Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Mark, Week 40 - Kids Will Be Kids

My son is all boy. He loves being outside playing in the dirt. He has designed and redesigned our backyard several times. He loves working along side anyone who is building anything. He loves to cut down tree limbs, go shooting, and run around. He can get pretty crazy at times, bouncing off the walls as if he was Tigger from the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. 
At one point my wife asked my mom, “Was Jeremiah like this?” “Oh yes,” she said. “Probably worse.” 
Apparently, when I was younger, I was a terror. I remember doing some pretty bad things, that if I did them today, would’ve made me an internet sensation, or haunted me ’til my grave. I remember climbing trees, building forts, riding my bike all day long, getting muddy, and never thinking should I slow down? I never asked the philosophical question, is this who I am?
I just remember being a boy. And when kids do something, that’s what we say right, “Kids will be kids.” When a child sticks something in their mouth, when a baby vomits on your new shirt, or when a kid breaks their arm for the fifth time, we just say, “kids will be kids.”
We recognize that it’s a part of who a kid is, to have all that energy and run around until they crash. 
So, we take our kids to the play ground and tell them to run; run until they can’t run anymore. And then as they sleep in the car, we very quietly unbuckle them and take them to their rooms.
Because that’s what kids do, they run until they can’t and then you have to move them, or else they’ll just sleep in the car. And apparently, my wife informed me, you just can’t leave them over night, by themselves in a car. Go figure. 
But with the fun side of kids being kids, there’s also those times when we have to correct them. Disciplining them to correct some unwanted attitude, action, or disposition that is not acceptable. Who hasn’t had to deal with a look, a word, or an action from a child that wasn’t acceptable and had to be corrected? Whether through a verbal correction, a time out, or a swift swat on the butt. But that too is a kid being a kid. They learn, they grow, and they need to be molded in a way that glorifies God.

And it’s with this understanding that “kids will be kids” that we come to Mark chapter 15 verse 16. A place where we must understand that the idea of “kids will be kids,” is a rule that can be applied in other places of life.

As we get into verse 16 of Mark chapter 15, let’s take a look at what we talked about last week. Last week we saw the turmoil in Jesus’ judges’ life. We saw how the world around Pilate played into his decision to crucify Jesus. With his protection from the Emperor being taken away, he had to tread a little more carefully when dealing with the Jewish people. And we talked about how we too can easily do the same thing. We can allow the world around us to influence us greater than God. When we allow the circumstances, media, investments, and relationships to dictate what we think or do, we can lose sight of the work of God right in front of our faces. Yet it’s only when we are shaped by God that we see the work of God in greater ways. It’s only when we allow him to transform our minds, that we experience him the way he intends us to.

That brings us to where we’re at in the book of Mark today. Jesus has been sentenced to crucifixion, and now we’ll see that play itself out. Let’s pick up this event in verse 16 of chapter 15 in the book of Mark.

16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium {Pre-u-tor-e-um}) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

This is the first of three sections we’re going to cover today. We’re coving these three sections, because since we started the book of Mark, we’ve been trying to see how the book flows together. 

Here we see the soldiers who, like Pilate, don’t really like the Jews that much, and who take great pleasure in their duties of mutilating and humiliating Jesus. Even though Mark doesn’t get into the gory details, we know from the other gospel accounts, that these soldiers used a whip with nine strands of leather that had at it’s ends, glass, pottery, and other sharp objects.
But Mark doesn’t give us those details, because as he is writing down Peter’s words, we are meant to focus on the person of Jesus, and the mocking of the soldiers.
The soldiers mockingly place royal status symbols onto Jesus. A robe with purple dye was extremely rare and expensive. That’s why only royalty or nobility would wear it. In fact, it was the color of the Roman Emperor himself. And so the soldiers cover Jesus in the robe, mocking his kingship.
The soldiers add to the robe, the crown of thorns. The crown again representing the mockery of the kingship of Jesus, but this time a painful mockery being dug into his head. The thorns that came up from the ground because of Adam’s sin, now mockingly crown creation’s Maker.
The mock praise from the soldiers, and the physical assault follow. All this mocking, just the pre-show to what happens next. Let’s pick up the text starting in verse 21.

21 A certain man from Cyrene (Ci-ri-nay), Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.
27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. [28] 29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

In this section, we see the mocking move from the Gentile, non-Jewish soldiers, to a group of Jewish people, and their religious leaders.
They mocked Jesus’ words from chapter 13, where Jesus’ disciples looked at the grandness of what the Jewish nation had built, but Jesus told them to not look at the grandness of this world, but be on guard for the work of God, because all of it will fall. 
They mocked Jesus’ words of forgiveness that he spoke in chapter 2, when he told a man that he was forgiven of sin, and the religious leaders balked at him, because only God can forgive sins. But they didn’t realize that God was in their midsts.
They mocked the revelation that Peter said about Jesus; that Jesus was the Messiah, the prophesied Savior of the world. Jesus told Peter that the revelation of Jesus being the Messiah did not come from human understanding, but came from a revealing by God himself.
They mocked Jesus’ miracles, requiring just one more from him, before they would believe. The paralyzed man, the 5,000+ fed, the walking on water, the demon’s cast out, the little girl raised from the dead, none of it mattered to them. They wanted one more, before they would believe.

The mock praise of the Jewish community continues into verse 33.

33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And 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?”).
35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

More mocking, this time at Jesus’ distress. As the sins of humanity weighed on him, the words from the crowd twisted Jesus’ cry, and they mocked him for it.
Then, with Jesus’ last painful cry, the mocking stopped. The need for a separation between God and humanity stopped, hence the torn curtain in the temple.
And there stood one man, a Gentile, who recognized just who it was that was crucified before him. The Son of God, ridiculed and mocked, lifeless on the Roman’s greatest symbol of disgrace.

Jesus’ death and this man’s revelation leads us into our final section.

42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

Jesus’ scorn didn’t stop at the cross. Being that it was so close to the Sabbath, there wasn’t enough time to prepare a proper burial for Jesus. So he was quickly wrapped in linens and buried. We find out later that the women we have been reading about came after the Sabbath to properly anoint Jesus’ body.
But for now, the Messiah was laid in a tomb not purposefully prepared for him by his family. Laid in a tomb without any of the proper preparation for the deceased.

Through these verses, again and again we see the mockery and scorn shown to Jesus. First by the people we would expect it from. The Roman soldiers have no love for the Jews. This Jesus is just another Jew, being prepared for the slaughter. Who was he to them? Nothing. And so, he was treated with no respect, no dignity.
Then, Jesus was mocked by his own people. Those people that he once told a Gentile woman, were children, compared to the dogs which were the Gentiles. Who was Jesus to the Jews? Just another failed Messianic figure. 
Then, Jesus was scorned even in death. Not given the proper burial for a Jew, though Jospeh tried to give him something.

This mocking usually enrages me. How could the people mock Jesus? Look at all he had done. All the miracles. All the revolutionary teachings. All the lives changed. Yet, he is mocked.
Even today. Look at what Jesus has given to this world. A greater sense of morality. A sense of freedom, and equality. It’s because of Jesus, that we have the United States, with it’s concept of divine rights, and equality of humanity. Yet, Jesus is mocked even now. And it usually enrages me.
But as I read these passages, I realized something, it’s par for the course. The mocking of God is the M.O. of humanity. We have mocked and scorned God from the garden, to the ark, to Egypt, to David’s kingdom, to the Exile, to the cross, and to today. Humanity mocks God no matter what he does.
And I am not immune to it. I have mocked God in the past as well. Through my thoughts, through my words, I have been a part of humanity’s mocking.

But why does it enrage me? Why am I surprised when the world around me mocks the God who created it? Really, it shouldn’t surprise me that the world mocks Jesus. It shouldn’t surprise me that the world mocks God. I mean, Paul wrote about it in his letter to the Roman Church, “29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy (1:29-31).” 

No, the mocking of Jesus shouldn’t surprise me, kids will be kids after all, and the los twill be the lost. What should surprise me is my enragement towards it. I mean, Jesus didn’t get enraged by the mocking. In fact, we read in another Gospel account, he actually says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).”
This world mocks Jesus, because they are lost. They mock Jesus, because they have no love for him. They mock Jesus, because they need just one more miracle to believe. And in my enragement I succumb to my own mocking of Jesus. Not by overt words, or actions, but because I am not following my Lord in the way he has called me. I am not loving those that are lost. I am not looking for the one sheep that’s not with the flock. Instead, I am mad at people living in darkness, when they know no other way.
I mock Jesus, by not being the light I am called to be. By not being the salt I am called to be. By not being the one who loves my fellow believers, so that this world may know that Jesus wasn’t just a blip on history’s radar, but he is the God of Creation.

When people mock God, we too easily fall into the trap of getting upset. But God calls us to a greater place. A place of graceful love, of love that sees past the mockery, and to the lostness of humanity. But this can only happen through our reliance of the Holy Spirit to work through us.
What we need to remember is, just like kids will be kids, the lost will be the lost. It’s no excuse, but it’s the reality. Kids are kids, because they don’t know any other way. The lost are in the same situation. They do, because they do not know what else to do. So we can be enraged, but how far will that get us with children? Wouldn’t that cause a divide between us and our kids?
How far will that get us with those who are lost? Wouldn’t it cause the same divide? Let us not be enraged by the lost when they act lost, mocking God, but rather, let us remember that children act the way they do, because they do not know any better, and so do those who don’t know God.

This brings us to our challenge this week. I’m sure there will be someone in the coming days in the media, or a neighbor, or a family member that will mock God. My challenge to you this week, is to pray for them. Turn away from rage, and realize they are lost, and they don’t know what they are doing. Use the mockery, as an opportunity to go to God in prayer for that person, that God would not hold their mockery against them, but rather would work in their lives to bring them to repentance.
Then, if given the opportunity and without being in rage against them, press into God for the words to say, that would bring that person to eternal life. Out of their lostness and mockery, and to God. 

Let us not fall into the trap of mocking Jesus ourselves, by becoming enraged by those who are lost in their mockery, but rather, let us be people who’s hearts break for their eternal destination. 

May God give you the strength to speak as Jesus speaks, so the people around you may know God and be with him in eternity. Amen

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