In Mark chapter 6 we have two very different stories of how people responded to Jesus’ life-giving words.
In the first account, people who heard him were amazed and yet ended up taking offence at him. Jesus in turn was amazed at them – and not in a good way – but for their lack of faith. It is worth pondering how their lack of faith had a direct bearing on limiting what Jesus could do. It implies that our responsiveness to Jesus opens up or shuts down what is possible.
In contrast to people responding negatively towards Jesus and his message is the story of Jesus sending out the twelve who encountered a very positive response to the life-giving message of Jesus. As such, we are told by Mark that they drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
These two stories illustrate the choice Moses gave the Israelites in Deuteronomy 30:15-16.
“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.”
In Deuteronomy as in our two stories in Mark are choices of life and prosperity, or death and destruction. What we choose has significant spiritual implications as well as very practical ones. In the first account people chose to be offended by Jesus and experienced death, spiritually speaking. They could not see Jesus for who he was and so missed out on life with Jesus.
Choosing life, on the other hand, opens us up to participating in the life-giving creation God brings through Jesus. As Paul affirms in 2 Cor 5:15, “…if anyone is in Christ they are a new creation …”
We are created to flourish in relationship with God, with others, and with creation. Let us continually choose life.
-Carlton Johnstone, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ)
Almighty God, you are the giver and sustainer of life. Jesus, your words are life. Holy Spirit, be my guide. Your words are a lamp unto my path and a light unto my feet. I choose life with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Kiribati Uniting Church
May the Holy Spirit inspire the KUC’s New Strategic Plan to allow reformation and transformation of God’s mission in Kiribati.
Agriculture in Kiribati is not popular, but the only way to become independent from imported food produce is to reform the way we look at food. May God help us grow and cultivate our own food that is GMO-free.
Kiribati is very vulnerable because of the water system and dependence on imported food items. COVID-19 could be very devastating if it hits Kiribati. We pray that God may give us wisdom as to which part of our culture and practices could be improved so as to be resilient against man-made disasters.
Image by KUC