Sunday, April 15, 2018

Say "Cheese!"

The Word for today:
Mark 7:24-37
I hope you love my Bible cover as much as I do. As you can see (above) it’s yellow and a little tattered, but that smile sure comes through!
My Bible cover used to be my son Eddy’s Bible cover when Eddy was just a little lad. But when he turned twelve, well, he thought his Bible cover should grow up with him. So we got him a Bible cover that looks and feels like the pebbly cover of a basketball (which was his game at the time.)
Anyway, that’s how I inherited my Bible cover from my son, who thought it was a little too young for him!
It’s my cover now, so I get to say whose picture is on it. But I’m not telling you who that is yet. First, I’ll give you some hints and you try to guess:
Hint #1: It is not a picture of me.
Hint # 2: It is not a picture of Eddy.
Hint # 3: The person whose picture is on the cover also has his name on the cover.
OK, those are all the hints. So now it’s your turn to take a guess…
If you said that's God on the cover, then you are right! So the deep meaning of my Bible cover is that God loves us so much that it makes Him smile!
I like to see God smile, but he hardly ever does in the Bible. Well, he does but it doesn’t directly say so. Once, when I set out to look for God’s smile in the Bible, I couldn’t even find the word smile, except for a few times in, of all places, the book of Job (where you’d least expect it.)
Though it doesn’t really spell out s-m-i-l-e, my life verse (if I’ve got one) shows God smiling:
For not by their own sword did they win the land,
nor did their own arm save them,
but your right hand and your arm,
and the light of your face,
for you delighted in them. (Psalm 44:3)
I’m sure that shows God smiling, because light caused by delight is sure to be a smile.
I don’t want to tell too many people about a verse that says I cause God to smile, because if everybody knew about it then they would probably make it their special verse, too. So I’m telling only you, OK? That way God will be smiling at just me and you and he won’t have to shed the light of his face all over the place. Which leaves more light/delight for you and me, see?
Now before I go, I’m going to show you (shhhh!) another place where God smiles. It’s found in our reading today, when Jesus sort of starts trash-talking with the Gentile (non-Jewish) woman whose daughter is spiritually sick. Jesus tells her that only the children of Israel (1) get to receive the generosity of the king:
Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." (Mark 7:26-27)
We know that Jesus must have said this with a sparkle in his eye, because he had already reminded his disciples that God healed only Naaman (another Gentile) in the days of Elisha:
But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." (Luke 4:25-27)
The other reason we know Jesus was speaking playfully is that the woman returned his banter:
But she answered him, "Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." And he said to her, "For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter." (Mark 7:27-29)
Now I’d be careful, if I were you, about trying to see God smile by trash-talking with him. We should leave that to experts like the lady in Mark chapter 7.
Better yet to turn back to Psalm 44:3, where God is always smiling. Or you could wait for a little kid to grow out of his groovy yellow Bible cover.
(1) see the parallel account of this incident in Matthew 15:22-28

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