Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Mark begins his book with a succinct introduction of his real-life character: Jesus, the Christ (meaning Messiah or Savior), and Jesus, the Son of God. The validity of these claims about Jesus is an extremely important, yet contentious issue. Therefore, let us not endeavor to defend or refute claims about Jesus here, in order that we may focus our attention on how he made an impact.

Imagine yourself emerging into a new life as the only son or daughter of a wealthy, influential man. To what would you aspire? And what would you expect to accomplish in your lifetime? People of royalty, position, or great wealth tend to lead lives of influence and notoriety. It is often expected that they live extraordinary lives in keeping with the high expectations of their position. Although Jesus was born into extremely humble circumstances, his heritage was of the most noble kind. He was and knew he was the only son of God. Therefore, he expected a lot from himself. He never accepted that he was born to simply be a good carpenter, to be kind to his neighbor and to grow old and die. Such a thought while he was growing up would have made him laugh. He knew he was born to save the world.

The expectations we have for our lives will dramatically affect how we live our lives. They will dictate what we try to do, how hard we try to do it, and ultimately, whether or not we will succeed. I remember a conversation I had with the mother of my best friend near the end of my undergraduate studies in engineering. Although I had done rather well in my program, I had decided not to apply to schools the likes of MIT or Stanford for my graduate studies. In my thinking, an application to one of these premier schools would be inappropriate for a common person like myself, regardless of my past performance. I simply wouldn’t fit in there.

My family was eager to respect and support whatever decision I made about my education, so I decided to apply to my state university and some comparable schools. It was at this point that I spoke to my best friend’s mother, Babs. She was astounded that I wasn’t even going to apply to either of these great schools. Her oldest son had sent his applications to the very best law schools in the country and had been accepted by one of them. Babs was beside herself when I told her that I hadn’t even considered applying to MIT because I didn’t consider myself MIT ‘‘caliber.’’ One thing she said I think I will never forget. She asked me how I thought I would feel when I was her age looking back at my life. Would I regret not even attempting to get into one of the very best schools when I had the chance? Would I feel good about not shooting for the stars when I was younger? She eventually won me over. I applied, was accepted, and completed my Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering at MIT. Not only did I receive an excellent education, but in those two years I caught a new vision for my life. I had considered entering the Peace Corps but opted instead to become a disciple of Christ. I met many men and women bent on changing the world. Best of all, I met my wife on the campus of MIT. Thanks Babs!

Jesus had high expectations of himself because he knew that he was the only son of God. In the same way, are not all Christians members of God’s family? As John the apostle wrote: ‘‘How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’’

If we are baptized disciples of Jesus, then we are people of royal second birth. We must therefore expect ourselves to live extraordinary lives. We must expect that we will be the ones to persevere through difficult situations in our work places with never a complaint, that we will be those brimming with confidence, those who are strong and courageous.§ To act in any other way is to act in a way not befitting our birth. To wallow in self pity, to cower in fear, to simply give up when the going gets tough, is inappropriate behavior for a son or daughter of the Lord God Almighty, the Lord of lords and the King of kings!