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Mark 124 - Pay Attention

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this.

Mark 8:31,32a

We want nothing but excitement, success, happiness. We want a light-hearted life, filled with laughter, success, and friends that all pat us on the back in praise and support.

No matter how much we might want it, this isn’t real life here on planet Earth. And it certainly wasn’t life for Jesus either.

Jesus opens up more than his mouth to give them information about the future. He opens up his mind and emotions when he tells his closest friends that he must suffer, and that he must be killed.

Notice the word, “must.” It’s not an option., It’s not an accident. It’s not a circumstance. No, it’s a must, a certainty, it’s definite. In the words of my background and upbringing, “It’s a lock.” And Jesus doesn’t just say it once, he repeats it a second time.

Jesus says that he must suffer and must be rejected. We all fear and hate suffering and rejection. While fear of pain is real, I wonder if people fear rejection more. Pain is one thing; it lasts while it’s being inflicted. But there are pain reliefs that can lessen it. And once the cut, infection, or bite is gone, the pain goes away.

But not with rejection. We can carry rejection around with us all day and night. We can even resurrect rejection at a moment’s notice. When life starts to falter, past rejections can come screaming into our heads. “See. I told you. You were rejected in the past and it’s happening again now.”

You can see scars from physical pain. Those white lines on your skin that act like a map of your past. Sometimes they’re smooth. Sometimes they pull your skin in unnatural directions. Sometimes you can hide them under your clothes. Sometimes they’re always on public display and parade.

But rejection and its emotional baggage and scaring are a different thing altogether. For the most part, people don’t see you carrying that baggage. They don’t see that scaring and limping.

Our hearts go out to people with physical disabilities. We want to help the woman shopping all alone from the electric cart in the grocery store. We want to help the man in his wheelchair that just knocked over the display of beverages. We want to open the door for the woman on crutches who’s an amputee.

But the reaction is very different for the person who says that life is too hard, or that they have emotional baggage and pain. We want to say, “Get yourself up, pick yourself up. You’re too soft. Man up and grow a pair.”

Jesus doesn’t feel this way at all. As a matter of fact, he’s very open and transparent. Not only about what’s going to happen, but also about how he’s not looking forward to it at all.

When Jesus speaks plainly about the future, he doesn’t just say it once. He repeats it. He talks about it with a directness and frankness that we would find both startling and refreshing.

Today, everything is veiled, hidden. There is little to no transparency on any level. When something is revealed in the news or on the internet today, we never get the whole story. It always come out in pieces. A fact at a time. An opinion at a time.

But Jesus tells them all, and he does it in such a way that it commands their attention and silence. While he’s talking, revealing not only the future but also his heart, their only response is to say nothing.

When God speaks to you, what’s your response? Are you the kind of person that’s always interrupting, wanting more details as if you could understand or control life better if you were in full receipt and command of the facts? Or are you the kind of person that tries to “time-slice” life with God? This is where you give one ear to God while you have the other ear listening to someone else. Your eyes are focused on something while your hands are doing something else. While your feet are walking in an entirely different direction altogether?

The lie is that you can multitask with God. Thinking that you can multitask God is just so ridiculous that it makes me shake my head. But then again, I do it all the time too.

There are times that God wants to communicate face-to-face with you and me. When will we stop, give him our attention, and listen? Pleading ADHD with God is not a valid excuse. It’s not a defense either.

It’s time to pay attention. Turn your phone off and put it down. Turn off your PC and television. Put away that book or magazine. Be still and know that I am God[1].

[1] Psalm 46:10


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