Over the next four weeks, Jesus’ public ministry begins to cause problems with both scribes and demons, and issues of knowledge and secrecy abound. The question of authority is turned upside down; the scribes lose theirs, and those you would least expect—a leper, Simon’s mother-in-law—gain authority and a place in the new reign. Jesus tries to keep the focus on the message, not the miracles, and tries to prepare us for the truth of his mission—salvation, yes, but through the cross.
In the midst of the confusion, Mark offers a little help by presenting Jesus as the Messiah and chosen one so clearly that even the disciples get it: “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” (Mark 9:7). The Transfiguration serves to remind us that Jesus has already conquered death and set us free. Knowing this, we can re-enter the chaos more fully, passionately, and freely to struggle for this reign that we dare to claim as our own.
Meanwhile, Paul has to confront his own demons—wresting “church” out of a few ragtag communities, and putting out fires that flare up when disciples try to translate spiritual beliefs and human limitations into community. Luckily, instead of focusing on his own power, Paul keeps us focused on Christ and on service to one another: “For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).
Michaela Bruzzese, a Sojourners contributing writer, lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Building with Love
Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 111; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28