Mark 1:1-15   Jesus - the Son of God


Confession time. Do you know what I find most embarrassing in life? Getting lost.

No, there is something even more embarrassing as a man - getting lost with your wife and family. And the only thing worse than that? A man with a degree in geography getting lost with his wife and family. Despite having a car full of maps and a diary (show it) with maps of London, the UK, Europe and North America, it still happens to me regularly. It did on Thursday as we drove into London to see the Lord of the Rings exhibition at the Science Museum  I really like the Lord of the Rings because it portrays life as a journey. Like Frodo and Sam we have a purpose in life and a destiny. Their journey was not easy and they got lost regularly, just as we do.

Have you ever got lost?

What are some of the ways we get lost? We take a wrong turning. We don’t follow the signs. We lose touch with someone who does know where they are going. If you get lost what should you do? Retrace your steps? If you have a mobile phone, call home and ask for help? Look for someone in authority like a policeman or traffic warden, or go into a shop and ask one of the staff (never ask a stranger in the street). 

People and Hobbits are a little like sheep. Do you know why sheep get lost? They get lost gradually. Sheep can only see six feet ahead of them. They see some lovely grass six feet ahead, so they go and eat it, then they see some more six feet ahead, and before they know it, they have wandered away from the shepherd. That’s how they get lost. So how do sheep get found again? Sheep may be short sighted but they have long hearing. They hear their way back to the shepherd. He calls them and they come running back to the source of the sound they recognise. 

How do we get lost? Gradually. One day at a time. One day at a time. We take a wrong turning. We don’t follow the signs. If you are not sure whether you are lost what can you do?  How do we avoid losing our way in 2004? Get yourself a guide. Which kind of guide would you prefer? There are plenty of Gollum’s out there ready to lead you astray. There is only one person like Gandalf.  

Jesus, the most powerful and influential person in history and in the world today. Reading the Bible will help you find Jesus, get to know Jesus and stay close to Jesus. Jerome once said “ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”  Erasmus said this about the Bible. It will “will give Christ to you in an intimacy so close that he would be less visible to you if he stood before your eyes.”  That is why these Sunday mornings down to Easter we are going to learn all about Jesus - from Mark’s gospel - with three questions in mind - who is Jesus?, why did he come? and how we can follow him?

In our reading from the beginning of
Mark’s gospel, he quotes from Isaiah “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way. A voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way for the Lord.” He was speaking about John the Baptist and the coming of Jesus to be our Lord and Saviour. It’s interesting he uses the image of the wilderness and a voice calling us to meet with Jesus.  The best way to stay close to Jesus this coming year is to read your bible every day - it is our map which our guide, the Holy Spirit uses to help us hear the voice of Jesus calling us to follow him.

If you have any money left from Christmas I recommend you buy a copy of the One Year Bible from the bookstore. And to help you learn more about
Jesus, I also recommend you use daily reading notes. There are also some excellent examples for children, teenagers, and adults - available from the bookstore. If they run out you can order them from Esther. In your news sheet you will find a Bible Reading Plan from the Navigators that will enable you to read the Bible in one year. As we begin 2004 together, lets commit ourselves to reading the Bible this year.

Lets hear the message of
Jesus afresh, “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.” (Mark 1:15). The good news is that we need never be lost again. If we repent and turn away from all that is wrong we can be forgiven and Jesus will be our friend and guide through this life and for ever and ever.

I’d like to close with part of a poem called the The gate of the year.  It was written in 1908 by
Minnie Louise Haskins, an American lecturer at the London School of Economics. It was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth the late Queen Mother, who showed it to her husband King George VI. He included it in his Christmas message broadcast in 1939 at the beginning of the Second World War. None of his listeners were aware that their king was dying of cancer. And the closing words of his Christmas Eve speech became for him an anchor as he walked the last mile of his life. After the King's death the Queen Mother had it engraved on bronze plaques on the entrance to the King George VI Memorial Chapel, Windsor, where both are now interred. It was also read at the funeral service of the Queen Mother.

“I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year 'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'  

And he replied, 'Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!'

So I went forth and finding the Hand of God
Trod gladly into the night
He led me towards the hills
And the breaking of day in the lone east.

So heart be still!”

May your heart be still as you place your hand in the hand of God today and every day.