The beginning of the Gospel according to Saint Mark does not include a birth story. Accounts of the birth of Jesus are found in Matthew and Luke. After the superscription in this shortest and oldest of the gospels are found passages from Exodus, Malachi, and Isaiah in the Old Testament that announce the coming of a forerunner and the Christ. The Gospel of Mark is proclaiming something new that has come into the world with texts that were at the time very old. “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Mark 1: 3b ESV) Someone in the wilderness is foretelling and forthtelling the coming of the Lord. That someone, we find out straightaway, is John the Baptist. Previous to this passage God in another passage from the Old Testament is addressing the Coming One about the messenger sent before Him. Of course, the reader is let in on this new act of God in history. The following short narratives–John’s preaching, the Baptism, the temptation, and the opening proclamation of Jesus– introduce both John and Jesus.
Christ’s coming was a new event in the world. Its world-historical character should not be underestimated. Though new, the prophetic prediction of His coming is old. Jesus’ coming is the fulfillment of an ancient promise found in many places in the Old Testament. The old points to the new. The prophecies lead to the event of Christ in the world. Christ was new and is new. He was promised of old.
When we witness to Christ among the people, we are proclaiming a new and exhilarating event in history. It is good for us to present this kerygma, not as outworn, but as stirring and original as when it first came on the scene. Our excitement isn’t phony, but based upon a lively joy that comes from knowledge of our rescue from sin, death, and the devil through Christ. We share a message that is grounded in ancient prophecy and has been proclaimed for over two thousand years since the coming of Jesus.
What is new is old; what is old is new. We testify to an old message with the vitality of the new; because, as long as the world lasts, it is an ever new reality breaking into the world to change people’s lives. In Christ is a new creation. For more and more people today, the Gospel is a Word they have never paid attention to or, in some cases, never heard. Both possess no understanding of the importance Christ could have in their lives. But, the message may come to them as new and refreshing because of ours or others’ ministry. Our witness is an opportunity for someone else’s conversion.
The Gospel is not worn out, outmoded, outdated, obsolete, timeworn, or antiquated. Time does not make it irrelevant. It is ever new and ever old. It is the definitive act of the eternal God. It is as new and vital today as it was long ago. It is as old as the Scriptures themselves. Something new and something old are the same thing. They are the same person–Jesus Christ our Lord.
September 29, 2023
Saint Michael and All Angels