St. Mark’s gospel is the most urgent and this is apparent from the beginning when Jesus called his disciples to follow him and become “fishers of men”. They were already followers of the Baptist and so the Lord immediately challenged them to proclaim the Gospel of God, the Good News. This begs the question, what is this Gospel?
It is about Jesus Christ, who is the truth of God, or as in words of St. John, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten Son from the Father.” [John 1,14]
Because Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary, thus having a human nature, yet also the Eternal Word full of grace and truth, he alone can bring about the reconciliation of the fallen human race. His coming into our world was proclaimed by John the Baptist, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” He came as reconciler because of that original sin of disobedience which had separated willful mankind who had gone its own way and lost God’s friendship. [Genesis 3,1–24] This is the narrative of the Old Testament. Again and again God raised up prophets to proclaim his law and offering a covenant of reconciliation to his people which is repeatedly ignored. Thus in the fullness of time God sent his only Son to be the Saviour. [John 3,16] This is the Gospel. Jesus Christ is a man like us in all things but without sin who would entangle the mess.
Jesus soon gathered disciples, they were not professionals but young men of the land who at first believed with enthusiasm, but finally with the Holy Spirit, slowly began to understand. His challenge to his followers was to turn their lives around and follow him. As he healed the sick, drove out demons, changed water into wine and other supernatural acts that attest to his divinity. He supported the down trodden, the sick, the poor, and challenged the status quo. The disciples thought he would overthrow the Roman occupation to establish Jewish rule, but instead he promised to transform the world order. The price of His own obedience to God the Father required that he willingly went to the cross, suffered and died the death of a criminal, as foretold by Scripture, and on the third day, he rose from the dead, leaving behind an empty tomb.
Why did he die? To pay by his obedience the price for our disobedience, and reconcile us to Almighty God his heavenly Father, to break the power of death, and end the grip of Satan over humankind, to open the gate to eternal life, and to empower people with the grace of the Spirit of Pentecost, to transform society through faith in the way of life, hope and love.. Yes, a revolutionary message, to an undeserving people. For there is nothing we can do to deserve or earn this salvation. It is received not by our own merit, but through faith and trust in Jesus Christ, who alone can forgive sin, and this Gospel is our only hope.
Importantly, the promise of forgiveness and abundant life is received by faith, through a personal decision to accept the call and lay aside our selfishness and submit to God’s authority in the manner of the first disciples and this Gospel is still entrusted to his followers, to proclaim to all nations, until the Lord comes again.
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. Alleluia.
Fr. Nathan Williams