Note: The following is an excerpt from my new commentary on the Gospel of Mark, We’ve Never Seen Anything Like This! which will hopefully be available this fall. Until then enjoy this little morsel or check out my current commentary on 1 Peter, Strangers & Aliens.
from the section HEAVEN TORN OPEN Mark 1:1-13
I don’t know that this is always the case, but to me, our friends, the people we hang out with, tend to reflect our own personality. More often than not they share our interests, likes and dislikes, maybe a sense of humor or a common set of values.
I had two best friends in high school, Jason Ranz and Carlos Kelly. We called ourselves the Three Amigos, mostly because that was a cool movie back then and there were three of us. And we thought we were funny. We had other friends of course, but we hung out a lot just the three of us. We have some great stories from Physics II with Mr. Vasek that hopefully I will get to later.
Kind of our thing was to sit in the gym bleachers after lunch and crack jokes at the expense of others. Usually our fodder would be participants in the game of Hick Ball. Hick Ball was the territory of the much tougher kids in our school, mostly those who grew up on one of the many ranches that surrounded our small Wyoming town. It was the basketball version of Fight Club, except I think Hick Ball had fewer rules. Just get the ball in the basket. And if you played black eyes and broken arms usually followed. We didn’t play because we were, for the most part sissies. And therefore, we formed a tight bond of sissyhood and connected as friends via our mutual abilities for satire and sarcasm. Deep roots I know, but the point is we tend, for the most part, to gravitate towards people that are like ourselves.
It bears mentioning in my mind that Jesus had a pretty crazy entourage here at the beginning of Mark. He shows up with John the Baptist, a dove and a loud voice from heaven. I am not positive what all that means, but it’ll sure get your attention.
As I mentioned before, I think John the Baptist was a pretty interesting guy. He strikes me as eccentric, living off the grid as he did. It amazes me that so many people tracked him down in the desert to hear what he had to say. Typically if you want to gain an audience, have your message heard you have to go to the city, put yourself out there in front of as many folks as possible. You have to go where the people are, but John was different. Jesus too. They were humble, preferring the lonely places, the desert, the empty regions of Judea. And yet they were captivating. The people flocked to him. John even said of himself, I am unworthy to untie his shoes. A humble servant.
I think this is a hallmark of who Jesus was. He wasn’t flashy, parts of Scripture say you wouldn’t even pick him out in a crowd. Just an ordinary guy, and we will see, time and time again, he avoided the crowds, asked people not to talk about him, kept the demons quiet and sought places of isolation. And because of this humility, this refusal to put himself forward I am all the more interested and drawn to Jesus. It’s always the quiet ones, you know, who have a story to tell.
And what’s the deal with the dove? All I can picture in my head is some kind of Whitesnake video, the heavens are torn open, cue the guitar solo and down comes the bird in a flood of white light and smoke. Pretty awesome.