Q : What do you want ?
Q : What do you think God wants ?
There were a variety of responses to what God wants in Jesus’ time. Many greeks and romans believed in a great variety of Gods. They were always fighting and wanted some sacrifice. To a large extent people didn’t want to be noticed by a roman God. The Jews fiercely believed in One God who wanted them to be ‘clean’ or holy.
Another Roman/Greek belief system was one by a guy called Epicurus. They believed that if there was a God, then that God was so remote that everything humans did was irrelevant to them.
“At a stroke, this philosophy offered liberation from any fear of the gods or of what terrors might be in store for people after their deaths. But by the same stroke, it cut off any long-term or ultimate hope. At a popular level, the message was this: shrug your shoulders and enjoy life as best you can.”
Does that sound familiar? A number of New Testament writers think this is the closest to modern western thought. What do you think ?
Read Mark 1:21-28
What is a possessed man doing in a synagogue ? Shouldn’t this be a place of ‘cleanness’ ? Why haven’t the rabbis done something ?
Read Mark 1:29-34
Remember a fever or common cold might kill people in those days (no antibiotics or aspirin). Some Jews believed that fever was a sign of God’s displeasure with you. The disciples don’t ask Jesus to heal because they don’t yet know this is possible.
By the evening (when the Sabbath is over) everyone is coming to Jesus.
Read Mark 1:35-38
When was the last time you took time out with Jesus ? Not a rushed 10 minute coffee, but a 20 minute sit and chat ?
Read Mark 1:38-45
In this set of encounters the action moves from the synagogue (church) to the home. Mark would have been part of a home church, which is where the ‘action’ of christianity was being lived. read Acts 2:42-47. Where do we think the ‘action’ is ? How can it be expressed in the home ?
In each of these encounters There is an unspoken question “If you are willing”. Jesus seems to want people to be whole.
This is complicated for us. We know that people age, sicken and die. How does wholeness fit in with that ? What about where we, or people we know live with long term illness that appears not to be healed ? How do we cope with this ?
But still in this set of Jesus stories, the actions of Jesus suggest that Jesus wants people to be whole ?
What might that look like for us ?
When was the last time you prayed with someone asking for wholeness ?
If the answer to the question “What does God want ?” is wholeness then how would we answer the question “What do we want ?”