Mark’s Gospel opens, “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
In these words, Mark states his belief that Jesus is the “Christ.” Christ comes from the Greek word for “Anointed One,” which in Hebrew is the word “Messiah.” The kings of Israel had been anointed with oil as a sign that they were chosen for their office by God. When Israel’s line of kings came to an end, hope sprang up that God would one day raise up a new ruler who would save the people. Many in Israel shared the hope for a coming Messiah, but there was a wide range of opinions concerning what the Messiah would do. Some looked for a military figure who would drive the Romans out of the land. Others looked for a priestly figure who would renew Temple worship and establish ritual purity. Others looked for a political figure who would sit on the throne of a re-established Davidic monarchy.
Mark states that Jesus is the Messiah. But as the story unfolds, we learn that Jesus isn’t quite what anyone expected. He renounces the use of violence. He rejects opportunities to seize political power. He challenges the enforcement of strict purity laws. Through his radical trust in God and his suffering service to others, Jesus re-defines the role of Messiah.
Messiah Jesus, it’s not always easy for us to grasp who you are, for you came into the world confounding expectations. Even today, we may look to you as a kind of super-hero who will make all our problems go away. But that’s not why you came. You are among us so that we might learn to trust your heavenly Father, and live the way of your Spirit in serving our neighbor in need. Thank you, Messiah Jesus. Amen.