Throughout the book of Mark two questions surface again and again: “Who is Jesus?” and “What does it mean to follow Jesus?” The first verse of the gospel of Mark tackles this first question: “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1 NIV). John the Baptist appears on the scene preaching a baptism of repentance and Jesus shows up to be baptized. As Jesus comes up out of the water the heavens open and Jesus hears the voice of his Father affirming who he is: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11 NIV).
Also in the beginning of Mark, we see a summary of Jesus’ message of good news: “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15 NIV). When Jesus is talking about the kingdom of God, he’s talking about God’s reign on earth when the forces of evil are pushed out. Those who are broken are made whole and those who feel like they’re on the outside are pulled into community. The kingdom of God came in and through Jesus, but there will also be a day when the kingdom will come in its fullness.
As Jesus preaches this good news, he gathers disciples with the invitation, “Follow me” (see Mark 1:17). Through Mark, we’re watching the disciples as they watch, listen, learn, and grow in Jesus’ presence. This is our opportunity to enter into the company of Christ—our invitation to see who Jesus is and what it means to follow him. We can learn that Jesus taught with authority; we can see that Jesus had pure, raw, powerful authority over demons, sickness, and sin.
As Jesus grew in popularity, he also experienced conflict with the religious leaders. They could not accept his authority to forgive sins—something they knew only God could do, and something that violated the steps for forgiveness to be followed at the temple in Jerusalem. The temple in Jerusalem was that place where heaven and earth meet—the place that represented the very presence of God. When Jesus forgave sins (see Mark 2:1–12), he is acting like a walking, talking temple.
Jesus also experienced conflict because of those he called friends, like tax collectors and sinners from all kinds of sketchy backgrounds. Jesus invites people who are on the edges into friendship and fellowship with Him (see Mark 2:13–17). As you see Jesus do this, I hope you see there’s room at the table for you. Don't think you have to come to Christ once you’re cleaned up. Learn and grow as he invites you into friendship. What Jesus does here is beautiful, but it caused him scandal and conflict.
Whether you are exploring the faith for the very first time or whether you have a growing faith it is my hope that there will be moments of repentance where you respond to Jesus’ invitation to turn from your sin and follow him. As you walk with him and learn about him you will see his authority. You will join the company of Christ and his project of expanding the kingdom of God.
What beliefs have you had about who Jesus is?
What does Jesus’ authority over demons, sickness, and sin tell you about him?
How have you responded to Jesus’ invitation to repent and grow in a relationship with him?