I promise I will not fall into that well-worn tradition of preaching on those well-intentioned, moralistic oaths, doomed to fail, that we call "new year's resolutions." I was sitting in our living room preparing this sermon yesterday, and the sheer armies of joggers that ran by my front window was staggering. My town never sees more recreational jogging than it does on January 1.
But I want to start this year in the gospel. That's what I need. Our reading comes from the Gospel of Mark: that brief, fast outline of a gospel that is full of rich material and yet keeps moving.
The Messiah Jesus planned to be
(Read Mark 2:1-12.)
In these first chapters of his gospel, Mark is giving us an introduction to Jesus: this is, after all, a gospel. But he is doing it in a very particular way. He is not just introducing Jesus the man; he is introducing Jesus the Christ. Christ is really just a Greek rendering of that Hebrew word "Messiah." Mark is taking time and introducing Jesus as Christ, as Messiah. He is very particular about how he weaves his story together in order to accomplish this goal.
What's interesting is that he introduces Jesus as Messiah before anyone in the text of the gospel ever actually says the word "Christ" or "Messiah." As a matter of fact, it's not until Mark 8:29 that someone finally utters that Greek word Christos. It is in 8:27-28 that Jesus is talking with his disciples and they have this interchange.
(Read Mark 8:27-29.)
Just about every interpreter, in any commentary or study Bible you read, will say that this point is a shift. It's the hinge of the whole Gospel of Mark. It's at that point that the people, Jesus' audience, finally realize exactly who he is.
Why does Mark do this? Why does he make us wait ...
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Scott Redd is the president and associate professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., and he is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. He blogs regularly at sunergoi.com.
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