Mark 1:12 The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, 13 where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him. 14 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” [NLT]
I couldn’t avoid the red letters of verse 15 in this very familiar story. This chapter is filled with truths I think I know but I know for sure there are still new kingdom things to ponder. Those things turned out to be the few verses that preceded Jesus’ own words combined with this quote from a commentary on Mark .
“Life would be very different if, instead of yearning for some distant and at present unattainable goal, we did all that we could to bring that goal nearer.” [Barclay]
Forty days of temptation plus a dear friend and cousin who’s been arrested don’t bring to mind a neon GO sign do they? Don’t forget the fact that Jesus was fully human and he’d just endured a long period of Satan making sure he knew that. Jesus was experiencing humanity at it’s lowest point but it became his confirmation that “The time promised by God has come at last!”
There’s another compelling thing to remember: he was fully God. That’s even more important because it’s our evidence that his eyes were wide open to just what his “unattainable” goal was – he would not avoid the cross. That was his painful reality and he still chose to do all he could to bring that goal nearer.
That’s the example Jesus gave us to follow: holiness that defies humanity.
Romans 6:19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.
Sometimes when I’m reading Scripture I find myself going over or coming back to a particular spot. It’s like a mental STOP sign. It works just like in driving; come to a complete stop, don’t coast on through. I’m convinced that’s the very thing I’m supposed to look at carefully before proceeding. Consider this “example from everyday. life”
Have you ever thought about impurity as having the power to force you to obey wickedness? That’s slavery. Maybe you wonder how much holiness you need to offer yourself as a slave to righteousness? Let me set you mind at ease…none!
The line is life. X marks the spot in your life where Jesus became real to you and “righteousness leading to holiness” became your new direction. Spoiler Alert: there are going to be things that happen in your life when you find yourself on the wrong side of the “X” but here’s the thing: don’t miss that little arrow in my illustration, it really matters. That little arrow doesn’t ever change – because it’s Jesus holiness that is your righteousness and the destination is settled!
1-2 Now in that first agreement between God and his people there were rules for worship and there was a sacred tent down here on earth. Inside this place of worship there were two rooms…this part was called the Holy Place. 3 Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was a room called the Holy of Holies…6 Well, when all was ready, the priests went in and out of the first room whenever they wanted to, doing their work. 7 But only the high priest went into the inner room, and then only once a year, all alone with blood that he sprinkled on the mercy seat as an offering to God to cover his own mistakes and sins and the mistakes and sins of all the people…9 This has an important lesson for us today…The people had to keep these rules to tide them over until Christ came with God’s new and better way.
The design and function of this place of worship, this “sacred tent down here on earth” is more than a description of a place, it’s a picture of us. God certainly had us pegged didn’t he? This earthly-body place of worship has those same two rooms; an outer one and an inner one.
That first system was comfortable, most of the time. The outer room, a Holy place, was maintained to make sure it was possible to get to that inner room with it’s limited access. The inner room was the place where “mistakes and sins” could be dealt with by the right person at the right time and “all alone.”
Faith compartmentalized like that is comfortable for us. We do have a place we can manage the maintenance of that Holy outer room. We call it church. We have someone we call pastor or priest we can depend on doing their best work to make us acceptable to God. But there’s still that curtained-off room where Holy is actually changed into Holiness.
“This has an important lesson for us today.” There is no more need for separate rooms to “tide us over.” No more mere maintenance waiting for the right time to come. No more limited access. No more “all alone.” “Christ came with God’s new and better way,” Open Concept Faith.