July 8, 2018

Rejoice in Weakness?


 

As We Gather:

Our culture is fascinated with rebels. Characters such as Han Solo, Ferris Bueller, and Katniss Everdeen are not perfect, but we admire how they stand up to authority. Whether being a rebel is good or bad depends on whom one is rebelling against. When the authority is God Almighty, rebels are not looked upon so fondly. Israel rebelled against God, and Ezekiel told them just that. The people of Nazareth rejected Jesus, rebelling against their own hometown prophet. Paul was a rebel himself, first against the followers of Jesus, and then on their behalf. Sin is rebellion against God. Yet God forgives our rebellion through Jesus' death and resurrection, turning our rebellion into reconciliation and rejoicing. Despite our weaknesses and inclination to rebel, God's grace comes to us in Jesus, and He is sufficient for us.

 

Old Testament Reading:

Ezekiel 2:1-5

(Ezekiel is sent to Israel, a nation of rebels, with God's Word.)

And he said to me, "Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you." And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. And he said to me, "Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD.' And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them.

 

Epistle Reading:

2 Corinthians 12:1-10

(We rejoice in our weaknesses because they showcase the power, mercy, and grace of Christ.)

I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven - whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise - whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows - and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses - though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

Gospel Reading:

Mark 6:1-13

(Jesus is rejected in His hometown but sends out the twelve disciples to proclaim repentance, cast out demons, and heal the sick.)

He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household." And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching. And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff - no bread, no bag, no money in their belts - but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, "Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them." So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.

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