Please, Daddy.

Read: Deuteronomy 20-22, Mark 14:26-50

As kids, most of us were asked by one or both of our parents to do something we didn’t want to do. Maybe some of us begged not to have to do said task. We’d plead. Even throw a tantrum, depending on how distasteful we perceived the task to be. Eventually, and maybe with the help of a firm hand to the behind, we’d grudgingly do what we were told. That tenuous relationship with our parents was a love/hate one. We loved them for what they did for us and hated them for what they made us do. In all but a few rare cases, all that forced labour was for our own benefit.

Even Jesus had a moment where he questioned God’s resolve regarding the task at hand.

Mark 14-36.jpg

The double title Abba Father occurs only two other times. “Abba” was a common way young Jewish children addressed their fathers. It conveyed a sense of familial intimacy and familiarity. The Jews, however, did not use it as a personal address to God since such a familiar term was considered inappropriate in prayer. Thus Jesus’ use of Abba in addressing God was new and unique. He probably used it often in His prayers to express His intimate relationship with God as His Father. Abba here suggests that Jesus’ primary concern in drinking the cup of God’s judgement on sin necessarily disrupted this relationship.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary

As technically as this paragraph is written, it brought me to tears. In my mind, I’ve known since I was a small child that Jesus was both fully God and fully man. I knew that he was/is the Son of God. But in thinking about the intimate relationship Jesus had with his Father, we can see just how wrought with pain Jesus was in this moment. Never before had anyone recorded him calling out to God on such a personal level. Maybe he was even hoping that, like with Abraham laying Isaac on the altar, a substitution would be made at the very last minute.

Even greater than the thought of feeling every thorn, every lash, every nail, Jesus would feel the eternal pain of separation from his Father. It is literally a pain worse than death. In death, you know that person is gone. Jesus knew that neither he nor his Father would be gone, but rather there would be an eternal separation between the two.

And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Philippians 2:8 (NIV)

Think about the one person you are closer to than anyone else in the world. Now imagine knowing that they are still there, but you can’t see that person. You can’t speak with them. You can’t touch them. For eternity. If you knew ahead of time, that would be the result, would you still go through with what was asked of you?

Jesus did. The pain of his torture and death was unimaginable. But I think the pain of separation was even greater. As the time grew near, Jesus became distressed and cried out to God, not as a servant to a master, but as a child to a father, “Please, Daddy…”

Yet he still submitted his will to God’s so that we would not have to endure that pain.

Through the eye

Read: Exodus 16-18, Matthew 19:16-30

Ask any Bible teacher or scholar, even a kid in Sunday school, and you’ll get an assortment of responses as to what Jesus meant when he spoke of a camel passing through the eye of a needle.

Matthew 19:24

Some may tell you that they eye of the needle was a reference to a smaller gate within a large gate. The main gate broad and high enough to admit a fully loaded camel, while the smaller gate was easier to open to permit men and women to pass through. Another may tell you that the gate was large enough for a loaded camel to pass through, but only on its knees. Yet another may speak of a customs gate of sorts. The gate being large enough to admit a camel, but not with its load. The purpose being that the load could be inspected before being allowed into the city.

All of these explanations can be tied with Jesus’ words. A man cannot bring earthly possessions through the gates of heaven. A man must humble himself in order to gain entry into eternity. All that we bring must first be inspected and judged by God before being permitted.

But what if no explanation is really needed? What if Jesus was speaking literally? Some scholars believe that the stories of a gate called The Eye of the Needle surfaced only after Jesus made the connection. The camel was the largest animal in the area at the time. The eye of a needle was the smallest commonly known passage. There was no way a camel would fit through.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:26 (NIV)

Of course it is impossible for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle! That was the whole point of what Jesus was trying to say. He left no room for questioning. Salvation is impossible without God. Entry into heaven can only be gained when we leave our stuff behind. God will only take us as we are without the extras we have a habit of making so important.

Our treasures are not stored up when we hoard them on earth, but rather when we do the opposite and give it all away.

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.

Matthew 19:21 (NIV)

Instead of looking for the academic explanation, let’s look at this literally. As Jesus said it.

Leave the stuff. Give to the poor. Follow him.

Pondering

There was a man who asked Jesus how he may obtain salvation. Jesus told him to obey the commandments. The man claimed to have kept them from his youth. Then Jesus told him to take all he had, give it to the poor, and come follow Him. The man walked away dejected because he was very wealthy.

Jesus then had a conversation about it with his disciples, explaining that it is difficult for the rich to enter into heaven because it is hard to let go of earthly belongings when you have much. I believe that the disciples had a hard time with this because, after all, they had all left everything behind to follow Jesus.

He replied, “What is impossible from a human perspective is possible with God.”

Luke 18: 27 (NLT)

We usually take this verse to mean that anything is possible with God and, while I believe that God is pretty much limitless, in context this verse is about salvation.

Take a moment to think about all the people who crossed Jesus path for the purpose of asking something of him. What did they ask for? Did people come barrelling down the street begging for salvation? No. They needed something tangible. They needed to be healed. They needed a loved one brought back from the dead. They believed that Jesus was able to provide for their physical needs. And in every case where the person believed that Jesus could heal them, Jesus said the same thing, “Your faith has made you well.” Once they were healed, they joined the rest of the followers.

Are you now pondering what I’m pondering? When we the Church go out to try to reach the masses, what are we offering? When we approach those who see no need for salvation, why is that the first thing we offer? To them, we’re on a life raft offering a ride to someone who’s on a yacht. We know that we all need salvation, but they don’t know that.

So how do we get an unbeliever to believe? We fulfil the need they know they have. Once they were healed, all those people who approached Jesus were much more willing and able to accept salvation. Jesus never set the stipulation that a person needed to accept him in order to be healed. All that was required was faith. I’ve personally seen Hindus credit the Bible for healing. The Word works for everyone.

Healing is the simple thing. Salvation is the impossible. But what is impossible from a human perspective is possible with God. Maybe if we offered the possible, we’d see more people accept the impossible.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Samuel 4-6, Luke 18:18-43

Context

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.

Mark 10:27 (NLT)

This is one of those verses we learn early on in our Christian careers. If you’re older than 30, you may have seen something illustrated on a flannelgraph. If you’re older than 20, it may have been Veggie Tales. If you’re younger than that, I have no idea what the current Sunday School fad is. The point is, we know this verse. We’ve heard it taught. We’ve sung songs about it. We claim it when things get rough.

I believe that we serve a God of the impossible. Parting the sea so that Israel could walk though on dry land was pretty impossible. Sending manna to nourish His people was pretty impossible. Coming into the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was pretty impossible. Coming to earth as a baby was more than pretty impossible, as was dying and coming back to life. But have you ever actually read this verse in context?

“Dear children, it is very hard to get into the Kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” They asked.

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.

Mark 10:24-27 (NLT)

The impossible in this context is salvation. God is able to save anyone—even the wealthy. God is able to take those who are unable to be saved and save them. He make the impossible possible.

While it is truly awesome that God really can do anything, should we not be celebrating the most over this revelation—that anyone can receive salvation?

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 32-33, Mark 10:1-31

What “if”?

It has become acceptable in the church to pray, “God, if it be your will…”

This should be the least acceptable prayer. We know God’s will. He gave us His Word so that we would know His will. We shouldn’t have to add, “if it’s your will” if we’re praying for healing. Jesus took on the cross so that we would be healed. We shouldn’t have to ask, “if you want to” when we need provision. God already said that He will supply all our need according to His riches in glory. Why do we add “if You can”? Is it to give us an out should our prayer not be answered?

What do you mean, ‘if I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.

Mark 9:23 (NLT)

What is the look on God’s face when He hears “if” prayers? Does He roll His eyes as if to say, not again. Or is He angry with us because He’s already been pretty clear about what He is able to do?

Let’s stop praying “if” prayers. If you have a need, go to the Bible and find out what God says about it so that you can go to Him confidently. And if you still can’t stand before Him confident that He is more than able to accomplish what He says He can, ask for help!

The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Mark 9:24 (NLT)

The question is not if God can do it, but whether or not we believe He can. If you’re not to the point of believing, ask God to help you believe! Start there. And build your faith so that, when you pray, you can go to God and say, “because it is Your will…”

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 28-29, Mark 9:1-29

But I don’t wanna!

By definition, no one wants to do the things they don’t want to do. We don’t like to do it. We don’t want to do it. We wish we could avoid it.

But the truth is that we all have to do some things that we don’t want to do. If we don’t, we end up being useless spoiled brats who always, always have to have their own way. That’s no kind of life to live.

Even Jesus had to do things he didn’t want to do.

My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me.

Matthew 26:39b

Three times Jesus asked to not have to do what he knew he had to do, but didn’t want to do. If Jesus couldn’t get out of doing the dirty work, what makes us think we should do?

Accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior doesn’t mean that life will be rainbows and butterflies from that moment on. Jesus had his struggles. He was met with temptation at every turn. He couldn’t find a moment to himself to grieve the death of a beloved friend. He knew he would be denied and betrayed by men who were as close as brothers. Yet all of that was to serve the call his Father placed upon him.

The purpose God has placed on your life may not be easy. It probably won’t be easy. If you’re finding it easy, you may want to check with God to be sure you’re actually on the right path.

The only thing that Jesus faced in fulfilling his purpose was being forsaken by his Father. Jesus had to be separated from God in order for his purpose to be fulfilled and, because he fulfilled his purpose, we can be sure that, as we walk in our purpose, we will never walk it alone. Just because we may have to force ourselves to do the things we don’t want to do doesn’t mean we’re on our own.

For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”

Hebrews 13:5b

Daily Bible reading: Leviticus 13, Matthew 26:20-54