Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out.
The NIV translation of Mark 1:23 begins with the phrase “Just then.” This phrase translates the Greek adverb euthus. If you were to look up euthus in a Greek-English lexicon, you’d find meanings such as “immediately” and “suddenly.” “Just then” doesn’t quite get the sense of the original, I’m afraid. It misses the feeling of urgency, the feeling that things are moving at a quick and exciting pace.
The Christian life isn’t a matter simply of waiting around for the Second Coming or preparing for heaven. Rather, it is joining God in the exciting, compelling, transforming work of his kingdom.
In the Greek original of the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel, the word euthus appears twelve times. This word, a favorite of Mark, who uses it forty-two times throughout his Gospel, appears as often in Mark 1 as in all the other Gospels combined (Matthew-6; Luke-3; John-3). Talk about emphasis! Mark is hammering home the point that the beginning of Jesus’ ministry is happening euthus.
But what does this mean? Mark’s unusual repetition of euthus is meant to convey a sense of urgency, vitality, and fast-paced activity. In Jesus, the kingdom of God has drawn near and things are popping! For Israel, the centuries of waiting are over. God is on the move . . . suddenly! And people are responding . . . suddenly! Even the demons are getting into the act . . . suddenly!
The sense of urgency in Mark 1 does not mean that we should start rushing around in response to the good news of the reign of God. If anything, some of us need to slow down and spend more time with God rather than always doing for God. Nevertheless, reading Mark 1 attentively should increase our excitement for God’s work among us. The Christian life isn’t a matter simply of waiting around for the Second Coming or preparing for heaven. Rather, it is joining God in the exciting, compelling, transforming work of his kingdom. When we see what God is doing, we won’t want to be left out.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
In what ways are you participating in the kingdom of God in your life?
What keeps you on the sidelines of the kingdom?
What helps you to get into the game?
Lord Jesus, help me to see what you’re doing in this world so that I might join you in your work. Keep me from complacency or, worse yet, boredom. Rather, may I be excited about the work of your kingdom, and may I get deeply involved in it. May I discover how I can be doing your work even as I do my work each day.
O Lord, do in my life that which is unexpected! Stir me up, Lord, so that I might serve you with enthusiasm and commitment. Amen.