Aloha Friday Message – October 12, 2018 – Prophet and Loss

1841AFC101218 – Prophet and Loss

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   Mark 10:29-31 29 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age — houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions — and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today we continue with the 10th chapter of the Gospel of Mark. You may remember that this Gospel was probably the first one written – it is usually dated around 66-70 AD. We believe that the intent of the person(s) who compiled this Gospel were more motivated by the idea of presenting a theological exposition rather than an historical record of the life, travels, and teachings of Jesus.

There are many nearly word-for-word connections between the Gospels of Mark and Luke, and for several centuries it was believed that Mark was synopsis of Matthew’s Gospel. During much of that time, it was also believed that the author was one John Mark – the companion and assistant to the Apostle Paul; further scholarship on ancient copies of this Gospel indicate it may not have been authored by a single person, but by a group of gentiles, that is, Greeks – the Gospel is written in Κοινή (Koiné) {koi-né} Greek. Other evidence that it was intended for a gentile audience is that many Jewish and Aramaic terms are explained and/or translated; this would not be the case if the audience were intended for Jewish followers of The Way as is the case with the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew goes to great lengths to demonstrate Jesus’ Jewish roots, his connection to and fulfillment of Mosaic Law, and Jesus’ messianic salvific role in God’s plan.

In today’s Key Verse, Jesus is quoted as telling the Apostles – and quite likely some gentile Disciples – that everything they have “given up” or lost, or had taken away – with be restored to them many times over: ” houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, […] — and in the age to come eternal life. Jesus had just stated in Mark 10:23-25 23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” This statement was a real shocker for the crowd around Jesus. Worldly success was seen as favor from God and poverty something to be avoided. If the wealthy were not “the favored ones,” then who could be saved? The Greek word used here for “hard” is δυσκόλως (duskolós) { doos-kol’-oce} and it points to that which is preposterously impossible – like walking a camel through the eye of a needle. (Parallel versions can be found in Matthew 19:23-36, and Luke 18:24-27) This is a metaphor for absurd situations. (And yes, there really is no evidence that there was a gate in Jerusalem called The Eye of the Needle.) Then Jesus points out that those who are overly-attached to the idol of wealth will find it exceedingly difficult to set that Worldly view aside and embrace the humility and lowliness required for entering the Kingdom of God and the Life of the Gospel. This is given as a heartfelt comment of sorrow at Jesus’ remarks to the young man who asked him “What must I do to be saved.” The character is often referred to as “the rich young ruler.”   {{ – and a little “speculative biblical history here:” Do you remember the young man in Mark 14:51-52 wearing only a linen cloth and the grabbed him but he left the cloth and ran into the night naked? Some have suggested that he may have been “the rich young ruler” who had indeed sold all that he had and returned to follow Jesus. }} This rich man who posed the question which led to this lesson on trusting in worldly riches is also the only person mentioned in the Gospels as being loved by Jesus: Mark 10:21-22 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Other translations say that he was deeply saddened, that his face fell, that his hopes were dashed. This was terrible news!

It’s such terrible news that in recent years (and on and off throughout church history), the “Gospel of prosperity” has been popular. This particular heresy certainly is appealing to many. “God wants you to be rich! He wants you to be swimming in money and material things! Tell HIM you’re ready for HIS blessings!” Wow. Jesus said repeatedly that putting worldly things first – fame, wealth, respect, power – all of that had no place in the Kingdom of Righteousness. After all, what Treasure in Heaven can top being fabulously wealthy? Jesus’ statement about there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, indicates that even in this life, what we “give up” for the privilege of living in the Kingdom will be returned to us in this life; and in addition, we would have in the age to come eternal life. Belovéd, have you noticed I edited out one other little phrase of Jesus’ promise for his Disciples? Scan up  a paragraph or two and look for […]. What do you think is missing? Do you remember what it says in the Key Verse? The missing words are underlined there: with persecutions. Now that doesn’t sound like any fun at all! I have to give up everything I have and give it to the poor, and then I’ll get back – in some fashion other than material wealth – everything I lost and as an extra bonus, I can expect persecutions?

Somehow that’s not the kind of “deal” most folks find attractive. We do the things that God wants us to do and then get punished and persecuted for our obedience? Who wants a job like that? Well, if you go dust off your Bible and heft it a little, it might surprise you to learn that at least half of what you’re hefting is prophetic in nature. Aside from the Major Prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah (including Lamentations), Baruch (for the Catholic Bible), Ezekiel, and Daniel – and the Minor Prophets – Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi – there are also many prophetic passages in other books of the Bible such as Psalms (to name a few: 2, 18, 22, 45, 89,102, 132 and many more). What or who is a prophet?

A prophet is anyone who claims to speak God’s words or to teach in his name and is inspired by God to deliver God’s Word and Will to others. The Old Testament word for prophet is נָבִיא (nabiy’ ) {nah-bee’}. There are some disagreements among scholars about the origin of that word, but one that is well-accepted is that this noun comes from the verb noba` meaning to “bubble up,” “boil over”,” as in “to pour forth an abundance of words,” such as those who speak within divine inspiration. It is by and through the power and inspiration of God that a prophet speaks, and a prophet can’t help but speak when and what God commands any more than a boiling pot can stop bubbling. And that is the key. Those who have Divine Inspiration are True Prophets. The converse is that those whose “inspiration” is self-generated are the False Prophets. Belovéd, let’s stand in agreement with Moses that all may be gifted with prophecy! (See Numbers 11:29) How wonderful it would be if all of us could lay aside all our Worldly idols and speak the words God sends us which begin with, “Thus says the LORD.” What is it that prevents us? I think it may be those two little words we’d rather not hear: with persecutions.

In studying the Bible, we will see that every person who “received the gift of prophecy” also received a heap-and-a-half of persecution! To be a winner in God’s Kingdom, you have to be a loser! We lose everything so that we become as one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news. That’s the wage of the prophet: LOSS! And yet, in Mark 8:36 we read 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? What do you, what do I, what do we WANT? Over the years in these writings we’ve pretty much agreed that want we WANT and what we NEED are separated by a vast abyss. God gives us what we need; and how does he know what we need? We need what God wants. If God doesn’t want it in us, we don’t need it! Does God want prophecy in us, does he want us to speak his Word and his Will? If so, we will certainly become a Prophet and a Loss. Upon reflection, Belovéd, doesn’t that sound like a perfectly good idea? Some of us may think we’re the last person who could be called to prophesy for our God, but maybe there is something else to consider here: But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first. When we are looking for what we should do first in the Kingdom, we will find that what we should do first is be there! (↔ Music Link)

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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