I preached from Mark 1 this past Sunday and I want to share a couple of points I found extremely interesting this week was to begin with John’s words in 1:7, about one coming more powerful than he. I liked the emphasis that Donahue and Harrington make about Jesus being the stronger one. I think as chapter continue to unfolds we see this stronger one Jesus, coming with the Authority of God, (I know we haven’t encountered the term “Son of Man,” yet in a lecture or in our reading notes until 2:28 but based on Jesus usage of the term, and how it comes from Daniel 7, where we are shown one like a son of man approaching the Ancient of Days to be given authority and dominion) and we see Jesus the stronger one have authority over Satan (1:24-26; 3:23-27), Authority of Jesus over the religious leaders (1:21-22, 44; 2:5-11, 13-17, 18-20,23-28; 3:1-6 ), Authority to heal and cleanse from disease, sickness and sin (1:29-33, 40-45; 2:1-12), his authoritative call (1:14-20; 2:13-14 where Jesus calling is in the manner of how God calls throughout history, ie. Gen. 12:1-4. Also, there is an authoritative call and an immediate response by those he invites to “follow”).
I think this point that Donahue and Harrington* make is significant because if the setting for the Gospel of Mark is in or around Rome sometime in or around 60-70 C.E. the image of the stronger one would appeal greatly to Mark’s audience as they needed to be reminded of the stronger one Jesus and how was still stronger than Nero and the other trials that they were facing. I think there is significance as well for us in 2007 as we live in a world with shifting values, immorality, the threat of terrorism, injustice, disease and sickness, we need to reminded that Jesus is the stronger one, that is bringing with him the kingdom reign of God, and that we are part of the continuing unfolding of God’s story.
Two other observations from Mark 1 is the importance of the Old Testament to the proclamation of the Gospel in Mark. Mark could be called the Gospel according to Isaiah, as his work draws on major themes in Isaiah; returning from exile, forgiveness of sin, the heavens being torn open.
Finally when Jesus shows up in Mark he comes proclaiming the in-breaking kingdom of God. Jesus was inaugurating the arrival of God in our midst come to reclaim all of creation and renew it. This indeed is “good news.”
* Donahue and Harrington, Sacra Pagina.