Sermon: Mark’s Jesus: Undercover God
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we will prepare our hearts and minds for the arrival of Jesus Christ, the child God, into our midst. But as you learned last week, if you were here, each Gospel of Jesus Christ contained in the New Testament has a different focus on Jesus. Sometimes the differences are minor, but the overall picture provided by each one is a different picture. So we will be preparing our hearts for Jesus by learning about the different aspects of him provided by the four gospels.
Mark, as I have told you, is the breathless, rushed, first written gospel, and in it, Jesus does many, many things immediately. Like 40 times, Mark uses the word immediately to describe Jesus’ actions. immediately, Jesus went here. Immediately, Jesus did this. Immediately, Jesus took some immediate action. This is a busy, busy, busy, Jesus. Besides being a busy guy, who is Mark’s Jesus?
Alex learned a lot of his English froM American television, and he is hooked on a few shows that I just will not watch. But this week, he managed to get me to sit down with him and watch an episode of the reality show Undercover Boss. Have you seen it?
The premise is that the CEO or President of a large American company gets disguised and spends several days training with his or her employees under the guise of another, false reality show. So the employees train him or her, thinking it is part of a reality show on who is better, men or women, etc., and the producers set the bosses up with people in the company who deserve attention, usually because they are really struggling or because they share common backgrounds with the boss, or because they are just so awful. Occasionally, things are so bad, that the undercover boss has to reveal himself and then swear everyone to silence. Then at the end of the show, there is a big reveal, when the boss reveals his identity to the employees and dishes out some rewards, anything from a few thousand dollars for the grandkids’ college funds, to backpay and promotions, to homes and franchises. And then he meets with his company and cries and tells them what he has learned.
So we watched one, and I fell apart. I cried like a baby. I don’t cry.
Then we watched another one. I cried again. And then all of the sudden it hit me: THIS IS MARK’s JESUS.
We miss it, we miss it, we miss it, because we have heard it and heard it and heard it. You know all those weird passages where Jesus does something for someone and then tells them to keep a lid on it? mark 8: 32-37.
That all comes from Mark. And then Luke and Matthew took it. But it Mark, there’s a point to all the hush hushery.
Jesus doesn’t call himself savior, Lord, messiah, the son of God or anything special at all in Mark. He calls himself the Son of Man. The Son of Man. Just a guy. Jesus the carpenter, Joe the Plumber. Anytime someone calls Jesus something else, as in Mark 8:27-30.
he tells them to shut it. why? because he is The Undercover God. And the big reveal is here, before the Jewish Chief Priest.
MARK 14: 60-64
This guy gets who Jesus is, and this is the aha! moment. Oh, that’s who Jesus is! But all of this is kinda old news to us because we have heard the story before. What if it was fresh, and Mark’s reveal of Jesus’ was a huge one?
We would be saying, How did God become man? And how was a man God? We were the first religion (and still the only one) who has this idea of an incarnation, that God actually took human form.
Theologian Karl Rahner struggles with this idea in such a beautiful way that I have to share it with you. ( Passage from Karl Rahner not included )
The hidden God, clothed in humility, looking up at God and saying, Why? And looking at the people like him and saying, what can I do for you?
Just like in the television show, a powerful figure steps into the guise of a regular guy and gets watched as he tries to do regular things. But this guy is special, and when people figure out who he is, he has to hush them up until the moment when all can be revealed. Then he rewards the people that deserve his grace. Then he steps out in front of all and says, I have learned so much, and now I want to give you all something.
But in this episode, Mark’s episode, it is not a better boss, it is a better life. He lived like a regular guy. He knows what it is like, and he says to those beneath him, you know what? i want to give you all something. I called myself the son of man, but I am the son of God. so let me give my life. Thats what I can do for you. Now that I know what it is like to be one of you.
Mark’s gospel originally with an empty tomb, not a group of reappearance stories. Half a chapter was added later with those stories. And that always bothered me. But in meeting Mark’s Jesus again, and seeing this undercover God revealed, I find the ending easier to swallow. It’s not about what happened after for Mark, it’s about what happened for the brief period when God was man. Mark is the tale of the undercover God: his life, his teachings, his ministry, his reveal, his death, and his resurrection.. May we be ready for the undercover God, and may his big reveal be in our lives. Amen.