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It is up to us to tell the story

 

By Rev. Stephen A. Curry

I have a Facebook friend that claims to be an atheist. One of his recent posts intended to ridicule Christianity was a cartoon showing Jesus with a gathered crowd and saying, “OK, listen closely. I don’t want four versions of this floating around.”

There have been people who have wanted to consolidate the four Gospels -- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John -- into a single volume since the early church. But we need all four Gospels to give us a better understanding of Jesus, our Lord and Savior, who is greater than any one person can know or understand. For this month, I’m going to write this column about the four Gospels and the unique and necessary perspective each one contributes to what we know about Jesus.

The first Gospel written was Mark. The tradition of the church says that Mark was a teenager when he met Jesus at the wedding feast at Cana. The event is recorded in John 2:1-12. Mark was one of the servants sent to get the water Jesus turned into wine. Mark was also one of the 70 missionaries Jesus sent out as recorded in Luke 10:1-12 and he was present at the day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2.

What Mark witnessed in Jesus was the Lion of Judah -- the bold, courageous, fearless Christ that confronted the establishment of the day. Jesus challenged the religious leadership that had taken the loving guidance of God offered through the Torah and changed it into a harsh, oppressive set of strict laws that became a burden to the people of God. Jesus is the new Adam, the perfect human being, who steps forward against whatever opposition that confronts Him, to live out the compassion, justice, and mercy of God.

Mark writes his Gospel while he is still a young man. He can’t wait to tell the story of Jesus. His writing is raw and unrefined. He moves quickly from event to event often using a connector translated as “and immediately” much like a teenager today uses “and then” when relating a series of events. The Lion of Judah is strong and dynamic, never resting as Christ goes about healing, teaching, and casting out the demons, both temporal and spiritual, that bring about pain and suffering.

One characteristic of Mark’s Gospel is that it ends abruptly at chapter 16, verse 8. Most Bibles present additional material after verse 8 with a note that the additional material is not found in the oldest copies of Mark. The abrupt ending leaves Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary in Christ’s empty tomb with an angel explaining that Jesus has risen. There are no post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus in this short ending. Why?

Because the story is now in our hands. It is up to us to bring the Good News to a world desperately in need to hear of God’s love, God’s redemption, and God’s forgiveness. It is up to us to boldly bring about the Kingdom of God on this earth in spite of whatever opposition we encounter. It is up to us to stand for those who seek justice, to provide for those in need, and to be the strength of the weak. It is up to us to fearlessly “wage love” in a world cowering before the forces of fear, hate, and greed. It is up to us to be the Lions of Judah here and now.

 
 
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