by Abraham Cremeens
The year is 2039. You have been a Christian for just over a month and while it is an exciting time in your life, it is also a dangerous one. It is now illegal to be a Christian in the United States. A coworker told you about Jesus and you chose to put your faith in Christ. That coworker is now in prison, having been reported to the authorities. You doubt you will ever see him again. While you love Jesus and could never turn back, you are also worried about your life and those you love. If you are arrested for being a Christian, what will happen to your loved ones? You lay awake most nights wondering if this Jesus is really worth it all.
It’s Sunday and you look around at your church family gathered together in a dimly lit basement. These are hard times to be a Christian but you navigate the storm together as a community. There is a buzz of conversation in the room. Finally, someone walks up to the front of the group, quiets everyone down, and begins to read the Gospel of Mark.
While this is a fiction, it wasn’t at all for the original readers of Mark. Rome was slaughtering Christians in the very infancy of the church. Young believers were forced to consider just how genuine their faith was as they watched fellow believers torn to pieces by lions or burned alive. Is Jesus who he said he was? Is he worth dying for? Mark penned his gospel to answer that question for Christians of every generation.
We started our study in Mark a year ago with the same significant questions. Our circumstances are different than the believers in Rome (for now) but Jesus remains the compass of our lives. How have we answered the question, “Who is Jesus?”
He is the Son of God, Yahweh Incarnate
Jesus is God. The fullness of God dwells in him (Colossians 2:9). Mark traced this theme out from start to finish.
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.”
And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”
And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally, he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
But he remained silent and made no answer. Again, the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
Jesus was no mere man. He was God in the flesh come to set his people free. He was the Christ, the one true God who came to do what only God could do. When you ask, “Is he worth living for? Is he worth dying for?” The answer is always a resounding, “Yes!” because he is God who made you and saved you.
He is the Son of Man, full of compassion, grace, and kindness.
Jesus was given all authority in heaven and on earth, yet he determined to love and serve the outcast and those who were off-limits. Throughout Mark’s Gospel, we have seen Jesus who is benevolent and generous. He touched and healed a leper, a social outcast whom everyone else avoided. He ate with tax collectors and sinners, showing them value and grace. On the precipice of completing his mission in Jerusalem, he stopped to care for a blind man named Bartimaeus. Jesus showed us that he doesn’t define progress by how many steps he takes but by how many stops he makes. He stopped for them and he stops for you because he cares.
This is no more revealed than in his stop on Calvary where he, the Son of God, submitted himself to the sons of men. There he paid the divine price to save his people from their sins.
I don’t know where you are in your faith journey but I can assure you that Jesus is worth living for and he is worth dying for. He is God. He loves you. By grace, he is working in you and through you. Will you continue your devotion to him? That is where we will pick up the conversation next week.