March 5, 2006 - Year B - Lent 1

Mark 1:9-15

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth, a town of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And the moment he came up out of the water, heaven opened before him and he saw the Spirit coming down on him like a dove. 11 And these words were heard from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved, the One I have chosen.”

12 Then the Spirit drove him into the desert. 13 Jesus stayed in the desert forty days and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, but angels ministered to him.

 14 After John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee and began preaching the Good News of God. 15 He said, “The time has come; the kingdom of God is at hand. Change your ways and believe the Good News.”

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Notes from [The Community Christian Bible

• 14. After this desert experience, Jesus returns to his home province, Galilee, and establishes himself in Capernaum. Jesus lives in the house of Simon, who already appears to be the leader of a group of fishermen, and among them Jesus finds his disciples.

God becomes human, Jesus shares the life of the people of his time, and like the prophets he teaches by what he says and does.

The time has come (v. 15). What does that mean? The time fixed by God has come to an end (Gal 4:4; Eph 1:10), the time of preparation has ended, and the manifestation of God announced by the prophets has already begun.

Change your ways and believe the Good News. God does not expect works on the part of human beings but calls them to faith. Be rid of all that hampers you, of all that prevents you from seeing and believe! Believe that it is he, and he alone who is able to save you!

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Comments by Wesley

1. With the heavenly words we may have an echo of Isaiah 42:1,4 -- "Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations.... He will not fail or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth."

Theodore W. Jennings in, The Insurrections of the Crucified, writes: "The voice, thus pronounces a commission to establish an international rule of justice. How this is to be done is what we must learn from the narrative. But it is already clear that what Jesus is up to is precisely this: the establishment of the just empire of God. Jesus has a political, indeed an imperial mandate. In the bible, spiritual and political matters are not separate things; they are the same thing. The difference is not between politics and spirit, but between a divine and a worldly politics, between justice and oppression, between the politics of God and the politics of idolatry."

Does the assurance that you are GOD's beloved further your journey along and participation in a politics of justice?

2. "This is my son." . . . "As Donald Juel (among others) has convincingly shown, these words identify Jesus as God's messiah" . . . "The 'daughter of a voice,' [bat qol] the echo by which God still speaks into a world that no longer hears God's voice . . . ." . . .  "This practice comes hard for Christians, who are accustomed to projecting Jesus' glory into the heavens and the screen of eternity. Such projecting may be necessary and appropriate, but Christians who tell this story must practice noticing that this defers the effect of God's care for creation. To name Jesus messiah (as 'reinterpreted' by God) is to abandon creation in favor of re-creation. This abandonment leaves behind only an echo of God's promised redemption, and no redemption itself. If this is how one ought to view this scene with its bat qol. then there is a sense of loss, even of tragedy, here that must be honored if the scene is to be played truthfully." [selected from Provoking the Gospel of Mark by Richard W. Swanson]

Whether of flood or wilderness there is a sense of before and after that needs looking at here. This is a division of time that calls us to a great seriousness of immediate response. Will we join Jesus in following John, hearing assurance, persevering through trials and clarifying next steps toward a new creation, toward good news?

3. Whether viewed from the perspective of the people of any given time, some eternal politics of God, or a disjuncture between creation so far and creation anew, there is a sense of urgency that change is not only in the air, but actively present. This shift calls us to new ways that require an internal understanding that something better is going to be the result of participating in this change. This "better" is another way of saying, "good news".

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