People of God, we come to the end of Mark 1. We continue where we left off last week. Mark is an action-packed gospel filled with movement. Jesus is moving from wilderness, synagogue, city, and the world. This is a constant pattern we see not only in Mark, but in the other gospels, and that we ultimately see in the entire Bible. God begins with a little garden in Genesis, and he moves to create a bigger garden throughout history.
God is active in his work of restoring the world to the way it should be. In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, there is a scene at the end of the book—where after Aslan has been raised from the dead—he goes into the Witch’s home. The Witch has turned all her opponents into stone. When they arrive at the Witch’s home Lucy declares: “What an extraordinary place! All those stone animals—and people too! It’s—like a museum.” To which Susan filled with the vigor and joy of Aslan’s resurrection utters: “Hush, Lucy. Aslan is doing something.” In our narrative Jesus is doing something wonderful. Though he is not turning statutes into humans or animals again, he is turning sickness into health; turning despair into joy. Susan’s attitude is something we should keep in mind as we consider this narrative. Sometimes we need to just hush and ponder and enjoy the sheer movement of Jesus’ healing ministry. Continue reading Sixth Sunday of Epiphany: Mark 1:40-45
Here is my audio of my sermon on Mark 1:21-28.
People of God, the action-centered gospel of St. Mark continues to bring out the unsavory manifestations of demons. The gospel of Mark introduces us to the forces of evil incarnated in Satan himself. As I alluded to last week, Jesus is going to confront a man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue. The demonic forces are coming out to meet the Holy One of Israel. The presence of Jesus draws these demons out. They realize that their territory is being threatened by his presence. They realize that they are going to be crushed. The coming of Jesus is a dramatic blow to Satan’s plans. Throughout the gospels there will be many encounters with evil. In the wilderness testing, we saw the first of the many battles Jesus will have with the evil one. These battles symbolize the promise of a cosmic battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, as told in Genesis 3:15. Good vs. Evil; Purity vs. Impurity; Blameless vs. Demonic.
Last week we read and heard that Jesus began his assembling of a new race of proclaimers. From verses 14-20, Jesus is gathering his army. He does not call soldiers or trained Jewish leaders, rather he calls fishermen. He called Simon, Andrew, James and John. These men were effectually called to serve this new leader. But discipleship is not cheap. These first disciples abandoned everything that they had and followed after Christ. It is not that their tasks were unimportant in the kingdom, but rather that they were called to a greater job in the kingdom; that of establishing the foundation of the kingdom of Christ. They would be fishers of men. These were unimportant men in the community, but their role is to signal a transition in redemptive history. These are men of the sea. Their livelihood comes from the sea, but now they are going to preach the message of the kingdom of God in the land. They are going to echo John the Baptist. They are going to cry out: Repent and believe in the gospel! Continue reading Fourth Sunday of Epiphany: Mark 1:21-28; Exorcism and Discipleship, part II
William Lane argues that it is a significant fact that “Jesus does not enter upon his own distinctive ministry until after John has been arrested.” Jesus waits until John is out of the scene. When the great prophet is unfairly bound, the new prophet is released to the world. The gospel of God cannot be stopped.