How valuable can a book really be? In the fourteenth century John Wycliffe, the morning star of the Reformation, translated the Bible (which includes the book of the Law of Moses) into English. The common folks valued it so much that they would sell a load of hay for just a few chapters of James. In Ezra's day, the book of the Law of Moses grabbed the attention of the people who returned to their homeland after exile and were looking for cohesion amongst themselves and a sense of orderliness and purpose. They stood in respect and attentiveness to the reading of it.
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Oscar Wilde penned a powerful story about behaviors and definitions and justice called The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian was a handsome young man, a model of physical beauty and moral virtue. People complimented him on his good graces. Parents pointed to him as an example to their youth. One artist even painted an exquisite portrait of him.
"Have you seen it?" whispered the Barbie doll to her next door neighbour.
The next Barbie doll in line was instantly alert. There were five different Barbie dolls, who lived jumbled together in the toy cupboard but who were so jealous of each other that they rarely spoke. "Seen what?" asked the second Barbie doll, blue eyes darting all round the room.
"The Princess," replied the first Barbie with glee. "Caitlin's done her hair and it looks terrible!"
These verses from Mark's gospel are a call to commitment, a call to sacrifice, and a call to give up everything of earthly value in life. To say these are difficult verses is truly an understatement. It is pretty clear that the disciples are not at all ready for what Jesus is saying. They are not ready for Jesus to die and they certainly are not ready to die themselves.