I’m guessing you’ve never heard those two in the same sentence. But with all the ridiculous yelling out there about the UnChristmas Starbucks cups, I felt it would be great to draw the comparison. You see, the Gospel of Mark is the UnChristmas Gospel. That’s right. It’s the only gospel without the story of the birth of Christ. Would we consider that gospel to be ‘anti Christian’… I think not. OK enough with what Mark did not tell us, let’s take a look at what the opening chapter of Mark does demonstrate.
Besides being absent of the Christmas story, there is another interesting series of events that unfold in Mark 1 that deserve serious attention. Let’s look at the order of events at Mark tells it.
- John the Baptist prepares the way, calling all to repent and proclaiming “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (v 7-8)
- Jesus gets baptized and God says, “You are my beloved Son;[d] with you I am well pleased.” (v 11)
- Jesus is driven out to isolation and temptation by the Holy Spirit, tempted by Satan for 40 days.
- Then Jesus beings His ministry by…
- Calling others to follow
- Casting out demons
- Healing the sick
- More healing
It is the order of His ministry that I wish to draw attention to. He literally has a four to one ratio on doing vs saying. He beings with serving and doing for others before He ever begins to preach. As one called to preach myself, I see this as am important point for anyone feeling lead to preach. Whether you preach from a pulpit or simply ‘teach’ others in your workplace, your actions have to come first… they speak louder than words.
Jesus first demonstrated His ministry with His actions and then He preached. But there is still one more fact about His preaching that is important to catch.
Here is the Son of God, the Word made flesh, the Lord and Savior, the second member of the Trinity, who created Heaven and Earth. “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (v 35)
Before preaching, before serving, before leading by example… the Son of Man prayed, alone, early in the morning before doing anything else. If that is not a model of how we are to do ministry, I don’t know what is.
So there you have it. The opening act of the Gospel of Mark. No Christmas, no birth story. Yet still as Christian as you can get.