11th July, 2012
BRUCE C. WEARNE
Read Mark 1:2-3
Mark starts his story in a way that was usual for telling stories in his Jewish family. First, he tells us what his story will be about (1:1) and then, immediately, how we should see it fitting in with God's promises. The prophecies of Isaiah, one of God's prophets from long ago, have now been fulfilled. That is what this story is about. His readers will have known Isaiah 40 from when it was read in the synagogues on the Sabbath. The Messiah will bring in God’s Kingdom. He will do it by becoming a servant.
ISAIAH REFERENCE: The passage in Mark 1:2-3 draws on Isaiah 40. PICTURE: Billy Alexander/www.sxc.hu
"Without this story, even if every one else says we are great Christians, we are done for - we too easily forget who we are, we miss the Gospel train and little-by-little we slip into a life-style that cannot serve others because we are too busy serving ourselves or making sure they are there to serve us."
Some of Mark's first readers may have remembered Jesus and what He did in their town. Mark reminds them that the promised King came as God's Servant. Mark therefore, as the story teller, appealed to Isaiah's role and so his story because with a prophetic warning - Jesus came as the servant of the Lord! Don't forget it! Unfortunately people do forget. To follow the King of Kings is to follow the Lord's Servant. It is strange, but those who claim to follow Jesus easily forget that they are servants.
Actually Mark first started telling his story when Peter and Paul were working out how to work together. They were making each other's lives, and the lives of many other Christians as well, a misery. Mark wrote his Gospel knowing that Jesus had come to help us overcome those kinds of difficulties. He knew Jesus understood who we are, and Mark's Gospel has helped keep Mark, Barnabas, Peter, Paul, and all the rest of us on the right track, the path of service.
Without this story, even if every one else says we are great Christians, we are done for - we too easily forget who we are, we miss the Gospel train and little-by-little we slip into a life-style that cannot serve others because we are too busy serving ourselves or making sure they are there to serve us. Jesus came and short-circuited that tendency - and we need the Gospel so we do not forget it! From Jesus we discover that God has indeed made us members of His Kingdom. We are His servants, citizens in God's Holy City.
Mark wrote to tell us why Jesus came, what He did then, and what He still does. Mark started with Isaiah's promise that God's Messiah came to bring hope to those who are hurt, to those who are slaves, who have to live subject to unjust rulers, or powerful enemies. Mark wrote so those who long for God to right the wrong would know that the Messiah has come. His disciples still need reminding that God's Servant did not come to go to war like an earthly king.
The passage from Isaiah was well known but Mark is saying that until Jesus came and taught in their synagogues, the Jewish people did not know how it would be fulfilled. That was around the time of John the Baptist. John had told the people to get ready. God's promises were coming true, God's Victorious King was on the way, and, indeed, John told them that the Servant of the Lord was among them. John was taken off to prison and Mark reminded his first readers that John had not died in vain, even though he died early. God made sure of that.
Luke and Matthew tell the story of Christmas. Not Mark. He leaves that for others. Instead he starts when Jesus began teaching. When Jesus' followers first read Mark's story they knew it was not going to end happily with everything and everyone going back to normal. This story was written to explain why things had changed totally after Jesus came. He had turned life upside down. Or better: He turned everything right side up again.
MORE OPEN BOOK, click here...
Got a verse
or a short passage you'd like us to look at? Just send an
email to firstname.lastname@example.org.