Eugene Peterson’s book Eat this Book teaches us to chew on a passage of scripture, digest it, and then put it to use in practical ways. Our early Christian fathers and mothers called this process Lectio Divina. Today we look at an event from the gospel of Mark.
Tradition tells us that Mark wrote down stories passed along by Peter. But there are several candidates for the authorship including an unknown Jewish Christian and a gentile Christian. The one thing we know is that Mark did a new thing when he wrote about Jesus in this genre and called it a Gospel.
Kimberly Clayton Richter writes in The Spiritual Formation Bible that Mark doesn’t have time for the niceties we find at the beginning of Matthew or John:
“Mark doesn’t bother with shepherds or angels or baby pictures. Instead this Gospel reads like a block of ice dropped from the balcony into the deep end of the pool: ‘The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.’ Mark’s gospel is committed to our spiritual formation. . . . In Mark we are on a continuing journey as we, too, encounter the empty tomb and must decide where we will go and what we will say from here on.”
Mark 16: 1-7
“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so they could embalm him. Very early on Sunday morning, as the sun rose, they went to the tomb. They worried out loud to each other, “Who will roll back the stone from the tomb for us?”
” Then they looked up, saw that it had been rolled back—it was a huge stone—and walked right in. They saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed all in white. They were completely taken aback, astonished.
“He said, “Don’t be afraid. I know you’re looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the One they nailed on the cross. He’s been raised up; he’s here no longer. You can see for yourselves that the place is empty. Now—on your way. Tell his disciples and Peter that he is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You’ll see him there, exactly as he said.”
Mark’s gospel can be divided into two major parts. The first eight chapters describe Jesus’ Galilean ministry. We learn who Jesus is and what he has come to do. Then at Mark 8:27 Jesus asks the crucial question: “Who do you say that I am?” Three times Jesus explains that “the Son of Man” will suffer, be rejected and killed, and rise after three days. But the disciples don’t get it. Mark shows us that while they are models of faithfulness at the beginning, they misunderstand Jesus; they doubt and are afraid. They fall asleep when he needs them most. We do the same.
♥ Read the Scripture passage again. Imagine you are the one who is worried about rolling the stone away. Imagine that someone sitting by the tomb tells you that there is no need for fear; the tomb is empty. He is going ahead of you and you will see him exactly as he said. Tell the others? What would you think? What would you do? (The women tell no one.)
♥ And now look at your own life. Do you act as if Jesus is alive? Have you found your voice? Do you tell anyone who will listen? Do you embody the truth of this story? Do you practice Christ’s inclusive love so that no one is treated as unclean or left in the margins of society? Holy Spirit, empower us so that the glory of the resurrection can be seen in our lives.
MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT
“There is no event so commonplace that God is not present in it, always hidden, always leaving you room to recognize him or not to recognize him.” (Frederick Buechner)