“Who Do You Say That I Am?” Listen to Podcast #9 in “A Short Course in Following Jesus: Studies in the Gospel of Mark.”

Synagogue at Capernaum

What should we think about a human being who does what only God can do and does it in a way that only God can accomplish? As we have listened to Mark, the insufficient answers have fallen away—Jesus is not demon possessed, He is not insane, He is not Elijah, one of the prophets, or John the Baptist come back to life. Even His disciples, however, have had difficulty in getting their minds around this reality. As soon, however, as they arrive at a right answer, “You are the Christ,” Jesus tells them that he must be crucified in Jerusalem. Furthermore, if they would be His disciples, they must “deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him.” What in the world does He mean? Listen to podcast #9 “Who Do You Say That I Am?” Click below to access all nine podcasts. https://frommangoestomelchizedek.com/a-short-course-in-following-jesus-studies-in-the-gospel-of-mark/

“He Who Has Ears to Hear, Let Him Hear.” Podcast #8 in “A Short Course in Following Jesus: Studies in the Gospel of Mark.”

Synagogue at Capernaum

The disciples are now involved in Jesus’ ministry. They have preached, healed, and cast out demons in His name. They passed out the bread and fish when He fed the 5,000. They were in the boat when He came walking on the water. And yet, we are told that their hearts were “hardened.”  The story of their slowness to believe, as told in Mark 7:1—8:21, is the subject of  podcast #8, “He Who Has Ears to Heart, Let Him Hear.” This story awakens us from superficial faith and calls us to embrace Jesus with all we have. All eight podcasts are available by clicking below: https://frommangoestomelchizedek.com/a-short-course-in-following-jesus-studies-in-the-gospel-of-mark/

“The Ways of Our God.” Acts 16:11-15, 40; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. Sunday School, February 28, 2021.

When we look at the founding the Church at Philippi (Acts 16) and read what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, we come to understand why God chooses to work through human weakness. His working through our weakness is a great mercy. If we come to think that we can build God’s Kingdom or meet our own spiritual needs with our programs, all is lost. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord!”

“The Ways of Our God.” Acts 16:11-15, 40; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

“Created Equal” or Created in “the Image of God”?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights . . .” These hallowed words from the Declaration of Independence are the very core of the American ethos. The principle they express is enshrined in our Constitution with its Bill of Rights. Indeed, these words are engraved on every American heart. They have been the standard by which we judge our conduct. Without them there would have been no abolition, no women’s suffrage, and no Civil Rights Movement. They continue to call us to account for the condition of Native Americans and for the perennial struggle for racial justice. They protect the weak from the strong and create a space for every human life. 

For most of my life I more or less associated, with little reflection, this principle of creation equality with the Bible’s affirmation that humanity had been created in “the image of  God.” Then it dawned on me that creation in the divine image and created equal were two very different principles. To begin with, one was based on our relationship to God, the other, despite the word “created,” on our horizontal relationships. The one showed me how I was to treat my fellow human beings, the other, how I expected them to treat me. For, indeed, honesty demands that we also acknowledge the negative impact of the principle of creation equality.  This approach has often fostered a self-centered ethic, an ethic that focuses on “my” rights, on what you owe me, instead of my obligations to you. It has been used to sanction acquiring every advantage for myself with little consideration for others—because it was “my right” to do so. 

So, while we acknowledge the good that has come from the principle of creation equality, I suggest that the Bible calls us to a higher ethical standard. It calls us to treat others as creatures made “in the image of God.” It calls on us to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses” (C. S. Lewis, from the last paragraph of “The Weight of Glory.”) 

“Mary Magdalene: Portrait of Discipleship.” Luke 8:1-3, Mark 15:40-41, John 20:11-18. Sunday School. February 14, 2021.

When the disciples run away, the women who follow Jesus appear–at the Cross, at his burial, and at the empty tomb–with Mary Magdalene at their head. If you listen to the podcast below, you will not only see her as a “Portrait of Discipleship,” you will be drawn to follow Jesus.

“Mary Magdalena: Portrait of Discipleship”

“Could This Be the Christ?” John 4:4-32. Sunday School, February 7, 2021.

Every summer we find spiritual refreshment by attending Camp Sychar in Mount Vernon, OH. This camp takes its name from the well at Sychar where Jesus met the Samaritan woman in John 4:4-42. Just inside Camp Sychar’s gate is a refreshing, ever-flowing well where all can drink. Many, also, have found Camp Sychar a source of the “living water” that Jesus offered the Samaritan on that hot day at Jacob’s well. The Sunday School lesson for tomorrow, Feb 7, is from this passage. Click below to listen to an explanation of this passage and drink once again, for yourself, from this “living water.” 

“Could This Be the Christ?”
KODAK Digital Still Camera

“Your Sons and Your Daughters Shall Prophesy.” Acts 2:14-21, 21:8-9; Luke 2:36-38. Sunday School. January 31, 2021.

How should we understand the gift of the Holy Spirit in terms of Joel’s prophecy in Joel 2:28-32? What role does the coming of the Spirit play in the Biblical drama? What does His coming mean for us? Listen to this explanation of Acts 2:14-21, 21:8-9; and Luke 2:36-38, the Sunday school lesson for January 31!

“Your Sons and Your Daughters will Prophesy”

“Who Can Forgive Sins, but God Alone?” Mark 2;1-12. Sunday School, January 17, 2021

My students used to joke that the answer to every question in the class on the Gospel of Mark was “the authority of Jesus.” They were right. Mark 2:1-12 focuses on the authority of Jesus to forgive sins–and its implications for His identity! Implicitly, Jesus faces those around Him with the question, “Who do you say that I am?” For an explanation of this passage click below.

Who can forgive sins, but God alone?