The crowds flock to Jesus. He heals people with leprosy, casts out demons, feeds the people, and teaches with authority.
After Jesus teaches in the synagogue and casts out a demon, Mark reports that his fame spread throughout Galilee. Like those crowds, we too want to be close to fame. Fame feels powerful, and those who are famous seem to be living an idealized life. We want what they have. It seems fame will somehow inoculate them from the cares of the world.
Fame seems like a golden ticket to a comfortable life. We imagine that fame or money or status or a lucky break will be the thing that gives our lives meaning. Yet often fame seems to simply exacerbate the already-existing character of the famous one. Fame often multiplies problems rather than solving them.
Jesus grows increasingly famous. Crowds gather to hear him teach, so much so that he has to regularly escape to be alone with his Father or with his disciples to pray. Yet Jesus’ fame doesn’t lead him to growing more distant from the pain of humanity. Instead, it draws him deeper into the pain. He illustrates the power and authority of God—not just in what he is able to do (miracles, healing, teaching)—but in how he does it.
He performs miracles to show the power of God, always in submission to the will of the Father. He is moved with compassion; he weeps over death and sorrow; he rebukes hypocrisy. Jesus’ fame ultimately will lead him to the Garden of Gethsemane where he will be alone and abandoned by even his closest followers.
Jesus’ fame leads to death and from death to resurrection. Through it all, fame (and its loss) show the character of Jesus: one willing to go through the heart of pain to save his people.
God, help me to see your hand in my circumstances. May you shape my character, and may I rejoice in the character of Jesus. Amen.
This week’s readings center on God’s authority. In Deuteronomy God promises to raise up a prophet to guide the people, and God warns the people not to listen to voices that do not speak for God. The psalmist overflows with praise for God’s great works. God is powerful and awesome, yet also gracious and merciful. Paul instructs the Corinthians to place the rights of others before their own rights. A person’s conscience may allow one to exercise freedom in Christ; however, with this freedom comes responsibility. We must surrender our own rights, if necessary, for the good of others. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus shows his power over the forces of darkness: Even the unclean spirits recognize and obey him.
Read Deuteronomy 18:15-20. To whom or to what setting do you turn when you yearn to hear God’s voice?
Read Psalm 111. For what are you praising God today? How have you experienced God’s steadfast love recently?
Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-13. What do you think of Paul’s statement, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up”? Can you think of examples of this in your everyday life?
Read Mark 1:21-28. How do you react to the concept of authority? How does the authority of Jesus differ from the authority we may encounter in the world?
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