Mark 1: The Lonely Places

You’ve been on a roller coaster, right? I am not an aficionado at all, but most coasters, like Space Mountain, have a long windup while you climb the hill that allows gravity to pull you up to speed. Mark is more like Rockin’ Roller Coaster, where you get launched into warp speed right away. (I know there’s a name for this.)

In the first chapter alone, we go from John the Baptist emerging to Jesus’ baptism and temptation to calling the first four disciples to exorcisms, healings, preaching, a retreat, healing a leper, and the ex-leper being such a loudmouth that Jesus has to stay out of town because he was so popular. That’s a lot. 

At three points, the spotlight is on the middle of nowhere. (I don’t even count the eye blink of a temptation in the desert.) 

1) In 1:2-3, Mark quotes Isaiah (as did Matthew): “Someone is shouting in the desert, ‘Get the road ready for the Lord; make a straight path for him to travel!”

Thanks to the Good News translation, Isaiah’s words got way more real for me. I’ve heard about “a voice crying out in the wilderness” forever. Someone shouting in the desert, though? How ludicrous would it be to stand in the desert and shout, expecting anyone to hear you. It’s. The. Desert. And yet, it happens. 

2) In 1:35, Jesus has just had his first big day – heals Peter’s mother in law (so, yes, the first pope was married), then a ton of other people who come by the house. He wakes up early the next morning and hikes out to “a lonely place” to pray, but Peter and his other new friends come find him. 

Because Mark moves so fast, this reads like playing hide and seek with a 4-year old who “hides” right in front of you. But if you woke up and your new friend whose habits you did not know was gone without a trace, how long would it take you to find them? Was Jesus *that* bad at hide and seek?

3) By the end of the chapter, he can *only* be in “the lonely places” because otherwise he gets mobbed. That’s mad popularity like you hear about with celebrities. I can tell you my Rick Scott story if you want, on that point. 

So what? I mean, I don’t know. But maybe if you feel like you’re so alone in the middle of a lonely place that it’s ludicrous to call for help, you still should. Because Isaiah did, and according to Mark, that’s where all the Good News begins. 

Maybe it’s that, when we feel like we’ve woken up and Hope has taken off without a trace, it’s still worth getting up to go looking, because Hope isn’t very good at hiding. 

Or maybe it’s that, scary as it is, it’s the lonely places where you find God, because everywhere else He gets lost in the noise. 

If you are finding yourself in a lonely place, maybe Mark 1 is a reminder that Love was there first and is still out there waiting for you to seek. 

That’s what I have for tonight.

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