My freshman year in college I started a Bible Study on my floor. It was a very diverse group of people who came to it. My roommate was from Guyana and was Rastafarian, and he attended at first. We had a few evangelical Christians who attended. We had a number of seekers who had never been a part of a Bible study before come and take part. And then there was Andy. Andy was Mormon and absolutely loved to study the Bible. What was fascinating about Andy’s time with us was that he knew that he only had one year at college and then he was going to go off on a mission for two years. I’m not sure if you have ever run into Mormon missionaries but we have seen them everywhere where we have served. In Italy and Russia they always traveled two by two. These verses in chapter 6 remind me of the methodology that the Mormons follow where they are sent out into the world in twos with next to nothing to keep them alive. For all that is wrong with Mormonism, they can still teach us quite a few things.
Today we had our leadership retreat at church and I shared the story of my ordination service. It was moving and a service I will never forget. I was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in Pleasantville, NJ. At the end I got on my knees and all those people who had been significant in my life came up and laid hands on me. A whole group of my college and high school friends actually came to see the service. For most of them it was something very, very foreign to them. I was on a high after the service and they had a reception for me in the fellowship hall of the church. There I was gathered with my friends when one of them said: “Bob, I couldn’t help but think when you were on your knees of that time when grape Jello came out your nose.” Needless to say, it ruined the mood of that spiritual high that I found myself on.
Familiarity breeds contempt and in Jesus’ case, familiarity lead to him not being able to minister to those in his hometown. The Gospel message has become very familiar to us. Do we ever stop and think about what it means when we say that God became one of us? Do we ever stop and think about what it means when we say that God died on the cross to save us from eternal damnation? Do we ever stop and think about how short we fall from Jesus’ commandment to love God and love our neighbor?
For some reason this song just came to my mind…
We haven’t even talked about John the Baptist on a platter, well, at least his head. Fascinating that John the Baptist is seen as someone who spoke truth to power. What that phrase means is that John the Baptist was not shy to tell Herod that he should never have married his brother’s wife. It wasn’t Herod who wanted him dead, but rather Herodias, the wife. How willing are we to speak truth to power when we know that our lives could be at stake?
Next we have Jesus feeding the 5,000 and Jesus walking on water. Too much in one chapter, but all of it significant.