I started reading Mark's Gospel last night. Burned through 8 chapters and enjoyed it immensely. I should finish the book tonight if all goes well. Mark is without a doubt my favorite of the four Gospels.
Another thing I cannot help but notice when I read Mark's Gospel is that there is an overwhelming sense that everything Mark writes is designed to evoke a response from us. There is a question that is being asked by the author that stretches from the front of the book to the back: What are you going to do with Jesus? Or, perhaps, How are you going to respond to Jesus when he invades your world and disrupts your life? Because disrupt it he will–either for better or worse–and we will be confronted with a choice to do something about this strange person who seems to appear out of thin-air and walk onto the world's stage: "At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan…After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God" (1:9, 14).
Everything is going along for people in those days and then Jesus comes along and starts making a mess of things: he is binding up strong men, turning children against parents, driving demons out of the land and ruining animal herds, and rattling the theological cages of the religious elitists: "Who is this man?" people ask. Winds obey. Demons obey. Storms are calmed. He doesn't fast. Disease flees. He eats with dirty hands. He speaks in riddles. This is the fellow who dares to talk about the nature of the kingdom of God? He cannot even tell the difference between someone who is dead and someone who is sleeping. Yet he teaches as one with authority, he heals, and he forgives sin. Worse yet, he eats with sinners and tax-collectors.
And react people did. They tried to trap him. The laughed at him. They begged him to leave. They begged to go with him. They accused him. They thought he was out of his mind. They ignored him. They trusted him. They listened to him. They were amazed by him. They pleaded with him. They took offense at him. They amazed him. They took advantage of him. They demonstrated faith. They lacked faith. All that, probably more, in just the first eight chapters.
So it gets me thinking every time I read Mark: how would I respond to Jesus if one day he just showed up in my neighborhood or my school or my funeral or my wedding or a party I was hosting or while I was rowing a boat across a lake? I wonder what I would do. I wonder how I would respond? I wonder how I would feel if I met a person who just looked at me and loved me for no other reason than the fact that I am me.
Because that is who people met when they met Jesus.