Posted by: Philip Rushton | April 11, 2011

Recalculating: A Cartography of Grace

(For my out of town readers, and those who were away yesterday. A few thoughts from my sermon on Sunday)

I sense subtle hints of frustration in the voice on my friends GPS. When you miss an exit or take a wrong turn, the assertive British voice reminds you that you must “turn around.” Yet, the GPS lady never gives up on you. She would never say “way to go genius, you’re totally lost now.” She also avoids the passive aggressive approach, threatening to shut down or stop giving directions. Instead the GPS takes into account the wrong turn and assures you that she is “recalculating.” You can trust the GPS to get you back on track.

This past week I preached on Mark 8:22-33. In this text Jesus begins the long journey toward Jerusalem. As the disciples retrace there steps back through Galilee, Jesus challenges them to rethink who he is and what it means to follow him. Yet, the disciples make a number of missteps and wrong turns. They don’t understand why the messiah must suffer (8:35), why the first have to be last (9:35), and why greatness is demonstrated in servanthood (10:43). They are expecting the messiah to set up an earthly reign. They thought he would deal with their immediate political interests rather than their deep spiritual needs.

Yet, this discouraging journey of the disciples is juxtaposed with a counter narrative of the healing of a blind man. At first the blind man only sees blurry images but eventually Jesus helps him to see clearly. This functions as an acted parable for the journey of the disciples. While the disciples do not see Jesus fully, there is a foreshadowing of hope that their vision will be corrected. Amidst the missteps on the journey toward Jerusalem, Jesus is there to help them recalculate what it means to follow him. The scales are slowly being removed from their eyes.

Next week we pick up the story in Jerusalem. But before we get there, perhaps we too must pause and consider if we have an accurate perception of the messiah. Is Jesus just a means toward material prosperity, is Jesus simply a political philosophy, or is Jesus the messiah. The good news is that Jesus is ready and willing to open our eyes. The challenge is whether we’ll humble ourselves and follow him.

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