READING THROUGH Mark’s Gospel recently for a guys’ group I am part of, I was struck by how often the writer uses the word “immediately”—more than 30 times in just 16 chapters. Usually it’s related to something Jesus did or said. Think maybe the writer is trying to tell us something?
I suspect he may be wanting to both heighten our sense of anticipation and deepen our commitment to participation.
Over the years I’ve heard lots of messages about how Jesus was never in a hurry. I especially like the sweet description I came across somewhere of love’s speed being three miles per hour, because that was probably Jesus’s walking pace.
The takeaway point of all these sermons and books is that Jesus always had time for people, even when He was busy, and so should we. Hard to argue with that, of course, especially in a world where we’re so often caught up being busy in the wrong way.
But, for me at least, the danger is to fall into thinking that Jesus was simply laid-back. However, Mark’s slightly breathless account reminds me that Jesus is not known as the Son of Mañana. He is the King of Today. When He moves and speaks, things happen.
• When Jesus encountered Simon and Andrew, “immediately they left their nets and followed him” (1:18)
• When Jesus touched the leper, “immediately the leprosy left him” (1:42)
• When Jesus saw the disciples were terrified as He walked on the water, “immediately he spoke to them” (6:50)
Jesus certainly wasn’t frantic, but in Mark’s accounting of His life and ministry there is a sense of urgency about Him. Things don’t wait until tomorrow; He deals with them then and there, here and now.
In contrast, much of my Christian life often has more of a “someday” quality to it than a right-nowness. I hope my prayers are answered at some stage. I’ll fit things in to my schedule as I can.
If I’d encountered Zacchaeus when he had his spiritual awakening, I would probably have asked whether I might come by and visit sometime when it would be convenient for him. By contrast, Jesus told him, “I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5).
Mark’s recurrent immediacy challenges me to expect that God could intervene in situations I may be praying about at any moment, even in the next breath. As a result, I should be willing to jump in straight away at times, without worrying about whether it seems too forward or proper.
As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6:2: “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day…”
Photo by dejankrsmanovic on Foter.com/CC BY