Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Notes on Mark: The Beginning of the Good News

MARK 1:1
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ [the Son of God]

The first verse of the Gospel is a title to the whole work. Like Matthew and John, Mark opens with an echo of the book of Genesis. The beginning recalls the first line of the creation narrative in Gen 1:1, and  suggests that the good news that Mark is about to tell is a new beginning, a new work of God as original and stupendous as the creation of the universe.


Mark's opening line resonates with his excitement at the glad tidings he is conveying. He sees the coming of Jesus, preceded by that of John the Baptist, as the turning point in history, when God decisively acted to accomplish all that he had promised for so many centuries. At the time Mark wrote, the good news was beginning to explode upon the Mediterranean world, as the apostles and other Christians traveled throughout the empire, evangelizing in synagogues and town squares. Lives were being changed as people who had been lost in spiritual darkness and moral confusion came to know the living Christ and experience his love. Mark's evident joy at the tidings he has to share prompts the questions: Do we realize how good the good news is? Do we recognize that this news fulfills and far surpasses all the deepest longings of the human heart? Or have we settled of a diluted version of the gospel that has little power to impact our daily lives? God's entrance into human history in the person of Jesus Christ is news that is inexhaustibly new, as fresh and potent as on the day it was first proclaimed.
This really made me take a new look at just what Mark was really saying. I have intellectually known for some time that the good news of Christ is exciting and explosive, but how long has it been since I really resonated with it? It also confirms what our priest has long said, that Mark is not the simple book people like to say it is, but rather is intricately constructed. We will see more proof of that as we move through the book.

1 comment:

  1. I spent a couple of months reading Mark with commentary last year. It was a great experience and your priest is correct in my humble opinion. Mark's prose is supposed to be simple, and I can't tell that through translation, but his constructing of scenes is magnificent. As you read, notice how each chapter tends to be divided into three scenes spliced together like a cutting and patching of movie scenes. The three scenes interconnect in theme for wonderful effect. I did not expect to say this before my read, but afterward I thought Mark was brilliant.