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Isaiah 40:21-31 & Mark 1:29-39
What is God all about? It’s a large vague-ish question, which the scriptures of the day address. Isaiah’s prophetic poem is the expression of faith and the goodness of God put into words, into verse – as only poetry can convey God. Mark’s gospel tells it differently, as a story within a larger story.
Textual Notes – Isaiah
Do you notice how the text is tied together with a repeating phrase in v 21 and v28? The poem attempting to describe the God of the universe in words is a response to the question of verse 6. God sends one to tell the people of God’s movement. And the voice asks for clarification regarding whom is doing this talking and this sending. We read the beginning of this chapter each year in Advent, traditionally interpreting it to be about John the Baptizer preceding Jesus.
Textual Notes -Mark
This story is the unfolding story that Mark is telling of Jesus – how he goes out into his mission, and what his mission is about.
v.31 the Greek word egeiren (translated her as help her up, or lift her up) is also used in the gospels to talk about resurrection such as in Mark 5:41-42. Is there a connection?
v. 31 The fever “left” the woman. The word translate as left in this verse to describe a healing, is also used in 1:26 “to come out of him” to describe the exorcism or chasing out of the unclean spirit. Is Mark making some sort of connection?
v. 31 Once healed the mother-in-law “serves” Jesus and his friends. This is the first use of this word in the gospel. The last also refers to women serving Jesus in 15:41
v. 34 Here again Jesus doesn’t let the unclean spirits speak (just as in 1:35).
v. 35 Jesus doesn’t sleep in after such a busy previous day, but rather gets up early. An intentional choice, but why?
v. 37 The disciples as well, are desperate to find Jesus, looking for him . Why are they looking for him? Why is everyone else? Jesus is clear on his intent and objectives. He ends his responds not with “I have to go” but by a radical association of the disciples to and in his mission, using the 1st person plural “let’s go!”
Some ancient Hebraic texts describe the promise eschatological advent of God upon the scene as meaning the destruction of evil powers that have usurped God’s rightful rule of the world. Compare this with Mark 1:12-15. Is Mark possibly telling the story to say that it’s more than just a story of Jesus traveling from town to town, but part of a bigger one?
The scriptures stress the whole of creation, the whole of the village, the whole of the region of Galilee. It seems to be in opposition to what we would assume. God comes not for certain ones or certain things, but to make the whole of creation whole. We often limit, redefine or put God in a box.
Questions for going deeper:
1. What grabs your attention in today’s selections?
2. How do those in the texts put God in a box? How do you?
3. How is this story gospel good news for you today?; for us as a church community?
4. How is the Spirit calling us to act or be through this?