Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Mark, Week 32 - Bike Trusting God

Watching kids learn how to ride their bikes is a hilarious time. It can bring up memories of our own experiences either teaching, or being taught. Many of us can put ourselves into one or both places. Some of us have been the kid, getting the courage to get on that bike and learning a valuable lesson about being stable, until the inevitable crash happens. Some of us have been that parent who’s kid gets on that bike, and as we let go of them to ride on their own, that crash occurs. And, depending on your state of mind at the time, it’s either a hilarious moment, or a catastrophic one.
What gets me in these times of teaching, whether it be with riding a bike, or learning to drive a car, or when kids turn to their parents for life advice, what gets me is that there is a certain amount of trust children have towards their parents. They trust them to hold onto the bike. They trust them to teach them to drive. They trust them enough to ask for advice. This last one usually comes after years of trying it their own way first.
But trust is built between child and parent over time. I asked my oldest child, Elisa, this past week, what makes you trust someone. Her response was telling. She said that, she trusts because “like Mommy and Daddy, take care of me.”
Trust comes from experience. How has someone taken care of me in the past, is usually directly related to how I trust them now. How have they treated me? Have I relied on them before and they let me down? Have they said they would do something and didn’t? We tend to trust people in the now, because of what they have done in the past. If their trust track record is good, then it is easier to trust them with present and future things. But if they have not been trustworthy in the past, it will be harder for us to trust them in the future.

As we return to the Gospel of Mark this week, that’s where we find ourselves. We find ourselves in a situation of trusting God. So if you have your Bibles, we’re going to be picking back up in the book of Mark in chapter 11, verse 1.

As we we get back into Mark at the 11th chapter, I want us to focus on two big points that have happened in the book of Mark so far. See we have been studying the book of Mark for 31 weeks. We have gone through 10 chapters and 424 verses to get this point, and because of that there has been a lot we have covered. But moving forward for today, we need to focus on just two points.
First, we have seen Jesus perform many miracles. Anywhere from healing a man’s crippled hand, to feeding thousands of people, to walking on water, and raising a girl from the dead. What we need to take away from this, is that Jesus has shown the miraculous over, and over again in front of many, many people.
Secondly, Jesus has told his disciples, on five separate occasions, that when he gets to Jerusalem he will be killed, but rise again. Where the first point we talked about has dealt with things in the past up to this point, Jesus’ words of his death deal with things of the future. But the disciples weren’t  interested in these words. In fact they had, all five times, brushed off this line of talk from Jesus.

This is where we find ourselves in Mark chapter 11 verse 1. So let’s jump in and starting reading.

1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”
4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

This passage is the same passage we usually talk about on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. Jesus triumphantly rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. People are ecstatic because they believe Jesus has come to overthrow the Roman government. They believe Jesus has come to bring the Israelite people out of subjugation and put them in their rightful place as rulers over the nations.
Why are they doing this? Because Jesus has shown himself to be the Messiah, the Savior. Jesus’ many miracles point in that direction, and Peter confirms this with Jesus back in chapter 8. And with this deliberate choice on Jesus’ side of entering into Jerusalem on a donkey, solidifies both from Jesus himself and to the people around him that he is indeed the Messiah, the Savior of the world.
How do we know? When Matthew, one of Jesus’ other disciples, writes about this event, he says this, “4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

Jesus purposefully fulfilled a prophecy from the prophet Zechariah made hundreds of years before, and the people understood this. 
So with this purposeful fulfillment of prophecy on Jesus’ part, and all his miracles, why were the disciples still not trusting in Jesus’ words that he would be killed and rise from the dead? 
If we read ahead, we know that the disciples were very proud of the temple. Yet, Jesus told them it would be destroyed. This was to move their thoughts away from the physical temple of God, and refocus them on his death and resurrection. 
We know that the disciples still didn’t take Jesus’ death seriously, when a women would eventually anoint Jesus’ feet, by putting perfumes on him. The disciples saw it as a waste of money, where Jesus saw it as a precursor to his death.
Even at his final meal with his disciples, they still were not taking seriously the words of Jesus about his death. And the question we should ask is why? Why were they not taking Jesus seriously when he talked about his death? I mean they saw the miracles. They saw the fulfillment of prophecy. They believed Jesus was the Messiah. So why not accept what he was saying about his death?
And the answer is simple, they’re trust of Jesus only went so far. They trusted Jesus only as far as they wanted to.  But when the trust required more of them, they stopped. When the trust required them to look at the pain that was ahead, their trust stopped. When the trust required that the good times of plenty where about to end, their trust stopped.
Now they didn’t stop trusting that Jesus was the Messiah. In fact, with Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the donkey, that trust was enforced. Where their trust stopped, was when Jesus started to talk about things that didn’t fit into their plans.
Jesus talking about his death was not what they wanted. They wanted the king. They wanted Israel to return to its former glory. They wanted to rule over nations. They didn’t want a dead Savior. And so their trust stopped, and eventually faltered when the time came. The time of Jesus betrayal, death, and even his resurrection. The trust wasn’t their.

We can do this exact same thing from time to time. We can trust Jesus in a lot of areas, but when that trust is asked to go to hard places, we can falter. We can stop trusting in that area, because it doesn’t fit within what our plans are. We don’t lose our trust in Jesus overall, just not in that one area he is asking us to trust him deep in.

And we can hear verses like “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord (Isaiah 55:8).”
Or, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).’”

And we go, Lord I trust that you know what is best for me. But the application of that trust is where we lose our step. It’s when our plans and our ways, come into conflict with God’s plans and his ways, that we stop trusting. Thinking that our way, our plan is the better way.

Yet God wants us to trust him. Like a child trusts their parent to teach them to ride a bike. Even when it can end in hurt. That child gets back on the bike and asks again for help. They continue to trust that their parent is wanting the best for them. But with the best, their might be hard times, their might be pain. 

So then, how do we trust? How can we get past our own plans and ways, to trust God in those areas where we are faltering? Well, we go back to the question I asked my daughter, how do you trust? And the answer is from experience. And this is three fold:
First, what has God said? How many of us have gone through the Bible specifically looking for the prophecies and promises of God? Did you know that there are around 1,800 prophecies in the Bible. May of them have been fulfilled. Things like the rise of the Greek and then the Roman Empire. Daniel’s first 69 weeks. And around 300 that were specifically about Jesus himself. On top of that, there are about 5,400 promises that God gives in the Bible. Some are general promises that apply to you and me. Some are specific to Abraham, and the nation of Israel. But God has a lot to say, have we listened so that we can better trust? What he has said in the past and has fulfilled, will help us trust him now in the present.
Second, what has God done? What has gone done in the lives of his people. Through the Scriptures, through history, and through our own lives? Have we ever made a list of all the things God has done for us? Have we made a list of all the things he has done for his people? Or a list of all the things he has done in the peoples’ lives found in Scripture? What we have seen him do again and again in the lives of others and our own life, will help us trust him now.
Finally, what is God telling you now? This is where the rubber meets the road. What is the circumstance that God has placed you? Are you in a hard place; financially, relationally, spiritually? Are you wondering what is next? Well, what is the direction do you want to go in? What do you want? Now, what has the first and second experience with God taught you? Once we look at that, then we can begin to ask God, what am I missing?
See the disciples had the first two parts of the experience locked down. They knew what God had said, and they knew what God had done. But what they were missing was listening to God at that moment. Applying their experience with Jesus to their current situation. And this is where we can falter the most. 
God does want good things in our life, but we might need to learn something first, so what is it? God wants us to trust him, but we might be so focused on what we want that we’re missing it, so we might need to step back and ask God to speak to us again. And we might need to ask him to strengthen our trust.

God desires us to trust him, I believe that we desire the same thing, that’s why we’re here right now. The problem comes when our trust is asked to do something we don’t want to do, or seems to hard to do. 

This week, my challenge for us is this, take one of the first two areas of trust that we talked about, what has God said or what has God done, and make a list for one of them. This might take a few days, but be as thorough as possible. Going through the Scriptures researching promises and prophecies. Going through the lives of God’s people and our own for what he has done.
Make that list of which ever of the two you pick to look into, or both for good measure.
Then go to the final area of trust and begin to ask God, where do I need to trust now? Where am I faltering in trust him now? Write down your situation, what you want out of it, and begin to ask God, what he wants in it.

Let us wholly in Jesus, as the kid trusting wholly in their parent as they are taught to ride a bike. When we do, we will be freer to trust Jesus has he has called us to trust.

Now may you trust in God as a child trusts their parent, so that his plans will be worked out in your life. Amen.

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