Each time we read the Bible, it can speak to us in a new way. I have preached on today’s reading many times in my thirteen years of ministry; each time God reveals a different aspect—a new revelation to me.
As I read this passage again, I focused on verse 27: “A new teaching—with authority!” But Jesus’ teaching is nothing new. He teaches the words of the prophets, the scriptures, and the traditions people already knew. The authority with which Jesus teaches—and the presence he brings as the incarnate Word of God—creates fresh meaning and gives new life to God’s word.
Newly planted churches love to use the word new on their websites and advertisements. New church, new community, new and relevant preaching, new ways of worship, new approaches to singing praise—a new way to experience God. But the Bible’s message does not change. A new building, new songs, or new lights cannot make the gospel—God’s good news of salvation in Jesus Christ—better or more relevant.
Jesus helped his followers see God in a new way, all the while proclaiming the old-yet-ever-new story of God’s steadfast love. Through our life experiences, we come to understand aspects of the Bible that we may not have noticed before. The living Word of God has the authority to help us experience God in new ways. That is nothing new, but a new life is ours when we choose to embrace it.
God, may we bypass the latest fads to develop ways to know you better—through the firm foundation of your word and our relationship with the living Word, Christ Jesus. Amen.
This week’s readings center on God’s authority. In Deuteronomy God promises to raise up a prophet to guide the people, and God warns the people not to listen to voices that do not speak for God. The psalmist overflows with praise for God’s great works. God is powerful and awesome, yet gracious and merciful also. Paul instructs the Corinthians to place the rights of others before their own rights. A person’s conscience may allow him or her to exercise freedom in Christ; however, with this freedom comes responsibility. We must surrender our own rights, if necessary, for the good of others. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus shows his power over the forces of darkness: even the unclean spirits recognize and obey him.
• Read Deuteronomy 18:15-20. To whom or to what setting do you turn when you yearn to hear God’s voice?
• Read Psalm 111. How willing are to you to immerse yourself in life? in your worship setting? What causes you to simply dip your toe in? What would help you make a fuller commitment?
• Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-13. When have you been conscious of another’s limitation in some area and intentionally chosen to avoid a certain behavior?
• Read Mark 1:21-28. Jesus calls James and John from their fishing nets. He takes them as they are exactly where they are. Where have you sensed a call from God? How did that call change your vocation or avocation?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.