Musings on Mark I:14-15

“Now after John (the Baptist) was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is near…”   Mark 1:14-15 

Take note of the timing of this scripture.   It wasn’t until after John the Baptist was arrested that Jesus proclaimed the good news of God. 

It was after a righteous man was arrested

after John the Baptist was imprisoned and condemned,

…that Jesus heralded the good news of God.  

Am I the only one who has difficulty seeing the connection here?

How could the imprisonment of an upstanding man be the basis for announcing that the time is fulfilled?   How could this terrible incident be evidence that the kingdom of God is near?   How could the event of an innocent man being incarcerated – be an occasion for good news?

The broader narrative does draw the parallel between Jesus being driven into the wilderness for forty days following his baptism, as preparation for public life and ministry.    That all three synoptic gospels record this wilderness account offers that crucial connection between Jesus’ experience at baptism and his entrance onto the public stage. That he was in the company of wild beasts, hungered and thirsted, summoned and interpreted afresh the Word of God in the face of temptation and deprivation, provided not only necessary preparation but was evidence of Jesus’ unique identity and fidelity for ministry.

Yet what if the event of Jesus’ entrance into public ministry

AND John’s arrest was not a coincidence?

  What if the association of these two seemingly incompatible events was and is a way of seeing evidence of God’s realm – but in a manner previously thought not possible?   What if injustice –be it retaliation for speaking truth to power, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, deportation, the exploitation and misuse of natural resources, forfeiting healthcare for the most vulnerable, voter suppression and increasing the coffers of the wealthy at the expense of the poor – when met with faithful and persistent resistancesignifies the emergence of God’s kingdom?    What if seeing and naming injustice for what it is  – is not an occasion for powerlessness in the face of oppression but instead is a divine summons, heralding that the time has come to head to Galilee?

Author: Jessica McArdle

These are dark and corrosive times. As a writer and ordained minister with the United Church of Christ, I use prayer, poetry, reflection, and scripture to re-align our embattled spirits with the uniqueness and urgency of our God-given identity and call.

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