The BBC has been in something a muddle in the past week.
Former England footballer Gary Lineker was stood down from his role as presenter of the channel’s flagship sports programme Match of the Day. Fellow pundits Ian Wright, Alan Shearer and Micah Richards refused to appear as a protest.
For the first time in its 59-year history Match of the Day has been broadcast without a presenter and without pundits. For many the chemistry between Lineker and the pundits are some of the best bits of the show. However, this is not really the place to talk about the rights and wrongs of Lineker’s very public and controversial criticisms of the British Government’s small boats policy.
The BBC might defend its actions by saying that Match of the Day is all about the football, but it never has been. It is how the show is presented that makes it a much watch event late on a Saturday night.
It made me think about how some preachers say that preaching is all about the word! If the sermon is well loaded with Scripture content, then the preacher can let the Bible do its work. I agree that what the Bible has to say is always more important than what I have to say as a preacher. Yet, the Bible itself is a book that contains many genres written by multiple authors.
Take for example the four gospels. They each tell the story of Jesus, but they present it in very different ways. Each gospel reflects the personality, choices, and gifts of the gospel writer.
A Martian landing in a Christian service where Mark’s Gospel is being read will have a different experience from one who lands in a service where John’s Gospel is being read.
I am particularly struck by how Mark, who has written the shortest Gospel, surprises me with details that are not recorded in the other gospels. His unique touches provide a presenter’s skill in leading the reader to follow his storytelling art.
Only Mark tells us that when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he was with the wild animals (Mark 1:13); only Mark tells us that at the feeding of the 5,000 Jesus instructed the disciples to tell the crowd to sit on the “green grass” (Mark 6:39); only Mark includes the parable of the Growing Seed (Mark 4:26–29); only Mark includes the unique two step miracle of the healing of the blind man (Mark 8:22–26); and only Mark provides the tantalising vignette of the young man who runs away when seized (Mark 14:51). The latter incident is often called “Mark’s signature because it is difficult to see why the story is included if it not about Mark himself!
Maybe Mark is signalling to the first Century Church, which was under great pressure to run away from the cost of being a disciple, that he himself had faced that same pressure and had buckled under it.
Congregations should always be grateful when preachers do not simply sling the Bible at them but present their sermons in a way that is clear to follow, relatable and helpful.