So I’ve got to say, I’ve been loving the first chapter of Mark lately. The more I look at it the more I think the author is a genius. Without going into the first 13 verses, in which the entire book, as well as the person, power, and mission of Jesus, is established and is directly tied into all the hopes and expectations of a nation, the last 32 do their own part to blow my mind.
The short of it is that these 32 verses are broken up into five stories, each one describing a different aspect of Jesus’ personality and/or declaring an area of his authority. The author uses this group of stories to introduce Jesus to us. The first has him continuing and escalating John’s ministry and calling people to him. The second has him revealing his authority to teach and his authority over demons. The third shows him caring about a sick lady and revealing his authority over sickness. The fourth reveals his dependence and desire for his Father and restates his mission to preach the gospel, or reveal the good news about his Father. The fifth and final story is the culmination of the declarations about Jesus.
In this story Jesus heals a leper, at first glance this seems no more impressive or important than any of the other miracles Jesus performed up until this point, but it is. Up until this point Jesus is shown to have authority over the spiritual, authority over the physical, authority over the intellectual/tradition/law, he is seen pursuing relationships with people and pursuing relationship with his Father. So what is the addition within this fifth story?
The addition is the motivation of Jesus. The addition is Jesus’ authority to restore and heal relationship and community. The leprous man wasn’t just physically sick; he was cast out and thrown away by his community. He was living in the shadow of death, separated from life and from physical contact. Motivated by love, Jesus reached out and touched the man. He began healing the man’s spirit and satisfying his desire for relationship before he did anything about the man’s body. Jesus then healed the man’s body and in doing so gave the man back his family, he gave him back his identity.
Each of these stories establishes truths about Jesus. Through interaction with individuals Jesus reveals principles of his authority, aspects of his personality, and the practical expression of his mission. When Jesus casts out demons, he shows that he has come to set people free and that he has authority over demons. When Jesus heals the sick, he shows that he has come to heal the broken and that he has authority over the physical. When Jesus touches and heals the leper, he shows that he is driven by love, that he has come to give back community, and that he has authority to establish relationship. This is the culmination of the introduction and explanation of Jesus; he has come to restore relationship between man and God. This is the good news, the gospel of God; Jesus restores our identity and returns us to our family… God is our family.
Some people don’t like Mark all that much because he isn’t flowery, fancy, or overly articulate. I’m getting to love Mark because he doesn’t need to be any of those things. It only takes him 32 verses to hit us in the face with everything that is important about God and show how it applies to us. I like this guy’s style.