My Bible reading at this point arrives at Mark. This short-action packed account of Jesus’s life is known for its high energy, high speed re-telling… which in most versions is found in the use of the word, “immediately”.
Well, i am reading the New Jerusalem version.. and these are some of my thoughts as i read:
1/ Mark uses ‘at once’ so often, i tripped over reading it and by chapter 2, I was tired of reading it! Peter the apostle may have supplied the material; but the writer certainly isn’t great with written expression. Mark the author is the same guy Paul the grand theologian-apostle felt wasn’t quite up to the task….and rejected him from his team at one point.
Reminds me those we get impatient with; the less polished, eloquent, knowledgeable… Yet what may God entrust them with? Mark got entrusted with telling the highlights of Jesus’ life!
2/ not all the instances of ‘at once’ are sad syntax. The way Peter, Andrew, James and John left their lives behind ‘at once’ holds tremendous challenge for us. They were called to leave their lives and loved ones behind – and they did; at once! I preached on this many years ago: that should we truly confront Jesus, I think there is some urgency of response required. His is not a call to a beach resort for u to mill around considering our options. This made me think how often today we live with a man-sized God; lowering God to what we are able to perceive and believe; rather than realize the Gospel is the good news that God has lifted us so that we can now be God-sized men (and women and children).
3/ the devils and the delivered were all asked to be quiet for Jesus wanted to be able to move freely. They of course cannot quite help themselves perhaps and soon Jesus finds himself crowded and worn out. His family, concerned thinks he’s gone overboard and tries to retrieve him! Ouch, Jesus is so intent on the new Kingdom’s agenda and values that –
~ he grieves over the obstinacy and closed-mindedness of the religious leaders
~ he lets his disciples break the rules of cleanliness and Sabbath
~ he openly eats and hangs out with the ‘undesirables’
~ he calls total strangers his mother, father, brother and sister (ouch!) in earshot of his concerned family.
4/ Jesus deeply believed in the truth and power of this new Kingdom which he describes as growing and sprouting, escaping obvious notice. Clearly, if one is going to be serious about this Kingdom, he must examine the soil of his heart and he must dwell on what is spoken and seek understanding; for Jesus spoke continually in parables which have meaning beyond the obvious – requiring that the hearer make effort to understand.
Yet today, we consider people too busy to think, study, reflect – and try to help them by giving them ‘applications’… because we belong to the pragmatic, ‘what works’ generation. Alas, faith sometimes doesn’t seem to ‘work’ – not in the way of easing all our pains and preventing or resolving all our problems.
5/ Jesus calms the wind and the waves!
I pray for the storms caused by our selfish, immature ways… Lord calm these!