Bible passages for today: Isaiah 66:17-21 and Mark 6:21-29
Mark 6:27-28 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother.
Sometimes the Bible can be very gruesome and totally ugly. Both of the passages that we are reading today do not lend themselves to anything encouraging, inspirational, or edifying. In Isaiah, people who eat bacon are condemned to God’s wrath; in Mark’s Gospel, John the Baptist is beheaded at the whim of a young girl, her embittered mother, and a wicked king.
Last week, someone wrote that as Christians, we are “Easter people living in a Good Friday world.” I think she meant that in the midst of all the ugliness, brutality, wickedness and inhumanity in the world, Christians have a strong hope that beauty can be resurrected, peace restored, goodness returned and humanity blessed through the everlasting power of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps then, the Bible is only ugly in parts to show us the depravity of people in order to attract us to the divinity of Christ.
Questions for personal reflection
Where do I see Christ’s power in the world? How does that power influence me?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, the world can appear to be a scary, ugly, and wicked place. You, however, remind us that Your goodness is working across the world through the many churches, congregations, and Christians who live on this paltry planet. Help us to be Easter people to those who are experiencing a type of Good Friday suffering and pain in their lives. Enable us to embrace and support them. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. John appreciates your own ideas and feedback…J
Today’s image is a compilation of two Holy Week drawings that I created this year. I call it ‘Easter People.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7182/6927788536_4e0e578f28_b.jpg