EPISODE 6: Amazed by his authority

21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.

While there is only one Temple in Israel, many towns have their own synagogues. The synagogue is the center of Jewish religious and cultural life. It is a place of prayer, worship, and schooling. On this particular Sabbath, Jesus enters the synagogue in Capernaum, the seaside village home of the four fishermen who have just become his disciples. Jesus teaches with such authority that the people are astounded. He speaks as one who has firsthand experience of the Truth.

But the brightness of this moment is broken by a dark presence. Continue reading “EPISODE 6: Amazed by his authority”

EPISODE 5: “Come, follow me…”

16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.

17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets.

20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

To the casual observer, Jesus is just another Jewish “rabbi”—a spiritual teacher. A rabbi would call the brightest and the best students around him to learn his “yoke,” his interpretive point of view, so that it could be passed Continue reading “EPISODE 5: “Come, follow me…””

EPISODE 4: In the desert, tempted by Satan…

This transcendent moment at the Jordan doesn’t linger. There is a mission to accomplish, and the Holy Spirit of God leads Jesus back out into the wilderness to prepare him for what lies ahead.

12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, 13 and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

At what point does Satan begin to realize who Jesus really is? Does he overhear Elizabeth and Mary’s pregnancy talk? Does he cower in the Bethlehem hills as the angels announce the birth Continue reading “EPISODE 4: In the desert, tempted by Satan…”

EPISODE 3: John baptizes Jesus

Even as John is receiving their confessions and then symbolically washing them clean in the Jordan River, he is telling them that God is about to do something far more powerful, more permanent, and more personal than anything they have ever known.

7 And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.

8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

A sign points the way.

John understands his calling is to simply point the way to Jesus. Nothing Continue reading “EPISODE 3: John baptizes Jesus”

EPISODE 2: So John came, baptizing…

Once Mark introduces us to his main character, he produces witness after witness to confirm his identity.

2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”—

3 “a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ “

4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

In those days, when a king left his palace and ventured into his kingdom, he would have a pretty impressive entourage. Going before him would be a “herald”—an advance man who literally shouts, “The king is coming! Prepare to receive him!” Citizens would line the streets Continue reading “EPISODE 2: So John came, baptizing…”