Monday 04 January 2016

Bible Book:

“That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.” (vv. 32-34)

Psalm: Psalm2:1-8


Why is it that in the season of Christmas we are being asked toread stories of Christ's healing miracles?

The first half of Mark's Gospel is written to provoke thequestion, "But who do you say that I am?" (Mark8:29). The question is already answered at the start of theGospel where it states unequivocally that Jesus is the Christ(Messiah), the Son of God (Mark1:1). He goes on to demonstrate who Jesus is by describing whatJesus does: he teaches with amazing authority (Mark1:22); he casts out demons (Mark1:26) and now he heals. Later he will command wind and waves(Mark 4:39), exorcise a legion of demons (Mark5:13-15) and feed the hungry (Mark6:42). Who else would be able to do these things but God'sanointed (Messiah)?

Thus, reading the early chapters of Mark's Gospel in this seasonhelp us to think about the identity of the baby in the manger. ForChristians, this is no ordinary baby. Rather, here God's very selfis being revealed.

This is an extraordinary claim, but how convincing are thesemiracles in persuading us that Jesus is God in human flesh? Surelyprophets had long been recognised in Israel by their ability toperform miracles? Why would we make the leap to decide with Markthat Jesus is divine?

These are centuries old mysteries that Christians have wrestledhard in every generation to put into words. Yet somehow when manypeople encountered Jesus they recognised not just a prophet likeElijah, but God's very self present with them. Chief amongst thosewho could perceive Jesus' identity were the demons (verse 34) whoinstantly knew just who they were up against.

Throughout Mark's Gospel Jesus is very keen that whilst heproclaims God's kingdom, he does not go around telling people thathe is God. Rather, he wants people to come to recognise him forthemselves. He doesn't want spectators who are impressed bymiracles and wonders. Instead, he wants disciples, who, like SimonPeter's mother-in-law, are lifted up by their contact with him, torealize that they are in the presence of God's very self; discipleswhose instinct then is to want to serve him (verse 31).

To Ponder

  • What evidence do you think there is that Jesus was not only aprophet but divine?
  • What do you think was the message Jesus came to proclaim (verse38)?
  • Feminist theologians have struggled with the fact that thefirst thing Simon Peter's mother-in-law does on recovering from herfever is feed her son and his friends (verse 31). What do you makeof this part of the story?
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