him known. (NRSV)

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is portrayed as a powerful man of action. Nowhere else in the Gospels do we find Jesus engaged in such a flurry of activity as we do in the first three chapters of Mark. In a brief period of time, Jesus calls fishermen and Matthew as his disciples, exorcises a foul spirit, purges a virus from Simon’s mother-in-law, heals and exorcises an entire city, cleanses a leper’s ulcers, pardons and cures a paralyzed man, counters a critique of his leadership style, entertains the clergy’s negative assessment of his personal faith, heals a congenital defect, and finally protects himself from the crushing hordes of people who press him to heal them.

It’s clear that Jesus has not been reticent to reveal that he has divine authority to heal others. Why, then, does he silence the unclean spirits who shout, “You are the Son of God!”? Perhaps because Jesus did not want to have a reputation as an exorcist. For demons to rightly proclaim who he is before most people fully comprehended was to risk the crowds having a very narrow understanding of who Jesus was. Their amazement does not mean that they believed in him. They saw him as a powerful miracle worker, but they did not recognize him as the Son of God. Moreover, the fullness of who Christ is cannot be known apart from the cross. Only through his self-sacrifice and seeming powerlessness on the cross does Jesus Christ reveal the fullness of his own—and God’s—identity and compassion for humanity.

Forgive me, loving God, whenever I define you too narrowly and only in terms of what you do for me. Open my heart and mind to embrace the full mystery of who you are, beyond your mighty deeds, in the name of the suffering Servant. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

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