Mark gets overlooked at Christmas. Mark’s is not a good Christmas gospel. Not like Luke, the most read and quoted Christmas account, full of wonder and story and miracle. Matthew is a close second to Luke, filling in some of the gaps in the story. And John shows the coming of Christ in a loftier way, more celestial and sweeping, showing us the Word that existed from the beginning, the light that has come to dwell with us.
But Mark just skips the birth entirely. There is nothing of the Hallmark movie sort in Mark. Mark is more a Mission Impossible kind of guy. He ignores most of that introductory stuff, jumping right into what he thinks is most important: yes, the Lord has come, and his mission is urgent. In nine short verses, John the Baptist gets us ready. Then Jesus is on the scene, being baptized by John, blessed by His Father, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Then off we go.
Mark’s first recorded words of Jesus: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.”
It’s serious, guys. He’s here. It’s time. Get yourself ready. Believe.
In the next 20 verses, Jesus calls Andrew and Simon and James and John; He teaches in the synagogue, astonishing everyone; He heals a man with an unclean spirit; He raises up Simon’s mother-in-law; He heals the crowds of people brought to His door; He draws them by the hundreds; and He goes out alone to pray. He is gone so long they come looking for Him. When they find Him, He just says, “Let’s go to the next town over and preach, because that is why I came.” Whew.
Urgency. Excitement. It’s like Mark is saying, “Here He is. What are you going to do with Him? How are you going to respond?”
To all these people, He came with a mission. Here’s the kingdom of God. Right now. Come on in.
I know some people this Christmas—myself included—who need the Mark version of Jesus’ coming, the Mission Impossible Jesus. Of course, it is important to enter the wonder of His beginning, to kneel at the manger, to ponder the strange beauty of His birth. God With Us is a miracle that baffles the mind. But this God With Us is so much more than a baby. He’s a warrior, an agent of the most impossible mission ever. And He wins.
So many of us feel we are facing impossible situations this Christmas. But the Kingdom of God is at hand, guys. He’s here. Time to pay attention. Time to believe.