Tuesday, December 29, 2015

How Mark's Gospel Uniquely Defines What It Means To Follow Jesus

Mark 1:1-3 "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, Who will prepare Your way; 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.’”

Yesterday's post featured an overview of the significance and major features of Mark's Gospel. Today we want to look a little further into Mark's Gospel to define what it means to follow Jesus.

A curious feature of Mark that may clue us in on a two-fold truth on what it means to follow Jesus - Activity and Abiding
As you study Mark's Gospel, the one word that is repeated on roughly 40 occasions is the term "immediately".  In every chapter except chapters 12, 13 and the first half of chapter 14, you will find this word.  The word "immediately" was inserted to keep the reader's attention and to move the account of Jesus' life at a fast and rapid pace.  Yet when we come to those particular sections that deal with Jesus' last sermon and His preparations for His death and Gethsemane, the word "immediately" is absent.  Why? I want to suggest that in the midst of all the activity of Jesus' mission, there needed to be an opportunity to also "slow down", "take a breather" and "abide".  

Fleshing out some thoughts on "acting" and "abiding" in Jesus as depicted in Mark's Gospel
In our 21st century life, we all know what it means to be active.  In fact, activity is a vital part of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.  In those sections of Mark's Gospel where we see the word "immediately", the activities being encouraged include:

1. Immediate Obedience to Jesus.  Mark 1:3, 10,12,18,20, 21; 2:12

2. Urgency to fulfill the mission of salvation.  
Mark 4:5,15,16,17,29 and 14:72.

In many ways, urgency and activity should mark our Christianity.  However what I find to be less obvious are the periods of rest and reflection that are needed in our Christian walk.  As I read and study Mark's fast-pace Gospel, I find his lack of the word "immediately" to be intentional.  The last thing we want to do is to rush through the heart and purpose for why Jesus came.  Let the reader note: where we find no mention of the word "immediate" in Mark's Gospel is a clue to our need to "abide":

1. Abide in the truth of Christ's second coming.  Mark 13:1-37

2. Abide in developing a deeper love for Jesus. Mark 14:1-11

3. Abide in the significance of Jesus' once for all sacrifice. Mark 14:12-31

4. Abide in cultivating a willingness to do the Father's will, like Jesus did.  Mark 14:32-42

It is in these particular passages of Mark that we do not find the word "immediately" - and rightly so, since without those times of abiding, we can miss out on what the Lord is communicating to us through His word.

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