On this Christmas Eve, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who came to the world as fully God and fully man. Yet centuries before the birth of the Messiah, there was no person to declare, “Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). There was only an expectation of God’s promise, with some prophetic puzzle pieces that could not be truly assembled without the full revelation of Jesus Christ. However, that expectation had fallen into deep depression during the Babylonian captivity.
I don’t know what time it happened. The apostle John tells us that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb while it was still dark. The other three Gospel writers say that sunrise was at hand. Either way, it must have been dark outside when the eyes of the Savior first opened. It must have been very damp when he took his first breath. He may have sat up, neatly folded his burial cloth and linen wraps, then walked out of the tomb with authority and purpose.
Do you ever struggle with confidence? I know I do at times, and I’m sure you do, as well. We all have moments where we doubt what we’re going to do in the future, feel insecure about how we’re perceived by others, or allow worry and anxiety to take control of our lives when it seems that our world is spinning out of control.
If you skim through the book of Mark, you’ll have a fairly accurate idea of Jesus’ personality: concise, witty, humble, wise, and calm. But if you’re paying close attention, you’ll likely notice the calmly authoritative manner in which the Lord carries himself. His rebukes are direct and flawlessly delivered (e.g. Mark 2:27-28). His orders are strict and non-negotiable (e.g. the frequent commands to silence). His teachings are clear and spiritually sound (e.g. Mark 3:28-29). Every miracle he performs inspires awe (e.g. Mark 4:41). And his sense of timing – knowing when something will happen, knowing when to go and leave somewhere, knowing when to speak and remain silent – is impeccable.
The book of Mark is direct and dynamic, action-filled and dialogue-light. Mark begins his book with a flashback to an ancient prophecy by Isaiah, then transports us to a barren wilderness where John the Baptist preaches the powerful message of repentance. Immediately after, Jesus appears. Not once is there a reference to Jesus’ birth or genealogy.
Why is this? Because Mark’s primary focus is on Jesus as a servant. A servant is lowly. A servant requires no royal introduction, no grand entrance, and no detailed record of ancestry. A servant’s words are often unrecorded, though his deeds may be remembered.