7th March 2020

Our Good News

“The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
Mark 1:1 (NRSV)

When we open the Gospel according to Mark, we find ourselves in the middle of a great drama. Who can fail to be impressed – or scared – by the figure of John the Baptist? He suddenly appears in the wilderness clothed in camel’s hair, eating locusts and wild honey. His message? That “the one who is more powerful than I is coming after me…he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:4-8). The crowds are stirred; they descend to the Jordan to be baptised, confessing their sins.

Then Jesus enters the story: as he is baptised by John, the heavens are torn apart and the Spirit descends on Jesus like a dove. “And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased’” (Mark 1:11). Through John’s preaching, our eyes are turned towards Jesus. We see Christ, in partnership with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ‘tear open a hole’ in heaven. The message for us? That through Jesus, God has overcome all the obstacles between humanity and himself. All the stumbling blocks of the past have lost their power—through Christ, we are always in the fellowship of God.

Back to today. Recently, various dramas at work all came together to create the perfect storm. I could feel the stress rising within me. I was struggling to switch off and relax at home; my prayers felt lifeless and dull. Through Christ, I knew that God is near; but it didn’t feel like it. The distractions of life were choking my relationship with God.

John the Baptist gives us a simple direction: Turn your eyes towards Jesus. But, in such circumstances, how can we do that? In my recent difficulties, I found relief through the Gospel of Mark. I set myself to read it through, just a few verses at a time, followed by meditation and prayer. I chose Mark because this book moves us into the ‘Jesus story’ at a faster pace than the other 3 Gospels. True, Mark doesn’t have the details that the other Gospels contain, for example, the wonderful parable of the ‘prodigal’ son (Luke), the revolutionary sermon on the mount (Matthew) or the ‘jaw-dropping’ raising of Lazarus (John). But I do find Mark enables me to swiftly follow the gaze of John the Baptist. My circumstances may be choking me, filling my spiritual life with thorns (see Mark 4:7), but Mark quickly puts me back at the feet of Jesus. We are always in the fellowship of God, however we feel.

Whatever my problems, I find that praying through Mark focuses my eyes on Christ. Perhaps you would choose a different Gospel, but that doesn’t matter. What is important is to follow John the Baptist’s example. Whatever our circumstances, look to Jesus, for he is our gospel, our good news.

Prayer
Father, there are times when our problems distract us; we find ourselves looking away from your Son. As we look to your mercy and turn our eyes towards Jesus, guide us to find our rest in him. We ask this in his name, our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Amen

Study by Ian Woodley
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About the Author:
Ian Woodley is an Elder and Pastoral Council member of the Edinburgh Congregation of Grace Communion International, UK.

Local Congregation:
GCI, Edinburgh
Gilmerton New Church
Ravenscroft Street
EDINBURGH
EH17 8QJ

Meeting time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Peter Mill
Email: edinburgh@gracecom.church