You can look but not see: you may listen but not really hear.
When we’re confronted by something that challenges our understanding of the world – some revolutionary new thinking, for example – we don’t always take everything in right away. Quite apart from working out whether it’s an acceptable and necessary change, it takes time to grasp new ideas or even fresh understandings of things we’ve been used to.
There’s no real substitute for experience, whether it’s reflecting on the tried and tested or the discoveries that come from working with something new, learning as you go along. Discipleship, the building block of the church, is a good example of this: we grow through what we have experienced and, in being open to the leading of God’s Spirit, are invited to embrace the unfolding vision God has for His church.
We don’t always see these things clearly especially where our “sight” and judgement take first place over God’s revelation and intention. With a few pieces of the jigsaw in place, it’s easy to jump to conclusions. Sometimes, as we’ll see in today’s passage it’s better to spend more time looking at the implications of taking on new ideas, before jumping to conclusions.
Revelation in the restricted sense, we have seen, denotes the communication of truth or facts hitherto unknown to man, and incapable of being deduced from the structure of the human intellect, or derived through the ordinary channels of human information (William G T Shedd, Dogmatic Theology).
Our knowledge of God is totally dependent on revelation (Robert Reymond, A Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 1 Corinthians 2:11).
Pause for thought
- Please describe the ways that God communicates His will, nature and character to humanity
- What do you expect to happen when you read the Bible?
- How do we test whether something is from God?
- In what ways might our life experience help us to grow in our faith and show it through discipleship?
Please read Mark 10 verses 32 to 52
The discipleship training for the 12 could not be bettered. They joined in with Jesus’ work, he taught them as they went along and they were given opportunities to exercise their developing gifts. Seeing and hearing things at first hand still doesn’t mean that they get things right first time – like all of us, there’s some trial and error involved, the biggest issue being our readiness to “interpret” God’s will rather than understand it.
Our passage begins with Jesus repeating what the outcome of the next few weeks will be. It’s set in the wider context of His teaching on the sacrificial nature of discipleship, coming to God empty handed but open hearted allowing nothing to get in the way. It appears, though, that not everyone has received the message in the way Jesus intended.
To think about
What responsibilities will I have? (Mark 10 verses 32 to 45)
- Why do people react differently to Jesus today as they did in His own time? (see verse 32)
- Please reread verse 36. What answer would you give if Jesus asked you this same question today?
- Sitting on either side of the host at a banquet was considered to be a position of honour. Why did Jesus take exception to the brothers’ request?
- What do verses 41 to 45 tell us about what our spiritual goals should be and what we are to avoid?
- How does Jesus’ example help us here?
Jesus and his friends have made good time – they’re now in Jericho (verse 46) only 10 miles from Jerusalem, just a morning’s walk. The disciples and Jesus have now been joined by a large crowd of people, when they encounter a blind man begging by the city gate.
He’s in the usual place: sick, disabled and spiritually troubled people were generally found there – no one wanted to welcome them into the city or temple, let alone touch them. Jesus’ actions towards this man demonstrate that grace, knows no boundaries.
To think about
How can I touch the lives of others? (Mark 10 verses 45 to 52)
- Who does the church really struggle to reach or to support? Why is this?
- Why did the crowd ask the man to keep quiet and not trouble Jesus?
- In what ways is it important to get to the heart of concerns and not simply try to respond to the symptoms of a problem? (see verse 51)
- The healed man follows Jesus. Where do our encounters with God take us – and where could they take us if we remain open to His Spirit’s leading?