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Living In His Gaze

The Gospel lectionary reading for today is from Mark 9:30-37....

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again." But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."
It had been a long day of travel under the hot sun through the region of Galilee. Jesus and his disciples were relieved when they finally came to rest at their destination: Capernaum, Peter's home town. As they had traveled along the way the disciples had quietly mulled over the events of the past couple of weeks. At Caesarea Philippi Jesus had asked them, "Who do you say that I am?" Peter had answered, "You are the Christ." But then Jesus had begun to tell them of strange events yet to come, something about his being rejected and killed by the Jewish leaders and how he would rise after three days. Impetuous Peter rebuked Jesus to his face saying, "This must not be." The other disciples were mystified too. If Jesus really was the Son of God then why didn't he demonstrate his power to the world at large? Why was he talking about dying?

The only bright spot in the disciples' recent journey with their teacher was a little expedition that Jesus took with Peter, James, and John to the top of a mountain. Jesus finally showed himself in power, along with Moses and Elijah. His clothes were transformed into glowing raiment, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them, Mark tells us in his homey fashion. But this fantastic display was only to the three, and they were sworn to secrecy. Still, Peter, James, and John could not help gloating over the experience when they came down from the mountain. This probably led to the argument between the disciples as they traveled on the road to Capernaum, sweating under the noonday sun.

Once settled in the house in Capernaum, Jesus raises the question that silences the disciples: "What were you arguing about on the road?" I am sure the disciples felt like the proverbial boy whose mother caught him with his hand in the cookie jar.

Perhaps there is a great lesson in this for us. How might our actions change if we asked ourselves before acting: "What would Jesus think if he saw me doing this? What would he say if he heard me saying this?"

Of course, if the New Testament is true, then Jesus always sees us, always hears us, no matter what we are doing, and no matter how secret we think it is. Jesus knows the very thoughts of our minds. All deeds are done, all words are said, all thoughts are thought in his presence.

There is good news and bad news in this. The good news is that Jesus knows everything about us and our situation right where we are right now. We do not have to worry that Jesus does not see us or that he does not care. He does see and he does care and his help will come to us in his perfect timing.

The bad news is that Jesus knows everything about us and our situation right where we are right now. That means nothing can be hidden from him, not even our sin. But perhaps there is more good news rolled up in the bad. If we can't hide, then why try. Why not consciously bring our sin to him and ask for his forgiveness, promised to us through the cross?

I think that is what the first disciples eventually learned to do. And as they did that, as they learned to live their lives intentionally under Jesus' gaze, that same Jesus transformed them into true servants who welcomed, not only children, but many others into the kingdom. We have no reason to believe that Jesus will do anything less with us, if we turn our lives over to him.
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid. Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer)

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