The heart of the Christmas season is celebrating the life of Jesus Christ. In His life, we see the identity of Jesus Christ on display. Jesus came to change our hearts for Him. How does the life of Jesus change our hearts for Jesus? Each Friday throughout the month of December, Esther St John will walk us through Mark 1 to help our hearts see Jesus. However, before we look at what it means to have hearts for Jesus, we need to first see the heart of Jesus. In this post, Esther shows us the heart of our Savior from Mark 1.
I hated school like no one’s business. I was the worst student in the class, and probation became a pattern for each school year. My sister’s story was different. She did well in school. Unlike my sister, I always came back to my parents crying at the end of the school semester with a report card that looked like a candy cane, all white and red. One day, my sister came to my classroom to drop off my lunch box. I couldn’t help but to notice the teacher’s look on her face when she realized who my sister was. With a very surprised tone in her voice, she asked “Are you two related?”. I nodded and she continued asking, “What happened to you? Why are you not like your sister?” My heart as a 7-year-old was broken and embarrassed. It was then I concluded my knowledge and performance must determine who I was and am as a person. It would give and direct my worth and my future. Though, I began to buy the lie, I am thankful the Scriptures teach us the opposite and corrected me on that.
Mark, in his Gospel, gives us a glimpse of Jesus’s earthly ministry, His character, His love, and His compassion for people. In the first couple of passages, we come across John the Baptist introducing Jesus as the “mighty one, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie”. John the Baptist was right. He was not worthy, but God had called him to baptize Jesus with water according to Isiah 40:3. Why? Because that was the plan God had for him. He, John, heard the voice of God as He called Jesus His “Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11).
Anyone who does not know Jesus could assume that He, being the Son of God, would agree with what my second grade teacher taught me that day. Namely, performance is what matters. However, that is not the heart of Jesus. Jesus didn’t avoid temptation but suffered with endurance, so that we could follow in His steps. He called the uneducated, ordinary, and disliked people as His disciples to prove His point. These men didn’t know anything, but Jesus came to teach them and did so with authority (Mark 1:21-22). Jesus came to serve them (Mark 1:29-34) and did it with a heart of love and compassion for them (Mark 1:40-42).
Jesus came to make us free from believing that our future depends on what we can do for Him or anyone else. He came to preach the gospel of grace that invites us to repent from our sins and believe in His transforming power. He came to change our hearts and to extend an invitation for us to know and follow Him. That is the heart of Jesus.
I am grateful to tell you that Jesus saved me a few years later, but my battle against the lie I believed at age 7 is still current. This is a battle I fight everyday. It is a battle we all must fight every day. You may not have the exact struggle I do, but we each must remember our value, our future, and who we are as individuals is not defined by our roles. Our identities are not determined by our marital status, our work, or even our family. It has been determined by the blood of Jesus.