The Way of Provision

Text: Mark 6:30-56
Rev. John Downs

As we consider today’s text, we see Jesus providing for his followers even in the desolate places of their lives, with echoes of God’s provision for the children of Israel following the exodus, and for John the Baptist in his wilderness ministry. In the difficult strivings of life when we are figuratively rowing into the headwinds, he is also present. Our Messiah provides what we need for flourishing, and we take hold of his provision through Word and sacrament.

Christ the King

Text: Psalm 110
Dr. Peter Green

Psalm 110 does not refer to merely any king but points specifically to the messianic king Jesus. His reign began with his ascension to the right hand of the Father and will culminate in his second coming to gather his people to himself and usher in the eternal kingdom. In the meantime, we are called even now to submit to his reign as we participate and find great hope in it.

The Way of Rejection

Text: Mark 6:1-30
Rev. John Downs

They say that familiarity breeds contempt. Today’s text would support that sentiment as we see rejection directed toward Jesus, his followers and his forerunner. The sources include his own family, in the towns and from the secular king. But far from being an anomaly in God’s plan, in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 53, it was God’s will that Jesus our Messiah would be rejected by men in order to save his people.

The Way of Healing

Text: Mark 5:21-43
Rev. John Downs

Ever since the Fall, there has been a universal search for a cure for what ails us. Some look to snake oil remedies and are disappointed. Yet, for those put their faith in Christ, regardless of their position in life, they will see the fruit of humility and repentance resulting in true and eternal shalom healing that is able to touch body, mind and spirit.

The Way of Power

Text: Mark 4:35-5:20
Rev. John Downs

When faced with chaos or the unexpected, fear may be a natural response. In the two incidents described in today’s text, we see evidence that Jesus was not merely a good moral teacher but rather the authoritative Lord of all creation, including both the natural and supernatural realms. His lordship and authority demand that we come to the end of ourselves and all of the other things we might be tempted to place our faith in, and recognize the riches of grace we enjoy through his redeeming power.

The Way of Parables, Part 2

Text: Mark 4:21-34
Rev. John Downs

The series of three parables in today’s text show us a progression to the now and future kingdom. We see the breaking in of the kingdom when Jesus enters as the light of the world. Though the severe ordinariness of the means of grace, we see the telos, the purpose of the kingdom as it grows slowly through little things toward the harvest. Finally, we get a glorious picture of the coming consummation of the kingdom in the new heavens and new earth.

The Way of Parables, Part 1

Text: Mark 4:1-20
Rev. John Downs

God works through very ordinary means to achieve his extraordinary purposes. The parable was a very familiar manner of teaching among rabbis during Jesus’ time. Through today’s parable, Jesus gives his disciples, those who have ears to hear, a hearing test designed to elicit a response in their lives. While exposing unbelief among outsiders, he encourages his followers with the assurance that, although there will be obstacles in their lives, he gives them the process of discipleship, repentance and faith to preserve them.

The Way of Spiritual Family

Text: Mark 3:7-35
Rev. John Downs

With echoes back to Mt. Sinai, in today’s text we see Jesus calling a new spiritual family, a new Israel based not on ethnicity but rather on the call of Christ to join a supernatural family comprised of people from every tribe and tongue. This family membership is founded on the forgiveness based in his redemption applied to us. The purpose of this spiritual family is to faithfully represent him in our lives.

The Way of Sabbath

Text: Mark 2:23-3:6
Rev. John Downs

Our creator God designed us for Sabbath rest as a way to bless us and not to bind us. As we reflect on God’s sufficiency and our own inadequacy in and of ourselves, we are freed from a pharisaical or worldly approach to the Sabbath to embrace a posture of delight, affection and worship.

The Way of Getting In

Text: Mark 2:1-22
Rev. John Downs

Everyone loves being “in the know”, having insider information that others may not be privileged to have. Unfortunately, that can trickle over into our life of faith when we take the gospel and are then tempted to add special knowledge or achievement to our understanding of salvation. Today’s passage strongly corrects that errant approach by clearly demonstrating that our position as Kingdom insiders depends solely upon humble, confident faith in Christ.