Last week when Jon was speaking to us on behalf of the Council
he was talked about the story that appears before this one in the lectionary.
In many ways the focus of the story is about the calming of the storm.
But when we read it I wonder if we picked up its beginning …
“That day when evening came, he said to his disciples,
‘Let us go over to the other side.’
Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat.
There were also other boats with him.”
It’s a simple reminder that the intention of the disciples and of Jesus
was not to go out and get into a storm and then calm the waves.
There is another story that is in Mark’s gospel between that boat story
and today’s story that Chris read
The ‘missing’ story in this year’s lectionary is the story
about Jesus going to a place known as the “Gerasenes”
and then sending a demon out of a man into a pile of pigs.
They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.
When Jesus got out of the boat,
a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him
There is no sense in the story that the purpose of Jesus’s trip
was to confront the evil spirit in the man over there
Then we get to this week’s story
And as it starts off …
When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake,
a large crowd gathered round him while he was by the lake.
Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came to him …
Again – it’s not in his plan.
He comes back to ‘this’ side of the lake, and a crowd gathers around him
and then Jairus turns up.
And then in the next part of the story while Jesus is heading off to Jairus’ house …
A large crowd followed and pressed round him.
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.
When she heard about Jesus,
she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak
Jesus didn’t plan to come across this woman.
He was on his way to something else. ”
Four times in three stories Mark has Jesus’s plans heading in one direction
and then something happening that took him in another direction.
And what are the things that get in the way?
The storm in the deep waters
The demonic spirit and the pigs
A girl who ends up dead
A woman who is unclean
Each representing a space or a type of person
that a good Jewish boy would not engage with.
Here’s a simple reminder for the day.
Mark’s gospel is about building and forming disciples – followers.
Try reading the gospel not by seeing Jesus as the great Son of God
who heals us, forgives us, restores us.
Try reading the gospel by seeing Jesus simply as the one we model ourselves on
In these stories we have the model of someone
who doesn’t allow his own plans and directions
from getting in the way of detouring into the no-go zones
dealing with the no-go people, in the no-go places.
I’m not going to tell you today which are the no-go zones,
but I do invite you to think deeply about them.
My guess is that we know the people and the places
that create our ‘no-go’ zones.
And as Sarah has reminded us today,
our experience and our lives are deepened when we travel into no-go zones
Which are the places, who are the people, what are the situations
that you might otherwise avoid or condemn – supposedly as “not godly”.
Who are the unclean for you?
What are the places of death for you?
What are the situations that you would normally go around?
Who are the people whom you would not really want to value
as ‘one of us’?
Now, in all the awkwardness that good discipleship brings upon us …
where is your next step?