The gospel of Mark tells the story of the earthly ministry, the death and the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Mark’s account presents the events in his gospel under two broad headings which divide the book into two fairly distinct sections. The first part addresses the question, “Who is Jesus?” and covers Mark 1:1 through 8:30, and the second part answers the question, “What did Jesus come to do?” and goes from Mark 8:31 to the end of the book. Of course, there is much more to the story than these two simple divisions but reading the gospel of Mark with these general headings in mind will help the reader understand the basic flow of the narrative and will aid in grasping the main points that Mark is conveying.
It also needs to be understood that Mark is not writing a biography of the life of Jesus. Because Mark is writing a gospel and not a mere biography, Mark is intentionally selective in what he has included in his narrative. No doubt there were many other events in the life of Jesus that could have been included but were not. Like the other three gospel writers in the Bible, Mark is not writing a simple biography about a famous man he admired. Rather, because of his personal encounter with the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, Mark’s life has been profoundly changed and he is communicating this story so that others may have an encounter with Jesus and thus may experience Jesus’ life-changing power.
My ambition is that I will eventually be able to selectively go through the entire gospel and answer the two big questions from the events and words of Mark’s gospel. For example, in this first blog of the series, I will cover Mark 1:1 and ask, “According to Mark, the author of this gospel, who is Jesus?” Future blogs would follow the pattern, “According to ________, who is Jesus?” I think that you will quickly see the pattern. Then for the second part, the question will be something like, “Based on this event / Based on these words, what did Jesus come to accomplish?”
There are two intended audiences for this study of Mark. One audience is that of believers who want to be more effective in their evangelism. It is hoped that the comments in these blogs on the identity of Jesus and on His accomplished work will fuel more informed and more passionate gospel conversations and will give guidance for my fellow evangelists about how to use the gospel of Mark in evangelistic Bible studies of their own.
The other intended audience is readers who are not yet followers of Jesus, but who genuinely desire to know the truth about this amazing Man. My hope is that, by reading these accounts and comments on the gospel of Mark, you would see that Jesus of Nazareth is, indeed, the glorious Savior and you would repent of your sins and believe in His name.
ACCORDING TO MARK, THE AUTHOR OF THIS GOSPEL, WHO IS JESUS?
Mark 1:1 – “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
Here in this first verse of his gospel record, Mark reveals who he thinks Jesus is. For us to get the full impact of what Mark is saying, we need to go through this verse and considering the key words.
GOSPEL – Mark writes that this is the beginning of the GOSPEL. Gospel is the English word that is translated from the Greek word “euangellion,” which means “good news.” Notice that Mark does not say, “the beginning of the story or biography,” but “the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Mark directly links “good news” with the name of Jesus Christ. Ponder this question: “Is there anyone else in all of human history whose name would be directly associated with good news?” Anyone? The answer is a resounding, “No!” No one else’s name evokes the thought of good news. But here Mark is claiming that even the name of Jesus should produce the hope of good news. In fact, the word ‘gospel’ was invented to describe Jesus Christ and we will discover that Jesus is worthy of that lofty title. Jesus is good news. Notice that Jesus does not bring good news; rather, Jesus IS good news.
JESUS –The name ‘Jesus’ is from the Hebrew name ‘Jeshua,’ which means “the Lord is salvation.” Jesus’ very name pointed to God’s salvation. In the gospel of Matthew, Joseph, the husband of Mary, is commanded to give Mary’s Son the name of Jesus “for it is He who will save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21).” Even before Jesus was born, Mark is making clear that His name and His life are pointing to the work of salvation that He will accomplish on the cross
CHRIST – While ‘Jesus’ is the name of the Man from Nazareth, ‘Christ’ is His title. For centuries the Jews had been waiting for their promised Messiah, the great champion who would defeat Israel’s enemies and set the Jews free from the Romans. ‘Messiah’ is the Hebrew word which means ‘anointed one.’ In Greek the word for ‘anointed one’ is ‘christos,’ which has been changed to ‘Christ.’ Mark is making clear that he believes that Jesus is the promised Jewish Messiah, the long-expected deliverer. According to Mark, Jesus is also the Christ.
THE SON OF GOD – Perhaps the most remarkable of all the claims of the identity of Jesus is this one: Mark declares that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. This claim is much more than a claim to being one of God’s special creatures. In other words, Mark is not intending that Jesus, as a human being, is a noble creature, one who is special, like a son of God. What Mark is intending is that Jesus is divine. Mark is stating that Jesus is deity, that Jesus is actually God in human flesh. Jesus is unique, in that He is the only begotten Son of God. He is the invisible God made visible. Jesus is the incarnation of God. Not only is Jesus the Son of God, but also intended here is that Jesus is God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity. This is what Mark has in mind when he introduces Jesus in this opening verse of his gospel.
MEDITATION ON THIS VERSE: According to Mark, Jesus is the Christ, the good news from God, the very Son of the living God. What is the significance of these things? Consider that no one else in all of human history has had the audacity to claim to be God and also that there is no one else in history who has ever, even for a moment, seriously been considered to be God. For anyone else to make any claim of deity would be immediately dismissed as the absurd ravings of a madman, nonsense not worth the slightest consideration. But over the course of the last two millennia, many people have spent much of their lives in vain trying through any means possible to somehow convince the world that Jesus is not the Christ and is NOT God in human flesh. Yet despite many books and speeches and false teachers and classes and seminars which all aim to make Jesus seem like just an ordinary person, Jesus Christ remains alone as the Man who towers above all other men, the God-Man, the One sent from heaven, the divine Visitor, the Master, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the Judge of all the earth, the Righteous one, the Holy One, the one who will one day soon return to end human history, the One who is rightly worshiped as God by hundreds of missions of people.
According to Mark, Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the One who is good news.
SDG rmb 4/22/2018