Praying Through Mark

March 20, 2014
Mark 3: 13-19

There is a strange paradox in the story of Jesus. On the one hand, Jesus surrenders fully to the Father’s will. That means he gives up the need to control the events happening to Him. He allows the circumstances of God’s plan for our salvation to unfold accordingly, even though He makes it clear in the Garden of Gethsemane that this is not the plan He would choose if it were up to him. In that regard, Jesus allows himself to be subject to forces beyond His control.

And yet on the other hand Jesus never becomes a hapless victim of circumstance. He retains His full authority as the Son of God. Just read his pre-crucifixion dialogue with Pontius Pilate in John 18: 28-40 and ask yourself which of the two characters seems to be more in control of the situation. Jesus willingly surrenders to this course of actions because He has the authority to do so.

I think a similar paradox plays out in the lives of believers. On the one hand we are subject to forces beyond our control. Every day we have to adapt and adjust to circumstances that we did not choose. Already this morning I have had to alter my routine because of a sick spouse, a minor car problem, and a last-minute change in who was driving the kid’s school carpool. And these are just the minor things! Our lives are pushed and pulled in all sorts of directions, and a big part of the spiritual journey is giving up the illusion that we are in control of life.

And yet on the other hand Jesus gives his followers authority – His authority. It says so in today’s readying. When Jesus called all the disciples together he gave them authority – in this case the authority to drive out demons.

If we are in Christ we have that same authority. We may not be able to control all the circumstances, but we don’t have to be a hapless victim. We have the authority to drive out the demons of fear, anger, despair, or hatred. The risen Christ gives us authority over the spiritual forces that would love nothing better than to hold us hostage.

I don’t know what may be holding you down today. There is most likely some circumstance unfolding in your life right now that has you stymied. It’s true for all of us. It’s part of being a mortal creatures (remember the ashes of Ash Wednesday). But we don’t have to yield to a spirit of defeat in the face of those circumstances. We have authority to live as the redeemed children of God.

Lord Jesus, help me to acknowledge and yield to my limitations. You are the Lord of the universe; I am but a creature who lives the blessed life you have given me. But also help me to live fully, creatively, abundantly, and victoriously within those limitations. Reveal to me the demons that are holding me back from the life you have intended. In your Risen Name I pray, Amen.

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