Friday, August 13, 2010

Living Mark

As the story proper begins (1 :14-45), the narrator will shed greater light on Jesus’ mission and identity. Concerned to bring the reader into story time, there is no development of John’s arrest at this point, simply because he is no longer in the picture. Forging ahead quickly, the narrator highlights that Jesus takes on the role as the central character and that this will underscore both a contrast and continuity with the Baptist.

In contrast to John, remember he was outside daily life and everyday matters, Jesus will associate with others in their day by day affairs. Reversing the flow, he will go to the people in towns, villages, and cities proclaiming the good news about God, which he himself is bringing, and is.

In continuity with John, Jesus is both proclaiming and calling people to repent. For the first time in the story he now speaks- Jesus suggests, in a narrative liaison with the prologue, that the fulfillment of prophetic pronouncements have reached their goal -the time has come - something new in the light of the old has arrived. Jesus’ way of saying this is, the KOG has come near. The coming near is an indication of timing. That is, the KOG has now entered the scene of humanity in a new way.

The subject of the KOG has been much discussed in books and commentaries. Let’s just think of the phrase as God’s rule and all that this can imply. To do so is to make room for the polyphonic character of the term, rather than reducing it to a single referent or meaning. Jesus’ statement is saturated with the notion that God is fulfilling the promise that his long awaited rule is now present, yet still awaits completion. Another helpful way to envision the KOG is as a symbol in tension – past, present, future – already and not yet – arrived and not complete. It aims to evoke a whole constellation of thoughts, feelings, observations, and imaginary processes associated with God ruling in word, deed, and action. A fair bit of the story we’re hearing in Mark’s gospel is an expression of this symbol in tension, as it cuts a pathway through a thicket of conflicts, reversals, and antagonisms connected to Jesus’ actions and his teaching.

The following words of Jesus – repent and believe the good news emphasize two things: first the need to change our ways – reverse our direction, and second, to trust in and be committed to the good news, as it will now unfold in the story from here on out. While readers may be expecting some cataclysmic event, as the KOG has come near, the story of Jesus in Galilee, takes a surprising turn. God’s rule is going to manifest itself in some unexpected ways that may surprise us.


Living Spiritual Rhythms For Today