I’ve been camped out in Mark 16 for a bit. I love camping in a Bible passage. Sometimes I dig around hermeneutically with word study, historical context, memorizing the passage. Sometimes I love to practice lectio divina.
Lately I’ve enjoyed learning from God about Mark 16 through lectio divina. Here are some of the messages I’ve been pondering upon:
Mark 16, as you know begins with the 2 Marys and Salome bringing spices to anoint the body of a dead friend and instead they hear the wonderful news of the Resurrected Christ. The chapter ends with our familiar Great Commission.
If I were writing a story, I think I’d make this chapter the denouement, where all the loose ends were happily tied up. Is that what happened? No!
Instead, the chapter opens with great news of the Resurrection and then follows the entire body of the story filled with disobedience, fear, and disbelief. Good grief. They act like real people.
First Mary, Mary, and Salome meet the angel who tells them that Jesus has risen. Then he gives them instructions: “But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goes before you into Galilee: there you shall see him, as he said unto you.”
Clear instructions. Not complicated.
What did the ladies do? “…neither said they anything to any man, for they were afraid.”
Afraid of what? Afraid of the angel? If they were afraid of the angel, you’d think they’d quickly obeyed. Afraid of the Risen Christ? Then you’d think they would have obeyed even quicker.
What if, in a rather misogynistic culture, they were afraid that the menfolk would not believe them and reject the message? I wonder if perhaps they’d experienced being respected by Jesus but marginalized by the menfolk and were afraid to repeat that kind of pain? So, they disobeyed.
What happens next? Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene (the one Jesus had delivered from seven devils). So she goes and tells his disciples, as they were busy weeping and mourning, that he was alive and had been seen by her.
Their response? They “believed not”.
Jesus first came to women. To marginized, unheard, unimportant women.
Then he appeared to two “nobodies”. Just to two nameless followers as they walked out in the country. These two told the disciples the great news that Jesus was risen!
Their response? “Neither believed they them.”
Then finally Jesus came to the big guys, the inner circle, the ones who were busy mourning, weeping, and disbelieving. He upbraided them for their hardness of heart and for not receiving the message from those women and unimportant people.
And then, what did Jesus do? Punish them? Lecture them?
He reminded them of who he created them to be and of the reason he created them that way. Remember when he sent 70 of them out two by two? He told them to heal the sick and share the gospel. They came back rejoicing that in his name, even the devils had to flee (Luke 10).
So in the Great Commission, Jesus reminds the disciples that he’s already given them the gift and mission to go in his name and “share the gospel, cast out devils, speak with new tongues, be safe from poison and snakes, and heal the sick”.
This was not new. It was not a surprise. They’d already done all those things. It was a gentle reminder, a clear reminder of who he made them to be and why.
My take-aways from this?
While some people may feel marginalized, God goes out of his way to show that marginalization is not God-business.
Even important, wise, anointed leaders can be so busy in their own pain and garbage that they miss what God is doing.
When we goof up, cop out, give up there is an answer: Go to God. Ask him to remind you who he made you to be and why.
And don’t marginalize people OR maybe it is cool to be marginalized because maybe God will talk to you first 🙂
The answer has always been there…just sometimes we need to refresh the message.