We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival. ~Winston Churchill
Christmas is a happy time- angels, children, gifts, singing. It’s peace, joy, hope, and love. Christmas is God’s graciousness and mercy. Fa la la and ringing bells. Sleigh rides, snowmen, and hot chocolate.
While shepherds kept their watching
Over silent flocks by night,
Behold throughout the heavens,
There shone a holy light:
Go, Tell It On The Mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go, Tell It On The Mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.
But Mark doesn’t have time for all that.
The first 15 verses of Mark are rapid fire. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Isaiah predicts his coming, John says he’s coming, and then, BOOM, there he is!
Jesus comes down from Nazareth to be baptized. John is arrested, Jesus is tempted, and “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
What? No manger? No singing angels? No PRESENTS!?
Mark is writing to a group of Christians who understand persecution. They’re being rounded up, taken from their homes, and set on fire to light Nero’s garden at night. They are the Christmas lights.
For Mark’s readers, it’s important to know that Christ also suffered.
He lost his family. He lost his friends. He faced ridicule, hatred, and persecution. He suffered at the hands of men and of Satan. His suffering was mental, emotional, and physical.
Mark spends his book writing about this suffering savior, and then he ends it this way:
5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Jesus’s birth was announced by angels, and everyone came to see the miracle. His resurrection was also announced by angels, and people ran to hide.
As you celebrate Jesus’s birth this month, enjoy the glamour and gift-giving, the cookies and crafts, the parties and punch.
But don’t forget that Jesus also suffered so that one day we can enjoy the ultimate celebration. Be sure to tell the end of the story this Christmas, too.
I heard an old, old story,
How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
Of His precious blood’s atoning,
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory.