God’s holiness is rooted in his unique identity as the creator of the cosmos and the powerful source of all life and beauty and goodness. However, the power of God’s holiness is also dangerous to us as mortal creatures. But, in God’s desire to partner with humanity, he made a way for us to access his holy presence safely through Jesus. Jesus applies the dangerous heat of God’s holiness to the things that separate us from God. As we read the Bible, we see that wherever Jesus goes, sickness is healed, brokenness is made whole, and death gives into life. This tells us something significant about what it means to participate with Jesus’ ongoing work in the world. Those who follow Jesus are called to be agents of God’s transforming holiness. Listen to the recording below to understand more about this calling, and as you listen, reflect on concrete ways that you can live as an agent of God’s holiness to those around you.
How did your understanding of God’s holiness develop as you watched the video?
The prophet Isaiah has a wild and beautiful vision where he witnesses Yahweh on the throne and heavenly creatures calling out “holy, holy, holy.” Isaiah is unraveled by the sight and aware that he might be destroyed because of his impurity. But then a creature, the “seraphim,” touches Isaiah’s lips with a hot coal from God’s altar and tells him, “your guilt is taken away and your sin is atoned for.” Instead of being destroyed by this burning coal, it somehow makes Isaiah pure. Normally in the Bible, if something pure touches someone impure, the impurity transfers and defiles the purity. But Isaiah’s vision presents a new idea. Now we see a purified object transferring its purity onto someone impure. Isaiah is not ruined like he feared. He is transformed in the presence of God’s holiness.
Question 1:Take note that the coal in Isaiah’s vision is taken from the altar, the place where sacrifice is made. Reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made for you in order to say, “your guilt is taken away.” What comes to mind?
Question 2:Isaiah says, “I am a man of unclean lips and come from a people of unclean lips.” Isaiah’s aware that unholy words defile a person. Jesus repeats this idea in Matthew 15:11. If all your words and the words of your people were tape recorded this past week, which words would you want Jesus to purify? Take time to pray to receive God’s forgiveness now.
In Leviticus, we learn that sickness, blood, and death are impure, which makes sense. For example, we tend to step back when people cough, sterilize cuts, and wash our hands after preparing raw chicken. But it wasn’t just about hygiene for Israel. Being impure meant that you could not enter into God’s holy temple because impure things defiled holy things, and impure things were destroyed in the presence of God’s purity. But Isaiah’s vision revealed that this order could be reversed. When Jesus arrives on the scene, we see him fulfill and demonstrate the powerful implications of Isaiah’s vision. Jesus becomes the holy coal that atones for sin and destroys death and sickness without destroying the person. He doesn’t avoid people who have impurities; rather, he touches them in order to bring wholeness. Wherever he goes, the sick are made whole and the dead come alive.
Question 1:Where are signs of spiritual, moral, or relational decay present in your city? Where are people hurting and excluded? Write down the spaces that come to mind and circle the one that you sense is most neglected and in need.
Question 2:Take note of the list you made. Why do you think many people try to avoid these spaces of decay, hurt, and isolation? Why do you think Jesus intentionally goes into these places? As you read the passage in Mark, what do you notice about Jesus’ approach?
Question 3:As you consider the one space you circled, what are three concrete ways you could join or invite other Jesus followers to live as agents of God’s healing holiness in that place? What practical steps are needed to make these ideas a reality? Write them down.
Question 4:Pray over the space you circled along with each concrete idea you wrote down. Post your list somewhere you will see it and seek ways to carry it out this year. You can reach out to us on our social media (@thebibleproject) and tell us what space you are praying for. We would love to hear from you.