The first chapter in the Gospel of Mark can be considered a synopsis of Mark’s entire gospel. See if you can find the common thread that links together these three fascinating quotes. 1) “As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John” (1:29). 2) Jesus had just been in the synagogue where people “were all amazed, and they kept on asking each other, ‘What is this? A new teaching – with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’” (1:27). 3) Jesus proclaims, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news” (1:14-15).
The common thread that links Mark 1 together and runs throughout the Gospel of Mark is this: We are being made well by resting in the arms of God’s love. There are three ways this happens.
First, we are made well by God treating all of us with tenderness. At Peter’s invitation, Jesus goes into Peter’s house and takes Peter’s mother-in-law by the hand and lifts her up (Mark 1:30-35). Many people believed that sickness was evidence of sin, and therefore deserved punishment from God. She is a woman in a culture that did not highly esteem woman. Jesus ignores all of this.
The point of this healing is the message it conveys about God’s character revealed in Jesus: God is absolutely tender! Jesus continued to embody the vision of God as one who serves with tenderness.
Secondly, Jesus shows us the reconciling character of God: The Face of God. After Peter’s mother-in-law served Jesus’ disciples, they brought all the sick or possessed with demons to Jesus which meant that the entire town was gathered around Peter’s house. Remember Jesus was proclaiming that the kingdom of God has come near, we are to change our ways, and believe in the good news. The good news of the kingdom of God is that we are glorified to God and we are reconciled to one another. Sin is the illusion that we are separate from God and each other. We need to stop assuring ourselves that we are better than our neighbor and therefore more worthy.
Ask yourself this question: Can I trust God with my life, my value, my worth, leaving all to God, and go with the flow no matter where it takes me, or do I need to push someone down to falsely insure I rise up? In other words, can you let go of your prideful ego so that you could rest in the arms of God’s love alone? To the extent that you cannot let go of your self-serving ego and trust God, you sin. You are forgiven for that, but it blocks your relationship with God from your side.
Third, we are to surrender to God. After all that preaching and serving, Jesus went off to a deserted place and prayed to God. Jesus was healed, was cleansed, made well, and again went out to preach in other towns and heal others. Likewise, we – you and I – can carry the world on our shoulders or we can pray, “I give you, dear God, my life, my world, the whole world.”
We are to surrender to God, and put our trust in God’s gracious and compassionate love. We are to be the image and likeness of God by treating all humanity with tenderness, and only with tenderness. Collectively, we are the body of Christ, the face of God, and individually we are to reveal the forgiving and reconciling character of God.
Rev. Tom Cici is the pastor at First Christian Church of Hoopeston (502 E. Main St). Please go to www.fcchoopeston.org for inspirational sermons and much more.