Some people will deny the divinity of Jesus on account of the differences between the synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, which all follow a similar outline and similar accounting of the life of Jesus, and the Gospel of John, which is very different in regard to how much of the divinity of Jesus is expressed in its theological presentation. Those who would deny the divinity of Jesus following this proposal, state that the author of John is adding to Jesus that which was not there and that in the synoptic Gospels there are no accounts of the divinity of Jesus.
The assumption that there is no accounting of the divinity of Jesus in the synoptic Gospels does not present a true assessment of these texts. This view is just not supported with a careful reading of the text. The very first line of the Gospel of Mark states: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ [the Son of God]” (Mk 1:1). This verse may often be read as merely an introductory device, and even if we drop the words the Son of God, bracketed because there are some manuscripts that do not include them, Mark was saying something very clear and very subversive when he used the word gospel. The Greek rendering of the word gospel is, euangelion, which we interpret as good news. This is still pretty much, “Ho, hum,” unless we understand the context of how euangelion was used during the time of Jesus.
This word was used by the Roman emperor who would send his emissaries to proclaim the good news throughout the empire announcing his birthday, or an imperial victory. No one else dared to use these words in a public forum as Mark is doing with the very first line of his Gospel, as this was the prerogative of the emperor. Mark was stating that Caesar is not Lord, but Jesus is.
Jesus only fourteen verses later would claim: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). The kingdom of God is at hand in the presence of Jesus. This is the euangelion that we believe. The gospel, the good news, is that the Son of God has become one with us in the flesh, to dwell among us.
In today’s opening verse from Mark, we have read or heard; The disciples were on the way, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went ahead of them. They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid (Mk 10:32). Again, this verse may be read over quickly as a literary device so we can get to the good stuff, yet again, Mark is saying a lot. We may miss the context, but the readers and hearers of his time would not have. They would have recognized that amazed and afraid were words used in their sacred texts to describe the reactions to God, his messengers the angels, and/or the work of God.
The Good News, proclaimed to us through the tome of salvation history, hidden in the Old and revealed in the New Testament, is that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. He is our Lord, he is our Savior and Redeemer. He became a human being, he became one with us in all things except sin, and dwelt among us. Jesus did so that we might become divinized, become God through our participation in his life. May we too, like the disciples, be amazed and in awe of the magnitude of this reality. How many times have we heard this Good News, yet have just gone about our business, as if nothing significant was said?
We need to resist that temptation to do that here. We can become so busy, so caught up in just getting through all that we have to do, that we forget what is really important and who is really important. We can take for granted those that are near to us, not out of any malice or lack of care, but just because life happens and we get caught up in doing and completing that which needs to be done. May we spend some time slowing down and appreciating our life in communion with God and one another. May we fully appreciate the gift that Jesus has offered us, which is a relationship with him and his Father through the love of the Holy Spirit. In so embracing and developing the gift of our relationship with God, we can better experience the dignity of our humanity, and helpfully begin to recognize again the same dignity that is present in each and every other human being.
Photo: Being willing to encounter and dialogue with one another increases the chance that we will respect each other’s human dignity!