Sparing you the semester-long survey, suffice to say each of the four Gospels has a particular slant and spin. Matthew uses his papyrus to prove that Jesus is the one foretold in the Hebrew scriptures so his Gospel is filled with allusions and prophesies spoken centuries earlier. Luke directs his Gospel to the Gentile world and portrays Jesus as the ultimate lover of justice. The ethereal John uses incredibly inspired imagery, symbolism, and language to draw us into the eternal, divine nature of God.
This Sunday we’ll hear the story of the calling of the first disciples from the Gospel of Mark, and it concludes something, well actually, like this:
Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
The evangelist Mark is obsessed with immediacy. In all of scripture the word “immediately” appears 98 times – 28 of them in Mark’s account of the life and ministry of Jesus. His Gospel is the shortest, most direct, and spares much detail and description. His is the just the facts, Jack Gospel.
In each of the Gospels we can recognize what is also true for all of us: the ways and means of expression point to our deepest beliefs, values, and convictions.
Martin Luther King, Jr was a prophet after Mark’s heart. He spoke repeatedly of the “fierce urgency of now”. His harshest critiques were directed toward those who urged him to put the brakes on the movement, for fear conflict would erupt. In response he spoke steadfastly to the truth that “justice delayed is justice denied”.
This Sunday we’ll hear Mark’s analogous truth: “discipleship delayed is discipleship denied”. His account of the calling of the first followers of Jesus challenges any other who would follow to develop a faith that responds and reacts with immediacy. Call him the carpe diem evangelist, urging followers of Jesus to seize the day: to recognize that the fulfillment of God’s love and justice only ever happens in the present, and need not wait for tomorrow.
May God bless our response to our call from Jesus; that it would be immediate, and that it would bring…