Sunday, September 1, 2013

Back to beginnings

The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ,
the Son of God.

Mark 1:1 Jerusalem Bible

This is how the gospel according to Mark begins—the beginning of the Good News. But notice that this beginning is actually the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Good News, spoken long before by the Holy Spirit of God through the prophets, especially through Isaiah.

John the evangelist says, "A man came, sent by God. His name was John" (John 1:6).

Mark says that this man "appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Mark 1:4).

The beginning of the Good News, though, could be said to have started with the prophesying of Isaiah, centuries before its fulfillment. John the honorable Forerunner and Baptist "appeared in the wilderness."

He had fed upon the prophetic Word of God and was full of it.

"He came as a witness," says John the evangelist, "as a witness to speak for the Light" (John 1:7). What Light? "The Word," says John, "was the true Light that enlightens all men, and He was coming into the world" (John 1:9). As for the man, "sent by God whose name was John," he knew the Light was coming, because he was a man full of the Word. He didn't have to read the scroll of Isaiah. He had eaten it. "The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light" (Isaiah 9:1) reverberated in his spirit and even in his flesh. That's what made him jump even in his mother's womb when the mother of the Light came near. "As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leapt in her womb" (Luke 1:41).

John's word did not depart from the Word, but faithfully recounted all that he heard by the Spirit Holy that lived in him. Did he know or understand how he was the book of the consolation of Israel in human form? His every word and action was that Word set into movement to fulfillment. Isaiah prophesied. John enacted.

"Console My people, console them,
speak to the heart of Jerusalem
and call to her
that her time of service is ended,
that her sin is atoned for,
that she has received from the hand of Yahweh
double punishment for all her crimes."
(Isaiah 40:1-2)

"A voice cries, 'Prepare in the wilderness
a way for Yahweh.
Make a straight highway for our God
across the desert.
Let every valley be filled in,
every mountain and hill laid low,
let every cliff become a plain,
and the ridges a valley;
then the glory of Yahweh shall be revealed
and all mankind shall see it;
for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.'"
(Isaiah 40:3-5)

"A Voice commands, 'Cry!'
and I answered, 'What shall I cry?'
—'All flesh is grass
and its beauty like the wild flower's.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of Yahweh blows on them,
but the Word of our God remains forever.'"
(Isaiah 40:6-8)

God spoke through Isaiah, enacted through John,
and fulfilled, in a mystery, through his Only Son.
"Shout without fear,
say to the towns of Judah,
'Here is your God.'"
(Isaiah 40:9b)

"Look, there is the Lamb of God
that takes away the sin of the world."
(John 1:29b)

"Here is the Lord Yahweh coming with power,
His arm subduing all things to Him.
The prize of His victory is with Him,
His trophies all go before Him.
He is like a Shepherd feeding His flock,
gathering lambs in His arms,
holding them against His breast
and leading to their rest the mother ewes."
(Isaiah 40:10-11)

John cried, echoing the prophet Isaiah who was alive in him,
"Did you not know?
Had you not heard?
Was it not told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood how the earth was founded?"
(Isaiah 40:21)

He announced with every particle of his being,
having fed on the sweetness of the Word,
"Here is My Servant whom I uphold,
My Chosen One in whom My soul delights.
I have endowed Him with My Spirit
that He may bring true justice to the nations.
He does not cry out or shout aloud,
or make His voice heard in the streets.
He does not break the crushed reed,
nor quench the wavering flame.
Faithfully He brings true justice;
He will neither waver, nor be crushed
until true justice is established on earth,
for the islands are waiting for His Law."
(Isaiah 42:1-4)

This is the Word which nourished the flesh and spirit of prophets
through endless ages leading forward not to the end
but to the true beginning of all things,
which is the Good News
of Jesus Christ,
"I, Yahweh, have called you to serve the cause of right;
I have taken you by the hand and formed you;
I have appointed you as covenant of the people
and light of the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to free captives from prison,
and those who live in darkness from the dungeon.
My name is Yahweh,
I will not yield My glory to another,
nor my honor to idols.
See how former predictions have come true.
Fresh things I now foretell;
before they appear I tell you of them."
(Isaiah 42:6-9)

The beginning of the Good News—when is this beginning? When did it happen? Was it in the days of the prophets who, moved by the Holy Spirit, prophesied what was to come?

Was it in the days of the earthly life of our Lord Jesus Christ whose life-giving death and glorious resurrection and ascension, were a single act of victory, granting the world great mercy?

Yes, but there is more. The beginning of the Good News is that moment when a human soul entrusts itself utterly to the providence of God, believing the Word without reserve, receiving, accepting Christ the Word as He is, as He is revealed, for "to all who did accept Him He gave power to become the children of God, to all who believe in the Name of Him who was born not out of human stock, or urge of the flesh, or will of man, but of God Himself" (John 1:12-13).

To receive power to become a child of God is no small thing. Therefore, let us "throw off everything that hinders us, especially the sin that clings so easily," and "let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection" (Hebrews 12:1b-2a).

The beginning of the Good News is,
was, and is to come.
And the Good News is Jesus Christ.

Start from here…

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