Will you still respect me when I recall how I once spent part of a summer vacation?
I fear not.
Within the course of a summer week, my wife and I binge-watched a season of 24. As you probably recall from that now ancient TV series, each episode represented one “real time” hour. The actions begin and conclude during a single frenzied, fractious day (which takes twenty-four shows to resolve).
In order to keep the plot’s velocity at breakneck speed, there was a dump truck’s load of unbelievable scenes. An example? Two different characters shot themselves to cover their duplicity with the bad guys. Apparently, in the fictional world of caffeinated thrillers, a bad guy’s so-called friends won’t suspect deceitful actions if he’s bleeding after the firefight.
“Everyone who touched him was healed.” (Mark 6:56)
When reading Mark 6:56’s closing sentence—Everyone who touched him was healed—my belief in Jesus is strengthened.
And so is my disbelief.
The Gospels’ healing passages are arguably the most difficult (for me) to preach, teach, or, well . . . believe.
I’ve read enough about the history of Jesus’ first century world to know he was not the only one identified as a miracle worker or healer of illnesses. There were others, from reputable to repugnant. I’m also confident that Jesus’ era had people who—like today—suffered with cancers, heart diseases and other serious ailments. But we can’t tell from any of the Biblical accounts what kinds of illnesses were healed when a crowd gathered around Jesus. No high-tech tests could be implemented to separate the “fake” illnesses from the “real” ones, or a potentially fatal head trauma from a trivial head cold.
Frankly, whether in the Bible or not, I’m suspicious when “everyone” is used to describe the results.
Mark 6:14-29 – The 7th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, July 12, 2015
“So Herodias had it in for John. She wanted to kill him, but she couldn’t.” (Mark 6:19)
I worked on my high school newspaper for several semesters. Though my teenaged journalistic memories have faded like newsprint left in the sun, I recall the faculty advisor’s name—Mrs. Pepper—and the only time she complimented me.
Mrs. Pepper was impressed with my, er, sexual inventiveness.
Yeah, baby, sex.
When you read that three-letter, monosyllabic word, did anything bob to the surface of your mature mind about your high school experiences with . . . sex? Or, since you’re reading my words, what did you imagine about me and . . . Mrs. Pepper?
Alas, tuck away your lustful fantasies. Nothing happened! Well, at least nothing in a—wink-wink—“Biblical way.” Continue reading →