Pause for Thought

3rd October                                                                                      Mark 10 v.13-16

Now people were bringing the little children to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them, and the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and told them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And He took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them, and blessed them.

The people in the crowd realised that Jesus was a very special Teacher, who had something special to offer and wanted their children to receive a blessing from Him.   Were the disciples angry at this?  Did they think the mothers were wasting Jesus' time?  Did they think that children did not matter?  Jesus showed immediately how much those children did matter.   He not only gave each one of them a personal blessing, but told the adults present that all of us must be humble, loving and trusting like children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven 

What is our attitude to children in our Church?   Do we show them God's love by making them feel accepted?  Special?  And needed?  How can we help them feel they have an important role in our Church Family?

 

10th October                                                                                                         Mark10 v. 17 – 27

As Jesus started on His way, a man ran up and knelt before Him. “Good Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus replied. “No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not cheat others, honour your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” he replied, “all these I have kept from my youth.” Jesus looked at him, loved him, and said to him, “There is one thing you lack: Go, sell everything you own and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But the man was saddened by these words and went away in sorrow, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They were even more astonished and said to one another, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

Unlike the Jewish leaders, this man was not asking Jesus a question to catch Him out, but because he really wanted to know.   He wanted to be assiduous in his keeping of the Law. (The Jewish Law as in the Ten Commandments -Exodus 20 v. 1 – 17 )  Jesus accepted that the man had been keeping the Ten Commandments but had missed one of the underlying implications.  Jesus pointed out to him that it  was the love of possessions – materialism  - which was separating  him from  God.  The young man realised his weakness and walked away sorrowfully.  He probably felt that he had tried so hard, but got it all wrong.  It was not his having riches that mattered, but that he was relying on them.  Our aim, too, as Christians is to  learn to rely more and more upon God alone.  That is real Faith.

Think of one thing that might be holding you back from relying totally upon God.  It may not be our possessions but something else, such as our use of time or the way we use the material things God has given us  -  or something else. Pray that God will help you to learn to place more of your faith in Him alone.

 

17th October                                                                                        Mark 10 v. 35 – 45

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and declared, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” He inquired. They answered, “Grant that one of us may sit at your right hand and the other at your left in Your glory” “You do not know what you are asking,” Jesus replied. “Can you drink the cup I will drink, or be baptized with the baptism I will undergo?” “We can,” the brothers answered. “You will drink the cup that I drink,” Jesus said, “and you will be baptized with the baptism that I undergo. But to sit at my right or left is not mine to grant. These seats belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their superiors exercise authority over them. But it shall not be this way among you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

James and John had been close friends of Jesus throughout His Ministry.  They were with Him at special times like the healing of Jairus' daughter and the Transfiguration.  They had begun to feel that in the future life they would have a superior position to the other disciples.  It was not a desire to be nearest to Jesus at the time of His triumph, but to be given the highest positions in his new  Kingdom.  Jesus may have smiled to Himself as they asked, because the men at either side of Him at His moment of triumph would be two criminals!!  However, Jesus gave them a very serious reply – a lot for them to think about.  Greatness in God's Kingdom was very different from in an earthly one.  Greatness would be achieved, not by power but by humility and service.

How can we learn this lesson of Jesus'?  It will take us for the rest of our lives! Can we begin, perhaps, by finding some way of serving others each day.  Maybe we can learn humility if no-one else knows what we have done.  (Of course this cannot be contrived and is not always possible!)  Pray that God will help us to become better at serving with humility.

 

24th October                                                                                           Mark 10 v. 46 – end

Next, they came to Jericho. And as Jesus and His disciples were leaving Jericho with a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting beside the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many people admonished him to be silent, but he cried out all the louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man. “Take courage!” they said. “Get up! He is calling for you.” Throwing off his cloak, Bartimaeus jumped up and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “Rabboni,” said the blind man, “let me see again.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” And  immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

The plight of blind and other disabled in the first century was very great.  If they couldn't work, they wouldn't eat.  His meant only one thing, they had to resort to becoming beggars.   Bartimaeus sat at the roadside day after day – no because he wanted to but because he had to.  He would have heard of Jesus as a miracle worker and when he heard that he was coming, Bartimaeus was determined to be seen – and heard!  Jesus' question to him was an interesting one.  Was He testing him? Bartimaeus' answer was even more interesting.  Most beggars wanted money but he knew that if he could gain his sight, he would be able to help himself in future.  Jesus granted his request.

 “Ask and it shall be given you”  Jesus taught.  We need to learn to ask wisely, Do we ask for what we want or what we need? Of course God always answers us - but in the way He sees best We must learn to ask in faith that God knows our every need better than we do!

 

31st October                                                                                          Mark 12 v. 28 – 34

Now one of the scribes had come up and heard their debate. Noticing how well Jesus had answered them, he asked Him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus replied, “This is the most important: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” “Right, Teacher,” the scribe replied. “You have stated correctly that God is One and there is no other but Him, and to love Him with all your heart and with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, which is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that the man had answered wisely, He said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to question Him any further.

Human beings need laws!! Thousands of years ago, the Jewish people travelling to the Promised Land, were given a set of laws we know as the Ten Commandments.  (Exodus 20 v. 1 – 17 )  They were given to keep the people safe and well, as our laws do today.   Over the centuries the Jewish leaders added hundreds of additions and by the time of Jesus' life on earth, the Law which was being taught had become so complicated that it had become a burden.  Indeed,  it was impossible for the majority of the people to understand or remember them, let alone to keep them! By His new law of Love, Jesus made it all so easy to understand.  Basically, He said “Love God and love other people”.  Had Jesus left something out?  No.  When you have time, read each of the Ten Commandments slowly and you will discover that each one is about Love.  For instance, if you love other people, you will not steal from them!!

Reading the Ten Commandments or Jesus' law of Love is easy.  However, they are not so easy to   keep!   Some of our neighbours are not always lovable! (but neither are we!!).  Choose someone each day this week and try to treat him/her as Jesus would.




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