Showing posts from June, 2018

The Inexplicable (to us) Kingdom

Mark 4:26-34 There are some things which are inexplicable. We probably all know some stories which defy our explanation, no matter how hard we try to make them intelligible. We might think of some miraculous situation wherein a series of events resulted in an astounding conclusion. The cancer suddenly disappeared. The little girl escaped the crash without a scratch on her. The YouTube video of somebody completing a stunt which defies physics. We might think of that time when we or somebody we know acted in a way which was completely out of character. My dad, a man with a meticulous eye for detail, once threw out his watch with some dinner trash. (We found it there later that evening.) That happened twenty years ago, and it was so inexplicable that it has stuck with me to this day. It is this inexplicable nature of the kingdom which Jesus highlights in these two parables. In the first, seeds are planted by a sower, and they grow without his knowledge. He has no explanation. He pu

Greener Pastures

1 Samuel 8:4-22 “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Lack of contentment causes one to see everything else as a better option. “Anywhere but here,” we might say. Going over to the other side seems easier, so rather than doing the hard work of making our current circumstances meet our expectations, we want to cut and run. Who knows where the impulse originates, but it is a common one, existing in every time and place. When things get difficult or do not go the way we want, we look for an easy way out. Such was the experience of the Israelites during the waning years of Samuel’s judgeship. Samuel’s sons were not living up to the standard of good judging which Samuel had established, and the Israelites wanted a change. Instead of wanting the current situation to be improved, however, they called for a new form of leadership. The Israelites wanted a king. In itself, this might not have been a problem, but they let slip their true motivation: They wanted a king like the

What to Do: The Law or Good?

Mark 2:23-3:6 When I was in grade school, there was a brain games competition. The activities usually involved some sort of out-of-the-box thinking. The event that I remember was a table with dimes and toothpicks on it. We scored points for how long of a line we could form with the toothpicks, but we lost points for each toothpick that touched the table. If dimes touched the table, there was no penalty. What did we do? We tried to space out the dimes underneath our line of toothpicks, but there were not enough dimes to make a very long line. It turns out, the best choice was to ignore the dimes and string all of the toothpicks together. The scoring of that line would be greater than the offsetting penalties of the toothpicks touching the table. In these two stories, Jesus is in conflict with the Pharisees over what is best given the constraints that we have. The competing points are helping people and the law. On the Pharisees’ side, they are saying that the law is the boundary