First Sunday of Lent 26.2.12. Mark 1. 9-15 Wilderness and Good News

16 02 2012

Wilderness

Today we have an amazingly dense passage full of action and spirituality and with a cast ranging from wild beasts to angels. We could spend the whole of Lent absorbing the truths of these seven verses alone.

Mark 1.9-15

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And 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. 11And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’

Reflections and Questions

‘the Spirit’ v10 and v12. People often say that Mark’s is a very materialistic gospel. But here the Spirit is prominent – and busy. And we see it in two modes: descending in peaceful affirmation and then roughly driving Jesus out.  We all know which mode we prefer to Spirit to be in for us.  We all love affirmation. But what is the more everyday experience? What can you say about being driven out?

‘Wilderness’ v 12. You can think back to the liberated but compass-less Israelites or forward to the Egyptian monastics, for some of whom 140 characters would be verbosity itself. Either way, the wilderness is a place where spirituality happens.  How might that challenge our views of spirituality today?  Where are the wilderness places close to home? And why does God meet is in such challenging places?

‘tempted by Satan’ v 13. Mark does not claim to know what happened between Jesus and Satan.  This gives the preacher a little more scope to use their imagination or inner experience to talk about temptation.  Is true temptation resistable by human beings?  How serious and honest are we when we talk about it? Does Satan announce his presence or come in disguise?  What disguise?

‘John was arrested’ v14   There really is no let-up here. We are only 14 verses into the gospel and such a lot has happened. And yet it is gospel, good news. Mark uses the very word. ‘John is in prison but come and hear good news.  Oh, and, by the way, it is time to repent and believe too.’ What does true repentance look like today?  And true belief?  Now – why is all this gospel?

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