Mark 1:1-11 (CEV)
The Preaching of John the Baptist
1 This is the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 It began just as God had said in the book written by Isaiah the prophet,
“I am sending my messenger
to get the way ready
3 In the desert
someone is shouting,
‘Get the road ready
for the Lord!
Make a straight path
4 So John the Baptist showed up in the desert and told everyone, “Turn back to God and be baptized! Then your sins will be forgiven.”
5 From all Judea and Jerusalem crowds of people went to John. They told how sorry they were for their sins, and he baptized them in the Jordan River.
6 John wore clothes made of camel’s hair. He had a leather strap around his waist and ate grasshoppers and wild honey.
7 John also told the people, “Someone more powerful is going to come. And I am not good enough even to stoop down and untie his sandals. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”
The Baptism of Jesus
9 About that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 As soon as Jesus came out of the water, he saw the sky open and the Holy Spirit coming down to him like a dove. 11 A voice from heaven said, “You are my own dear Son, and I am pleased with you.”
I’ve probably had too much Top Gear inflicted on me, but whenever I hear the phrase ‘Good News’, I think of this:
Good news is something to get excited about, something to rejoice in, to celebrate.
God had promised, the way would be prepared, and now it has been. He’s here.
I don’t know about you, but in our house the excitement levels always increased when someone exciting or special was expected. Much checking through the window, and then excited cries, “He’s here”.
Mark’s gospel always seems to be excited, keen to tell you everything in a great rush, because it’s so incredible, so exciting, such Good News. He doesn’t go into the ancestry or even birth of Jesus, he wants to get on with the main event, what Jesus came to do. That doesn’t mean his origins aren’t important, just not part of what Mark has to say.
Maggi points us to Mark’s two questions (p32):
Who is Jesus?
What should a disciple of Jesus be like
The answers to those questions are what concern him, and continue to be the basis for Christian life – what we need to discover and live out. Advent is an opportunity for us to ponder those questions anew.
Who is Jesus? What does he mean for me, where I am in my life today? And how do I respond? What should my life look like to live out what I believe?
A warning note from Maggi, that though we have to answer those questions for ourselves, the answers have to remain part of the bigger picture, brought to us through the prophets.
Who are you?
What do you mean in my life?
These are the questions I have to ask myself.
Help me Lord,
to take time,
– in you
and through you
(By the way, all this talk of the beginnings of the gospels reminds me of a brilliant book – Beginnings by Morna Hooker from SCM Press. It puts each Gospel into context of where the author was going, how the beginning sites it. Probably the best book I read during my theological training!)
This year, several of us are reading Beginnings and Endings by Maggi Dawn and joining together to comment on it. Do join us at the Adventbookclub Facebook page, follow #adventbookclub on Twitter or comment below. If you are also reading and blogging on this book, let me know and I will link to your blog.