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Mk3v1-2 Watched closely, with the intent of catching him out. A verse for the philosopher, trained to study every detail intently, with the objective of deconstruction, objection, problematisation, accusation, from a position of high objectivity, of course. Oh, philosopher, you are the worst of all the legalists, you look but you do not see, & you know not how to be free indeed. The smallest-minded, the least alive. Re-breathe the generosity all around.
Mk3v3-4 (NIV) 'Stand up' I am a man with a withered hand more literally than many, but we all in our own way walk with a limp. Jesus says stand up, before you are yet healed, stand up in front of everyone, stand up and be thought presumptuous, stand up and risk. Apt/spooky that this text should have come yesterday on the very day L'Abri emailed to ask me to lecture on Architecture - before I am fully healed.. God *is* on the move.
Mk3v5-6 I've found this verse hard to find words for. I am both the hard-hearted & the in-need-of-healing, & so are you. Maybe part of the struggle with this verse is that I struggle to pray for others' healing and hard-heartedness. Both seem too presumptuous, the former in presuming to know God's mind & risking the other's disappointment. The latter presumes I know what is going on in another, & involves a judgment, which risks pride & alienation. Yet, in the spirit Jesus discerned, responded-to, spoke-to both these. So I want to pray for your healing, I want to pray for your unhardened heart. I want you to pray for mine. I want to do it right. Come Holy Spirit.
Mk3v7-8 Consider the phenomenal magnetic force, drawing a surge of magnetic flux density, lining iron filings like columns of termites coarsing a new channel, dusty driven across an ancient terrain, summoned to a cinematic epic with a zillion computer generated extras all the world's weak and walking wounded. To a centre. Christianity is a nodally orientated mode of being-toward a person at all costs. That person is Jesus. From Tyre and Sidon, across land and sea that person is Jesus. Even a rumour that there is genuinely a power from outside of our closed loop reality would cause such a flood. Christianity needs not to be church growth strategies, but crowd management.
Mk3v9-10 If they crush you, you're good for no-one. & other platitudes, yet I will take this new maritime analogy for such a time as this. Boat as sanctuary, cocoon, womb, fence. Away from the crush. Jesus is there too.
Mk3v11-12 Here, demoniac clairvoyance that sees and knows 'You are the Son of God' leads to prostrate confession of Jesus' divinity. If this confession is authentic, the picture is one of diabolical incompetence akin to the Lion King's hyenas or Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition. I read this today rather as a dark subtle disingenuity, exaggerated worship as a means to sink Jesus by association with their own compromised ship - if the one thing we know about the devil is that he lies all the time, what better way to discredit Jesus than a confessional double bluff. This then makes more sense of Jesus's silencing of the spirits. Applying this to my own condition, I consider anew that the Devil works to undermine me both by straightforward lies, but also by falsely discredited truths, as it were. Just as damaging to internalise the lies of my unworthiness as to internalise a claim to my worth by an institution or individual I know to be discredited.
Mk3v13-14 I [Jesus] have [past tense, not still deliberating] chosen [elected, noticed, specifically called out, loved through, not by default] you [Phil] to be with [alongside, in shared space, prior to all output or criteria of success, enjoying one another] me [Jesus].
Mk3v15 Called. Twofold: called to be with him & called to be sent out. Breathe in, breathe out. You are within to be without. And when you go out, they'll know that you've been with him Ac4v13, Mk14v67. And when you go out, your ministry is twofold: preaching & exorcising. You go with authority to displace authority. Preaching is a transaction in spiritual territories which understands that there is an enemy occupation. By contrast with mere teaching the preacher both delivers a message and delivers their hearer. Preaching is inseparable from authority is inseparable from the supernatural.
Mk3v16 Named. Calling is naming is identity. At a certain level you become your labels, branding works, self-understanding is self-fulfilling. But more than that. God names and packages you, like over-priced coffee, but that is not all, for he is also the one who grows you, nurtures you and brings you to a ripe roast. Simon is not yet Peter/Cephas, not yet Rocky. But so he is named despite all that is unstable, infirm and lacking in rockiness at present because those whom God foreknew he also predestined, he also called, he also justified, he also glorified Rm8v29. God's naming perfectly anticipates your gradually glorified future self, that is to say, he will rock you.
Mk3v17-18 When I think about the documentation of my own life, it is full of names & faces. Here they are, sat around candles, I can tell you all their names & something of their stories, that the stories are still unfolding, & unfolding as part of my own. The Christ did not go through a international selection process to find the most interesting or skilled, but chose to share with these ones, just there, with whom he could unfold.
Mk3v19 HPH are recruiting, and elsewhere I'm seeking to be recruited, elsewhere I'm hoping to find a home for F.. the process gives one to the question of calling, being called, selection, election, inclusion, group dynamics and qualifications for leadership. What was Judas' character like for 3 years before his brief moment of limelit notoriety? A key member of the team, the bearer of the money bag, one of but twelve in Jesus' closet circle. God's plan absorbs and subverts evil, even an evil which is tragic, personal, slow and incredibly subtle.
Mk3v20 The original crowded house church. Somewhat like the pressure on houses in London: hidden homeless, clambering for a foot in the door, what centripetal force brought you all here? With Jesus we're caught up in the maelstrom of human need, with Jesus we're amongst an epically retweeted flashmobbed houseparty #goodnews. With Jesus, all of life is an opportunity for emergency response to an overcrowded world on the brink ~ don't burn out ~ "when did you last eat something that didn't come out of a vending machine.." With Jesus, homes in crisis become family. HJ's AGM last night contrasted their Night Shelters with a homeless care 'Industry' that operates at £800m pa. Homelessness is largely caused by relationship breakdown. So significant then that v34 Jesus refamilies us.
Mk3v21-22 On not recognising the good. Mawson, whose text I am using with my students, suggests that while we now live at an epistemic distance from God, & can choose otherwise, can fail to recognise - when we find ourselves face to face at the end & new beginning of all things, we will not be able to err, we will not not be able to choose Him. He will overwhelm us so. Oh, picture of heaven, break into the now. Arrest my will, my believing, my sight. Amen
Mk3v23-24 Belatedly. I have struggled with this all week. It will not do to treat the Pharisees' incoherence dismissively as the rhetorical flailings of jealous conservativism. But also, Jesus speaks a truism and it seems too much to extrapolate application from his house-divided parable, except to observe that Jesus considers parables are a valid critical mode of reply. My question is this: What is a Pharasaic worldview (and where am I guilty of similar)?  Synthesistic. Satan can cast out Satan, if evil is not personal or thung, but rather a cloud of qualities, variable concentrations of which displace others. The Pharisees are postmodern in permitting a pic'n'mix mode of ethics, in which there is no genuine antithesis but merely fleeting appearances of socially constructed norms. Jesus will not be so synthesised, there is no yin in his yang. Fascinating that he invokes 'house' as an example (conscious that this refers to a family more than to its architectural containment, but..) House here invokes unity, consistency, indivisibility. There is a thingyness to Jesus' notion of house, an undilutable, unpartitionable in-and-of-itself substance to a house. Go therefore build.  Antagonstic - Privelege, and pretensions thereof, divides, tribalises and demonises. Even well-intentioned agendas to defend the well-being of a certain division of humankind necessarily divides the whole. Feminism, for all its compassionate optimism and critical insight, definitionally struggles to unite because it is predicated on an unstable dichotomy that degenerates to demonisation. The Pharisees look to defend a vulnerable set of society from false messiahs, but their vision is not big enough and so is blind to universal grace when it breaks in. I believe Jesus would criticise feminism as he does the pharisees, for a tribalism that brings the house down.  Inversely Nietzschean? Evidently Jesus has power. If all power is power-over, if all headship subjugates, if all engagement of body and emotion in worship is manipulation, if all power corrupts then all power must be resisted. There is a mode of Christianity which never switches the power on, a cessationism which shies away from ever turning the ignition: a Christianity that risks nothing, feasts nothing, never dabbles in the Babette's feast of Hillsong's smoke machines or the Vineyard's leg-extending street ministry. I'm just saying...
Mk3v25-26 The point Jesus makes here can be applied to all houses, all homes, all communities. The house must not be divided against itself, it must be united, it must not be at war. Not only will it not flourish under divided conditions, but it will fall, it will not be able to stand. It will not be able to stand up to evil, it will not be able to stand strong as support or container. We want to build a house, to build a kingdom (of the Kingdom). Let's begin with unity. Let's begin with unity between the pieces of our own hearts, our fractured consciousness reassembled by jesus. Then let's start with the unity of our marriage, letting the deeper deepest unity in Christ remake our dyad daily. Let us be united with our church, for though we are many, we are one body, for we all share in one bread. What was the end of henrietta's sermon on why relationships in church matter to God? I would venture in part because a house that is divided against itself cannot stand. So this statistic about relational causes the primary cause of homelessness. You want to build homes? You want to do community? Your deepest need is the unity of jesus. Eph2v19 has a picture of the household, because v14. This word is for us, this word is for me.
Mk3v27-28 It's when Jesus analogises the Kingdom to criminal activity that one has to think twice before applicating.. I think he does it deliberately ~ at one because controversiality provokes inquiry; but more, Jesus would genuinely seek to inspire exactly this sort of ingenious energetic mischief in the spiritual realm. If your self-understanding of Christianity is not a call to breaking, entering and plundering you may be labouring under a blasphemy of gracelessness. We are so unshackled, so forgiven, so electrically alive.. for what? Why, between v27 and v28 does Jesus put these two things together: adventuring on covert ops and being-forgiven. Because being-forgiven is the fresh start to write all adventure, it is the disburdening to climb all mountains, it is the summons and the security to risk everything. Whatever you fail in when risking will be covered except the failure to risk at all. Thus, as Charles Rennie Mackintosh calls to architects: There is hope in honest error, none in the icy perfection of the mere stylist.
Mk3v29-30 When v29 is quoted it is often without v30 (I realise, in my experience) even though v30 serves as an explanation. Grieving the holy spirit here is misidentifying Her as evil rather than good. So resisting Her rather than welcoming Her. Condemning Her rather then worshipping Her. So this explanation rings of truth all the more: You cannot be forgiven if you refuse the forgiver. God is not trying to catch you out. God is for you; so receive.
Mk3v31-32 Presumably the crowd was as crowded as previously, but it is still interesting that mother&brothers elect to remain outside. Being recognised v32, they doubtless could have made their way to the front. The boundary of the inside-the-house is a spatial prop, accessory to the familial tension Mark is establishing. (Parallels with Disney's Brave abound) Hard to consider that mother&brothers' motives were either entirely naive or entirely malign, but either way, Jesus (as Merida) is rattling their prejudicial categories, and the threshold of the house makes physical the rift of pride. Standing outside, messaging mediated expectations to Jesus is a passive aggressive stance, a non-confrontational power-dynamic. This is how to divide a Kingdom.
Mk3v33-34 I once heard Terry Eagleton using these verses to bolster his claim that Jesus was a Marxist, & for abolition of the family, for leveling all partiality to impartiality. I don't think this is the way to read this verse. I want to defend human partiality, in the extended use of mothering & brothering, a hospitable partiality, the small group that's never closed but yet isn't formless. The these of these are my mothers & brothers.
Mk3v35 Blud. Christianity is a fraternity of doing. To be-alongside is necessarily to do-alongside, as Sennett's Craftmen Together. Jesus' new family is a thung thing: an economic unit that works, a band of brothers that looks out for its own, a homestead built as an elegant reciprocal structural an interdependent arrangement of mutually supportive members where being is a doing. God architects against the ludicrous dichotomy of a christian passenger class of pew fodder, he architects against redundance and obsolescence, God adopts as he builds, supports as he employs, calls as he sends - in this you are all invited to do be do be do.