40 WAYS IN 40 DAYS LENT 2015
#1 Prepare the Way: Discipleship is a Road Movie Mark 1:1-3
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight” ’,
The first command of the gospel is about road building!
It’s an image that is powerful. As we have seen in our local political context of inner city car vs. public transport debates (i.e. East West Link roads compensation arguments and this weeks establishment of a Metro Rail Authority) ‘Preparing a Way’ is the stuff that wins and loses elections. In the ancient mind it is also powerful; a thoroughly urban imagery of occupying empires who built straight roads!
In contrast Mark’s story plays the urban imagery alongside the imagery of the wilderness; a place of waiting & preparation. In the ancient world, (as today) many groups seeking freedom from the empires started there. (e.g. Acts 5). The wilderness was a symbol loaded with hope.
At this summer time of the year many of us make time to get out of our urban dynamic and experience something of the wilderness. It offers renewal and perspective.
Mark’s ‘Prepare the Way’ invitation gives a nod to the great tradition of Hebrew prophetic spirituality (Isaiah 40) This is comforting, inspiring language… ‘rising up on wings of eagles’ type promises for an oppressed and downcast people.
However it is also a reference to Malachai 3:1. It’s a passage full of Messianic expectation which suggests God is coming to judge a corrupt political and economic system. It’s an early hint of Mark’s Jesus own anti-Temple agenda that will emerge strongly through the rest of his story.
‘ The way’ is a key metaphor of Mark’s story and was the defining name for the early movements of Jesus followers.
It’s also a reference to the imagery of Exodus 23:20 . A promise made on the eve of an ‘Occupy’ insurgency of liberated slaves seeking to live an alternative Sabbath lifestyle amidst the Egyptian economy of its day. It suggests this story will be all about alternative ways of seeing, being and living.
The ‘journey motif’ for spiritual and personal transformation is often overused but it remains enduring. This top ten list of road movies is just one of many example’s of our ongoing fascination .
Recall a recent ‘wilderness’ experience or a cry/voice from outside your comfort zone. How was it renewing or challenging for you
Imagine a new roads /’way’ opening up in your life or community. What comfort/liberation/ judgement would such a way bring?
– MC, Newmarket Baptist