Sunday, August 17, 2014

encountering jesus with john and mark

I have loved John 1 for many years. This week I have added Mark 1 to my deeper affections.

In John 1
we encounter Jesus in the pile-up of nouns which describe who Jesus is.
  • Word, God (1)
  • life, light (4-5, 8-9)
  • grace, truth (14)        
  • Jesus Christ (17)     
  • Lord (23)
  • the Lamb of God (29, 36)
  • the Son of God (34, 49)     
  • Rabbi (38, 49)
  • Messiah (41)
  • Jesus of Nazareth (45)
  • the son of Joseph (45)     
  • king of Israel (49)
  • Son of Man (51) ... and maybe even more :)     
Look at that list. Consider what it opens up about Jesus. His humanity. His divinity. His Jewish identity, fulfillment, ministry. His historical reality. His salvation purpose ... and then one of my favourite sermons: Jesus is light to a dark world, life to a dying world, grace to an undeserving world, and truth to a deceived world. You gotta love the johannine christology found in John chapter one!

In Mark 1
we encounter Jesus in the pile-up of verbs which describe what Jesus does (or has done to him).
  • baptising with the Holy Spirit (8)
  • having the Spirit descend on him like a dove (10)
  • knowing the Father's love and pleasure (11)
  • being sent by the Spirit in to the desert - and tempted by Satan there (13)
  • proclaiming the good news of God (14)
  • calling fishermen to follow him and making them fishers of men and women (17-20)
  • teaching with authority in a way that amazed people (21-22, 27)
  • casting out an evil spirit in a way that amazed people (25, 27)
  • healing a woman with a fever (31) and many other diseases (34)
  • driving out demons (34)
  • retreating to a solitary place for prayer (35)
  • preaching in synagogues and driving out demons (39)
  • filled with compassion, touching a man to cure leprosy (42)
  • staying out in lonely places (45) ... and maybe even more :)
Look at that list. Consider what it opens up about Jesus. All the Father-Spirit-Son stuff going on. Proclaiming. Teaching. Healing. Casting out. The authority. The compassion. The reality of temptation. The need for retreat. You gotta love the markan christology found in Mark chapter one!

How do we respond to this twin encounter with Jesus?
Here is my response - and in this order:

1. Put myself at his feet and, as the hymn-writer expresses it, becoming 'lost in wonder, love, and praise' - and 'casting down my crowns' while I am at it. So worship is the first response - a worship of Jesus as a unique person with a unique mission.

2. Put myself in the audience: hanging out with John the Baptist, giving my life to preparing the way for Jesus; with the listeners and observers, being amazed at Jesus' authoritative teaching and healing; with the disciples, obeying Jesus' call to follow him; with the sick and demon-possessed, knowing Jesus can and does heal. My primary identification is with the people like me in the story.

Then I am ready to engage the assumption with which so many commence: mission is about doing what Jesus does. 'We are to follow him and so let's expect to do what he did'.
No - and yes.

3. No - because #1 and #2 are where we should find ourselves first. Some things that Jesus does are unrepeatable. With the full revelation of Jesus that we have in scripture now, it is sharing who Jesus is (evangelism) and doing what Jesus says (obedience) that are to grab the headlines in our lives.

4. Yes - because 'doing what Jesus does', particularly the signs and wonders, can still be part of what he wants us to do. However I remain persuaded that this happens, primarily, in settings where the gospel is pioneering its way into new frontiers where the knowledge of Jesus is limited. I remain skeptical about claims from those who have a full revelation of Jesus available to them, and yet who still hunger for the miraculous. I find myself wanting to say, 'blessed are those who have not seen - and yet have believed' ... or words to that effect.



nice chatting


Paul

2 comments:

Ali said...

That's an encouraging reflection. Thanks. I love to read more.

Paul said...

Thanks, Ali. Let me know if you want any guidance on things to read so that you can reflect further on Jesus.