Sermon for Lent 1 by Neil

It was noticed on the on line Bible Study Group the other day that last Sunday’s gospel and today’s gospel both from Mark, contain very similar proclamations reputed to come from heaven or from God.


It is also interesting to note who it is who hears these proclamations, today it might appear that only Jesus heard the heavenly voice and last week it would appear the voice spoke to the three specially chosen disciples.


“You are my son the beloved, in you I am well pleased” (today) and “This is my son the beloved, listen to him” last week.


It is important to remind ourselves that we have heard these heavenly proclamations in reverse order, as they actually open up something important for Mark as he unfolds his announcement of the Good news about Jesus the Son of God. He has stated his agenda in the opening of his account and so this week’s heavenly voice followed by last week’s heavenly voice and crucially followed later by the centurion speaking from the cross no less complete the revelation.


“Truly this man was the son of God”


There is no coincidence in the way Mark unwraps his story, it is precise and it is intriguing and exciting.


Mark, in a similar but different way to John, begins with the point clearly understood that Jesus is the Son of God.


Mark however sees this in a more narrative and earthly setting, a way that may appear to us like a traditional biography of events.


Within this biography there are these celestial proclamations but the rest is left to the Disciples to learn mark and inwardly digest (as one of our famous collects neatly puts it.)


By the time Mark (a gentile convert to Christianity and not a Jew), wrote his gospel the church was well established and information and belief about who Jesus was  well held amongst the company. He casts back into the life of Jesus an exciting web of intrigue into the story set off by these heavenly proclamations.


All the other recognizers of Jesus in Mark are the possessed and “of the other world”


Mark has Jesus “hidden(though in plain sight)” throughout the gospel, Jesus tells the disciples to keep things secret, not to tell anyone who he is, and he commands the evil spirits who recognize him to be silent.


Mark writes a good mystery story. All will be revealed at the end.


Some other interesting observations are that after today’s gospel reading Jesus finds himself in the wilderness undergoing a time of testing for his mission, and after last week’s heavenly proclamation on the mount of Transfiguration it is the disciples who find themselves in a state of testing confusion when they come down from their “spiritual high” to be confronted by apparent failure and weakness. (“why what has happened?”)


As we journey through Lent let us be aware of the precious gift that we carry within us, that life of Jesus which we hold to be important to us.


It may not always be apparent; we sometimes even want to keep quiet about it. There are times when it will even confound us (why what has happened?).


We have heard and read heavenly proclamations and still it sometimes seems less than fully clear.


We will continue along with Jesus and experience the ups and downs of the disciples in the story, for sure it was not an easy ride even for them.


We will even at times in our journey deny and forsake our Lord.


But the road to the cross standing at the head of Lent beckons us on and with the centurion we can proclaim “Truly this was the Son of God”