Summary: Jesus began his public ministry with an invitation to rethink the ways we think and act... to reverse course, leaving behind old misguided, selfish and sinful ways, then moving in a new direction of faith and Kingdom living.
Series: 40 Days with Jesus
Title: Beginning the Walk with Jesus
Text: Mark 1:9-15
Thesis: Jesus began his public ministry with an invitation to rethink the ways we think and act… to reverse course, leaving behind old misguided and sinful ways and moving in a new direction of faith and Kingdom living.
Today is the 1st Sunday in the Lenten Season. The Lenten Season consists of 40 days plus the 7 Sundays, or a total of 47 days during which we prepare our hearts and lives to walk with Jesus through his life, death, burial and resurrection. We understand Lent to be an opportunity for a fresh start in our pursuit of Jesus.
In 1958 a guy named Cliff Hillegrass worked for Nebraska Books in Lincoln, Nebraska. Cliff and his wife started a cottage industry in their basement that we now know as CliffsNotes. CliffsNotes are a good supplement for summarizing the chapters and outlining key discussion points of a book. Unfortunately CliffsNotes have been abused… they were not intended to be a substitute for actually reading a book.
In 1950 The Readers Digest came out with hardcover anthology collections of best sellers. They were published and distributed by direct mail 4 times a year. They were called Readers Digest Condensed Books. Each condensed book contained abridged editions of 5 books. They were published for 47 years… 1950 – 1997. My mother subscribed the Readers Digest Condensed Books.
We used CliffsNotes to avoid having to read a book… we used Readers Digest Condensed Books to avoid reading the whole book…
The Book of Mark may be thought of a Readers Digest Condensed Book. Mark says in 16 chapters what Matthew says in 28 chapters and Luke in 24 chapters. Mark gets right after it. He hits the ground running. Commentators point out that Mark is always in a hurry. He uses the word “immediately” 17 times in his Gospel. While the Book of Mark begins with the ministry of John the Baptist as “ the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘prepare the way for the coming Lord”’ and only briefly refers to Jesus’ baptism and temptation… Matthew and Luke are more descriptive of the events, filling in the details of his baptism and temptation. Basically, Mark says in 7 verses what Matthew and Luke say in several chapters.
Mark does not speak to Jesus’ genealogy or the drama of Joseph and Mary and the angel and the virgin birth. Mark says nothing of Bethlehem and the stable and the shepherds who were serenaded by a heavenly host of angels. Mark says nothing of the three wise men and of how Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Egypt to protect him from Herod.
Even when we expand our reading to the other Gospels, there is nothing of Jesus’ childhood other than his birth, presentation and his conversation with the religious teachers during Passover when he was 12.
That is not to say there is no interest in Jesus’ childhood. We are speculative enough to wonder if the boy Jesus got good grades in school or if the teenager Jesus had a crush on a pretty dark-eyed beauty? Or we might wonder if he asked to borrow his dad’s donkey on Saturday night?
There is what is called The Infancy Gospel of Thomas which was apparently written to satisfy the curiosity of early Christians about the childhood of Jesus. The wanted to hear the anecdotal stories of his childhood. They wanted to hear that the child Jesus made birds out of clay and when he tossed them into the air they came alive and flew. They wanted to hear about the Jesus who had a friend who fell from a roof and died but Jesus, even as a child, resurrected his friend from the dead.
The stories were not all nice… it is said that he once cursed a child who was making fun of him and the child died. When the child’s parents came to Mary and Joseph to complain, it is said that Jesus made them go blind. However, the Infancy Gospel is careful to say that Jesus later reversed his curses and all was well with the boy and his parents.
We can only speculate about such things. To suggest that Jesus was a mean-spirited little boy is certainly inconsistent with what the Scriptures say of him who as a child, “grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.” Luke 2:52
So while our knowledge of Jesus’ childhood is sketchy, we will be picking up with him at the age of 30 and walking with him for the next 40 days.
This morning our walk begins with Jesus on the occasion of his baptism.
I. Walking with Jesus at his baptism