This week I bought a rice cooker in preparation for my youngest daughter leaving home to begin her gap year in London. The outside of the box boasts about the benefits of the cooker – ‘two perfect portions’, ‘slow even cooking’, ‘space saving design’, ‘energy efficient’, and so it goes on. It makes it all sound wonderful, and it is. But inside the box are more detailed instructions on how to use the cooker, including no less than 30 ‘cautions’ about ways in which the cooker can be misused and damaged.
In a similar way the Gospel of Mark begins with the words ‘The Good News about Jesus the Messiah’ and continues with declarations that God’s Kingdom is near at hand and that the Holy Spirit is soon to be poured out on all people. No Jew of the time could have wished for better news. But like my rice cooker instructions the Gospel contains any number of cautions about how this Gospel must be used and the things that can go wrong if these are ignored. For example, ‘If anyone wants to be first, they must be the servant of all’, and ‘anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’
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