Day One: Thursday, February 15

cross_13347acMark 1:1-13
The beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophets,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you:
the voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord!
Make his paths straight!’ ”

John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching the baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins. All the country of Judea and all those of Jerusalem went out to him. They were baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins. John was clothed with camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey.He preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and loosen. I baptized you in water, but he will baptize you in the Holy Spirit.”

In those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  Immediately coming up from the water, he saw the heavens parting, and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.  A voice came out of the sky, “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Immediately the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness. He was there in the wilderness forty days tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals; and the angels were serving him.

Meditation: George Buttrick, the great Harvard teacher of preachers, used to say that every preacher, just before entering the pulpit, should think, “I have wonderful news to tell these people.” So Mark begins with good news—the most natural translation of the word we usually render gospel. “The beginning of the good news of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.”

Whether this is the title or the first line of what follows, every word counts, and most of
what follows is already here summarized. Beginning contains a suggestive ambiguity and
a dramatic implicit reference. The ambiguity:  At an obvious level, beginning refers to the
fact that this sentence is the first of the story that will follow. But this opening also serves,
formally or informally, as the title of the whole book, so this first word invites us to think
that the whole story that follows is a beginning. Indeed, when we get to the last sentence, it will turn out that Mark really has no ending: it opens to the future, challenging its audi-
ence to continue the story. A book with beginning its title warns us right at the start not to expect closure at the end.

(William C. Placher, Mark: A Theological Commentary on the
Bible, p. 13.)

Day Two: Friday, February 16