April 6, 2018 at 1:53 p.m.
WORD OF FAITH

If, at first, you don't succeed


By REV. ROGER KARBAN- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

FROM A READING FOR JULY 5, 14TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
'They took offense at Him. Then Jesus said to them, "Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin...." And He could do no deed of power there...' - Mark 6:4-5


Sunday's II Corinthians (12:7-10) passage contains two of the most significant statements in all of Christian literature: "Power is made perfect in weakness," and, "When I am weak, then I am strong."

Though Paul normally comes across as possessing a strong personality, in this part of his second letter to the community in Corinth, he zeroes in on his weakness. Though we can't be certain what his "thorn in the flesh" actually is, most commentators today believe it's malaria: a condition which comes and goes, but always leaves someone in a weakened condition, unable to accomplish what he or she intends to accomplish.

If so, this must have been the biggest drawback to Paul's itinerant preaching ministry. Yet, instead of moping and complaining about his Achilles heel, Paul sees it as part of the risen Jesus' plan for him.

He shall overcome
He believes the Lord has graced him so sufficiently that, with the Lord's help, Paul can even overcome an obstacle which would stop most others from carrying out their God-given work.

"I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me," he writes: In other words, the Apostle is convinced that, if he had no obstacles to his work, he might actually be tempted to believe that it was he and not the Christ who was accomplishing those amazing things.

Such confidence in God working through us, in spite of our failures, is also a frequent theme in the Hebrew Scriptures. The disciples of Ezekiel (Ez 2:2-5) who saved and put his oracles into the form in which we have them today included this insight in the prophet's initial call narrative.

Yahweh warns: "Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you. And whether they heed or resist - for they are a rebellious house - they shall know that a prophet has been among them."

Yahweh's only interested in keeping His promise to send prophets to His people. Whether they fail or succeed is irrelevant. Failure is a normal part of their ministry.

Jesus' struggle
That seems to be why Mark includes Jesus'-return-to-Nazareth narrative in his Gospel (Mark 6:1-6). It can only be seen as Jesus' failure in prophetically preaching to the residents of His own hometown.

This passage so zeroes in on the historical Jesus' limitations that Matthew, in copying it about 10 years later, changed it in two significant ways. Because carpenters weren't highly thought of in Palestine in the early first century AD, Mark altered the people's comment, "Is he not the carpenter...?" to, "Is this not the carpenter's son?" He also changed Mark's comment, "He was not able to perform any mighty deed there," to, "He did not work many mighty deeds there."

There's quite a huge difference between "could not" and "did not." Mark wasn't afraid to say there were some accomplishments which depended on peoples' faith in Jesus.

I presume, if there weren't some in the community for which the evangelist composed his Gospel who were failing in the areas in which the risen Jesus was calling them to minister, we'd know nothing of Jesus' disastrous return to Nazareth. Just like Paul, 25 years later, Mark was convinced that something had to be said about weakness and failure. It was an essential part of the Christian experience.

If we always succeed in everything we think Jesus expects us to do, we might not actually be doing what He expects us to do. [[In-content Ad]]

Comments:

You must login to comment.

250 X 250 AD
250 X 250 AD

Events

July

SU
MO
TU
WE
TH
FR
SA
30
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
28
29
30
31
1
2
3
SUN
MON
TUE
WED
THU
FRI
SAT
SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT
30 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31 1 2 3

To Submit an Event Sign in first

Today's Events

No calendar events have been scheduled for today.

250 X 250 AD