Friday, March 29, 2019

EmmDev 2019-03-29 [Lent2019] Examen 4: Shine on me

Examen 4: Shine on me

There is a discordant note in the psalm where the psalmist jumps from the admission that God knows best to this jarring section where he proclaims disdain and hatred for God's enemies.

It's an unexpected turn - especially when we remember Jesus' instruction that we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us! In order for us to understand these verses correctly, it is vital that we understand the context. In David's time a king demanded an oath of loyalty from his vassals: "With my friend you shall be friend, and with my enemy you shall be enemy."

So, if we understand vs 21-22 in the historical setting, David is offering the highest pledge of loyalty he can think of. God knows him, warts and all, pursues him, has a plan for him and David responds by giving God absolute loyalty and trust.

This trust is made crystal clear as David concludes by inviting God to shine the searchlight of His Holy Love into his life.
"Search me,
know me,
test me,
lead me."

This is the powerful conclusion of the process of Examen. It is not a navel-gazing or wallow-in-my-guilt process. Good Examen is to take a good long and hard look at ourselves with the Ultimate Reality Check:

  1. We can't fool God. In spite of appearances we put on, He knows us!
  2. We can't hide away from God, we can flee for a while, but He finds us!
  3. We might have some schemes and plans, but He knows best.
  4. We have to open our hearts to Him.

A helpful analogy: If God is light then we are like a camera. If we open the shutters of our heart, His light will shine in and leave His image in us.

(Remember that it's pilgRim Friday today - the day we try to read more of God's word. The next three chapters of Mark are below...)

Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
and abhor those who rise up against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

MK 7:1 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and 2 saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were "unclean," that is, unwashed. 3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles. )
5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with `unclean' hands?"
6 He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
  " `These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
    7 They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are but rules taught by men.'

    8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."
9 And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, `Honor your father and your mother,' and, `Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' 11 But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: `Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that."
14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a man can make him `unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him `unclean.' "
17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 "Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him `unclean'? 19 For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean.")
20 He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him `unclean.' 21 For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make a man `unclean.' "
24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
27 "First let the children eat all they want," he told her, "for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."
28 "Yes, Lord," she replied, "but even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs."
29 Then he told her, "For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter."
30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
31 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man.
33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears. Then he spit and touched the man's tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, "Ephphatha!" (which means, "Be opened!"). 35 At this, the man's ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. "He has done everything well," they said. "He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."

MK 8:1 During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 2 "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance."
4 His disciples answered, "But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?"
5 "How many loaves do you have?" Jesus asked.
    "Seven," they replied.
6 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so. 7 They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. 8 The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 9 About four thousand men were present. And having sent them away, 10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.
11 The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, "Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it." 13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.
14 The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15 "Be careful," Jesus warned them. "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod."
16 They discussed this with one another and said, "It is because we have no bread."
17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?"
    "Twelve," they replied.
20 "And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?"
    They answered, "Seven."
21 He said to them, "Do you still not understand?"
22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?"
24 He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around."
25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him home, saying, "Don't go into the village. "
27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?"
28 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets."
29 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
    Peter answered, "You are the Christ. "
30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

MK 9:1 And he said to them, "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power."
2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
5 Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters--one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
7 Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!"
8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what "rising from the dead" meant.
11 And they asked him, "Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?"
12 Jesus replied, "To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? 13 But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him."
14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
16 "What are you arguing with them about?" he asked.
17 A man in the crowd answered, "Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not."
19 "O unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me."
20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
21 Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"
    "From childhood," he answered. 22 "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."
23 " `If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."
24 Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again."
26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, "He's dead." 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, "Why couldn't we drive it out?"
29 He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer. "
30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise." 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.
33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the road?" 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all."
36 He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."
38 "Teacher," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us."
39 "Do not stop him," Jesus said. "No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.
42 "And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where
  " `their worm does not die,
    and the fire is not quenched.'
    49 Everyone will be salted with fire.
50 "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other."

Thursday, March 28, 2019

EmmDev 2019-03-28 [Lent2019] Examen 3: God knows best

Examen 3: God knows best

The next portion of Psalm 139 reminds us that we are personally and intimately created by God. He knits and weaves the double-helix of our DNA and the fibres of our muscles. He forms our natures and personalities in a secret place (indicating the devotion and intimacy He brings to the task). He has a future and a plan in mind for us that is just waiting for us to grab hold of.

On this third day of our Examen let us reflect on this incredible truth: God designed us. He knows what makes us tick. He designed us with a purpose in mind. We are His inventions and as with all inventions, the best way to use an invented object correctly is to ask the Inventor!

But we don't! The Psalmist has had to come to grips with being known intimately and pursued with relentless love before he finally comes to admit that God may very well know what is best.

Very often I think I know what is best. I think that I can make my decisions and guide my life. I draw up pros and cons lists and I justify my decisions. Other times I let my opinion be formed by society: "Everyone does it," or "You've earned it," or "It's your right."

The psalm reminds us that we are not accidents or assembly-line products. We are intimately, personally and uniquely made. And our Maker knows what is best for us in the long run.

So here's the challenge:
When last have you admitted that "God knows best" and been willing to submit to Him and ask for His guidance. Or are your goals, ambitions and the direction your life is taking dictated by your own will or the opinions of society?

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.      (Psalms139:13-16)

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

EmmDev 2019-03-27 [Lent2019] Examen 2: Pursued

Examen 2: Pursued

The fact that God knows us so intimately can cause us to want to flee. We are acutely aware of our sinfulness and of His holiness. Like Adam and Eve in the garden we tend to hide when He comes walking and calling.

The Psalmist is almost exasperated: "Why won't He leave me alone? Why can't I just sink into my darkness - why does He follow me when I try to escape His holy presence?"

The answer is simple: Only God can turn our darkness into light - only He can fix us. We can't "go and sort ourselves out" and come back to God when we've got everything on track. When we run, it just gets worse and worse.

So God pursues us. He sends His messengers and His reminders. He surrounds us with signs and symbols of His love and presence. We feel pursued and harassed by God and at times even rebellious. But He is there so that even in our rebellion we don't have to destroy ourselves.

What would make Him do this? Why would He keep coming after us? Why, when again and again I run and I hide?

The story of the prophet Hosea illustrates this powerfully: Hosea was instructed to marry and love an adulterous woman. Again and again she would run off after other men. He would pursue her and find her in whatever mess she landed up in - and he would rescue her and love her. Why would he keep going after her??? - Because that's what love does!

God will not leave us be. He will pursue us wherever we go - into pleasure or darkness, into distraction or rebellion - He will seek us.

And His desire is to turn our darkness into His light.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.      (Psalms139:7-12)

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

EmmDev 2019-03-26 [Lent2019] Examen 1: Known

Examen 1: Known

In the more meditative strands of our Christian traditions we find practices of self-examination, confession and the resolve to change. The church fathers called this kind of prayer the "Prayer of Examen."

During the time of Lent some attention should be paid to this significant practice. Particularly in our Presbyterian-Reformed traditions we are cagey about too much emphasis on confession because we fear falling back into "old, cold, rote-repetition."

Psalm 139 is a very valuable guide through this important discipline of examen. The significant starting point of the psalm is that God knows us deeply and intimately. Our confessions are not going to surprise or shock God. He knows us. He has seen our failures, He has heard our angry thoughts, and He has felt the chill of our jealous emotions.

He knows when we've tried to get it right and yet have failed. He also knows when we didn't care a hoot even though we knew it was wrong. He's seen us being dragged and pushed over the edge and He's also agonised as we've charged into the darklands with callous indifference. He has watched us strain out the gnats and yet swallow camels. God has seen us at our very best and He has seen us our very worst.

And still He loves us!
Still He would work with us!
Repeatedly He will let us try again!

When we begin this journey of self-examination we do it with the incredible hope that even if we are shocked at and don't like what we find when we examine ourselves, God knows.
And God loves...
And God still sent His Son!

1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.      (Psalms139:1-2)

Friday, March 22, 2019

EmmDev 2019-03-22 [Lent2019] JohnB - Preparing the way

JohnB - Preparing the way

Jesus mother, Mary, was related to JohnB's mother, Elizabeth. We're not told precisely how they were related, but when the angel tells Mary that she is going to bear the Messiah, he also tells her that her relative Elizabeth is pregnant and so Mary travels to see her.
Elizabeth was six months pregnant and when Mary arrived, and the unborn JohnB leapt within her. This is a supernatural event - the unborn JohnB recognised that his Creator, Lord and Saviour (although hidden from sight in Mary's womb) was near. He responded with great joy.
We can wonder how that happened... How is it that an unborn could perceive, understand and respond? It is an interesting discussion, but I'm quite content to leave the mechanics to God. What grips and grabs me is that we have an insight into the core of John's nature and character: the coming of the Messiah brings him incredible joy.
At some level this unborn child recognises the wonder of the Word made flesh. At some level he senses that the Son of God has become the Son of Man ---> and he DANCES!!
How do we think about the wonder of the Word made flesh?
What would JohnB have done if he'd been alive to see Jesus set His face like flint toward Jerusalem?
What if he'd seen Jesus in Gethsemane?
Or being flogged?
Or crucified?
Or risen?

Even before he was born JohnB started to teach us that Jesus' coming unto our world is a wondrous and incredible thing.
We should learn from him and dance! (Don't forget pilgRim Fridays are for reading Scripture - I've pasted the next three chapters of Mark below...)

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.      (Luke1:39-44)

MK 4:1 Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge. 2 He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: 3 "Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times."
    MK 4:9 Then Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
    MK 4:10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 He told them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that,
  " `they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
    and ever hearing but never understanding;
  otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!' "
    MK 4:13 Then Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop--thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown."
    MK 4:21 He said to them, "Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don't you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."
    MK 4:24 "Consider carefully what you hear," he continued. "With the measure you use, it will be measured to you--and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."
    MK 4:26 He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain--first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come."
    MK 4:30 Again he said, "What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade."
    MK 4:33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
    MK 4:35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"
    MK 4:39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
    MK 4:40 He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"
    MK 4:41 They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"
MK 5:1 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
    MK 5:6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!" 8 For Jesus had said to him, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!"
    MK 5:9 Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"
    "My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many." 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.
    MK 5:11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, "Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them." 13 He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
    MK 5:14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man--and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
    MK 5:18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
    MK 5:21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet 23 and pleaded earnestly with him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live." 24 So Jesus went with him.
    A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
    MK 5:30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?"
    MK 5:31 "You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, `Who touched me?' "
    MK 5:32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."
    MK 5:35 While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," they said. "Why bother the teacher any more?"
    MK 5:36 Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe."
    MK 5:37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, "Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep." 40 But they laughed at him.
    After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!"). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
MK 6:1 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
    "Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! 3 Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.
    MK 6:4 Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor." 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
    Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
    MK 6:8 These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff--no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them."
    MK 6:12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
    MK 6:14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus' name had become well known. Some were saying, "John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him."
    MK 6:15 Others said, "He is Elijah."
    And still others claimed, "He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago."
    MK 6:16 But when Herod heard this, he said, "John, the man I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!"
    MK 6:17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." 19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.
    MK 6:21 Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests.
    The king said to the girl, "Ask me for anything you want, and I'll give it to you." 23 And he promised her with an oath, "Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom."
    MK 6:24 She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?"
    "The head of John the Baptist," she answered.
    MK 6:25 At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: "I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter."
    MK 6:26 The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. 29 On hearing of this, John's disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
    MK 6:30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."
    MK 6:32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
    MK 6:35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. "This is a remote place," they said, "and it's already very late. 36 Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat."
    MK 6:37 But he answered, "You give them something to eat."
    They said to him, "That would take eight months of a man's wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?"
    MK 6:38 "How many loaves do you have?" he asked. "Go and see."
    When they found out, they said, "Five--and two fish."
    MK 6:39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
    MK 6:45 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.
    MK 6:47 When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified.
    Immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." 51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
    MK 6:53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went--into villages, towns or countryside--they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

EmmDev 2019-03-20 [Lent2019] Forty


The period of Lent is based on the 40 days Jesus spent being tempted in the desert by Satan. One of the questions people as is "Why forty?"

40 is a lovely number in the Bible - it's about preparation and letting God break through to/for us. Just some examples:

  • Moses was on the mountain with God for 40 days
  • It took the spies 40 days to search out the promised land
  • The Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness
  • Goliath taunted Israel for forty days before being killed by David
  • Elijah walked for forty days to Mount Horeb
  • Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness at the start of His ministry

Waiting is hard!
- We feel powerless and out of control
- We end up having to confront the worst in ourselves
- We often discover that our faith is shallower than we thought

Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness. Waiting.
After the waiting came temptation - but I think the waiting can be tempting too. You can watch a lovely video and song about Jesus' fast and temptation HERE.

As we prepare for Easter, there is waiting.
This waiting brings to mind the times we have waited outside an operating theater, waited for test-results, waited for a job-application to be responded to, waited for a lost child to come home, waited for forgiveness after an apology.

Waiting is hard - but Mark reminds us that Jesus waited too and was tempted face to face by Satan. He knows what we are going through. He waits with us.

At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, 13 and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.      (Mark1:12-13)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

EmmDev 2019-03-19 [Lent2019] Keeping the focus right

Keeping the focus right

We're nearly two weeks into Lent...
We need to keep the focus right...
Let's remind ourselves of Lent's original purpose...

In many people's minds Lent has become synonymous with fasting and the observance of Lent has dwindled to "so what are you giving up for Lent?" People seem to think that God wants us to suffer discomfort for 40 days and then we've earned some brownie-points in heaven.

But the original thinking behind Lent was the deepening of our faith and spirituality, not just making people jump through some uncomfortable hoops for six weeks. The basis of Lent was and always should be that we grow in our faith and our relationship with God and others.

Paul puts it all in perspective as he writes to Timothy who is a young man being mentored for the ministry.

While the giving up of coffee, sugar, or chocolate has become a key focus, we must understand that physical disciplines are not an end in themselves. The idea is that we grow spiritually through the period of Lent disciplines.

And discipline is the key word - the Greek word Paul uses for "Godliness" implies discipline, moderation, frugality, charity, meditation, prayer, and study. Godliness is an attractive God-ward lifestyle.

The idea around Lent is that we add and subtract to our lives so that we don't just move forward but God-ward. Our Lent additions need to do justice to:

  • God (through prayer, reflection and action)
  • Ourselves (through the creation of good habits or breaking bad ones)
  • Others (through charity and kindness) (Remember that pIlgrim Tuesdays are "Initiate caring conversations.")

Today's challenge is this:
"What, are you going to consciously do to move you Godward as you prepare for Easter this year?"

For physical training is of some value, but Godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.      (1Timothy4:8)

EmmDev 2019-03-17 [Lent2019] pilgriM - Make time for family and loved ones

pilgriM - Make time for family and loved ones

We live in a connected society. We can video call people on the other side of the world. We sit in traffic among hundreds of people, we work in spaces that are often densely packed and do our shopping in malls where we contend for parking with hundreds of others.

And yet we are lonely.

Sundays have always been called family time, but very often our family gatherings are part of a script that involves rush, too much food, and very little real connection.

Our Sunday pilgriM challenge is that we: "Make time for family and loved ones. Connect deeply. Write notes, make phone calls, spend quality time together..."

While we can have many many acquaintances, we need to nurture those who are "closer than a brother". Sadly, many people spend more time on social media with people that are not our "inner circle" than with the present people that keep us going.

We need to reconnect with those who are the source to our strength.

If you're a dad write notes to put in your children's lunch boxes - tell them you're proud of them and love them. Send an encouraging text to a loved one who needs it. Take a slow stroll with a loved one. If you eat a meal with family, keep the meal simple and the pace slow. Look your spouse in the eye and remind them that you love them. Cuddle your children or grandchildren. Appreciate a friend who has been there for you.

Finally, take time to pray for your loved ones - this is one of the most profound gifts you can give them.

A man or woman of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.      (Proverbs18:24)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

EmmDev 2019-03-16 [Lent2019] pilgrIm - Inventory your heart

pilgrIm - Inventory your heart

Our pilgrIm task for today is: "Inventory your heart. What priorities, dreams and hopes are at the 'front of mind' for you? What needs re-aligning?"

It was Socrates who famously said that an "unexamined life is not worth living."

Our three texts for today emphasise the importance of "giving thought/consideration to our ways."

It is good to take stock of your life from time to time.
Please use this Saturday to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What are the 3 things in your life this week that have brought you hope and joy?

  2. Using a scale of 1(rock bottom) to 5(fantastic) please rate your levels of gratitude, contentment, optimism and connection to God and others.

  3. Has anything happened this week that was a bitter pill to swallow? Take time to hand it over to God.

  4. In this last week have you come closer to what you believe God wants for your life, or have you drifted further away from this purpose? If you have come closer, take time to give thanks and then consider your next step. If you've drifted away, take time to reflect on why this happened, repent if you need to, and then formulate a strategy to overcome this setback.

  5. Take time to pray about your life and your ways.
The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways (Proverbs 14:8)

A wicked man puts up a bold front,
but an upright man gives thought to his ways. (Proverbs 21:29)

I have considered my ways
and have turned my steps to your statutes.      (Psalms119:59)

Friday, March 15, 2019

EmmDev 2019-03-15 [Lent2019] pilgRim - Read the Bible more

pilgRim - Read the Bible more

When Paul wrote to Timothy from his second imprisonment in Rome, his letter was very poignant and personal, because Paul was very aware that he was on "death row". His letter was a "passing on of the baton" and a commissioning of Timothy.

Paul hoped that he would see Timothy one last time and so he asks Timothy to fetch a cloak, scrolls and parchments that he had left in the care of Carpus of Troas.

A good outer cloak was a valuable item of clothing for a travelling preacher. It protected the wearer from the elements and was a blanket when you had to sleep along the road. Although Paul wasn't going to be doing any more travelling, he probably wanted to pass his cloak on to Timothy.

Scrolls and parchments were valuable and scarce in Paul's time. Scholars agree that these scrolls and parchments were probably Old Testament texts that Paul wanted to have. Firstly, Paul most likely wanted to read them for himself and secondly he probably wanted to pass them on to Timothy.

It is a significant priority for a man on death row.

God's Word is an important part of our journey of faith. His Word is alive and active, a scalpel that excises cancerous tumours from our hearts and minds (Heb 4:12). It is our God-breathed guide to correct, train and guide us in our spiritual journey (2Tim3:16). It sets our souls on fire (Luke24:32) and is a lamp to light our path (Ps.119:105). We need it even more than we need bread (Matt4:4)

Today's "pilgRim" challenge is: Read your Bible for a bit longer today. Read a few chapters of Mark's Gospel each Friday, reflecting on Jesus' love for people.

I've pasted the first three chapters of Mark down below. If you read three chapters each Friday, you will have read the whole of Mark by Easter.

When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.      (2Timothy4:13)

1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet:
"I will send my messenger ahead of you,who will prepare your way" --

3 "a voice of one calling in the desert,`Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.' "

4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, 13 and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"

16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!"

25 "Be quiet!" said Jesus sternly. "Come out of him!" 26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, "What is this? A new teaching--and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him." 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!"

38 Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else--to the nearby villages--so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean."

41 Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.

43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 "See that you don't tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them." 45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 "Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, `Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, `Get up, take your mat and walk'? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ." He said to the paralytic, 11 "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!"

13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the "sinners" and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and `sinners'?"

17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

18 Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, "How is it that John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?"

19 Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.

21 "No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins."

23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"

25 He answered, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions."

27 Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

1 Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Stand up in front of everyone."

4 Then Jesus asked them, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they remained silent.

5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. 8 When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. 9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11 Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God." 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was.

13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve--designating them apostles--that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."

22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons."

23 So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: "How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house. 28 I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin."

30 He said this because they were saying, "He has an evil spirit."

31 Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, "Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you."

33 "Who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked.

34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."