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  • John Bryant

Mark 8:14-21: What Do I Need To Be Okay

14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”[b]16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread.17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.”20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.”21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”



This is a world of great shame, fear, and pride.

I sometimes wonder which of the three is the worst.


Christ made it clear he could deal with shame. He could heal, he could forgive. He could bring those on the margins into the center.


Christ made it clear he could deal with fear. He could deal with trembling disciples. He could deal with terrified people about to drown.


Someone could be ashamed and afraid and the Lord could work with them. The Lord could work with terrified people, the Lord could work with marginalized people.


It was the hardness of the human heart that filed him with awe and grief and wonder. It was the hardness of the human heart that startled Christ.


It was the leaven of pharisees, the poison that ruined good things. And that it was impossible to work with.


If Jesus was scared, this was what he was scared about.


It didn’t matter if he healed, and if he did miracles, if His people had no way to depend on him.


The human heart was such a hopeless thing it only knew how to depend on itself. And it holds that dependence so close it doesn’t think it is holding it at all. Holds onto it so closely it doesn’t think it is holding onto anything at all.


If the human heart was incapable of understanding.


We wait, with the psalmists, for Christ to overturn those great annihilating forces of shame and fear. We wait for shame and fear to be overturned by Christ’s Death and Resurrection.


But Christ’s Death and Resurrection will have to do something greater. It will have to overturn our dependence on ourselves. Something more painful and violent than anything else because we hold that dependence so close we think if we lose it, we lose ourselves.


Perhaps mainly because we only know how to deal with shame and fear by depending on ourselves. Nothing else promises to clothe our shame, and cast out our fear like our dependence on ourselves.


This weekend I sat in a theatre. Having had a hard week of vividly remembering the shame and fear that comes with the past.


And I repeated to myself this thought. And it was


"What do I need to be okay?"

"What do I need to be okay?"

"What do I need to be okay?"


And the answer, startling, quiet, clear:


The only thing I need to be okay is a way to depend on Christ.





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