Posted by: richard | 30 September, 2008

Locusts, doves and fishermen

Today we’re starting an occasional series on the Gospel of Mark, starting with Mark 1:1-20.  The fast pace of the book is immediately apparent, as are plunged straight into three snapshots – John the baptist appearing in the desert – the Holy Spirit anointing Jesus and sending him into the wilderness – Jesus announcing the good news in Galilee by the riverside.

  • Go through this whole passage and imagine it as a film.  The desert landscape appearing – waves of heat blurring the picture – the credits flashing briefly across the screen, before a lone figure appears – and so forth.  Pay attention to the camera angles, the sounds, the editing.  Spend some time on this. What strikes you?
  • What impression do you have of Jesus as a result of this passage?
  • Ponder Jesus’s calling of the first disciples.  What experience of Jesus’s call have you experienced? To what is he calling you now?


  1. Ok, so we didn’t do this tonight, due to a very nice meal chez Nathan and Beki. So this is homework for next week – get those blogging fingers going again after the summer hols please….

  2. I’m starting to feel that this blog is me talking to myself! Help me out here. Do people not find it useful? Are my questions the wrong sort to be asking on the blog? Do people not really think about the studies in between sessions?

  3. I was alone with the Vicar’s bookshelf this morning, and I picked up a commentary on Mark’s Gospel (written by Dick France as part of the People’s Bible Commentary from the Bible Reading Fellowship, since you asked). Anyway, in the introduction it suggested that the Gospel is constructed as a drama in a prologue and three acts, each in a different geographical location. This breakdown goes like this:
    1:1-13 The Prologue (in the wilderness)
    1:14 – 8:21 Galilee
    8:22 – 10:52 The road to Jerusalem
    11:1 – 16:8 Jerusalem

    So our film is a road movie but also a buddy movie, since it focuses on the interchange between Jesus and his disciples and in particular Peter, on whose testimony it is based. Which brings to mind the first and best Hollywood buddy movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”* and the recent tributes to Paul Newman.

    Newman comes across as charismatic (those blue eyes), decent (avoiding the excesses that many other movie stars are prone to), faithful (remaining married to the same person for a long time) and caring (with his charitable foundations).

    The Jesus described by Mark and Peter is all these things and more (God). To start with, it the passage we are reading this week, the charisma is evident in the way the first disciples dropped everything to go with him.

    How do we present the ultimate “Good Guy” to the people we meet each day? The script has been written – it’s up to us to make the film.

    *I couldn’t resist it – here is the “can’t swim” clip:

  4. you could cast john the baptist as someone a bit wild who makes no attempt to conform or fit in someone who you wouldnt choose as a role model, however Jesus has a very high opinion of him and then you could highlight the points that make him so special.The whole desert thing could be so dramatic with satan wild animals we see a glimps of who jesus really is heaven torn open and God the holy spirit talking to him its quite supernatural.

  5. Since I can’t be with you later, here are a few thoughts on Mark 1:21-45. Jesus almost seems to be performing these healing miracles in spite of Himself. They come from His love and compassion for the people around Him, but He doesn’t want the news of them to spread too far. (Technically, this is part of the “Messianic Secret” in Mark’s Gospel). Jesus does not want to be known merely as a miracle worker. This follows on from the more detailed account of the temptations in Matthew’s Gospel when He rejects spectacular solutions (such as jumping off the roof of the Temple) to achieve his mission.

    Is there a model here for the “actions” of the Christian community ? Caring for the people around us should be a natural response to the love and care that God shows to us, but the main mission is deeper, to help people to develop their own response to God. In a medical analogy, it is necessary to treat the symptoms of a disease but also to address the underlying cause.

    Have a good evening.

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