Meditating on Mark in Lent — Mark 1:1-8
I’m reading slowly through the book of Mark during Lent this year, seeking what I can learn about God and what I can learn about being a follower of Jesus from each passage. I’m also letting my imagination get involved and trying to crawl into each story, to let it speak to me as it will and to respond from inside. I’ve decided to share some of them here as I go along and would love to hear your comments and reflections on the same scriptures.
“John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins . . And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (English Standard Version)
John, you were big news in your day. You were preaching and people were listening — lots of people. Not just listening, but responding. Was it hundreds? Thousands? We don’t know, but big crowds from all over the area. You were the latest sensation and riding a swell of stardom. And here you turn and tell the people that the really big deal is not you, is not here yet, is still to come. You change things up and prepare to shift the attention and applause to one who is coming. You announce here that you are not the main act; you were merely the opener and the real star is getting ready to take the stage.
You begin to shift their focus, John. Their eyes began to move from you to what’s next. Their imaginations are being challenged. Bigger than you, John? Mightier than you? Look how God is at work in you! Look at the power he has given you! Who could come that is bigger than you? Who is he? What will he look like? When will he come? Just WHO is this one who is coming??
Oh, God, what a stage you set for the arrival of your Son! I feel my heart responding to this announcement. I feel the longing, the desire, the eagerness anew for the one who came after John, the one John could only begin to describe, the one who was mightier. I feel the yearning for this mysterious one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.
As I begin this journey through the book of Mark, I am watching eagerly for you, Jesus. I am listening for you to speak in new ways. I will yield my mind to your teaching and my heart to your call. Oh, One who is mightier than I, One who is mightier than the great Baptizer, One who comes with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, in this Lenten season, in this journey through Mark, I am watching for you to come.