When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
Mark 3:21 (NIV)
There was an acting exercise that was used in my college classes called “The Hello Scene.” It’s a scripted dialogue about ten lines long in which two characters run into one another and decide to have a conversation. The lines are so general, however, that they could be applied to an infinite number of characters and circumstances. Therein lay the exercise. How does an actor establish for the audience a distinctly unique character, the situation, and the characters emotions in just a few lines.
One of the initial observations that every class learned from “The Hello Scene” is that a scene without conflict is boring. Conflict is essential to every good story.
We are just three chapters into Mark’s version of Jesus’ story. In the first chapter Mark focuses on the beginning of Jesus’ teaching and miracles. This launched a huge surge in popularity which we read about in chapter two, along with the seeds of discord being planted as the good religious rule keepers grumble about Jesus breaking their strict religious rules about not associating with sinners, fasting to show how religious you are, and keeping all the Sabbath regulations.
In today’s chapter, Jesus’ #MiraculousMysteryTour continues to travel from town-to-town around the shores of the Sea of Galilee. #TeamJesus begins to take shape as Jesus appoints #TheTwelve from his growing number of faithful groupies. WOM is off-the-charts and He is trending among both the religious and non-religious markets as well as among Jews, Gentiles, and Romans. No one had seen anything quite like this. Crowds are getting bigger as word spreads and people are traveling from other towns and regions to hear the teacher everyone is talking about and to witness the miracles everyone says is happening.
But with surge in popularity comes the surge in opposition.
I’m currently reading a book that Wendy surprised me with (thanks, Luv) called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s a simple and short book based on a simple premise: Resistance is the enemy of every good intention. Set out to accomplish any worthwhile, good, and creative thing (e.g. that book you’re going to write, the initiative you’re going to start, getting yourself organized, acting on that entrepreneurial business idea, and etc.) and Resistance will appear to keep you from doing it. The book is a game-changer and I recommend it to everyone (don’t let the title scare you if you’re not an artistic or creative type – it’s applicable to everyone).
Proving Mr. Pressfield’s observation, Resistance shows up on all sides in today’s chapter:
- The local religious rule-keepers have stepped up their critical observations of every move Jesus makes and every word He utters (vs. 2).
- The Pharisees and the Herodians began plotting to kill Jesus (vs. 6). This is a fascinating mix. The Pharisees were the most powerful political party within the Jewish religious world at the time. Herod was the regional king of Galilee (he was like the local ruler to whom the Romans gave power but under their authority like the Vichy French government that “ruled” France under Nazi occupation in World War II). Herod saw any popular teacher who might create political strife to be an enemy of the state. The Pharisees saw Jesus as a threat to their religious power and authority. These two groups who normally didn’t like one another were conspiring together against Jesus, their common enemy.
- His own family arrives to “take control” of Him because they believed Jesus to be psycho (vs. 21). Jesus was the eldest son and had likely been apprenticed as a carpenter like Joseph. Jesus becoming an itinerant teacher would likely have broken the social-family order and put his family in an awkward position within the community as well as taking income away from their family system.
- Teachers of the Law from Jerusalem arrived (vs. 22). Jerusalem was religious rule-keeper headquarters. The local religious rule-keepers had sent word and sounded the alarm. They brought in the higher authorities. The “big guns” arrived to squash this dangerous up-start who was threatening the power and control they wielded over the religious people with their book of strict rules for every area of life.
Jesus is facing resistance on all sides from both powerful outside forces to His own intimate loved ones. Jesus consciously let’s go of the human needs to which we all cling: safety, security, acceptance, affirmation, and control. He presses on in His mission to love, teach, heal, to reveal to the world a new way of thinking, seeing, hearing, behaving, and relating.
In the quiet this morning, I find myself thinking about the places Resistance has attacked me. There are some endeavors (like this blog post you’re reading) where I continue to doggedly press on despite the attacks that Resistance throws at me every morning I sit down at my keyboard (Seriously, every morning I hear the whisper “Why are you doing this? Fourteen years and you still only have a handful of hits a day. What a fool you are.“). Despite my dogged determination to keep publishing these chapter-a-day posts, there are a number of endeavors, initiatives, and creative urges that Resistance has successfully thwarted. Resistance keeps me from starting, continuing, or finishing a number of things. The battle continues.
I’m thankful this morning for Jesus’ example. Never have I so appreciated just how much opposition He faced on multiple fronts through His entire mission. Yet, He pushed forward. He loved. He taught. He forgave. He befriended. He healed. He refused to retaliate. He fulfilled His mission, which is what the season of Lent is about.
Another day for me to push forward, against Resistance, and try to walk in His steps.
Thanks for reading, my friend.