I’m around a lot of memory conversations. Those times when people get together to remember someone they care about.
Sometimes the storytelling is public, news specials when someone famous dies. Most often, I’m with people after funerals, or before a death, or sitting at a family reunion.
Someone new to the family speaks up: “Tell me about her.” And the stories start to come.
The order of the stories isn’t always perfect, but that doesn’t matter. We’re learning the characteristics that mattered most, that show what kind of person this is.
That’s what I’m seeing as I am reading Mark.
When I’ve looked at Mark in the past, I noticed how quickly things happened. “Immediately. At once. Without delay.”
This time, I’m noticing something about authority.
“The people were amazed at his teaching,” Mark writes,” because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.” Rather than referring to other teachers, providing footnotes, Jesus taught about the law and the prophets as if he knew them, as if the words were true.
This sense of authority goes beyond teaching.
In the first pages, he invites Simon and Andrew and James and John to follow him. They do.
A man starts yelling at him in the synagogue, and Jesus tells the spirit in the man to be quiet and leave. It does.
Jesus goes to Peter and Andrew’s house after synagogue and Peter’s mother-in-law was sick. Jesus helped her up and the fever was gone.
Sick people gathered outside the house. Jesus healed them.
As we read, we see Jesus showing authority in conversations with people and spirits, and everyone responds.
Perhaps the most striking moment, at least from a momentum-building perspective, shows Jesus’ deference to the authority of his calling.
More on that tomorrow.
I’m reading and reflecting on Mark this year, or at least at the beginning. I’m using The Books of the Bible: New Testament. It’s text without footnotes, verse or chapter numbers, or headings. This lets me focus on the words without the interruptions of the formatting.