Archive for April 25th, 2012

Collect of the Day

Almighty God, You have enriched Your Church with the proclamation of the Gospel through the evangelist Mark.  Grant that we may firmily believe these glad tidings and daily walk according to Your Word;  through Jesus Christ, our Lord,who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


Isaiah 52: 7-10

Psalm 146

2 Timothy 4: 4-18

St. Mark 16: 14-20

Bio:  St. Mark was the author of the second Gospel, which he composed, according to some Early Church Fathers, when the Christians inRomeasked him to write down the preaching of the apostle Peter. Mark, also known as John Mark, was originally fromJerusalem, where the house of his mother Mary was the center of the earlyJerusalemChurch(Acts12:12). He was brought fromJerusalemby Paul and Barnabas toAntioch(Acts12:25), and it was from this city that they set out on the first missionary journey. When Paul and Barnabas were preparing to go on the second missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to take Mark with them again, but Paul objected because Mark had left them during the first journey. Barnabas took Mark and went toCyprus, while Paul took Silas as his new companion (Acts15:37-40). Later, Paul reconciled with Mark and was working with him again (Colossians4:10; Philemon 24; 2 Timothy4:11). Finally, Mark was found laboring with Peter in Rome (1 Peter5:13). Tradition says that Mark was instrumental in founding the Church in Alexandria, becoming its first bishop, and, also that he suffered a martyr’s death.

Writing for St. Mark, Evangelist:

We shall add, as being a matter of primary importance, a tradition regarding Mark who wrote the Gospel, which [Papias] has given in the following words: “And the presbyter said this. Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterward, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the needs [of his listeners], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord’s sayings. That is why Mark made no mistake when he wrote these things as he remembered them. Above all else, he took special care not to omit anything he had heard and not to put anything fictitious into what he wrote.”

—Fragments of Papias  (Greek: Παπίας) (writing in the first third of the 2nd century) was a bishop of the earlyChurchcanonized as a saint.)

Commentary on Three Key Verses in St. Mark’s Gospel:

I.  “The Son of Man has come . . . to give
his life as a ransom for the many” (Mark 10:45)

“In what way is our Lord’s death salvific? In Mark 10:45, Jesus describes his death as… “ransom” or  “redemption.” (Greek:  lutron) As many have noted, the term “Ransom”  is an echo of the Exodus story, where the Lord redeems his people Israel out of the bondage of slavery. For instance, in Exodus 6:6 the Lord says to Moses, “I will redeem (form of lutron) you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.” This is the same way the term is used in Luke’s Benedictus, where Zechariah sings, “Praise be the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and made a redemption [ lutron ] for his people” (Luke 1:68).

“Even as the death of Jesus broods over the Gospels, so also death broods over the Exodus. The children of Israel were not only redeemed out of Egypt, but they were also saved from the destruction of the firstborn. This came at a price: namely, the blood of the Passover lamb. Those whose doors were not marked by the lamb’s blood lost their firstborn to death. It is significant, therefore, that each of the Gospels, Mark  included, frames Christ’s death within the Passover tradition (Mark 14:l). Mark pictures Jesus’ death in terms of the sacrifice of the Passover lamb (Mark 14:12). Christ is the first-born, the spotless lamb whose blood is shed so that we may escape death. (Dr. Peter Scaer’s paper, The Atonement in Mark’s Sacramental Theology)

II. Mark 1: 9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.


Mark 15: 37-38  And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

“Only St. Mark uses a particularly word rendered, that the heavens were “torn apart” and it is a violent ripping apart and from that Greek word we have our:   Schism.  Now it is clear in all of the Bible that the only way the barriers come down is through atonement.  “Atonement is, at its very heart, the bridging of the gap between God and man and the breaking down of barriers.” (Peter Scaer: PS).   “Only the high priest walked beyond a heavy massive curtain, the veil that separated God and man, into the Holy of Holies, only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.  In order to enter past this curtain, the high priest was required to offer a sin offering and a burnt offering. In a type of Old Testament Baptism, he would then bathe his body in water and put on holy garments (Leviticus 16). Then he would sprinkle blood upon the mercy seat, thereby making atonement for the uncleanness of the people.”  St. Mark who tells us that as Jesus died that the temple curtain was torn in two, as do Sts. Luke and Matthew,  but only St. Mark uses the exact same word as in today’s Gospel of the heavens torn apart as He comes up out of the water:

And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

“Perhaps there is no more telling symbol of this than the temple curtain which is the final barrier that separates God’s people from his immediate presence…In Jesus’ Baptism, the wall of separation is violently ripped open. Jesus is baptized unto the death. The tearing open of the heavens is an expression of God’s desire to be at one with humanity, with you and I, as well as a vivid picture of the price that would have to be paid. Mark would have us know our Lord’s entire ministry is a passion story, whereby he tears open the curtain of separation between God and man, and ensuring an everlasting Yom Kippur, that is, a Day of Atonement.”(PS)It is only from the Lord’s side can atonement, literally, at-one-ment, has happened once and for all upon the Cross:

15 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
16For he shatters the doors of bronze
and cuts in two the bars of iron. (Psalm 107)

Only by the Lord’s theophany could this happen in the fact of theJordan.

“That is why this day is called Epiphany, the Festival of the Manifestation, because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit manifest themselves. The Holy Spirit appears in the lovely form of an innocent dove. Among all birds, a dove is known for its gentle nature, peaceful and not aggressive. (And when Noah wanted to know if there was dry ground after the rains had ceased, he finally sent out a dove who returned with an olive branch in it’s beak.  The sign of shalom, peace once more with God was made through His  grace) So the Holy Spirit reveals himself in the friendliest of forms to show that he is not wrathful toward us, but wants to help us become holy and rescue us through Christ.” (Luther)

 We are baptized into Christ Jesus totally, as it is written in Romans 6: 1.  

We can walk wet in our baptism day after day which is a daily dying and rising in Him. It is a daily rescue for us and one another.

We are called to walk wet, we walk wet when we confess our sin and in His Name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are forgiven.

We walk wet when we begin the day in His Name, the Father who speaks, the Son who was baptized and the Holy Spirit descends. 

We walk wet when we pray.  

We walk wet when we read for ourselves that Christ Jesus died and rose for us, that the heavens were torn apart and the veil of the temple was as well and that the Kingdom of heaven is open to all believers. 

Now may the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen. (from my sermon for the Baptism of our Lord, 2012-Pr. Schroeder)

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