Posted on August 21, 2013
#16: Getting to Know Jesus
Welcome to Knowing Jesus, our Wednesdays In the Word study through the book of Mark. We’re on a quest to understand holy living through the example of Jesus—God in flesh. Last week, we completed Mark 2. Let’s sum up what we’ve learned.
Read back through Mark 2.
This chapter’s theme is the hard-heartedness of the Jewish teachers and leaders who should have been the first to recognize and welcome Jesus, yet opposed Him at every turn.
• They criticized Jesus for healing on the Sabbath; then when He healed the paralytic on a different weekday, they turned their accusation to blasphemy. Never mind that a man’s life had been miraculously rescued by Jesus’ healing command.
• They disapproved of Jesus spending time with Matthew and friends—” ‘sinners’ and tax collectors”—regardless of the spiritual impact Jesus was making in the lives of those gathered.
• They confronted Jesus for disregarding ceremonial fasts (fasts that were not required in the Law of Moses) when He and His disciples continued eating. They never entertained the possibility that Jesus really was their long-awaited Messiah, coming to bring a new era.
• When Jesus’ hungry disciples picked a few heads of grain on a Sabbath, the Pharisees pounced, accusing them of breaking the Law. In truth, the disciples “broke” a technicality in the Pharisees’ rabbinical rules.
The Jewish leaders found power and identity in their strict legalistic system of “religion.” Consequently, they were unwilling to embrace the joy Jesus was bringing! A fresh spiritual wind was blowing: the miraculous was all around them—lives transformed, bodies healed, demons vanquished—and all they would do was cling to their old ways and criticize.
A Critical Spirit
Have you ever dealt with critics? You know the type:
• resistant to new ideas
• jealous for their position/way
• unhappy—unable to take joy in any good that results from the new
• spreading discontent, sucking the joy out for others
• mired in detail, nit-picky
• continually frustrated with those who seem to disregard their opinion
• increasingly malicious toward anyone they view as an opponent
Jesus dealt with critics on a daily basis. We can expect to also, and we can learn how from His example. But our primary job is to be sure we’re not among their ranks.
Satan makes negative, pessimistic thinking very easy. He waits for us to feel slightly rankled. Then his dragon breath sparks self-centered, envious, angry thoughts in our minds. Then he gets busy fanning those embers into negative attitudes, conversations, influences, and actions. Soon, we are the Pharisaical ones.
A Critical Cure
The remedy? “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5b) We pray to be alert to satan’s schemes. We rein in negative thoughts at their inception. We ask, “What would Jesus do in this situation? How would Jesus think?” And we follow His lead. That’s why it’s so important for us to know Jesus. He’s shown us the way to think and live like God.
You may be saying, “But He’s Him and I’m me. I don’t know if I have the energy to guard every thought.” The Holy Spirit is present in you for that very purpose; pay attention to His warnings and don’t push Him aside. When a critical thought rises up in you and you hear the Spirit say, “Don’t go there!”, listen. That’s your moment to arrest negative thinking and take it captive before it flares into harmful attitudes and influence.
A Critical Prayer
When you’re in a circumstance that’s breeding negative thoughts, ask God to keep you
• aware of satan’s movement
• tuned to the Spirit’s warnings
• open to joy.
Just as joylessness is a mark of a critic, joy is a mark of Christlikeness. Pray to be genuinely joyful, to be able to rejoice with those who rejoice, to not feel slighted when your role goes unnoticed, to welcome new ideas with an open mind. Have you slipped into negativity, becoming a critic? Ask God to give you the mind of Christ. Pray for joy!
© Diane McLoud 2013