Mark 1: signs and wonders

Mark 1:9-11 (NIV)
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. [10] As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. [11] And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Let’s face it. We are sheep. Easily led, gullible. Prone to follow the herd. We believe crazy stories.

How much more crazy does it get than God in the water, God in the shape of a dove, God speaking out loud?

Pretty crazy unless it really happened. Pretty crazy unless the God in question is omnipresent and omnipotent. Then it is just an ordinary day…

In the life of God with us.

If you comb the Bible looking for signs of Jesus you will find them everywhere–prophecy, songs, the histories all resonate with promises of a savior.

If you read just the early chapters of the gospels you get angels, miracle babies, special astronomers, and prophets all pointing to Jesus and saying, Hey! This kid is special.

It is impossible to believe this is a normal story. Either a great many people went to a great deal of trouble to lie (for nothing–there was no money or power in a dead carpenter).

Or the story is true.

And if it is true…

Jesus is a game changer. The God who saves.

The John the Baptist Diet

Mark 1:4-8 (NIV)
And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. [5] The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. [6] John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. [7] And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. [8] I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

So we Christians struggle with waistlines and our answers over the years have been biblical diets– the Daniel diet, the Eden diet…we scour the pages of the Good Book looking for guidelines for weight loss. But I have yet to see rise of the “John the Baptist” diet. I am pretty sure he was rail thin and that I would be too if it was all foraging in the desert for bugs and honey!

The wilderness, the loneliness, the uncomfortable crunchiness of exoskeleton. The meaningfulness of the way John lived is impossible to ignore. He was passionately sold out. He held nothing back.

People don’t cotton to the voices of prophets. They are often lonely folk. They do not tell us what we want to hear, they tell us the truth. The truth can drive a man to lonely places.

The truth is we are broken, messed up sheep. We are communal insects. We have laid our world bare to death, sin, and pain. The prophet shouts these things unsparingly in the loneliest of places.

Then God walks in…

Clay pots and true treasure

The story involves a baby swatting a vase which then rolls off a table to the bench below. The vase is visibly chipped by not shattered.

We mourn for a few seconds
That we could not fix it
That we could not have snatched it from the edge

The kids watch for my reaction
I tell them, that is why we buy vases from Goodwill.

I know that this simple event is crucial for us because my reaction provides traction for my kids. What I did not do or say reflects my priorities as much as what I did.

My child is the treasure. All the vases in the world are not as precious as one dear little child.

The rest is dust.