This Character Reflection is based on Mark 1:9-15, the Gospel set for this Sunday (Lent 1, Yr B) in the Revised Common Lectionary. It is inspired by the spirit drawing my attention to the idea that Jesus’ first words after his 40 days in the wilderness echo the teaching of John the Baptist.
(Written February, 2021)
A bystander’s thoughts:
I’d watched John’s preaching,
proclaiming that the Lord is near –
that one more powerful was to follow.
I wasn’t the only one who acted on John’s words,
who waded into the waters –
lured by the promise of forgiveness and of a fresh start.
It was busy down at the river –
the buzz was energising, and it gave real hope for the future.
Finally, the authorities showed they’d take no more –
John was silenced at last.
Order restored again it seemed –
the hope for renewal and new freedoms dashed.
But again, out of nowhere, unexpectedly, I heard those words again:
“Repent and believe in the good news!”
Words I’d been so accustomed to hearing from John!
Words that give me hope, despite my mind telling me to be realistic.
Is John somehow back amongst us?
Or is there some other person continuing John’s message?
Or is it as John prophesized?
Is it, could it be, the one that will baptise us with the Holy Spirit?
I think about what this man said again,
and I realise he goes one step further than the words I associate with John:
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near;
repent and believe in the good news.”
The kingdom of God has come near, and the time is now!
My heart and mind are alive once more.
I recognise him – he too went into the waters with John to be baptised.
I remember him because after his baptism, something strange happened,
that voice from the heavens proclaimed this man as His Son.
But then he disappeared – apparently into the wilderness.
I thought the events that day were turning out to be irrelevant!
But he’s back, with those powerful first words –
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Those words which reignited the passions that John’s words first instilled in me.
How things will turn out, only time will tell –
Is this man’s message so loud the authorities will try to squash him as they did John?
It would not surprise me.
But for now, I’m riding the wave, full of hope and promise –
let’s just see what it brings.
Bible Verse Quoted (in italics three times in text): Mark 1:15, NRSV