Recently I’ve decided to read through the earliest gospel account of Jesus as though I had never heard of him before. It has been a rewarding exercise because it helps me to understand not only how people likely viewed him while he walked on earth, but also how people today might view him at first blush. After reading Mark chapters 1-8, here is the list of unfiltered observations I came up with:
Son of God; message is repentance; speaks with bold authority; casts out unclean spirits; sometimes a loner, but sometimes seeks out large crowds; teller of mysterious parables, iconoclast; claims that the status quo is upside-down; angers Jewish authorities; perplexes his disciples; forgiver of sins; calls the sick, not the well; redefines the family; holds radical, extreme views; communes with God in prayer all the while indirectly claiming to be God; preaches of an unseen kingdom; commands no fear; rewards faith; commands belief; marvels over faith and lack of faith; man of few words; always on the move unless he’s praying; miraculously feeds people; demands secrecy over his messiah status; rattles, beats, casts out, engages in warfare against the unseen, dark, spiritual world; commands obedience to the point of death.
What strikes me as being one of the craziest paradigm shifts is the emphasis on the invisible, rather than the visible. The unseen is the atomic level of all reality and truth, while the visible is the outgrowth of what cannot be seen. That is, one’s physical makeup is insignificant compared to one’s unseen heart; the miracles of the multiplication of food are a result of Jesus’s relationship with the unseen Father; unseen faith heals, not outward acts of behavior; the “kingdom” of the Pharisees is infinitely insignificant compared to the unseen kingdom of God; the mysterious association of people who do God’s will defines family, not the physical blood running through one’s veins; the kingdom of God begins as a hidden, unseen seed in the ground and no one knows how it grows; evil is not the visible, foodstuffs that go into man, but rather the invisible that emanates from the heart.
When I reflect upon these observations I am reminded of a couple of verses worth putting into practice daily: 1) Proverbs 4:23: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” 2) Colossians 3:2: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”