Indeed, Mark is a brief, fast-paced telling of the life of Christ, but the thing that really makes it that way is the fact that the author is continually using the word “immediately.” Jesus is here one moment and the next he immediately goes somewhere else. It is almost like Jesus is in a hurry. There is no time to waste. Jesus has three years to teach, preach and minister to the people, and that’s it. He had better be on the move.
I was reminded of that uniqueness of Mark’s Gospel just last week when I preached on Mark 1:9-15. In those few verses, Mark uses the word “immediately” two times. He goes on in the Gospel using the expression no less than 40 times!
As I read through these verses and studied them in preparation for the Sunday sermon, it seemed to be saying to me that, like with Jesus there ought to be a sense of urgency in my life as a Christian. So often I, and maybe you, too, put things off that you know you should do immediately. But, being human, we think, “Oh well, there’s no hurry. I’ve got plenty of time. I’ll get around to it someday.” But that “someday” never comes.
Need some examples? Try these on for size:
— “I’ll volunteer at school or church, after I retire. I’ll have more time then.”
— “I’ll spend more time with my children or grandchildren, or my spouse — it’s just that I have this big work project I’ve got to finish first.”
— “I know I’ve got to get serious about eating healthy, but not just yet.”
— “I know I’ve got to make it right with so-and-so. We had words and we just keep avoiding each other, but I’m just not feeling it yet.”
— “I know I should be more regular in prayer or church attendance, but it’s just that I have so much going on.”
I thought of all of these things in the past week — things that are so easy to put off but should be done immediately.
As we start the season of Lent, perhaps it would be good to consider what important things you have been putting off that need to be done. And make a promise to God and yourself that you are going to do them.
A phrase we often hear in this regard is, “Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today.” Wise words, indeed, from one of our Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin.
I know I have been convicted of the fact that I’ve been procrastinating about certain things. I will spare you the details, but believe me, they are there waiting for me to do. What in the world am I waiting for?
A lot can be learned from the example of Jesus. With Jesus there was no tardiness, no reluctance, no holding back. He was always about his Father’s business. (Luke 2:49) Someone has described him as having no slackness, but a “blessed immediacy.”
Blessed immediacy is a good way to describe the Jesus in Mark — always going somewhere, always doing something, always reaching out to people. In a word, he “cared.” And he would not stop caring until he could say the words, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
Are you procrastinating about something? Is there something you know you should do? Then do it! And do it immediately! Otherwise, you may miss an opportunity that will not only benefit someone else, but also yourself.
About the writer: The Rev. John Koedyker is pastor of congregational care at First Reformed Church of Grand Haven.