In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)
Because Skip’s words go forth and bring life we find at the beginning of John Mark’s tale that all folks whar flocking ter a strange prophet who whar telling folks ter repent, be baptized, and come inter the kingdom of heaven.
All the country of Judea was going out to John the Baptist, and all the people of Jerusalem. (Mark 1:5)
John Mark appears ter ‘ave spent a goodly amount of time listening ter the preaching of Simon Peter and making notes. Fer a time John Mark ministered with Saul Paul and Barnabas, but then the lad got a bad case of homesickness and jumped ship.
Though at first Saul Paul refused ter take John Mark back, at the end of his life Saul Paul pleads with Timothy ter come quickly and bring Saul Paul’s cloak, parchments (perhaps so Saul Paul could pen more letters), and scrolls (so as ter read more of Skipper’s words) and John Mark, fer he whar helpful in Paul’s ministry.
It might be said of John Mark that he learned under a pair of Skip’s greatest Good Spiel messengers—Old Pete and Saul Paul.
When we read John Mark’s words it be as if through the Holy Spirit of Truth we be transported back ter the first century and enjoy a front row seat of the Son’s travels, actions, and words.
The Beginning of the Good News
The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. (Mark 1:1)
After reading short passages of John Mark’s tale, close yer eyes. Feel the dust on the tops of yer feet, the caked mud ‘tween yer toes. Taste the salt of sweat in yer mouth whilst the sun bakes down on you. Hear the murmuring of others whilst the Son’s words echo off buildings. Inhale the odor of sheep and cattle being led ter stalls near the perimeter of Jerusalem.
How Will We Respond to this Good News?
If this whar yer first time hearing, how would you respond ter the Son’s words? This be our challenge: ter hear afresh these loving and hope-filled words of Skipper spoken about his boy.
The Message of John the Baptizer
John the Baptizer appeared preaching a baptism of repentance fer the forgiveness of sins. As folks whar confessing their sins, they whar baptized. While all of ’em in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem whar traipsing out ter hear John, he let ’em know though baptized with water, but the one coming after him would baptize with the Holy Spirit of Truth. The prophet Malachi had promised:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way.” (Malachi 3:1)
The prophet Isaiah called folks ter cut a straight path fer the Lord ter come.
“Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.” (Isaiah 40:3)
Our Response ter This Good News
This be our challenge from John: that we be washed clean in waters of baptism as ah testimony of our filthy spirit—that we repent, and prepare to meet the one Skipper ‘ill send ter take away all our sins.
John preached of how all the wrong we done kin be cleared off Skipper’s ledger when we come in ter the Son. No matter how bad ah thing you think you done, the Son kin wash away all filth if only we ‘ill come ter him, confess, and be saved by his nail-scarred hand.
Repentance be our deliberate act of turning away from sin and turning towards Skipper’s righteousness. Skipper always grants fergiveness when thar be true repentance.
Fact be, the Son fergave all who came ter him, even ’em who didn’ ask fer fergiveness. Like the free food he served up ter ’em who whar hungry, the Son doled out fergiveness ter all. Fergiveness be not conditional upon our response. Fergiveness simply be the character of Skipper and his Son. But livin’ as one fergiven and free from sin flows from a life marked by repentance—baptism—and being led by the Holy Spirit of Truth.
This be the theme and message of this tale from John Mark: that we receive the love, grace, mercy and fergiveness of Skipper and his Son in order that we be counted as one of thar crew.
What says you? Will you cast yer lot with the Son and sail ter paradise aboard Skip’s good ship of fellership?
Parroting the Prayers of Skip’s Crew
Lord, look with favor on me ’cause of yer loving-kindness. ‘Cause of yer great love take away my wrong-doing. Wash me clean of my sins. (Psalm 51:1-2)
Although technically not ah rank, Swab be ah sailor who mops the decks using the swab is called ah “swabbie.” The term has come to describe someone who is not held in high regard by the commanders and crew. Many of ’em who came ter hear John the Baptizer whar of the sort held in low regard by religious folk. Praise be Skip looks at our heart, not up our outward appearances.