near and far,
I was reviewing the verse of the month with Johanna and John at breakfast this morning after Lois was off to substitute
We worked on Mark 8:34, and I said the introductory phrases,
"When He had called the people to Himself,
with his disciples also, He said to them, "______________________
And Johanna and John both blurted out, "Those who are well
have no need of a physician...", and then stopped and in chorus said "wrong verse".
It turns out Jesus said a lot of
things, didn't He, and they were recalling a former verse of the month still fresh in their mind.
When Jesus heard it, He said to them,
who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" - Mark 2:17
Mark 8:34 goes like this, why not learn it this week
? It is so important.
When He had called the people to Himself, with his disciples also, He said to them,
"Whoever desires to come after Me,
let him deny himself,
and take up his cross,
and follow me."
Mark 2:17 speaks
to me of God's grace, God's inestimable favor for undeserving sinners like us, because Jesus says, I'm here for you. For
you who know no health apart from me, and who will admit it and not hide behind your self sufficiency, a hiding that is sheer
delusion. It is precisely for sinners like us, that the doctor of our soul has come. He has come for those who
have had their eyes opened by the regenerating, irresistible grace of God, with eyes open to know that we are are sick, no,
dead in our trespasses and sins. And it is we who have our eyes opened who are then called to repent, and find good
news, "Repent and believe in the gospel" - Mark 1:15
Mark 8:34 speaks to me of God's grace in action, animating and
transforming the human will so that we truly count the cost of this road on which we are embarking. If we have an inkling
of a desire to be with Jesus, this glorious friend of sinners, this meek and lowly-of-heart Savior, in Whom we know we have
our only hope of finding rest for our souls, if this is the One we would want to come after, and associate with and hang out
with and, yes, die unto, then we must now, here and now, not later . . .
take up our cross
deny ourself, dethroning self from
the throne of our hearts and gladly making Christ Lord of all the "rooms" of our lives, and therefore denying all
kinds of sin, and all kinds of selfishness, denying the sense that I'm in charge.....
take up our cross whatever particular cross that would
be that we need to carry ("daily" as Luke's gospel puts it), a cross that means we are willing to die for Christ,
if necessary, but also willing to serve Him in every way short of death, whether that simply be "inconvenience"
for Christ's sake . . . .
follow Him to the very end, patterning our life closely to His communicable attributes of love, joy, peace, longsuffering
and service, seeking as a disciple to be "like" our Master, so that Christ is "formed" in us. . . . .
too much for you, tired mother or father, weary husband, lonely single, overwhelmed teen, exhausted wife?
As I reflect on these two verses
I am reminded that Jesus elsewhere spoke of what has been called conversion.
"How much more will your heavenly Father give
the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" - Luke 11:13
Asking for the Holy Spirit is not associated with a second blessing, or a special
gifting with which we can "show off". If we ask for the Holy Spirit, we've already been prompted by that Holy
Spirit to ask for change, to ask for new life, to ask for salvation in Christ Jesus. To ask for the Holy Spirit is to
be converted and then to experience His ongoing filling presence in our life, so as to be empowered to deny ourself,
take up our cross and follow Jesus.
With affection in Christ Jesus,