Reflection for 10th December 2023
The Second Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 40.1-11, 2 Peter 3.8-15a, Mark 1.1-8.
I wonder if you have ever thought about who Jesus is? Do you think he was just a man who knew God really well? Or perhaps, to you, Jesus really was the Son of God, both human and divine. Many years ago, I once had a discussion with a priest of many rural churches in which he told me that many people in his congregations had a problem with Jesus being divine. They could cope with the idea of God and worshipping Him, but Jesus, eh, not so sure. I found the priest’s conversation really interesting, as, at that time, I hadn’t really considered that those around me had a different understanding of Christ than I did.
Learning for ourselves what Christ means to us is an important part of being His disciple, and, of course, the Bible is the place to go. This week, we look at the beginning of Mark and understand his personal view of who Jesus is. St. Mark himself was, as we know, one of the apostles and a Jew. His Gospel is thought to be the first book written about thirty years after Jesus ascended to heaven. We can therefore assume his account to be accurate. I believe understanding how St. Mark views Jesus (his Christology) is an important key to unlocking his gospel. Also, through this understanding, we can clarify our own thinking about who Jesus is to us.
What makes St. Mark’s Christology and his understanding of Jesus so interesting is that he refers to Jesus as the Christ. The very first line of his gospel opens with ‘the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.’ From the outset, St. Mark firmly establishes that Jesus is no ordinary man and not just another prophet but Christ, meaning the “Anointed One." Then, shockingly, Mark states that Jesus is the son of God, showing Jesus’ special relationship with God. This was so daring of Mark and so unexpected to his hearers because Mark is not beating around the bush but exclaiming loudly and clearly that God’s son, the Messiah, has come!
Imagine the people hearing this gospel for the first time as St. Mark gives his wakeup call. He knows who Jesus is and the purpose of the teachings because
St. Mark lived, breathed, and ate with Jesus. Mark absorbed all of Jesus’ teachings and actions like a sponge, and now they are poured out into the pages of his gospel. How shocked and unprepared the hearers must have felt. As the story goes on, even John the Baptist himself seems to carry on this sense of unreadiness, as he feels unworthy to even untie the laces of Jesus’ sandals, and here was a man whose whole life was lived in faith.
As we continue to journey through Advent, we are again prompted to reflect on who Jesus is personally to us. Although we attend church and, through faith, believe that Christ is our saviour, our great shepherd who guides us, you can at home use this precious time for mulling over your view of Jesus and deciding upon your Christology. You may ask, so what’s the point of doing this? Well, as we are commanded to share the gospel with all, having a good grip on what we believe and who we are in Christ is essential. After all, Jesus knows each and every one of us very well, so why not spend time getting to know him? This by no means implies that we will learn all the answers or be able to compose clever responses. However, this does mean that we become more grounded in Christ, grounded in His love for us by being rooted in the scriptures. And from such roots can the good news of Christ truly flourish out of our lives.
Blessings and prayers,