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Have you ever played 21 questions? (now I only have 20 questions left!)
It’s simple: you think of a person, or a thing or an animal. Your mates now have to ask you questions to try and figure out who or what it is that you have just been thinking of.
Let’s say you think of Mary Berry, cos why wouldn’t you?
The game might go like this:
Are you a person? Yes
Are you a man? No
Are you a child? Not for a long time
Are you famous? Yes
Are you a sportswoman? No
Do you like alcohol in cakes? No
Are you Mary Berry?! YES!
(admittedly there might have been some other questions in there – the ‘alcohol in cakes’ question is pretty niche.)
In writing his gospel, Mark is playing a similar kind of game with us. He presents us readers with a character called Jesus, who comes from Nazareth…now it is over to us to ask some questions and make some conclusions about who this Jesus fella really is.
Mark has hidden some pretty massive clues in the readings this week. There are stories about all kinds of forces and obstacles coming up in front of Jesus. A manic man possessed by a gang of demons so strong and wild that not even steel chains can contain him, an impossibly complex illness which has stumped doctors for over a decade, a travel conundrum which requires getting across a lake without owning a boat, a young child dying way too early…all these issues are thrown in the face of Jesus and his response is designed to give us a clue about his real identity.
He is of course not actually from Nazareth, he is from another realm entirely.
He heals sicknesses which nobody else has been able to remedy. He walks across water which others have to row over. He breathes life into the deflated lungs of a young daughter. He feeds a hungry crowd without needing to click and collect. He calms and restores the raging storm within a wild man.
So far, this Jesus guy is proving to be a great match for whatever is thrown at him. He is stronger, and he is demonstrating what it is like when the Kingdom and rule of God interrupt the regular flow of the day.
Tim Keller, who runs a church in New York writes that “Christ’s miracles were not the suspension of the natural order but the restoration of the natural order. They were a reminder of what once was prior to the Fall and a preview of what will eventually be a universal reality once again – a world of peace and justice, without death, disease, or conflict”
It’s why we pray every week “let your kingdom come and your will be done”.