Opening lines matter, especially when we’re dealing with a great writer. That’s true with today’s Gospel, penned by a literary and theological genius whom we know simply as “Mark.”
Mark inaugurates his Gospel with this line: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
Every word here matters, but especially the first one. It is a word fraught with significance for biblical people. Arche, in Mark’s Greek, is a translation of Bereshith, the opening word of the Bible—we translate it as, “In the beginning.” Arche means that a new creation, some new and unheard of order is emerging out of chaos. John uses the same word about twenty years later when he starts his Gospel with En arche: “In the beginning was the Word.”
Everything Mark is about to tell in his story is about drawing new order out of chaos, about starting over, about a second chance and a new creation.
How and where does that new beginning commence? With the birth of a baby, in a small, forgotten outpost of the Roman Empire.