Each week throughout the ReMarkAble series at First Baptist Church, we will have a guest post from various pastors, church planters, missionaries, professors, bloggers, etc. I will always post them on Tuesdays. This week, Jon Ditty has provided his reflections on Mark's first chapter.
Jon is the Family Ministry Pastor at First Baptist Church – Minneapolis. He and his wife Tracie have three crazy kids who keep them from steady sleep and regularly require grocery shopping. Together they try to keep up on laundry, bathe the children every few days, and annually clean out the minivan. This normal life is actually a blast, and in the midst of the busyness they pray that their kids will encounter Jesus and center their lives on Him.
There are occasions when I open the door to our house after work and hear the thumping of feet running to the door. Although our children are small their feet thump more than patter. The children who are attached to these feet greet me at the door and begin reciting all that happened during the day. When this happens, because it doesn’t always occur, it is exciting for all involved. It is exciting because we anticipate the other person. I anticipate the kids sharing all that has happened, and they anticipate me coming home ready to hear.
It is with this in mind that I begin reading the gospel of Mark. The third book of the New Testament starts with a fury and never really slows down. The author’s mission is to share a story that has been anticipated and he does it with the excitement and pace that my children often have when I get home.
The opening scene
Scene one opens with a declaration from the book of Isaiah:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
A man will ready the hearts of people to hear about a new reality. So we as readers should be ready to be shaken as we awaken to what is about to come.
The kingdom is here
So, what is it? What is the greatly anticipated story that Mark wants us to hear? It seems to be summed up in the words of John the Baptist and Jesus, “Repent and believe the Good News.” What is the Good News? The kingdom is here. Jesus has come and the establishment of the kingdom is upon us! This really is exciting news and I believe it is essential for Mark’s reader to understand that this is now the thesis for the Gospel. Mark will show us over the course of 16 chapters what this kingdom is and how the establishment of it is something wholly different than what the people originally thought.
Jesus is the center of the new kingdom and chapter one delivers a collection of scenes that make it clear who Jesus is. First he is called by God. He is God’s son; he also follows his calling, and we see this in His baptism and blessing of God’s Spirit. We see Jesus calling his disciples and begin to understand that this kingdom will be established through the marginalized. Jesus teaches in the synagogue and establishes his authority as a Rabbi and then drives our demons declaring his power over the unseen spiritual world.
Wholeness and relationship
Two other acts happen with Jesus in just the first chapter. First, he heals. Jesus is about wholeness and his Kingdom is about bringing people back into a fully realized relationship with God. Second, he spends time with God. Jesus shows us that this relationship with God takes space and getting away from things so that we can encounter God and be refreshed.
So this is where we begin. The beginning tells us the ending; Mark 1:15 says, “’The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” But how we get to this new reality, how we get to the end, is fast, dramatic, and only getting started.
The people were waiting to hear of this new reality, just like I anticipate hearing from my kids on the way home. They were waiting and hoping to hear from God. As we journey through Mark, anticipate all that God will teach you through his word.