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Switch on - the good news written by Mark

After six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was metamorphosed before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no cloth refiner on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. [....] A cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my son, my beloved; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.         Mark 9: 2-7


Mark wrote his biography of Jesus around AD 68. Before long all homes in Jersey should receive an audio CD of this book – complete and in English.


Several things make this book very special .....


1.     Mark wrote the biography anonymously and with absolutely no intention to make money or to become a celebrity himself.


In fact Mark includes his own ignominious self – anonymously - in the book by reporting that, on the night when Jesus was taken captive in the garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem, a teenager had followed Jesus and his disciples when they went out after dinner. The soldiers had tried to detain him but he fled naked leaving his linen nightshirt behind in their hands.


2.     Mark wrote his biography to be heard by individual people who would think through the facts - without them entertaining a single thought about him as the writer.


Alastair Darling’s recent book about his 1000 days as UK Chancellor of the Exchequer is intended to place on record the Chancellor’s best endeavours being thwarted by a paranoid Prime Minister. Mark’s purpose is to seek that every one of his readers answers for himself/herself the question posed by Jesus of his disciples exactly half way through the biography: “Who do you say that I am?


3.     Mark wrote his book as a self-help manual of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (‘CBT’).


“Cognitive” = how you think; “Behavioural” = what you do; “Therapy” = treatment to bring about change. “Self-help-manual” = a book for individuals to read, think about and put into practise. Mark’s book works.


4.     Mark tells it as it is, not as he would wish it to be – or wish it not to be.


This short biography speaks volumes about the people Jesus met – those who were blessed by him; those who sought to destroy him; those who wanted to follow him but could not do so. Here we meet all humankind – the weak, the powerful, those in between. And we meet ourselves.


Take a fresh look at the words in bold above. This incident in Mark’s biography is the start of the second half of the biography. It immediately follows Jesus’ question: Who do you say that I am?” Is Jesus a man? Is Jesus only a man? Is Jesus someone much more “other” than a man?


If he is the Son of God, the beloved Son of God made man, what is he doing here on earth? Has Mark recorded the answer? In the words in bold above? Of course he has.


The man Jesus Christ is talking with human beings – not only with the three disciples that he took with him up the mountain but also with Moses (died c. BC 1350) and Elijah (died c. BC 850). The Son of God – and God himself – wants to commune with men and women. God the Father himself says of Jesus, “Listen to him!”


5.     Lastly, therefore, Mark does not persuade or coerce in any way.


The reader is king. Mark faithfully records the decisions made by Jesus and by all those around him. He leaves it at that. It’s your decision; your will be done.


Why oh why does everybody decide that they won’t read or listen to Mark’s short biography although it’s addressed to them. They “switch on” CD of Mark’s biography is too special to be heard.

 ‘There is more to Christianity than knowing what the Bible says; nobody is ever nourished by memorising menus.’ (John Blanchard, author and preacher)
 ‘Sin will keep you from this book, or this book will keep you from sin.’ (John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress, about the Bible, 1628-1688)
Richard Syvret

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