On your mark

Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Like a starter’s pistol, this brief first verse rings out and Mark’s narrative is off and running.

We may take the chain of phrases in this verbless sentence simply as an announcement of what is next—a title that is followed immediately by the headlong story.

As so often in Mark, though, we may pause, or go back to what went by so fast and wonder what it meant. Our first thought may be that this is simply a conventional way of saying that at just this point we are beginning the gospel story that follows, and that Mark’s little book is itself “the good news.” But might it instead be, as it seems when read in this day’s lesson, that the title properly superscribes just this portion of what follows? That the witness of the Baptist is the beginning of the good news, while its fullness is not to be revealed until later?


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