Mark’s gospel kicks off with a bang. Things happen fast, even “immediately. Jesus is baptized by John in verse 9 and by verse 14 John is already arrested. For his part, Jesus is quickly in and out of the Jordan river and then in and out of the wilderness in forty days so that his first preaching comes just 14 verses after this gospel begins! Jesus is presented as a person of authority and action. We read of him proclaiming the good news, calling his first disciples, teaching the believers, freeing the possessed, and healing the sick. Because of his bold and fast action, verse 28 tells us that Jesus’ fame spread quickly throughout the surrounding region.
Some businesses opt for a quiet or “soft” opening. Not this gospel! The good news of Jesus and the public world-changing ministry of Jesus are launched like a rocket from Cape Canaveral. It’s a bold and big start… a big bang indeed.
I’ll be preaching on this passage from Mark this Sunday. For now, I want to point you to Mark’s emphasis that Jesus’ word has great command and full authority. Over what? Over everything! He overcomes Satan and wild beasts in the wilderness. His word turns human lives around. His invitation “follow me” makes fishermen drop their nets, leave their boat and family…. ”immediately.” He is said to teach “with authority.” He even commands an unclean spirit to come out of a troubled man at the synagogue. Observers are astounded (and thankful!).
The power of Jesus to free us, heal us, and make us whole is what this gospel declares. That’s good news we are invited to believe today because there are many powers and spirits at work to destroy and diminish! Whatever trouble you face… whatever opposition we face… whether enemies or obstacles… whether a spirit of sadness or greed, a spirit of deception or destruction, despair or failure, of sickness or strife, know that the spirit from heaven that filled, directed, and flowed through Jesus was and is more powerful. And with that same Holy Spirit, this gospel tells us, we have been baptized! So follow joyfully and proclaim him widely and without fear to all the world.