Painting by Freydoon Rassouli

Today: Psalms 30:1-7; Mark 12:13-27; Leviticus 11 & 12

Psalm 30

“I cried to You for help, and You healed me. LORD, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit.” Psalms 30:2-3

Psalm 30 is the story of my life. I was a rebellious teenager and an angry young adult. I made a lot of really bad decisions. Thirty years old found me addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol, and suicidally depressed. I had created my own Sheol…trapped at the bottom of the dark pit I had dug for myself. One desperate night I swallowed a handful of sleeping pills and waited to die… Hours later, four angels woke me, urging me to “Call for help!” I have no memory of the emergency responders who whisked my dying body to the hospital.

The next memory I have is of my disembodied spirit floating through the hospital corridors. I died.

But God wasn’t done with me yet. My soul was jolted backwards through the hallways into the ER where I hovered close to the ceiling. I watched the medics leaning over my dead body. Then abruptly, painfully, my spirit blasted back into my body. My back arched up off the table. I heard a blood curdling scream and realized it was coming out of my own mouth. Then everything went black.

My road to recovery took several years. I finally had gotten to the end of me. I finally realized that my own way was death. Finally, blessed finally, I cried out to God for help. And He healed me.

Today I have been completely healed from depression for over two decades. Today I live a wonderful life of deep gratitude for God’s miraculous healing. He gave me another chance and I don’t want to waste one minute. Today I joyfully say with David:

“Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, and praise the mention of His holiness. For His anger is but for a moment. His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning!” Psalm 30:4-5

Mark 12

First they sent the chief priests and scribes to test Jesus. Next the Pharisees, Herodians, and Saduccees had a go at Him. They threw everything they had at Him, all their tricks and wiles. But Jesus was always 100 steps ahead of them.

The ask Him, should we pay taxes? If Jesus says yes, the overtaxed Jews won’t be happy. If He says no, they will report Him to the Romans. So He says neither. Instead He asks to see a coin and asks, “Whose image and inscription is this?”

I can imagine their sullen faces as they realize that He has outsmarted them. “Caesar’s,” they mumble.

“Pay to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” What a brilliant answer!

Jesus doesn’t even bother responding with a clever twist to the Saduccees ridiculous story about a woman who marries seven brothers in succession. They ask Him, “In the resurrection, which one’s wife will she be?”

But they don’t even believe in resurrection, so Jesus pushes back on their faulty theology instead. He quotes from their own accepted holy texts to prove them wrong. “God told Moses, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.'” (v.27) God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living!