So, we start the story over again. I love the fact that there are four Gospels. Four different accounts of the same story. It gives you a much fuller picture of things, like listening to four different eyewitness accounts of an event, or hearing news from four different outlets.
In fact, it’s exactly like that. This is news. Good news. Mark starts off right at the start by telling us,
“The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1 NIV)
He wants to grab our attention. This is good news, and it’s about the Son of God. Mark knows he has a story that we need to read, so he lays it out for us at the very beginning. No dressing it up or beating around the bush, this is worth reading. Have a look.
He then gives us a bit of a whistlestop tour of the same stories Matthew gave us; John the Baptist, Jesus’ baptism, the calling of the first disciples, many healings, many challenges from the religious leaders.
During this time, one thing saddens and angers him. Here is the good news. The same good news that Mark feels so compelled to commit to paper (or papyrus, or clay. I’m not really sure.), but people are constantly trying to catch him out because they have “stubborn hearts”.
He cast out demons. He must be one himself.
He tells a man that his sins are forgiven. That’s blasphemy!
He picks grain on the Sabbath. He’s breaking the Law.
He heals on the Sabbath…
They have no answer. Jesus always has the answers to them, but they keep coming back. Not because there are holes in what he says and does, but because they can’t, or won’t, accept it. Their hearts are stubborn and will not give up on their outmoded, man made ideas, even in the face of good news.
I always know better. There’s always a reason for me to behave in a certain way or do (or not do) a certain thing. Even though I’m being told by all quarters that I’m wrong, I’m also stubborn and won’t give in.
I’m not always like this, but I sometimes am. We all are, if we’re not too stubborn to admit it to ourselves. Pride and bloody-mindedness all too often get in the way of progress. We come out with excuses,
“We’ve always done it this way.”
“It’s what I feel comfortable with.”
“I tried it once and it didn’t work, so I’m not doing it again.”
“If I did that, I wouldn’t be true to myself.” (That one makes me want to rip my own head off in frustration! What you mean is that you’ll only do what you want to do. Horrible phrase!)
We all need to open ourselves up to new things. To the endless possibilities we are presented with. To the freedom that comes from not being tied down to the routine and hopelessness that the world tries to tie us down to. To one who gave up everything so that we could gain life.
This is Good News!