Friday, July 23, 2010

Living Mark

The prologue of the gospel of Mark continues in verses 9-11 with Jesus’ arrival on the scene. The narrator points out to the readers that Jesus comes out of Nazareth in Galilee to be baptized by John ‘in those days’ – a highly Semitic way of saying, this is someone and something entirely new – who is not from Jerusalem. God is doing a new thing and ironically Jesus, in contrast to the Jewish crowds flowing out of Jerusalem and Judea, arrives from Galilee. The coming One enters the prologue and paradoxically is baptized by John with water, perhaps the narrator’s way of highlighting Jesus’ aligning himself with the people of God and the transfer, for the reader, from one trajectory in the OT to what God was doing now in Jesus. The coming One – Jesus – after baptism reception has a vision of a tear in heaven, no doubt reminiscent for the narrator, of many OT pictures that portray God as opening heaven to descend and be with his people. The drama of tearing open heaven is a powerful way of revealing that something surprising is about to take place.

Just then Jesus sees the Spirit descending to or upon him, which from the narrative perspective, is a confirmation of the fulfillment of the times as Jesus is more and more clearly identified as the long awaited Messiah of God who would be saturated with God’s Spirit and anointed, empowered, and equipped by the Spirit for the task at hand. There does not seem to be, as far as I know, any particular hidden significance as to why the narrator uses the imagery of a dove. Doves, at the time, don’t carry any symbolic or theological overtones, so it is probably best to take this as a way of saying that Jesus saw the invisible Spirit in the visible form of a dove, which represents a confirmation for readers as to who he is as the Christ.


Living Spiritual Rhythms For Today