I was really upset with myself. I realized that I had been spending a majority of my life trusting what people said about Jesus instead of really reading the gospels for me. Therefore, the book of Mark will be the first of many gospel readings for me.
The Gospel of Mark got straight to the point about the life of Jesus. In the book of Mark the long drawn out story about birth and Immaculate Conception is absent. This really caught me off guard. It also left me with a puzzled look on my face. I initially thought all of the gospels told the story of Jesus’ birth and Jesus’ conception. However, I was wrong. In the Gospel of Mark I read about Jesus and realized that we had a lot in common. Jesus is much focused on the task at hand. And that task embodies his death and his resurrection.
I read about a Jesus that was somewhat mean. “A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’” (New Revised Standard Version)1 As I read scriptures like this, it blew my mind. The leper had to beg Jesus to make him clean and Jesus did it out of pity.
This was a jaw-dropping moment for me; you mean to tell me that Jesus didn’t heal because he had to heal. He did it based upon how he felt. You mean to tell me that Jesus didn’t just go out looking for people to heal. People had to come and find Jesus and then hope that he would heal them. Individuals were looking for Jesus so much that he tries to hide himself. “From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet.” (New Revised Standard Version)2
This is Jesus that we are reading about here in the book of Mark. Why is Jesus doing things like this? This passage reminds me of my senior pastor back in New Jersey. He would always leave the church in secret and turn his cell phone off a night. When I asked him why? He would always say, “You need time to yourself or people will drive you crazy. When people always know where you’re going or how to get in contact with you, you will never have time to rest.” My pastor would end by saying, “Sometimes you have to create your own Sabbath Day.”
When I read Mark, I saw Jesus as a man first and his divinity second. I was very surprised that author of Mark omitted stories that we find in the other gospels. The first missing story was of Jesus’ birth. Instead, the book of Mark started out with the prophecy from the Old Testament being fulfilled and Jesus was already present.
In my mind, this was huge! We spend so much time in our church’s talking about the birth of Jesus and the troubles of both Mary and Joseph seeking to find a suitable birthplace. Christmas, as many others and I have been taught, is based upon this very story. The author of Mark finds this story so insignificant that they fail to even mention the events. This drives home the point that this story only adds to the mystic of Jesus. It also creates a sound foundation for some great holiday songs and other commercialized items.
However, I agreed with the writer’s decision to omit these items. “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, "See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: