Shea: It’s no secret that Mark is your favorite Gospel.
Tim: I love all the Gospels. But I guess Mark is my favorite because of how direct Jesus is. He’s on a mission and he’s not messing around.
Shea: And yet people can’t recognize who he is. The disciples don’t seem to know. The Pharisees and Religious Right can’t figure out what to do with him. For the longest time, nobody puts it together and realizes Jesus is the Christ.
Tim: Well, Mark knows. He’s tells us as much is in the first sentence of his book. And, rather interestingly, evil spirits recognize Jesus. They know they’re in big trouble whenever he shows up. They cry, “What do you want with us?” Then Jesus sends them packing.
Shea: Compared to the other Gospels, Jesus doesn’t talk much in Mark.
Tim: That’s right. You won’t find long discourses and convoluted debates in Mark. Even the parables are quick and to the point. The writer is using a journalistic approach, showing us how this Jesus Movement got started, how it nearly got shut down, and why it ultimately couldn’t be stopped. God was working out a new kind of idea, a bigger, better plan for the world, a way of living unlike anything before it.
Shea: The Way was how the first believers described their devotion as Jesus followers.
Tim: And that’s Mark’s big theme. Prepare the way of the Lord, a revolutionary, all-encompassing idea that led not only to God but also to a new way of life that subverted everything the Roman Empire stood for: power, greed, materialism, militarism, slavery, exploitation of poor people, corrupt leadership, and excesses of every kind, including religious overkill.
Shea: Yet in the middle of so much wickedness Jesus declares, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.”
Tim: In Mark’s Gospel, the reign of God is all of a piece. You can’t do the God thing without the justice thing. And justice won’t work if you leave God out of it. To repent is to change direction, to reject what passes as justice and embrace what’s truly just. God is establishing a new order, and Jesus is leading the charge. That’s why we follow Jesus, why we sign on to be radical disciples. God’s up to something and we want to be part of it.
Shea: We need this Gospel now more than ever.
Tim: All you have to do is open your newsfeed to see how far we’ve strayed from the Way. Mark has never been timelier.
Join us this Thursday at L!VE Café, 163 S. Oak Park Avenue in Oak Park. Doors open at 7:00p, the study begins at 7:30p. If you can’t be with us in person, join us via Facebook Live.
We need your help!
As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!
Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea
As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.
Summer is the perfect time for a “walking tour” of Mark’s Gospel. The oldest and shortest of the Gospels, Mark is full of amazing details that capture the life and ministry of Jesus in fascinating ways. Mark’s Jesus is a man on a mission without much patience for folks who can’t keep up. He says exactly what’s on his mind. And the writer tells the Jesus story in an action-packed style overflowing with mysterious touches. Why is there no Christmas chapter? Why is Jesus so tough on the disciples? Why can’t they see who he really is? Why are the women afraid to tell the news of the Risen Christ? And what’s up with that naked man in Gethsemane (among other peculiarities)?
Join us every Thursday from June 7-August 30, as we spend the summer touring Mark’s Gospel. It will be a trip well worth taking!