For Israel, it meant YHWH was fulfilling his covenant with them and establishing the long awaited kingdom (cf. Jesus’ first words in the narrative) with the arrival of the King. It was the climax of their story. Finally, the only one who could bring peace and Eden-life to the nation had arrived. For the whole world (Gentiles included), it meant that YHWH was fulfilling his covenant, and so all of creation would begin to experience with Israel the blessing of God. It also meant that true Eden-life was once again possible—not just for Israel but for all of creation.
God never abandoned his plan for Mankind in the garden. The framing of the imago dei in Gen. 1 is significant; both what is said immediately following, as well as the greater context in which it is said. “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” The Son of Man establishing himself as the long awaited Messiah—in the first half of Mark—is the initiation of Gen. 1 finally being fulfilled by Man. The Father approves of this by declaring Jesus to be the Son of God—once in the 1st half and once in the 2nd half. Again, what this means ultimately for creation and for us is life. True life is being restored to the world. Death and the curse are being removed. This is good news! So, Jesus is not just the climax of Israel’s story and the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Israel, but Jesus is the climax of the world’s story and the
fulfillment of God’s promises to all of creation. True life would not have been possible for creation if Jesus had not established himself as Messiah.
Mark frames his narrative into 2 sections. The first section has already been discussed in part: But essentially is centered on the question “who is this Jesus?” Character after character in the narrative is presented as pondering this question. Jesus’ actions and teaching are meant to point the different characters to the correct answer to this question. At the turning point in the narrative (8.27-9.1), Jesus seeks to find an answer from the disciples. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answers, “You are the Messiah.” And as readers, we breathe a deep sigh of relief and declare, “Finally some good news!”
The second section of the narrative begins, and it is centered on Jesus’ teaching concerning the type of Messiah he is going to be with the subsequent unfolding of this teaching in his actions and words on the way to the cross. He won’t be a messiah focused on self-preservation or the building of his kingdom through violence. No. The kingdom and the cross go together. He is going to be a suffering Messiah. And, with a few interesting allusions to Daniel 7, we begin to see that, Yes! the Son of Man stands in stark contrast to the rulers—kings—that have preceded him. The rest of the narrative is an unpacking of this truth. He is the suffering Messiah concerned with humility, love, and self-sacrifice--true life. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
So what does all this mean for us? In my next post—which will be considerably shorter than this one—I would like to briefly discuss a few ways that this narrative should impact our narrative. But first, I would love to hear your thoughts of how this discussion relates to Christ-followers and their views of—politics, ethics, ecology (what sort of concern we have for the environment), mission, etc.