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Chapter of Chapters
|'‘He went out and departed into a solitary place' |
(photo: John Faber)
I wonder if the first chapter of St Mark's Gospel is not the most important chapter of any book ever written.
It is the first chapter of the very first life of Christ and it describes what a day in His life was like. He went to church in the morning and healed somebody. He went 'out to tea' in the afternoon and healed someone. Then He was available to crowds in the evening and healed quite a few.
The chapter is full of breathless wonder. 35 of the 45 verses in the authorized version begin with the word 'And'. The author seems to be carried away by the astonishing news he brings.
The chapter is full of exaggeration. When Mark says that 'all the city was gathered at the door', I doubt very much if 15,000 people were there, which was the population of Capernaum at the time.
It is full of simplicity. Christ's first sermon is put into one sentence: 'The Kingdom is near: repent and believe the Gospel.' A new world, change, faith.
Then we come to verse 35, which may be the key verse of all: 'And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out and departed into a solitary place and there prayed.'
Following the early morning silence, 'He preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee and cast out devils.' What must have been a strategy lasting several months goes into one sentence. So, you might say, the chapter is full of unwordiness.
Finally, He heals a leper. He befriends a person whom the world condemns. And that person spreads the word.
Here in this chapter is a picture of the Lord in all His simple, natural and loving splendour.
If we let Him, He could become our best friend.
Read St Mark's Gospel right through and it could be the beginning of a love affair that lasts a lifetime.
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