World’s on Fire

Mark 1:35-39

Don’t think I need to say this,
‘Cause you know what’s in my head;
“F*cked up” is an understatement,
Can’t wait for this year to end.

Mike Shinoda, after the 2017 suicide of LINKIN PARK fellow band member Chester Bennington, begins his song World’s on Fire with these words, which serve as an apt crystallization for what’s going on in our world in 2020, between the global pandemic, murder of George Floyd by police, and resulting nationwide riots. 

The next story in the Gospel of Mark contains some words we’re still saying to Jesus today.  “Everyone is looking for you” (Mark 1:37).  Recall, Jesus had spent the previous day healing those with diseases and demons.  

Long into the night, Jesus fought the devil.  Imagine him confronting people who foamed at the mouth, spit on him, bit him, and screamed their throats raw.  Picture people cutting themselves with rocks, pulling out their hair, gnashing their teeth, and peeling back their own nails.  They threw themselves on the ground, convulsed, and did other tortuous things to their bodies.  Meanwhile, the sick and diseased struggled to catch a breath, bled on Jesus, vomited on Jesus, shook with fever and pain in his arms, and writhed in agony.  Jesus healed them all, in addition to driving out all the unclean spirits.  It was a battle, a war.  By daybreak, he was exhausted and sought a desolate place to pray (Mark 1:35).  He had been face to face with evil for hours and needed to regroup.  

When you watch the video of the murder of George Floyd, understand that’s what kind of evil Jesus was up against.  What Officer Derek Chauvin did to George Floyd was demonic.  What some are doing in response may also be demonic.  Jesus was familiar with it all.  So he needed to get away for a moment to rest and pray. 

That’s when his disciples went looking for him (verse 26).  They found him and said to him what many today are saying to Jesus in their hearts, “Everyone is looking for you” (37).  There was more evil to deal with, more sickness to fight, more demons to expel—more scoundrels to hold accountable.  Everyone is looking for you, Jesus. 

The world’s on fire, all I need is you,

The riot’s on the horizon,

Calling each others’ bluff;

The smoke’s filling up the skies.

Jesus knew what to do when his disciples found him.  And his response will help us know how to respond to our chaos.  Keep in mind, since he was the Son of God, Jesus could have called upon armies of angels to help him and fight against evil.  But he wanted to respond as a real human, as we, too, could respond.  He could have used physical violence, but he chose a deeper violence.  He chose to use the violence of proclamation.

And he [Jesus] said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (Mark 1:38).

Jesus told his disciples the reason why he came, which was to preach the truth.  As we learned from Mark 1:15, he preached the gospel, which is the kind of violence the world needs right now.  

Here’s the message Jesus Christ began to introduce to the world, preaching in town after town, having the power to undermine racism.  The gospel is the message that those who think they are entitled will be put to shame and those who are bowed low in shame will be given power and glory and honor.  Those who think they are better than others, because of their race, class, education, position, or morality, will be condemned by God for their self-righteousness.  But those who think they are inferior or have been told they are inferior, who are poor in spirit, who are bowed low and can’t even lift their faces to heaven, depending on God alone for their salvation, will be lifted up and made righteous.  

Jesus didn’t come to rid the world of all of its evil, but he did his part. He came to give us the precious gospel message, so that we could do our part.  In the aftermath of great evil, we learn from Jesus to return to prayer and the gospel.

Maybe the blaze will take this away,

I shine the earth below;

Tell me to breathe,

You still believe,

Closing my eyes I know.

The world’s on fire.  The gospel is our greatest weapon to put it out, for it can heal both victim and perpetrator. 

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.  And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.”  And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”  And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. 

—Mark 1:35-39

The Breakdown

  1. After confronting great evil, Jesus went to a desolate place to pray.  Have you done this?  If not, instead of continuing to engage with evil, take some time to engage with God in prayer. 
  2. Why, do you think, it was so important for Jesus to preach the gospel?  Again, what is the gospel? 
  3. Why is the gospel something our world needs especially right now?

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