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Thursday, December 07, 2017

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The Gospel of Mark is considered the earliest gospel book. Mark's narrative is sparser than that of Matthew, Luke or John. It contains puzzling and awkward stories about Jesus and his disciples. The author of Mark anchored the account of the life of Jesus in the words of the prophet Isaiah so that its Jewish hearers could understand his noble heritage and his connection to Judaism. Mark even starts the story with the fact that fellow Judeans were flocking to John the Baptist to confess their sins and to get baptized. The author seems to be telling the audience, see, this is your people! This is a story for you! In this story we Christians today are bound to the Jews. Just as the words of Isaiah connected the Judean people to their ancient ancestors, so Mark's words connect us to our ancient Jewish forebears.

God, please help us prevent history from getting in the way of our family ties with the Jewish people and their struggles. You have chosen them and grafted us on. Thank you for the great gift of the Jews in our Christian tradition. Amen.

Amy E. Marga
Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.

Mark 1:1-8 (NRSV)

1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, "See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way;
3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,' "
4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
7 He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.
8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.