Tag Archives: Mark 1

New Year’s with JB

John the Baptist’s message is great for this week between Christmas and New Years.  He calls us back to a simple life-style. After all the feasting we may need repentance.

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. (Mark 1:4-5)

The wilderness in Scripture was not some beautiful garden-like place where people went on vacation.  Wilderness was wild, uncivilized, stripped of all niceties and refinement.  Israel had spent forty years in the wilderness during the Exodus to purify themselves from all the toxic Egyptian cultural practices. It was a place for spiritual death and rebirth.

John’s clothes of camel’s hair and leather belt, reminded the people of the Old Testament prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1:8).  Sort of like wearing a red cape to remind people of Superman. But John/Elijah had a stronger purpose than Superman, to call the hearts and lives of people back to God.

John called people to recalibrate their vision of life, success, and values.  They were baptized as a cleansing of their sinful ways so that they could begin anew, fresh and clean.

Now as 2011 concludes, we can come to our Lord seeking a fresh beginning, a new start in 2012.  We can confess our sin, knowing that God forgives us our sin and will give us a clean start.

Try this the next time you take a bath or shower.  As you wash the sweat and dirt of the day, say to yourself as you pray to God, “I am cleansed, body, mind and spirit, by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Then step out into the promise of vibrant new life in Christ. Resolve to act as a child of God, seeking God’s path this day.

Lord Jesus, cleanse me and make me new.

Beginning the Gospel School

Beginnings need special attention. On the first day of school I would wait with my children at their bus stop and snap a picture to mark the occasion. My first day at Resurrection, I arrived early in the morning and walked the grounds, thinking and praying for the congregation’s future. Our western culture declares a holiday to begin each New Year. The Bible starts with the awesome statement, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

The New Testament begins with four gospels, each declaring Jesus Christ as Lord, but in unique ways. Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus, showing his Jewish heritage through Abraham and David. Mark begins with the words of the Old Testament, “I am sending my messenger ahead of you,” an introduction to John the Baptist and Jesus’ baptism. Luke begins in the temple of Jerusalem where an angel announces to the priest Zechariah that in his old age he will have a son, John the Baptist. John has perhaps the most auspicious beginning, directly echoing the words of Genesis, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and was God.”

All four Gospels want to make clear from the beginning that Jesus is a central actor of God’s ongoing story to redeem a corrupt and broken world. The story of the Old Testament set the stage for Jesus’ entrance into the cosmic drama. His entrance shifts the story in a radical new direction, but it is still connected to God’s ongoing redemption.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are called Gospels (Good News) and not biographies. Their purpose is not simple to inform the reader about Jesus’ life, but rather to transform the reader into a passionate follower of Jesus. They make no claim to be unbiased. They have an announcement to declare: Jesus is Good News for those who embrace his mission.

As 2012 begins, I pray that you will embrace this news and seek to follow Jesus as you read from the Gospels. At Resurrection, our Sunday morning Bible texts will be from the Gospel of Mark and we will follow Jesus chapter by chapter to his death on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter. Good news is coming in 2012 as we begin our study of Jesus.  Let’s start with joy.

Lord Jesus, show me the way.