The epic nature of the good news of Jesus Christ is unquestioned by us Christians. His life is unique in the truest sense of the word. Yet we may frequently be re-inspired by new insights. This has happened to me lately!
On a grander scale than the mini-chiasms pointed out yesterday, check out (thanks to my friend, the NC scholar Greg Fay who has shown this) this structure in the text:
Desert (1:1 – 15)
- Galilee (1:16 – 8:21)
The Way (8:22 – 10:52)
- Jerusalem (11:1 – 15:41)
Tomb (15:42 – 16:8)
Stated another way:
- Desert and Tomb are related. (I would observe that both of these are “lonely,” isolated, solitary places. “Desert” is not to be understood as “place of the cactus.” That’s not what’s implied by the Gk. here)
- Galilee and Jerusalem are parallels.
- And the substantive, middle section (8:22-10:52) shows the key to it all – that Jesus is on the way to die, purposefully, in Jerusalem.
Or, if you prefer a more linear presentation: Jesus’ gospel may be summed up by considering first His predominantly Galilean words and works, then his transitional time of setting his face toward Jerusalem, and ultimately by His atoning death. The death is something we believers identify with first in baptism (Romans 6, Colossians 2), then throughout life in discipleship.
Now that’s “epic.” If I follow Jesus (= am a perpetual disciple of the Rabbi) on the Way (the road or spiritual pathway He inaugurated) to Jerusalem (where He was to die), I get a big part of the message of Mark. The significance of my baptism (= immersion) is heightened and deepened. I consider myself blessed to follow Him into death (figurative death, which is no small potato; and literal death, should the need arise to die physically for the cause).
With this understanding, the phrase “take up Your cross and follow me” takes on its true significance in my life.