Summary: Discover the counter-cultural ethic that Jesus utilized as he ministered and saved the human race.

Might Makes Right

Gospel of Mark 1:1-13

Sermon #1 of “Ten Cultural Myths that Drive America”

We are beginning a new and lengthy study of the Gospel of Mark this morning. Our walk through this Gospel is not designed to be a sprint from start to finish, or even a marathon that has a final destination and an estimate time of arrival. Rather it is more like a adventure that is open-ended and designed towards discovery not completion. We may be here for weeks, months, or even years, only Heaven knows at this point.

As with any adventure there are smaller, bite-sized opportunities, destinations if you please, that give the event meaning and flavor. So as we begin Mark’s Gospel, we will make our way through the first six chapters looking at it from a very selective vantage point. For some, including myself, this can be a bit frustrating because we are compelled to choose NOT to see as much of the landscape as we do see.

Not to worry, there is no law that says we cannot back up and peruse the chapters again, discovering truths and applications we missed the first time through … in fact, I suspect we WILL return to these chapters again before we move on.

In you are a prime timer (senior adult) you will get to visit some other select places along the journey from a teaching vantage point with me. We will finish Daniel this month and, my recommendation is that we begin a more in-depth study of Mark afterwards.

The Gospel of Mark moves very very quickly; little detail is given about the events in Jesus life that are recorded. The word “straightway”, “immediately”, or “at this point” are all the same Greek word in Mark and it is used 42 times. This breathless pace is by design; it is part of Mark’s purpose. If it is detail you want then I would suggest you read Matthew and Luke along with this first-ever-written Gospel. But Mark’s Gospel moves … and we will too.

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

Mk 1:1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Mk 1:2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”

Mk 1:3 “a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ”

Mk 1:4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Mk 1:5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

Mk 1:6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

Mk 1:7 And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.

Mk 1:8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus

Mk 1:9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

Mk 1:10 As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

Mk 1:11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Mk 1:12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert,

Mk 1:13 and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

A month or so ago I ran across a small book in the fellowship hall; it was on a table set up for our international students. It is a book designed to introduce them to American culture – it is designed to help them grasp how we Americans think. The name of the book is Why Are Americans Like That? and it is a marvelous tool to assist our guests in understanding the complex, shape-shifting that is America. The book helps our guests understand us is by illustrating our culture through our use of slogans, mottoes, aphorisms, and clichés. They give insight into the American psyche.

Well it set off a firestorm within me. I began to list many different aphorisms and idioms that govern us … sometimes unconsciously, but always with clear expressions. I have begun to catalog quite a few of these.

Take today’s saying for example. It influences America (us) in ways we are not even aware of. It is ingrained into us.

• It has been the fodder for many American films and books

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