Thoughts for the Week

Posts tagged ‘Mark 1’

Alone With the Lord

Alone-47When was the last time you were alone?

I don’t mean just being somewhere without people, I mean being somewhere without distractions. No phone, no computer, nothing to entertain.

I can’t think about the last time I’ve been totally alone. As Americans, we are continually wanting to be entertained and busy. We are always busy.

Jesus was busy too, but he took time to slow down. In Mark 1:35-38, it says he left to go to an isolated place to pray. In the verses before (29-34), it’s clear Jesus was extremely busy the night before, healing people and casting out demons.

I don’t know about you, but when I’ve had a rough evening, I try to sleep in the next morning.

But that’s not what he did. He got up before the sun rose to be alone with the Father. In Matthew 6:6 Jesus said, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (NIV).

Prayer is to be an intimate, private, and distraction-free event. It’s a time to get to know your Father better. Jesus thought it was important enough to give up a morning.

This week, find a time to be alone with the Lord.

Copyright 2012 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.
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Clean Again

(Mark 1:40-45)

I couldn’t feel the coarse fabric of the cloak I had stolen. I knew it was wrong to take it, but I was desperate. I slipped between two houses. Capernaum was quieter that usual, for which I was grateful. I was also grateful it was getting darker

Speed was necessary. If I was discovered, I could be beaten, driven out of town, or worse.

The person I was searching for taught in the mountainside, but I couldn’t approach him with a group of people surrounding him. My secret would be out.

I didn’t even know if he could help me. But I heard he had driven a demon out of a man in the synagogue a week ago. I shuffled toward the mountainside. I might have cut my heel on a sharp rock, but I couldn’t tell. As I reached a crest, I saw the crowd moving toward me.  They had listened to the rabbi speak all day, but now they were returning home. I slipped behind a dead tree, keeping my eyes down and head covered. No one noticed me.

I peered around the tree and finally saw the man I was looking for. He sat on large stone near a grassy hill, twelve men milled around him. They talked about finding dinner in town somewhere. The rabbi was silent on the edge of the group. I reasoned I could slip up, talk to him and…well, I hadn’t quite figured out the next part.

Now was the time. Either leave and remain alone for the rest of my life, or go to this rabbi named Jesus.

I ran to him, falling at his feet and my cloak slid off. I held my hands up and begged. “Rabbi, please help me!”

His followers noticed me and pulled back in disgust. I knew they stared at the sores and welts on my head and shoulders. A few yelled angrily at me. “Why didn’t you warn us you were unclean? You are supposed to be in isolation!” One approached me with his fists clenched and a scowl painted on his features. “Get out of here, you leper.”

Jesus rose to his feet. “All of you, stop it.” He came closer and knelt in front of me. He was the only one who had not pulled away and glared at my condition like so many others had.

His eyes held such concern and compassion, a depth I had never witnessed before. Maybe he could help. I lowered my head to hide my tears.

“Please. I want to be healed. I want to feel again. I want to hold my baby girl and see my wife. It’s been years, and I know I’ll die alone and deformed if you send me away.”

More tears fell, and I wiped them away with one of the few fingers I had left. “If you are willing, I know you can make me clean.”

Then I noticed a slight pressure on my welt-covered shoulder. Jesus was touching me! One of the disciples objected, “Lord! You will become unclean as well!”

But he didn’t mind them, he only spoke, “I am willing. Be clean.”

In that moment, something miraculous happened. I suddenly felt Jesus’ hand more distinctly. I felt the brush of his gentle, worn palm against my shoulder. I actually felt it! I looked down at my hands and felt my face. They were all healed! The skin was smooth again!

The grass beneath my feet tickled and the cool evening air felt delicious against my new skin.

Jesus helped me to my feet, telling me to go to the priests, saying they could verify my cleanliness. It meant I could go home. I could see my family again.

That night, my skin was new, along with my heart. The healing Jesus had given me also gave me hope. I had been unclean, an outcast, doomed to die alone. But now, I was clean again!

Copyright 2012 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.

Out of the Darkness

(Mark 1:21-28)

I strolled down the dusty street toward the synagogue. I relished the fact that I could usually slip in undetected. The Pharisees there were so focused on their petty laws.

Hey, I gave my tenth regularly, and hadn’t needed to give a guilt offering for some time. They couldn’t touch me. I was one of the richest, most powerful men in all of Capernaum, maybe even in Galilee.

I smirked when I remembered the time I booted an older teacher out because he kept nagging me about my attitude. I got the town on my side, and sent him packing.  A week later, I was delighted when I discovered he had been attacked and killed by robbers.

The crowd was larger than usual. We had traveling rabbis, and there must have been a popular one visiting this week. But as I slipped in, I saw the teacher. I didn’t know the man, but something deep in my gut churned. Something wasn’t right. I instantly broke into a sweat.

I was confused. Going to the synagogue never made me nervous. But something about this common-looking man made me feel as if I was sitting on a bed of nails.

“So, who’s our rabbi this week? “I casually whispered to my neighbor.

“I heard he’s a carpenter from Nazareth.”

Ha, Nazareth? I’ve got nothing to fear then. Nothing good comes from Nazareth. 

“But you’ve missed a lot. He’s talking about  the law and with such authority! I’ve never heard anyone like Jesus.”

Jesus? That’s the scruffy carpenter’s name? At that moment, Jesus stopped speaking and looked directly at me. His flashing eyes pierced me deeply. My mirth evaporated into horror. My head pounded and my feet twitched. Everything in me wanted to run. What’s going on?

Before I knew what was happening, he was up and walking toward me. Something inside me screamed. I suddenly couldn’t breathe right. The scream reached my lips, and created angry, guttural words.

“It’s you! What are you doing here?”

I tried to stop, but I wasn’t speaking. Something else was inside. Fear gripped me, and my body trembled. Everyone in the synagogue pulled back in shock and everyone went quiet. The voice speaking through me continued.

“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?”

I fell to my knees, and my whole body was wracked with pain. It was if a violent storm raged inside of me, battering me from the inside out.

“I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”

Jesus stepped closer. “Be quiet!” He called. My throat suddenly clamped shut. He still held that piercing gaze. But I could tell he was not looking at me, but deep inside of me.

“Come out of him! Now!”

In that moment, I had never felt such searing pain in my life. It felt as if my heart and spine were being rent in two. I struggled to stay upright, my body quaking. That terrifying voice was screaming; it strained and it clung like claws digging into my chest.

With one final shriek, the thing inside of me let go. It fell away like a stone, a dead snake. My lungs filled with sweet air. The last thing I remembered is falling, and someone catching me.

***

“Jesus, are you sure you want to be that close?”

I was aware of someone’s hand on my forehead, the other on my shoulder. I awoke to find Jesus kneeling next to me in the dust. Looking at me with those eyes. The eyes that had been so terrifying, so piercing, were now so soft.

His rough hand on my head eased my tattered thoughts. The entire synagogue had formed a wide circle around me, except for this man.

A friend of Jesus approached him, “Jesus, I think you should move–“

“It’s okay Peter.”

He helped me sit up. “You’re going to be all right.”

Tears flowed freely. This darkness inside of me was gone. I hadn’t noticed it until it had vanished. My heart felt ten times lighter. I looked into Jesus’ soft eyes. “What happened?” I sniffed.

“You had let your heart serve a cruel master. You are free now. But you will fall back unless you let me be your master.”

I said yes. The darkness was gone forever, now replaced with clear, fresh, perfect light.

Copyright 2012 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.

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