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A Disciple in Times Like These

St. John’s Lutheran Church
7 July 2024 + Lectionary 14b
Mark 6:1-13
Rev. Josh Evans

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It’s not always easy, this life of being a disciple.

Take nothing. No bread, no bag, no money. Nothing but your staff, the clothes on your back, and the sandals on your feet.

Take nothing. Utterly rely on the providence of others …

… others who will reject you.

Like Jesus himself was rejected, in his own hometown, by his own family, even in his own house.

It’s not easy to be a disciple in times like these.


Last week, Pastor Hoyer left you with a sermon in three parts, asking three questions about Jesus: what he said, what he says, and what he will say.

As I listened to that sermon myself later in the week, I found myself drawn most especially to the second of those questions: What does Jesus say – in our own day – in our own life?

In these texts of healing and healing interrupted that we heard last week, immediately prior to Jesus’ homecoming in today’s story, in these ancient texts, what words does Jesus offer to us?

What did Jesus say then to Jairus and his daughter and the unnamed woman on the way that he also says now to us today – in our own time and place, in our own very real lives, here and now?

Get up!

Regardless of what weighs you down … get up!

Regardless of what weighs us down … get up!

Easier said than done.

It’s not easy to be a disciple in times like these.


Maybe you, like me, watched the presidential debate two Thursdays ago, looking on and wondering how we’ve gotten to this point. Each side so firmly entrenched in their belief that the other, if elected, will destroy the country. Many of us fearful of a post-inauguration world and what it will mean.

A fear that was perhaps only more pronounced against the backdrop of our Independence Day celebrations, just one week later, this past Thursday, with a host of divisive Supreme Court decisions peppered in between – leaving many to ponder what sort of independence and freedom we’re celebrating.

It’s not easy to be a citizen in times like these.

A few weeks ago, I was gathered with some colleagues for a small but robust Brewed Theology discussion around the theme “Political Church.” In their conversation prompts, the authors began with the perhaps controversial but really not all that radical premise that Christianity is political.

Let me say that again:
Christianity is political.

Controversial because of a notion of the separation of church and state that has been misconstrued to mean that nothing even vaguely political belongs in church.

Maybe it’s because we’re afraid of violating laws that would jeopardize our nonprofit and tax-exempt status, or maybe it’s because that’s just not the kind of “nice” thing we want to hear in church.

Maybe, because of the climate in which we live, we hear “political” and understand it to mean “partisan” – and everything that conjures up – so no wonder we shy (or run) away from it.

But that’s not what it means. “Politics,” from the Greek politiká, refers simply to the affairs of the state, its citizens, and the relationships between people.

In this sense, Christianity is very much political.

If the church is called to be concerned for the common life and wellbeing of those around us (what Jesus called “loving our neighbors”), the church is and must be political.

The opening of Mark’s gospel is itself a political statement: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

It’s easy to overlook just how subversive that phrase would have been to its original hearers: the “good news” … a military proclamation of victory, the “Son of God” … a title for the emperor.

In just one fragment of a sentence, Mark immediately sets up Jesus and the kingdom of God against Caesar and the empire of Rome.

No wonder Jesus’ own kin tried to silence him: You’re drawing too much attention to yourself – and to us. You’re causing too much of a stir. Can’t you just talk about “nice” God stories from the Torah?

No wonder Jesus prepared his disciples for rejection. He knew what would happen to them because it was happening to him.

It wasn’t easy to be a disciple in those early years.

As one writer summarizes:
“One of the main criticisms against the early Christians was that they were ‘atheists’ because they refused to bow down to the divine caesar [ … ] and that they made the subversive counter confession ‘Jesus is Lord’ [ergo, caesar is not … ] The simplest Christian confession is thus fraught with economic and political implications.” (Dan Clendenin, emphasis mine)

No wonder the rejection. No wonder the mixed responses to their message. It was, at its time, subversive and dangerous. It would have been much easier to just keep quiet.

It’s not easy to be a disciple in times like these.

But nevertheless they persisted – and here we are.

Because this good news of the kingdom of God is too important to keep quiet.

In the midst of the death-dealing and oppressive regime of the reign of Caesar, this good, life-giving, liberating news of the reign of God must be shared.

God’s reign reminds us: There is another way.

A way where the lowly are lifted up.
A way where the hungry are filled with good things.
A way where the poor and the most vulnerable, our planet included, are protected and cared for.

To be a disciple in the way of Jesus is to be political.

That’s what these not-so-ordinary days of Ordinary Time are for: To take seriously the events of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection that we celebrated at Christmas and Easter, and now to ponder the implications of those Christ events for the life of the church and the world.

It’s not easy to be a disciple in times like these …

… but still, we know and believe that our salvation is not about an “escape” from the world, but rather that it draws us more deeply into the world, to love and care for our fellow creatures, as Christ loves and cares deeply for us.

It’s not easy to be a disciple in times like these.

It’s a calling that might even get us rejected.

But it’s a calling that is also not without its promise of a Savior who has been there too and is with us still.


Was the echo still reverberating in their ears from Jairus’ house? (Get up…)

Get up!
Shake it off!

Whatever gets in the way:
Nevertheless our call persists. Get up!

To proclaim that, no matter what:
God’s love, for us and for the whole creation, will persist.

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