This is the second in a series on the Gospels. Each week in June we will look at how one of the Gospels opens, in July what happens in the middle of each one, and finally how they each conclude.
This post looks at Mark 1-5.
If Matthew begins by introducing us to a new King with new rules, Mark begins his Gospel by introducing us to a Man in a hurry. Or more correctly, a Man on a mission. One of the first things you notice is the word “immediately.” It occurs about 80 times in our English Bible, and about 40 of them are in Mark. Almost everything happens immediately.
Not all of these are things that Jesus does. Some of them are things others do or that happen around Him. The Spirit leads Him immediately into the desert, God speaks immediately when He is baptized, the disciples follow immediately when He calls them, the religious leaders begin to plot against Him immediately.
But when he speaks, things happen. Demons are cast out and diseases are healed. Sins are forgiven. Immediately. The text conveys a sense of urgency, of action, and of purpose. The book is the shortest of the Gospels, but even the sentences seem shorter. Mark begins his story when Jesus is about 30 years old, and it is clear that He is setting out to do His Father’s will—and this time-sensitive task requires Him to act in a straight forward way.
In fact, the word translated throughout the book of Mark in some versions as “immediately” is translated “straight ”in chapter 1, vs. 3, as in “make his paths straight,” quoting from the prophets. Preparing the way for Him was the work of John the Baptist who “appears” in verse 4. And this straight path is the one Mark emphasizes by using the word “immediately” so much, in a way that demonstrates moral force and perfect obedience. The older King James renders it as “straightway.”
So Jesus makes His message straight forward: “repent and believe the Gospel (1:15).“ He preaches this throughout Galilee, “for that is why I came (1:38).” And He makes his mission clear as well, to forgive sins (2:5) and call the unrighteous to Himself: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (2:17).”
Although crowds follow him, and 12 disciples in particular, He has work to do, even if it offends His own family and all the religious hierarchy. He is not only task oriented, however, But He is also a Man, which Mark makes clear. He has emotions including grief, anger (3:5) and pity( 1:41), He needs rest (1:35), and He is even a little exasperated (4:13, 4:40). Sometimes, when He is being challenged by the religious leaders, it feels like He is baiting them. Jesus feels very human here, and in fact, refers to Himself as the Son of Man.
That’s not what the demons call Him though. They call Him “the Son of the Most High God (5:7).” And they are afraid. That’s probably as good a place as any to begin. But early in Mark we know Jesus the Man is God limiting Himself to become like us and serve us.
And finally to save us.
Take the challenge: Did you know if you read 5 or 6 chapters a day, only four days a week, you can read through all four Gospels in a month? Make a comment, or send me a message on Twitter or Facebook, if you willing read the Gospels this summer. #gospelchallenge