As I start to read Mark in preparation for a lengthy sermon series at the Gathering Church, I’m arrested by the opening scene. Mark cuts right to the chase, not softening us up with any genealogies or birth (/pre-Creation) narratives. Mark’s “beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, Son of God” is only prefaced by a messenger. Preconceived by the prophet Isaiah and actualized by a strange bird named John. John, preparing. John, pointing. John (as we find in the evangelist John’s gospel), decreasing that Christ may increase. I can’t help but recall Karl Barth’s comment on this scene as visually portrayed in the center panel of Grunewald’s Isenheim altarpiece (which a print hung above Barth’s desk for more than fifty years). He offers in Church Dogmatics, “…one might recall John the Baptist in Grünewald’s Crucifixion, especially his prodigious index finger. Could anyone point away from himself more impressively and completely?” What a challenge! What a vocation! To prepare. To point. To decrease that Christ may increase!
Come Holy Spirit!
Let us remember our baptisms that we may live into this life of witness to which we are called.
Let us point to Christ, who is the image of the invisible God.