Today’s passage: Mark 8:34-38
Following Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah and his balking at the notion that the Messiah must be killed by the authorities, Jesus tells his disciples and the multitudes, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (35). The gospel is something that people will willingly give their lives for. History has borne out his assertion, as the Roman Empire crucified or threw countless Christians to the lions. If we could ask them, would those martyrs say it was worth it? Depends on whether the Sadducees or Jesus are right about whether resurrection is a reality–but I digress.
Remember that we have a provisional summary of the gospel from Mark’s first chapter: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (1:15). This is good news! Why would affirming and spreading Jesus’ message about God’s kingdom cost anyone their life? I’m starting to see a suggestion of who the “enemies” might be in the chess endgame analogy that I introduced yesterday. The Jewish religious leaders have already begun to oppose Jesus, and he fully expects their opposition to result in his death. The Roman Empire, too, crucified dissenters and insurrectionists. How would they respond to the message that the divine Creator of the universe was the final authority over all human kingdoms, and practitioners of brutality and self-advancement at any cost would have to answer to the Lord? They’d kill the messenger, that’s how.
Tomorrow I want to develop that provisional gospel summary in Mark 1:15 by looking into Mark’s conception of the kingdom of God. What does it stand for? What are its values, and why would the Jewish and Roman authorities object to those values? We’ve got some leads to follow now, and I’m pretty pumped to see where they take us.
Today I’m breaking out a new chocolate bar: Theo 70% dark with sea salt. I’m not a huge fan of salted chocolate over the regular ol’ dark stuff, but I figured I’d do something different, and it still tastes pretty good even with that salt flavor. It’s USDA organic and non-GMO verified, if you’re into that stuff, and certified Fair for Life, which according to Theo’s site “goes beyond traditional fair trade by applying fair trade principles [to] relevant domestic or regional trade and by requiring ethical working conditions along the entire trade chain.” Good on ya, Theo chocolate! You can find out more about them at www.theochocolate.com.