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Preach the Word



a. Tradition ascribes the Gospel to John Mark, son of Mary, assistant to Paul and Barnabas and friend of the apostles (see: Acts 12:12-25; 15:37,39; Col.4:10; Phlm.24; 2 Tim.4:11; 1 Pet.5:13). Mark 14:51-52 may be his signature. Mark was not an early disciple of Jesus and, according to Papias, an Early Church Father, he may have obtained details of the Lord's ministry from Peter.

b. The Gospel has Gentile readers in mind (note: 7:1-3). Its terse, clear, pointed style and portrayal of Jesus would certainly appeal to the Roman mind. The Greek text contains Latinisms: speculator (executioner, 6:27); census (tribute, 12:14) centurio (centurion, 15:39, 44,45). It may show a concern for believers who are beginning to suffer for the gospel (1:13). But who is Jesus according to Mark?

Jesus is the Son of Man - the Christ

a. Jesus' messiahship is downplayed in Mark (see 1:34,44; 3:12; 5:43; 7:36-37; 8:26,29-30; 9:9). Scholars speak of 'the messianic secret'. Jesus rejected the popular image of the Messiah and chose to refer to himself as the Son of Man (Aram. barnasha). This title embraces Jesus as true man (Psa.8:4), prophet (Ezek.2:1), the Danielic Son of Man (Dan.7:13; cf., Mk.14:61,62) and Messiah (Enoch). But its oblique use required thought as barnasha could simply refer to a man or somebody. "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" (4:9).

Jesus is the Servant of the Lord

a. "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many" (10:45). This is a key verse and suggests this Gospel outline: Preparation of the Servant (1:1-13); Proclamation of the Servant (1:14-8:30); Passion of the Servant (8:31-16:20).

b. Jesus is proactive in Mark. The word euthus (translated with words like 'immediately') is used some 42 times (e.g., 1:12,20,21,29). Jesus is driven into the wilderness to be tested (1:12; cf., Lk.4:12).

c. Mark gives prominence to the Lord's miracles (see demons, disease and death in ch.5), which would attract the Roman mind. His ministry resisted and overcame the work of the devil (see: 1:21-28; cf.1 Jn.3:8).

Jesus is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah

a. Jesus is seen as the suffering Servant of Isaiah (see: Isa.42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12 (Acts 3:13,20; 4:27,30; 8:32-35)).

b. His example of suffering would help Christians face theirs by seeing four things: Jesus suffered; he suffered in the will of God; he suffered religiously; God saw him through his suffering; there was a redemptive purpose in his suffering (consider Rom.8:28,29 here).

Concluding thoughts

a. The Gospel's introduction indicates a high Christology: "The gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (1:1; cf.,Holy One of God, 1:24). Son of God requires special attention (see: 15:39).

b. What a challenge the Saviour, Messiah and Son of God has given of humble service! We must follow him.

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Copyright 2007 Vernon Ralphs

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