How Mark Haunts Me
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs. (Mark 16:19-20 ESV)
Then the Master Jesus, after briefing them, was taken up to heaven, and he sat down beside God in the place of honor. And the disciples went everywhere preaching, the Master working right with them, validating the Message with indisputable evidence. (Mark 16:19-20 MSG)
“The Master working right with them” — those words haunted my steps all week last week. I read and listened to Mark’s Gospel over and over, just listening for the footsteps of Jesus around me. You know what I heard?
Yeah, you guessed it. Nothing. What’s wrong with me? Why could the early Christians announce the kingdom of Jesus everywhere they went, knowing that Jesus was right there with them, and I can’t seem to do either?
Are my ears just more tuned to hear the latest political news, the latest sports gossip, the funniest joke? Am I too impatient? Too demanding? Or am I like the blind man who saw people looking like trees until Jesus finished working on him?
I watched Shadowlands the other night. That movie makes me nuts (and not just because Richard Attenborough’s direction actually makes Debra Winger likeable). CS Lewis is so brilliant and confident and full of answers: “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” He’s everything we’re taught to be — bold and full of faith and ready to give an answer when someone looks at a pain-wracked world and questions his confidence in the God of the Bible. Then Joy is wrecked by bone cancer, and Jack’s straight-forward, sensible, and peaceful life is shattered. The movie ends with him still trying to come to grips with the new world he finds himself in: “Why love, if losing hurts so much? I have no answers anymore: only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I’ve been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety; the man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.”
It is so easy to say we “have no answers anymore”, and so hard to act like it. In my head, I think the King James translation of 1 Peter 3:15 will always hold sway: “Be ready always to give an answer…!” But I don’t have answers — at least not the kind of answers that math and science teachers want. Peter’s encouraging his congregations to be ready to give a response, not to be ready to solve any problem set before them.
What I see in Mark that haunts me is that Jesus always has a response ready, and it is never what anyone expects. So why do I expect him to just show up and blast a megaphone at me whenever I want him to? Is that what Mark’s Jesus does?
in HIS love,
PS – this is an oddly stream-of-consciousness blog today. Sorry. Let me know what you think, though.