Knysna Methodist Church

5 December 2021

KMC – Lectionary Readings – 5.12.2021

Mark 1:1-8
Evidence is strong that Mark’s Gospel is the first account of the life of Jesus as it is dated around 65 AD. His source seems to have been Peter who would have given first-hand accounts of his time with Jesus. As such it is the closest Christ-followers are likely to get to an eyewitness account of Jesus’ time on earth. Mark set out to give an account of Jesus as He really was, saying he was a carpenter (6:3); He was driven into the desert by the Spirit (1:12); He was moved with compassion (6:34), anger (3:5; 10:14), love (10:21), hunger (11:12) and exhaustion (6:31). He never forgot, though who Jesus really was and he stresses His divinity (1:10-11) and the amazement of the people who witnessed the events as they happened (1:12; 23-27; 4:35-41; 6:47-52). Mark loved adding little details that light up the scenes he is describing. For example Matthew describes Jesus taking a small child and using him to illustrate a point He is teaching. Mark says Jesus took this small child in His arms – and life and love enter the story in just a few words. In the stilling of the storm Mark tells us that Jesus was asleep on a pillow. Only someone who was there, who witnessed both the humanity and the divinity of Jesus would have known that detail.

Both Matthew and Luke used a great deal of Mark’s material in their own Gospels. Mark begins his account by going far back to the time of the prophets Isaiah (40:3) and Malachi (3:1). He recalls the prophecies which were now being fulfilled by John the Baptist, preparing the way for Jesus to come. There is no extraneous material in the Gospel of Mark. Here is the prophecy – ‘and so …’ – here is John the Baptist.

The Jews knew about baptism – it was a process Gentiles would undertake to become a proselyte (a member of the Jewish community). But here was John, asking Jews to go through the same process and so be cleansed; and then to confess their sin to themselves, those they have wronged and to God.
John drew huge crowds who flocked to hear him and be baptized. He was unusual. He spoke out against the accepted religious practices of the time; he lived in the desert, wearing strange clothes that reminded his listeners of the prophets of long ago; he ate simple food. John lived simply and preached a message that resonated in people’s hearts, speaking to their consciences. The people knew it had been 300 years since God last spoke through His prophets. They had been waiting to hear God’s voice again – and now they recognised it. His humility compelled them to listen to him. His willingness to step back and to point to Someone greater than himself was both rare and attractive. And now, Jesus arrives to be baptised. John’s baptism was the baptism of repentance. Why would Jesus need to be baptised in this way? There are several reasons:
• It was the moment of decision. John’s presence was the signal Jesus had been waiting for to start His own ministry. Now He stepped forward into public life.
• It was the moment of identification. Whilst Jesus did not need to repent of sin Himself, He wanted to identify with the movement back to God as people came in repentance for baptism.
Then in verses 11 and 12 it is evident that
• It was the moment of approval. God the Father affirmed Jesus’ submission to the road ahead.
• It was the moment of equipping. The Spirit came gently, like a dove. John had been thundering ‘Repent!’ Jesus came representing Love.

Advent meditations:
Day 1 : How did you come to know Jesus? Spend some time writing the story down.
Day 2 : How can you make the story of your meeting Jesus brief, so you can tell someone in a few words? Spend some time condensing what you wrote yesterday.
Day 3 : When you talk to people about Jesus do you emphasise ‘repent’ or ‘love’?
Day 4 : Who is God bringing to you mind to tell about Jesus? How will you tell your story?
Day 5 : Pray for the person God has brought to mind and, if possible, speak to them today about Jesus and what He means to you.

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