Mark is the Tom Clancy of the New Testament. He is an action adventure writer. His gospel moves fast. His favorite word is “immediately.” He hates the passive voice. Jesus is always doing something. As a writer, myself, I recognize the writing problem that Mark gets himself into at the end of his first chapter. Mark wants to keep the story moving, but he also wants to give us details about how Jesus spent his days. The Bible’s other authors would have written a few paragraphs about what Jesus often did, or the nature of his habits. “Often” and “routine” are not in Mark’s adventure packed vocabulary.
Many Bible scholars think that Mark, also known as John-Mark, is Peter’s ghost writer. The impulsive fisherman didn’t have time to put words to paper. Mark didn’t want to waste the reader’s time, or attention span, with talk of what Jesus ate for breakfast or how often he went to the gym. Instead, he gives us a fast paced account of a single day. He implies that this is what its like to follow Jesus. We are left thinking that being a disciple is too high stress, 24/7, type A, a thing for our lives (not that I’m criticizing Mark). Yet, Mark is an antidote to the ho-hum, gentle and mild, church-is-boring, way we have settled into this Christianity thing.
Lent starts in another week and a half. We do well to remember that the reason Mark rips through the beginning of Jesus’ story is because he wants to take us to the cross. The event that reshapes all of human history doesn’t happen along the quaint Galilean shore, it’s in Jerusalem — bloody and passionate — and there, oddly enough, Mark slows down to bring our work-a-day world to a stop.
So every day with Jesus isn’t like the one described in Mark 1:21-39. But they all contain the same elements:
- Mark 1:21 - The application of scripture to real life. Jesus taught with authority because he knew that the Bible was relevant to the needs of everyday people like us.
- Verses 23-27 - A willingness to confront the most difficult spiritual problems of the day, every day, especially on Sunday.
- Verse 28 - Going public. Go big or go home. Jesus made news.
- Verses30-34 - Jesus brought healing everywhere. Who will he be for us today? Our healer.
- Verse 35 - Prayer, private worship, and checking in with the soul, are the most consistent aspects of daily Christian life.
- Verses 36-39 - Jesus goes on the road to find new people. We need diversity. We need to go to those who are not like us.