One of my favourite Lenten practices is to read through the Gospels before Easter. You can read more about that in my post from a few weeks ago, but I wanted to offer a few thoughts on the book of Mark.
Luke Timothy Johnson, in his commentary on Mark, pointed out something interesting about Mark’s scope of the “Good News” of Jesus. He writes that Mark’s account of the “Good News” tells of the cross and the resurrection but also includes Jesus’ life as an essential part of Jesus’ redemptive work.
So, what does this mean?
Recently, I have been slowly reading a little book entitled, “A Theology of the Ordinary”, written by Julie Canlis. In her book, Julie Canlis, explores how we need to rethink how we view our regular, ordinary lives. She says it well here:
“ When we focus exclusively on the cross, we think wrongly that Christ became human simply to get a job done. We do not understand that His being human was part of our redemption. Each stage of His ‘ordinary’ human life was crucial to the atonement.
For this reason, I love to read the Gospels asking “What is He doing to my humanity in each of these stories?” How is he redeeming me here? And here? And here? Jesus is not just going through the motions of being human in order to fast-forward to the cross. Jesus is fully human in order that I might become, in Him, fully human once again”
In order for all of humanity to be fully and completely saved: Jesus had to live the human experience.
He had to sweat and hunger, sleep and cry, be abandoned and lonely, grieve and experience stress. All these things, every single last thing that you and I all live - Jesus lived these things too. You only need to read the Psalms to realize that the human experience has not much changed in the last several thousand years.
And this is why he is able to stand at the mercy seat and plead on our behalf. This is why he has compassion. Because he saw it all.
He smelled the stench of death from Lazarus’ tomb and felt the cold hands of a dead child, he knew what it meant to have no home, he laughed and was filled with joy, he danced and celebrated at weddings, he knew the closeness of a mother’s touch, he had siblings, he did all the very ordinary things as well as the most out of this world things. He lived a human life. All the pain and sadness, the beauty and goodness, friendship and rejection, work and play. All this is part of the Good News, part of his redemption.
There is nothing outside of Jesus’ realm of understanding, nothing that you experience that Jesus did not experience in his life. He took it all on - not just finally doing away with sin on the cross but a living redemption that goes into every last crevice of life that has been marred by the fall. All that was lost in that moment with Adam and Eve he changed, redeemed, and rescued.
As you read through the last few weeks before Lent, I want to encourage you to ask the question Julie Canlis asks, “What is he doing to my humanity in each of these stories?” How is he redeeming your experience, the human experience? How is he making you fully human in each instance of his life? The answer might free you. The answer might surprise you. The answer might just change your life. Change it by bringing the ordinary regular life, we all lead, under the beautiful redemption of the one who truly lived it.