Starting Jesus: Mark 1:1-12

Day 1, 
Ash Wednesday, 
February 14, 2018
‘Starting Jesus’
Mark 1:1-12

How would you start the Jesus story?
Perhaps a back story:
framing the context of his life in history and geography;
introducing his community, culture, and family;
anecdotes of his birth and childhood?

This gospel takes a different approach, eh?
Name the topic,
remind us of Isaiah’s tradition,
the shape of things to come:
a messenger in the wilderness.
That’s not a once-for-all prediction of one event!
It’s a layered image, alluding to Elijah already,
privileging these sources and authorities.

John the baptizer is located, message summarized,
big response claimed around Jerusalem and Judea.
His appearance contrasts with his urban audience
and focuses the Elijah prophetic model.
Direct quote attributed to John:
Jesus follows and trumps John,
Holy Spirit baptism trumps confessing sin baptism

Mark’s audience knows two movements merged:
The older repentant baptists, the newer spirit-filled charismatics – 
Jesus is set up as the key to merger, ‘rise-above’ paradigm shift
When worlds collided…

Jesus comes from Nazareth of Galilee
I have called it a 30 year old venturing out of his mother’s home,
Leaving the boonies for the big time – to join the popular movement

Reframe your movie shot to a close-up of Jesus’s baptism moment:
He sees heavens split, dove descending
He hears a voice, blessing and naming him
Mark’s version does not have anybody else seeing or hearing it!

The spirit drives him to the wilderness – not Satan
He is sent away from Jerusalem, away from Jordan
‘forty days’ a biblical time frame for Noah, Moses, Elijah…
if you only had Mark – what are Satan’s temptations for Jesus?
Are the animals threats or companions?
How do the angels behave?

The beginning of the good news
of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:

“Prepare the way of the Lord, 
make his paths straight” ‘

John the baptizer
appeared in the wilderness,
proclaiming a baptism of repentance
for the forgiveness of sins.

And people
from the whole Judean countryside
and all the people of Jerusalem
were going out to him,
and were baptized by him in the river Jordan,
confessing their sins.


Now John was clothed with camel’s hair,
with a leather belt around his waist, 
and he ate locusts and wild honey.

He proclaimed,
‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me;
I am not worthy to stoop down
and untie the thong of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

And just as he was coming up out of the water,
he saw the heavens torn apart
and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.

And a voice came from heaven,
‘You are my Son, the Beloved; 
with you I am well pleased.’

And the Spirit immediately drove him
out into the wilderness.
He was in the wilderness for forty days, 
tempted by Satan;
and he was with the wild beasts; 
and the angels waited on him.