Moving Mountains

Day 17

In Mark 11 Jesus teaches us about moving mountains by the word of faith. The faith teachings of Jesus are extremely important; if we don’t learn to operate in mountain moving faith we will spend our lives being thwarted by obstacles and will never achieve all we could. The success I have had in life and ministry has come by learning to move mountains by faith.

But there are some mountains that we cannot move — we can only climb them. For Jesus, the mountain He could not move but only climb was Calvary. Situated at the top of the Moriah ridge at an elevation 2,550 feet (777 meters!), Calvary is the highest point in Jerusalem. Mark 10 records Jesus’ final (earthly) journey to Jerusalem. From Jericho (near the Dead Sea and the lowest place on earth), Jesus begins the 3,800 feet elevation to Jerusalem — uphill all the way.

Here are a few thoughts from March chapter 10

At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus has yet another debate with the Pharisees. This time the topic is marriage and divorce. The practice of divorce among the Pharisees was very easy and very common. All a man had to do was hand his wife a document of divorce and say, “I divorce you” three times. That was it. After His debate with the Pharisees, little children were brought to Jesus for Him to bless. The disciples rebuked the parents for “bothering” Jesus by seeking His blessing for their children. Mark tells us that Jesus was “greatly displeased” with the disciples over this. It is evident that the culture in which Jesus was preaching had a casual attitude toward marriage and divorce and often viewed children as a nuisance. Sound familiar? The Kingdom culture which Jesus established elevates the status of both marriage and children. God is a family man.

At the end of the chapter, Jesus heals a blind man named Bartimaeus in Jericho. On Day 8 when we were in Matthew’s account of this event in Jericho I wrote…

Notice that Jesus healed two blind men in Jericho and remember that Jesus healed two demonized men in the country of the Gadarenes. I’ll have something to say about this when we get to Mark’s account of these events.

Matthew records that two demonized men were delivered in Gadara and that two blind men were healed in Jericho, while in both instances Mark only mentions one person. I have noticed over the years that not everyone who receives a miracle from Jesus necessarily becomes a committed follower of Jesus. The Gadarene that Mark describes became a zealous witness for Jesus and we are told that Bartimaeus followed Jesus to Jerusalem (where presumably his restored sight made him a witness of Jesus’ suffering). But there was another demoniac and another blind man. But their encounters with Jesus did not turn them into notable followers of Jesus and Mark fails to mention them. I’ve known people who have been healed by Christ, and they were never heard of again. It’s as if they simply said, “Thank you very much” and returned to their old life.

One more thought. In Mark 10:32 we read…

Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid.

The March 15 reading in the famous daily devotional by Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, has something interesting to say about this verse…

The Discipline of Dismay

“As they followed they were afraid”

At the beginning of our life with Jesus Christ, we were sure we knew all there was to know about following Him. It was a delight to forsake everything else and to throw ourselves before Him in a fearless statement of love. But now we are not quite so sure. Jesus is far ahead of us and is beginning to seem different and unfamiliar — “Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed”.

There is an aspect of Jesus that chills even a disciple’s heart to its depth and makes his entire spiritual life gasp for air. This unusual Person with His face set “like a flint” (Isaiah 50:7) is walking with great determination ahead of me, and He strikes terror right through me. He no longer seems to be my Counselor and Friend and has a point of view about which I know nothing. All I can do is stand and stare at Him in amazement. At first I was confident that I understood Him, but now I am not so sure. I begin to realize that there is a distance between Jesus and me and I can no longer be intimate with Him. I have no idea where He is going, and the goal has become strangely distant.

Jesus Christ had to understand fully every sin and sorrow that human beings could experience, and that is what makes Him seem unfamiliar. When we see this aspect of Him, we realize we really don’t know Him. We don’t recognize even one characteristic of His life, and we don’t know how to begin to follow Him. He is far ahead of us, a Leader who seems totally unfamiliar, and we have no friendship with Him.

The discipline of dismay is an essential lesson which a disciple must learn. The danger is that we tend to look back on our times of obedience and on our past sacrifices to God in an effort to keep our enthusiasm for Him strong (see Isaiah 50:10-11). But when the darkness of dismay comes, endure until it is over, because out of it will come the ability to follow Jesus truly, which brings inexpressibly wonderful joy.

-Oswald Chambers

That is awesome! Excellent insight from good ol’ Oswald.

I’ll see you Word of Lifers in church tonight!