The Seven First Words of Christ – By Jim Somerville
When I saw that most of the Gospel readings for Epiphany, Year B, were from the first chapter of Mark, I wondered if I could put together a sermon series on the seven first words of Christ in that particular Gospel. I asked myself: What would happen if we looked at the opening chapter of this earliest Gospel and let Mark tell the story of Jesus in his way? Of the many things Jesus said in his life, which would Mark want to include in his Gospel, especially at the outset? If what Mortimer Adler says is true, that the most important parts of any book are the beginning and the end, then what would happen if we paid attention not only to the seven last words of Christ but also the seven first?
So I went through Mark 1 with a fine-toothed comb, and what I found was some words and some deeds, but in the end seven distinct episodes from that action-packed chapter: 1) Jesus is baptized; 2) he begins to preach, 3) calls some disciples, 4) teaches in the synagogue, 5) heals the sick, 6) defines his mission, and 7) cures a leper. My hope is that by the end of it you will not only have a fuller appreciation of Mark 1, but also a brighter and clearer picture of the Christ he wants us to know.
Somerville serves as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia. A gifted preacher and a seasoned pastor, he has preached on the Chicago-based “30 Good Minutes,” the internationally broadcast Day1 radio program, and was one of the featured preachers at the Festival of Homiletics at the Washington National Cathedral in 2004. His articles and sermons have been published in several publications, including Christian Century, Leadership and The Upper Room. Learn more about Somerville on his author page.