Guest Contributor
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First Sunday of Lent, February 21

Contributed by Stephen Farris

Mark 1:9-15

“And a voice came from heaven:
‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Mark is a Gospel in a rush. One of Mark’s favourite words is “immediately.”
There are no preliminaries as the Gospel gets going, just “the beginning of the
good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” and we’re off.
John the Baptist comes on scene and after a few quick words, Jesus arrives
from Galilee, and with no words wasted, he is baptized by John. And,
“immediately” the heavens are split. (If you are reading the NRSV, the Greek
word for immediately, is hidden behind the word “just”.) / The Spirit descends
like a dove. A voice says not to us but to Jesus. “You are my Son, my
beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
God confirms what the Gospel is all about. It’s about Jesus and Jesus is
God’s Son. And immediately, Jesus is driven by the Spirit into the wilderness
where he is tempted by Satan (no time wasted on dialogue) and fed by
angels, and next thing John is arrested, and Jesus is preaching the good
It’s like a movie on fast forward. Soon enough, we’re on a mountain and that
voice speaks again, “This is my Son, the beloved, listen to him.” Just a little
later, we are on another hill, outside Jerusalem, beside a cross. The last
voice in the world you would expect, the centurion, the executioner speaks the
truth we need to hear: “Truly, this man was God’s Son.”
Soon, Lent will be over, and we too will be at that hill. But slow down and be
ready to hear about the Son.

Loving God, you sent your beloved Son to join us in life, death, and life again.
Make us ready, we pray, to hear him once more. Amen.

Stephen Farris is Dean Emeritus of St. Andrew’s Hall and served as Moderator of the 140th
General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada.