- De Pree Center
- Life for Leaders
- Church & Marketplace
- Contact Us
Prayer and consistent reading of the scriptures are the perfect combination for growth. My spiritual life changed for the better once I looked at prayer and Bible reading in the proper context. Too often we read the Bible and pray because we buy into the superstitious ideal that neglecting to do these things will incur the wrath of God or result in a very bad day. However the power in these exercises is that they promote growth, by fine-tuning our ability to hear God.
If the Parable of the Sower is about how to listen faithfully, today’s Scripture is the foundational text of what we are to hear. Mark Roberts has written a series of Life for Leaders devotionals on Jesus’ quotation of this text and how it might relate to our work as leaders. I want to add to Mark’s reflections from my own perspective.
Psalm 65 is a great psalm for Californians in this season of ample rainfall. It celebrates God’s blessings, including God’s watering the land, filling streams with water, and drenching the furrows (65:9-10). Just like California these days, “The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness” (65:12).
What enabled the women to remain faithful even at the risk of their own well-being? Why did they stick with Jesus while the men abandoned him? Mark does not answer these questions directly. But the text does suggest at least one reason why the women remained: they had each other.
Though the twelve who had followed Jesus most intimately abandoned him when he was arrested, many of his followers stayed nearby. These, according to Mark, were all women. “Some women were watching from a distance,” including “Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome” (15:40). These women had been close to Jesus. Mark notes that they “had followed him and cared for his needs” (15:41). Additionally, “many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there” (15:41).
What strikes me today as I reflect on this text, however, isn’t so much a matter of Christology as a matter of how God meets us at work. The centurion, in doing his job, had an unexpected encounter with God. This was probably the last thing he would have anticipated as he oversaw the crucifixion of Jesus. Yet, while doing his terrible job, there was God: God making himself known in suffering, God reaching out through the person of Jesus, God showing up when least expected.
Mark 15 recounts the events of Jesus’s crucifixion. In verses 24-26, Jesus is nailed to the cross, with a sign identifying him, ironically, as “The King of the Jews.” Then, “at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (Which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) (15:34).
In Isaiah 61:2-3, the prophet Isaiah envisions joy arising from the lament and speaks to us this Lenten season as we long for a better world to arise from the brokenness we see. The good news is that beauty springing forth from the ashes is the heart of the gospel, the good news that centers on the Easter reality we are looking forward to celebrating soon.
For many Christians around the world, the season of Lent begins with the service of Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is really a worship service of lament. Jesus’s words in John 16 include this theme of lament as well. In verse 32, Jesus is telling his friends and partners in ministry that they will abandon him. Ash Wednesday reminds us that the Easter story is preceded by abandonment. The whole season of Lent is a reminder that Jesus experienced and understands abandonment and betrayal.
When I read Psalm 64, I cringe at the very first line: “O God, listen to my complaint.” I picture God flinching, getting ready to hear something he’d rather not hear. I wonder if God ever gets tired of hearing people’s complaints.
Search Life For Leaders
Tags1 Corinthians 1 John 1 Kings 1 Peter 1 Samuel 1 Thessalonians 1 Timothy 2 Corinthians 2 Timothy Acts Advent Ash Wednesday Christmas Colossians Deuteronomy Easter Ephesians Esther Exodus Galatians Genesis Good Friday Habakkuk Hebrews Holy Week Isaiah James Jeremiah John Lamentations Lent Luke Mark Matthew Philippians Proverbs Psalms race reconciliation Revelation Romans Thanksgiving Theology of Work Project Zephaniah
Life for Leaders Archives