24 February 2011

reflecting: Mark 1:21-39

I want to rethink job descriptions a little. It seems like most job descriptions should instead be called “job prescriptions.” After all, you get them at the beginning of your work, they prescribe to you what you should do, what your responsibilities are, and how you should spend your time. We all know that these job prescriptions don’t always indicate what you actually do. Maybe they call for you to do more work (Slacker!), maybe, for the work-a-holic, far less. Job prescriptions prescribe the task ahead. Job descriptions describe what’s actually happening, and what should continue to happen…

It’s with this frame of mind that we stumble onto a pretty odd job description for Jesus in Mark’s gospel. Verse 39, in chapter one, states, Jesus goes around “preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.” Wait, what?! Preaching and exorcising?!

Jesus says that this is why he’s come. Sure it’s at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, this statement is definitely a sign of more to come, but it is descriptive of what Jesus is doing. The two prongs of his controversial mission: preaching a message of God and confronting evil head-on.

These two facets are important for us not to separate, nor to privilege one over the other.

Jesus is not just a gifted speaker, wooing crowds with his religious knowledge and oratory polish. Though he was not afraid to encounter folks in a religious arena with the uncomfortable possibility that connection to and life with God might look different than what they thought.

Jesus is not just a social worker, activist, or community organizer, dead-set on eliminating personal and societal ills. Though he was certainly not afraid or ashamed to leave the synagogue and enter into the spaces of turmoil, ambiguity, darkness, suffering, and fear.

Mark sets up Jesus’ job description in a way that forces us to realize that Jesus is reordering things. Jesus exhibits authority to teach, because he’s the Word being taught. Jesus has authority to still the turbulent spirit in the man on the church house steps because he is “the Holy One of God.”

For us who are “in Christ,” receiving the authority and healing of Jesus, but also participating in it and offering it to the world, we better pay attention to this job description. Does it describe what we know? Is it descriptive of who we are on a daily basis? If not, let us continue to rethink, and by the Holy Spirit, relearn who Jesus is and what his authority means in our lives, our families, our community, and our world.


Kate Roberts said...

I believe it was Karl Barth who said we can only talk about what we know in terms of God and that through coming to know God we can then orient ourselves into the rest of the world.

I think you have offered a beautiful recalibration to our daily lives that involves this reorientation.

Chris Breslin said...

Thanks Kate. You put your finger on it. God, in Christ, is indeed our starting point.