John J. Kilgallen | Sep 12 2008 - 4:49pm | 1 comment
After placing John the Baptist as the prophet to introduce with divine authority the ’One who is to come’, and now embarking on the development of Jesus as Messiah and Son of God, how shall Mark actually introduce Jesus? Mark fastens on the adult Jesus, since the birth stories, at least as they are told by Matthew and Luke, do not further Mark’s argument about the total obedience of Jesus. Rather, the adult Jesus, apparently only to go to John the Baptist to be baptized, in fact has an experience which changes the entire direction of his life. However Jesus’ life had gone in Nazareth, now he is revealed as the one upon whom the Spirit of God rests, the Son, the beloved Son, in whom the Father is well pleased. Mark had introduced John with Old Testament prophetic texts so as to define John; now he suggests that we find in the Old Testament texts which are useful to understand Jesus. First, there is Isaiah who said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon him, The Spirit of wisdom and insight, The Spirit of counsel and power, The Spirit of knowledge and of obedience to Yahweh; His motivation will be obedience to Yahweh." Indeed, now under the guidance and power of the Spirit, Jesus becomes the obedient and wise and powerful Messiah. The Father tells Jesus that ’You are My Son’, a title already used by Mark. Now, the Father further calls Jesus ’My beloved Son’, which strong suggests that God is talking about Jesus when God says in Isaiah (42): "He is My chosen one (in Hebrew this means ’beloved’), in whom My soul delights. I have sent my Spirit upon him". The Father underlines, through His use of ’My Son, My beloved Son’ that Jesus is His faithful servant who, as Isaiah later explains, will preach God’s word and innocently die for the guilty, so that the guilty might go free. The Father delights in the obedience of this Son of His. No doubt Jesus is divine; Mark wants to underline the obedience of this Son, and the gifts given in order to carry out his service to his Father. Jesus leaves the Jordan and his baptism for an extended stay in the desert, for a time to absorb his identity as empowered servant. All nature serves him, the Son, and he readies himself to be powerful, wise and holy as the term Messiah indicates. Spirit-guided, Jesus begins what he now knows his precise task to be: to announce the presence of the kingly authority and goodness of God, and to prepare people to enter into this God’s presence. Jesus understands that his life is now to call Jews to repentance and return to God, as he himself begins his life of total obedience to his Father. If one wants to know what drives Jesus, it is the desire to love his Father through filial obedience. Obedience will characterize all his Messianic acts and sayings. John Kilgallen, S.J.