Headline: The Good News
A reflection for Sunday December 6, 2020
Mark has a story to tell and he is in a rush. He begins explosively, and carries on relentlessly at a pace characterized by the repetition of the phrase ‘immediately’… it’s a breathless account of one who has witnessed something he is wanting urgently to convey. What could be so important as to need to burst out with it at such a pace?
It is the good news of Jesus Christ.
Mark tells us this by starting with a title, an astonishing headline: The beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ. And his title stands over the whole of the next 16 chapters of his book. For the message is to be taken whole: the good news begins long before the events Mark describes of John the Baptist and continues onward through the ministry and crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the whole thing, an announcement that changes the whole world, and to which our response, like the women who after meeting the risen Lord Jesus, are trembling and bewildered (Mark 16:8). It is a message of such magnitude, that it becomes the new starting place for our understanding the world around us, understanding ourselves.
It may feel too much to absorb all at once. But Mark writes his account intending we take the whole of it, together, as the announcement it is. And he starts further back in time, and ‘ends’ abruptly, not really ending at all, with the implications of the realization of the risen Jesus just dawning on those who have witnessed it.
Mark begins not with the birth of Jesus, but with the promise of God to rescue and heal the world. He starts by recalling the promise from the heart of God, ‘Comfort— comfort my people, and connects that promise of God, to John the Baptist in the wilderness, preparing people by calling them to turn back to God, to be ready for what God is doing. And he then continues to tell the whole story of Jesus work, culminating in Jesus crucifixion, and resurrection. This is the gospel: the whole account held as one. This is the message Mark is in a hurry to announce.
This next year, we’ll be focusing on Mark’s gospel account. So let us start by hearing it anew now, under the title Mark provides, the announcement he makes: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
May this year be a new beginning for us, letting our hearts, more and more be reshaped by the Good News.