Mark’s Gospel gets off to a fast start. There’s a prophecy. John the Baptist shows up. Jesus gets baptized. He’s tempted in the wilderness. He begins preaching. He calls his first disciples. He frees a man from an unclean spirit in a synagogue. He heals Peter’s mother-in-law – and the rest of the town. He prays privately, and then moves on. And he heals a leper.
All in one chapter.
Mark is frequently considered the gospel of action. Mark doesn’t seem to stop and dwell on theological issues. He’s not too concerned, at least initially, with long speeches or teachings by Jesus. The actions just keeps moving. Jesus keeps doing things.
You probably noticed the word “immediately” shows up quite a bit in Chapter 1. It must have been a favorite word of Mark’s. Or, maybe there was no other way to describe what Jesus was doing. The Son of God showed up on the scene, and things happened fast.
There’s an urgency to this gospel. Mark doesn’t have to tell us that Jesus was busy. He simply related the facts. Jesus was a man on a mission.
Jesus’ first sermon was short and to the point: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” There’s immediacy here. It’s urgent. “The time is NOW!” “The kingdom of God is RIGHT HERE!”
Maybe that’s the message for us, wherever we are. Jesus immediately moves and does, he surrenders and heals, he calls and prays. Maybe the urgency was supposed to generate an urgency in those who interacted with him. He wasn’t going to be around long. He was on the move. Maybe it’s the same with us – those of us who interact with Jesus. Maybe he wants us to feel his urgency – to respond properly.
Immediately, he acted. Immediately, we ought to respond.
One of the great tricks of the world is to make us believe we have all the time in the world. But we don’t. Time ticks by, and things are lost.
Our daughter is getting ready for her senior year in high school. It seems like all we did was blink. But we didn’t. Seventeen long years have gone by. Seventeen years to do something – to love, to share, to teach, to disciple. And our time is about up. We know that. The press of the present is on us, and we want to savor every moment. We know we don’t have all the time in the world.
Jesus was on the move. There wasn’t much time. The people must have known that. They crushed in on Jesus, knowing there might be just one opportunity to talk to him or to touch him or to seek out a healing.
And Mark presents us with this picture – an urgent picture of the Son of God calling people to respond to him. We can shrug our shoulders and move on with our days. Or we can respond in faith. Our eternity rests on our response.
Remember Daniel. “Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand” (Daniel 12:10).
Disciples of Jesus Christ are wise. We begin to understand as we respond to his call. But we need to move with Jesus. We can’t sit still. We get up and follow – immediately.
A question for your day: What is your immediate response to the good news of Jesus Christ in Mark 1? What do you feel him calling you to do right now, at this moment?