August 30, 2016 • Life for Leaders
Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we examined a story in Mark 3, in which Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath. He did this even though his critics, the Pharisees, believed that it was wrong to heal on the Sabbath since healing was, in their estimation, a kind of work.
I do want to follow Jesus. I want to take seriously what he teaches, even when it disrupts my life. I want to reject the conspiracy that makes Jesus inoffensive and comfortable.
After Jesus healed the man with the shriveled hand, “the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus” (3:6). The Herodians were Jews who had allied themselves with the family of Herod. They were not so concerned about Sabbath as the Pharisees, but nevertheless saw Jesus as a dangerous threat.
This is the first indication in Mark’s gospel that Jesus’ kingdom-centered ministry would lead to his death. The Pharisees and Herodians conspired against Jesus, not simply because he broke the Sabbath law, but because his message and ministry threatened their authority and their vision of goodness for the Jewish people. They believed that the best way to get rid of Jesus was to kill him. (Little did they know what his death and resurrection would actually accomplish.)
As I reflect on the conspiracy of the Pharisees and Herodians against Jesus, I’m almost inclined to think this is irrelevant to me, and to you too, for that matter. But, though I would never want to kill Jesus, I am part of a more subtle conspiracy, a conspiracy to minimize the impact of Jesus on my life. I think of times when Jesus says something that unnerves me, something I would rather not deal with. I find a way to avoid the uncomfortable teachings of Jesus, whether they have to do with loving my enemies, not serving two masters, or taking up my cross. There are plenty of other Christians who join me in this conspiracy to mute the words of Jesus, to smooth out their cutting edge. Perhaps you have experienced what I’m talking about here.
Yet, I do want to follow Jesus. I want to take seriously what he teaches, even when it disrupts my life. I want to reject the conspiracy that makes Jesus inoffensive and comfortable. Lord, give me ears to hear what you really want to say to me.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Do you relate at all to what I’m saying here? Can you think of times when you have chosen to elude or mollify the teachings of Jesus?
What helps you to take Jesus seriously, even when he threatens to disrupt your life?
Lord Jesus, I do want to follow you faithfully. I do want to have my life shaped by your vision of the kingdom of God. I do want to take your teachings seriously, even when they unnerve me. I do not want to be part of a conspiracy to silence you.
Help me, Lord, to hear what you want to say to me. Give me courage to listen when I’m afraid of what your teachings might do in my life. May I be an active member of a “conspiracy” of genuine learning and obedience. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: Discipleship in Process (Mark 4:35-41; 6:45-52; 8:14-21)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.