Good morning, happy Friday, and many blessings.
It seems to me that the key question for today is, what can we learn from today’s gospel? After in Mark 12: 35-37 Jesus' detractors have surrendered their challenges, but Jesus continues teaching. Here, He explains the Messiah must be much more than merely David's son. Blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:48) and the crowd at the triumphal entry (Mark 11:10) have already identified Jesus as the Son of David. What then we learn?
First, it doesn’t take long, while reading the gospel of Mark, to realize that the kingdom of God is a very different from the nations and societies of the world. Jesus came to serve, not to be served, he washed the disciple’s feet, he served them as he also served the people that they met each day. Healing and teaching the common folks, from farmers, to prostitutes, to tax collectors. He was called a wine bibber because he went to parties and because he was willing to eat and drink with anyone who invited him.
Second, from Pharisees, to Tax Collectors, each of them needed to know the good news of the scriptures. He was a radical and today, I wonder how many churches would welcome this preacher, and how many common folks would love to have him around. How would you feel about a preacher who came to your pulpit and told you that you were a whitewashed tomb? That is the reason that so many of the ruling class hated Jesus, he told it like it is, no pulled punches, no little white lies, he told the truth as God saw it, not as people wanted it to be. That's why he said to beware of the Scribes.
And third, throughout Jesus’ ministry, when crowds were pressing in on him, when thousands were needing to be fed, when he was discerning his next steps, he prayed. When the disciples asked him how to pray, he taught them. And when the death squads were coming, and even his closest friends were too exhausted to keep watch for him, he prayed. There, in the Garden of Gethsemane, alone, when death loomed near and his friends were close at hand but far away, Jesus prayed.
What can Jesus’ Gethsemane prayer teach us for this moment? A threshold moment. A time when death looms near. When loved ones are near yet far away. When fear and grief and anguish can tear at our hearts and line our faces. When most everyone is exhausted. A time when we are bearing losses upon losses, large and small, trivial and terrifying, and largely without the comfort of loved ones close at hand. Worse yet, we live in a culture in which grief and loss are trivialized and sterilized, sanitized, and deodorized, privatized and monetized. In other words, Jesus is asking for a radical discipleship so we can offer it all to God. This is prayer. And it may be just the prayer we need right now.