“The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (v. 1)

Mark 1:1-18 Sunday 7 December 2014

Psalm: Psalm 85 


The first verse, 'The beginning of the good news…' reminds usimmediately of Genesis chapter 1. In verses 2 and 3 we then havequotes from Malachi 3:1, Isaiah40:3 and some scholars say Exodus23:20. This is then embodied in the man John the Baptist who,in describing his clothing and diet, Mark's Gospel intends that weare reminded of Elijah as described in 2Kings 1:8.

The image of Elijah and these verses can be described asapocalyptic. This means that the old creation is ending, but alsosomething new is beginning with the idea of heaven and God beingrevealed and the coming of a Messiah. There was such a moment atJesus' Baptism when the heavens were "torn apart" in verse 10 and avoice came from heaven in verse 11 describing Jesus as the "belovedson"; which reminds us of the messianic Psalm2 and verse 7 in particular.

Jesus is was then driven into the desert by the Spirit to betempted, after which Mark's Gospel notes John's arrest and thebeginning of Jesus' ministry with a summary of his message (verse15). Given what we have said about apocalyptic, we note that Jesusspeaks of the time being fulfilled and that the kingdom of God isat hand. This is a moment, an ending and a new beginning.

For the fishermen, it was a very down to earth ending in whichthey leave their normal day to day life and make a new beginning.They were called to be fishers of men (the NRSV uses the phrase"fish for people" (v. 17)), something that is traditionallyassociated with saving souls. But it is an Old Testament imagefound in Ezekiel 29:4 and Amos4:2 in which it is used to speak about judgement againstoppressive Egypt and the oppressive rich. All of this reminds usthat Elijah opposed King Ahab (eg 1Kings 18) and John the Baptist opposed King Herod and paid withhis life. Suddenly these stories remind us of the political natureof the opening of Mark's Gospel.

To Ponder

  • Jesus came proclaiming his message of the kingdom. How shouldwe proclaim that today?
  • The disciples left everything and immediately followed him.Elisha had a few things to do before he followed Elijah (eg 1Kings 19). What would you like to do before you follow Jesustoday and how do you think he feels about these things?
  • Elijah challenged the power of Ahab, John the Baptistchallenged the power of Herod and Jesus called his disciples to befishers of men. Who should we be challenging today? 


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