Mark 1: Heralding and Healing.

img_2453There’s more to the word herald than angels at Christmas. In Mark 1, John, the Baptizer also cousin of Jesus, paves the way and heralds/announces Jesus’ forthcoming. The moment John baptizes Jesus, the torch of heralding the gospel is passed onto Jesus himself. In verse 15, it says that Jesus preached and He called people to two things repent and believe the Good News. I’m guessing our friend Mark will get to exactly that “Good News” is as we read on.

Oddly, Jesus was baptized which we read about starting in verse 9. Why did Jesus do this? John baptized people to show that they had repented of sins (verse 4). Jesus didn’t sin, did He? Why the symbolic cleansing? Did He know we needed this example? Jesus gives a brief explanation of why he was baptized in Matthew 3, but we haven’t gotten there yet. So stop jumping ahead.

From there, Jesus called the first apostles/ more heralds (verse 16): Simon Peter and his brother, Andrew. Then later,  James and his brother, John. And as far as I can tell, these guys met Jesus, dropped their lunches, and followed Him like my pugs when I’m eating a ham sandwich. James and John literally left their dad, Zebedee, in the boat with a fishing net to drag onto shore with some (no-doubt confused) hired fishermen. So either these guys were major followers without much else going on in their lives OR there was something amazing about the One who called them. Have you ever considered how little it took to convince the first four apostles to join the cause of Christ? I’ve always wondered what the untold dialog was regarding this. Did any wives or girlfriends have an opinion about them abandoning income, profession mouths to feed and simply taking off across the desert?

Finally, it seems Jesus healed as many people as He could, but then didn’t want anyone to know about it. Though, Jesus had to have known that when you tell someone not to say anything is when they will definitely say something to everyone they know. I do appreciate that Jesus always made time to be alone for prayer and rest.When I read verses like these it makes me wonder if Jesus was an introvert…but I know better. Healing stories in the bible make me wish I had lived at the time. I’d love to see a blind person see for the first time or a deaf person hear music for the first time.

But I live today. And today we live in the tension of wondering whether miracles still happen, and if they do, why do they only seem to happen for the lucky people? Perhaps, a more spiritual person would say that today’s healings are more about spiritual healing and less about physical comforts, and that the healings of the bible were only for a certain time to prove Christ was who He said He was.  Nevertheless, we have this tension, if you believe in Jesus, that miracles once DID happen, but today, dead sons and daughters only wake to a spiritual home into the arms of Jesus but not into ours. Most Christians I know don’t feel comfortable discussing that tension, and if they do, it’s often due to simplified explanations like ‘God needed an extra angel when He called your baby home’. I’ve never been comfortable with simplified explanations for loss.

This is what we know: Jesus WAS a healer. And He healed people in every way. He healed physical disabilities AND spiritual deformities. He wore Himself out trying to help everyone and trying to share a message that hadn’t been heard in a very long time; you are loved. And THAT is how they first recognized the Savior, as the perfect One who would make this life, and the next, better.

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