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  • John Bryant

Mark 3: 7-12: The Time Pain Takes

7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. 8 When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. 9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11 Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.”


It is weird to think of Christ as someone who was overwhelmed by us, that he could not handle those moments when everyone wanted him all of him all at once.


We know now Christ would give it to us, would give all of himself to us through the Word of His Death and Resurrection, received through the Holy Spirit.


The Demons want to release that Word, to release that Word all at once. But Christ won’t let them tell it to us.


He knows the Gospel is not a Word we can hear all at once.


Christ needed years to walk around and explain, time to die, time to rise again. Time to be resurrected and wander around with disciples for forty days and explain how the Scriptures were fulfilled in him, time for disciples to wait and pray before the Holy Spirit would come. Time for people who heard the Gospel to become churches that preached it. Time for Christ to be ascended and govern and uphold those churches that would preach his gospel.


People wanted all of Christ, all at once. And Christ would, would risk giving himself to us, through a Word announced in a moment in time, but that would unfold slowly with great pain and patience in our hearts over time. The human heart would be acted on by the living God, painfully and gradually through the hearing of that Word.


The Gospel, this strange business of hearing the Gospel, is the business of becoming really and truly and painfully human by learning to depend on Christ’s death and resurrection. To depend on that Death and Resurrection is to have it, but Christ’s death and resurrection is more than can be given to us all at once, and there is more to becoming truly human than could be felt all at once, more for the Gospel to reveal than could be revealed all at once. His Death and Resurrection is a seed planted in us, that bears its fruit in our heart painfully and patiently and over time:


“Let what you heard in the beginning abide in you. “


“As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”


Why is the Gospel too much for us sometimes? Why does hearing the Gospel involve so much pain. Why is the Gospel such a threatening word? Why does it feel like it will, at times, crush us? By my time outside on the street, with people, with myself, I can conclude this:


By depending on Christ, you disavow yourself of the things that have kept your pain hidden from you.


To become a Christian is for your pain to finally become available to you in ways that can finally be felt instead of hidden. For your pain to finally become available to you in ways that can be offered and understood. And this will take time.





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