Thursday

21 October 2021

Mark 3:1-6

'Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?' (v. 4)

Psalm 20

Background

In today's reading from Mark's Gospel, there is no doubt that Jesus was a marked man. An atmosphere of suspicion seems to have hung over synagogue worship that morning. By the end of our reading we see  how the followers of Herod and the Pharisees, who normally had little time for each other, each saw themselves threatened by Jesus and so made an unholy alliance to get rid of him.

Synagogue worship involved prayers, reading from the Hebrew Scriptures and then, very often, discussion of those Scriptures which could take the form of question, answer and then further question. In this way interpretation of the Scripture developed, but also rival teachers could demonstrate their knowledge and wisdom, thereby attracting disciples. The whole process was dependent on people joining in.

Jesus, faced with a sick man and a suspicious gathering, started a fairly typical question and answer session with a question about the interpretation of Torah, the law. However the question he posed was so direct, and its answer so obvious, that his rivals refused to respond. Having sought to accuse Jesus in public those who opposed him were themselves publicly shamed. They had lost face, and so they sought the ultimate revenge.

In this tense situation Jesus still did good, by healing the man who stood in front of him. This healing, like all Jesus’ healings, was a sign of God’s reign of love breaking in. Love proves itself to be stronger than hate once again, but it is a costly love.

 

To Ponder:

  • Within the life of the Church we have been ashamed and distressed by those who have done harm to others. How in our life together can we continue to show that one of the signs of God’s kingdom is that we do good?

Prayer

God of truth and love, help me to know what is true, pure, noble and right, and grant me the courage to live today in the light of that knowledge. Amen.


Bible notes author

The Revd Donald Ker

Donald Ker is a supernumerary minister originally from the Methodist Church in Ireland. He now lives in Solihull, near Birmingham. He has served as a circuit minister, as a university chaplain, as Senior Tutor in Edgehill Theological College and as Superintendent Minister at Belfast Central Mission. Donald was also General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Ireland for some years and its President in 2009/2010.

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