The New Community
Mighty God, You are from everlasting to everlasting; Your holy character does not change. I bless Your name.
Read Mark 3:7-19
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“The Christian congregation meets as a community that acknowledges that it lives by the amazing grace of a boundless kindness” (Lesslie Newbigin). What a privilege is ours!
It’s important to see the events of this passage in the context that Mark has so carefully described for us. The catalyst for Jesus’ next steps was the intensity of the Pharisees’ animosity towards him and their conspiring with the royal household to destroy him (6). Profound lines of difference and division were being drawn. On the one side were those who had somehow managed to transform the God-given and life-giving Torah into a burdensome and joy-leaching plethora of rules (Matt. 23:4); on the other were Jesus and his band of disciples whose very ordinariness should be a comfort and encouragement to us.
Jesus’ decision to appoint exactly twelve apostles, reflecting the original number of tribes of Israel, was a significant sign that something dramatically new was underway. The divine project of creating a new people of God had begun. Participation in this new community was open to all who would relish Jesus’ forgiveness and embrace his lordship. Its ethics and lifestyle, imbued with love and justice and embedded in grace and forgiveness, was the opposite of the legalisms of the Pharisees and temple authorities in Jerusalem.
Mark emphasizes that many in the crowd that followed Jesus were from Galilee (7), as were Jesus and his close disciples. God deliberately became man in a poor, rural backwater, a place of minimal importance and no influence within the politics and economics of the all-conquering Roman Empire. Moreover, its inhabitants were derided by the rest of Israel (John 1:46) and considered of no consequence by the temple authorities in Jerusalem. The church began its life among the most marginalized, and loses its way when it moves to embrace them no longer.
We can so easily become more like the Pharisees and less like Jesus. Be on guard so that subtle changes in your attitude toward others do not creep in.
Loving Lord, I rejoice that in Christ I belong to a community of believers from every place. I’m amazed at how You use ordinary people to share Your world-wide mission.