Not the details we want

“…Came from Nazareth to the Jordan and was baptized...”

This is very simple story-telling.

When we are listening to a story, we want the details. We want to know what each person is thinking. We want to know motives. We want each piece of the back and forth of the debate. We want to know the tone of voice so we can tell if someone was being sarcastic and insulting, or respectful and supportive. We want to know everything.

When we are telling a story, we want to choose the details. We want to create our own timeline of the events and our own timeline of revealing the details. We want to point the attention of the listener in the right direction.

So when Mark gives us one sentence about Jesus traveling from where he grew up to a visit with his relative to participating in a religious ritual that he didn’t need to participate in, we are frustrated.

What did Mary say when he told her he was leaving? What happened to the carpenter shop? What did he do with his tools? Did he have a farewell party?

And had he ever spent time with John at family reunions? Did they know each other? Did they know about each other? Was John raised in a conservative religious community in the hills? Did he know his parents? Were they still alive, given that they had been old when he was born? How did Jesus show up with John?

There are so many questions. And we have none of the answers here. We have a couple answers elsewhere, from other gospels. We know a little of their conversation.

But this storyteller, the one we know as Mark, has a different story to tell than the one we might want.

He is moving us through the facts of the beginning of the work of Jesus. For some reason, for some intention of Mark and of God, the words that matter to include in this whole story are these:

Jesus was in Nazareth.
Jesus came to John.
He was baptized in the Jordan.