At last evening’s “New Testament Overview“, Ro Mody gave us a brief tour of the four Gospels. It was far too brief, I thought, to be absolutely coherent. Always a tough job to summarise without being simplistic.
So the four Gospels give us a full portrait of Jesus, and in Gospel of Mark, Jesus is a man always on the move, he is a man “on the way” – the way that was prepared by John the Baptist, that leads him from Nazareth to his baptism in the wilderness to his journey to Jerusalem to die.
Good observation, but what does that tell us about Jesus the man though?
This morning’s reading at brekkie was from the Book of Exodus (in line with our church’s progress through the RML Bible Overview series).
Exodus was certainly the major redemption event in the Old Testament. It was also a major step in God’s revelation of himself to Israel as a unique God who is:
- covenant-keeping (“abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness”);
- utterly and absolutely sovereign and powerful, who can control everything in creation (including the heart of the Pharaoh);
- scarily holy;
- yet somehow also, merciful and gracious and compassionate.
In RML Bible Overview terms, the “God’s Relationship with Man” box gets a little tick. Things seem to be improving before the people of Israel are booted from Egypt, but you as you read through the rest of Exodus, you start to despair of such a stiff-necked people ever possibly having a relationship with the aforementioned God!
But back to the Gospel of Mark.
In Mark 6:31-52, there are clear allusions to Exodus (for working, see Sach and Hiorns’ “Dig Deeper into the Gospels” (not “Dig Even Deeper Still” as many cheekily suggested)). But Rikki Watts suggests that the link is far deeper: in Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark, he says that even though there is a plethora of direct quotations from Isaiah, Mark is deliberately structuring his Gospel to point out that Jesus’ work is to bring about a (greater and more portentous) new exodus.
If this is true, then Jesus isn’t just going on his way, but the schema of deliverance, journey, and arrival at YHWH’s dwelling suggest strongly that he is, in fact, the God of the Exodus (and all that entails) redeeming his people, in a greater and even more powerful way, for relationship with him.
Placeholder till I can do enough work to confirm this!