Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Suffering for Jesus

I was reading the beginning of the gospel of Mark. Starting to 'immerse myself in the gospel' as Trevor Hudson recommends in 'Signposts to Spirituality'.

And John the Baptist stood out for me in a way I have not seen before. I read about the crowds that came from all Judea and Jerusalem. And immediately after that the passage says that John wore camel hair and ate locusts and honey. It was like he was the pastor of one of today's mega-churches. Imagine if he had charged for the baptisms. He would have been pretty wealthy. To continue wearing camel hair and so on must have taken immense faith.

And then I thought of him being put in prison and sending messages to Jesus asking him if he was the Messiah. I heard or read (can't remember) someone asking how it could be that John was unsure after all he had seen. But of course John was in prison, about to lose his life. Of course he was unsure. If this was the Messiah, and there was all this good news, why was he (John) in prison? What a man of faith. What a tragedy that the one who prepared the way for Jesus should end up on the outskirts of it all and be executed.

I guess the message is that some of us are John the Baptist today. In some sense feeling like we are losing and wondering if Jesus is really around. I don't understand it. But Jesus was the Messiah . . . and he is really around today.


Stephen Murray said...

Mark is an amazing gospel. I've just spent the last year studying it and teaching it to a small group. The key with Mark is to follow the flow of the literature and always ask the 'why?' question. So why does Mark describe John the Baptist in such a way. A lot of the why questions can be answered by looking at OT allusions. So John's description sounds suprisingly similar to that of Elijah's description in some OT passages.

Mark is always very intentional about how he arranges the material - its clearly not chronological. He's also keen to build upon the backdrop of the OT and so I benefited hugely from not only going back to all the OT references and allusions (and there are a lot of allusions that aren't direct quotes) but also checking the broader contexts of those OT passages. In fact the book of Isaiah practically becomes the foil for the later chapters of Mark's gospel. Mark expects his readers to be familiar with Isaiah and not only the individual quotes but also the broader movements in Isaiah. There's almost no end to the depth of the literary value of Mark.

Happy and fruitful reading.

Unknown said...

Is Jesus Enough? A thought provoking question. When considered together with "Why are we involved in church and outreach matters and are out lives too busy?" We find some answers in Revelation 2 the statement to the church at Ephesus. Did John the Baptist spend enough time with Jesus may also be a question?

rebecca said...

I really like this.


Jenny Hillebrand said...

For some reason I didn't get email notification about these comments! So sorry for not responding. Thank you all for your comments! Jenny