Around this time last year, The God Who Speaks project was launched, and we received beautiful booklets with helpful notes and summaries of St Matthew’s Gospel. I remember talking in several churches about how Matthew starts with a genealogy. We looked at the names of the Lord’s ancestors. The Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology even had a course about the women in that genealogy.
This year The God who Speaks continues with the Gospel of Mark. On the second Sunday of Advent we hear the first eight verses. Can you imagine buying a thriller and before you’ve opened it someone tells you who the killer was? Mark lets us into his secret in the first verse: he starts with the ‘beginning of the Gospel’ (good news). He then reveals what the disciples still had not grasped after all the time they spent with Jesus: He is the Christ (the Messiah) that the Jews were expecting. What a revelation!
Matthew and Luke also recall that the prophet Isaiah wrote of one who would ‘prepare the way of the Lord’ (Isaiah 40:3). Mark adds that a ‘messenger will prepare the way’. This is actually a quotation from Malachi 3:1.
Most scholars think Mark is the earliest Gospel. Almost all he says in Mark 1:3-8 is also in Matthew and Luke, but they add more detail from another source. All three relate that Jesus is more powerful than John, and will baptise with the Hoy Spirit.
Mark does not give us stories of shepherds or wise men, but starts by telling us who Jesus is. Christmas has become a time for family gathering, but early in Advent we are reminded that we shall be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Do look at the new material in www.godwhospeaks.uk about the year of Mark in ‘Focus’ and ‘Bible Basics/About the Bible’. If you scroll to the end of the Focus section you can subscribe to the monthly newsletter.
Pictured above is Jean Johnson