On the surface of the Western mind, we really don’t see an issue with this directive from Jesus. He sent His disciples to meet a man carrying water, who will show them where they were to eat the Passover meal. Notice in the text the room has not only been identified by this man, but the room itself already has been prepared for the meal. Let’s not read over all of this too quickly, or we will miss the greatness of God at work. Before we take a closer look into Mark 14:13, I want you to pause and contemplate three things in the text that we usually read without giving it much thought. First, there is a man carrying water who is looking for the disciples. His task is to take them to the room where Jesus and the disciples will eat the Passover. Lastly, when he takes them there, everything is already prepared and awaiting Jesus and the Twelve. How did all of this happen? See what I mean? Sometimes we need to slow down and drink deeply from the text.
Back to the man carrying water - what’s the big deal? Let’s first consider this, as a little background music for the text. During Passover, an estimated 2 million Jews cram into the city (wall to wall people), so in human congestion of this magnitude, how can you expect to find anyone? Look for a man carrying water. Once again notice the wisdom of God at work. The carrying of water usually was considered woman’s work. It was common for them to carry water, but few men performed this task. Of those males who carried water on a semi-regular basis, they were either slaves, or Essenes. Water carrying was commonplace for these two groups of men, however neither of these fulfilled the reference Jesus gave the disciples. When the disciples carefully followed His directions, this guy stood out like a sore thumb; and they successfully executed the task they were given. They could have complained about the difficulty of finding anyone in such a crowded place, but they didn’t. They followed Jesus, and everything was as He said. Perhaps there is a lesson somewhere in there for all of us, as He instructs us through His word.
It goes without saying, the religious landscape has changed considerably since Covid-19. For some reason, churches have been the hardest hit, with many closing. In fact, for those who survived, many are still attempting to recover (three years later). No one can put a finger on exactly what happened, and why Covid-19 seems to be the definitive line in the sand-but here we are. That describes what happened inside the religious world. On the outside, the picture is even more grim. On the surface, it appears there has been a general shift among the populace away from God, and anything that represents Him. The challenge of the church to reach the lost for Christ, appears to be greater now than ever before. This has left those interested in evangelism paralyzed because we just can’t figure out how to ”crack the code.” Surely, there must be someone out there who is interested in God. It’s hard to conceive all among the lost have contemplated their relationship (or lack thereof) with God; and decided “no thank you” to God and his kingdom.
With all this said, there are two facts that remain. First, nothing happens without the full knowledge and permission of God. Second, the call of Jesus in Matthew 28 (known as the Great Commission) still remains. In 2023, the words of Jesus to seek and save the lost, remain our marching orders and we are dedicating 2023 to answer that call. For the next few Wednesday nights, we are dedicating our time to learning how to become more effective in reaching the lost. We now have printed materials, which when combined with techniques we are learning, makes us all confident in personally sharing the gospel. This is something new, which has us excited about the future of the congregation. We are hoping all members of the congregation will participate in making this a huge success. All the pieces are now in place. All that is missing is YOU. Won’t you come and join us in embracing the call of God?
See you Wednesday night!
The story is told of two shoe salesmen with totally different outlooks. The first salesman went to Africa. Upon arriving, he noticed none of the people were wearing shoes. Seeing no opportunities for his product, he packed his things and headed back home. Once there, as he was sharing the details of his experience with some of his salesman co-workers; one of them overheard the conversation, went to the boss and convinced him to send him back to the very place the other salesman had just left. Once there, he too looked around and noticed no one was wearing shoes, so instead of looking at the situation from the negative, as did his co-worker, he instead took a positive approach, and saw the potential for selling a village full of shoes. Once he arrived back home, he was bombarded by co-workers wanting to know the details of his experience- expecting it to sound much like the other salesman's. Instead of complaining about what he found when he arrived, he excitedly told those listening about the wonderful opportunity and the overwhelming success he had selling shoes to the entire village.
The moral of the story is two guys with the same product, went to the very same place, and saw two different opportunities, because they looked with two different perspectives. The only difference was their attitude. It’s easy to complain about what we see and conclude the situation to be a hopelessly lost cause, as did the first salesman. However, those who look through the eyes of possibility see past what is, to what can be, with just a change of attitude. Perhaps this is a good lesson for us to remember as the congregation advances into the new year- which is full of untold possibilities, because the God of endless possibilities is leading the charge.
Often, I sit and contemplate the will and plan of God, and how I fit into that plan. Not from the standpoint of what God is attempting to do through me and sometimes despite me; but my attitude and focus on how my life aligns with His plans. Do I get so self-absorbed that his plan is no longer a priority or concern of mine? Although I say it does, do I really mean it when compared to the way I choose to live my life? It’s easy to do. I have discovered, if I am not careful, His plan can easily get pushed to the “back burner.” Sometimes, I find this to be a major weakness; and a powerful tool in the hands of the evil one. Maybe it’s because as mortals we are focused on living our mortal existence, which often contains mega-doses of self-gratification, self-absorption, etc. This is a hard deep look for me because sometimes I don’t like what I conclude. The real question is why don’t I long for that which the disciples, Paul, and others did in regard to how God fits into my life? I often want to blame it on the times. That things are much different today, and it’s almost impossible to live like they did with such a singular focus on God. The reality of this thinking is futile because I know I am only fooling myself. The times have little to nothing to do with it, however the pride of life has everything to do with it. If this is the case, should I be surprised if Jesus should say, ”Depart from me I never knew you?” Maybe not. I know this all sounds rather grim, but today this is where my heart has taken me. As we study the word of God, if it doesn’t create a desire for deep reflection, then is it really penetrating our outer being? If not, should it surprise us if spiritual growth ceases? The focus of every Christian, every person who has given their life to Christ is to hear Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant;” anything less should be unacceptable. I pray we all allow the word of God to impact our hearts, so that our lives reflect the God we love and serve.