Mark: Three Things to KnowBlog
Maybe you just read Matthew and you think, “I’ll skip to Acts because surely all the gospels are the same, right? What else could Mark add to this story?” It is interesting that God in his infinite wisdom gave us four separate accounts of Christ’s life, ministry, and sacrifice on this Earth. And because He chose to not present these stories in one book, it seems clear that we should spend time studying each gospel individually. So, here are three things to know before reading Mark.
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mark 1:1
1. Mark does not mention the birth of Jesus
Mark begins his book in a similar fashion as Matthew, with a genealogy or lineage of Jesus Christ. This genealogy can be found in Mark 1:1 – Jesus Christ, Son of God. It is this identity that is explored and confirmed throughout Mark’s Gospel. God confirms that Jesus is His son at Christ’s baptism and at the transfiguration. The demons confirm that Jesus is God’s Son in verses 1:24, 3:11, and 5:7. Jesus confirms that He is God’s Son when He stands trial before the council and priests. And it is for this reason that the council “condemned Him as deserving death.” The final confirmation of Christ’s identity as God’s Son in the book of Mark comes from the centurion who has witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus. He says, “truly this man was the Son of God.” But what does that mean for us? Well imagine how much God loves you, that He gave His Only Son for you, and if you believe in Him you will not perish but have eternal life.
They mocked Him saying, 'He saved others; He cannot save Himself.' Mark 15:31
2. A willing sacrifice
Christ’s authority stands out in the book of Mark as well. And when you read about His authority, what we are really seeing is His power and complete control over all things. In chapters 1, 3, and 5 He displays His power over demons by casting them out and preventing them from speaking. We see Jesus heal lepers, paralytics, the demon-possessed, and a woman with a 12-year bleeding ailment. He raises people from the dead and He calms the storms and curses fruitless trees with His words. He shows that He has authority to forgive sins and is Lord of the Sabbath. His authority, power, and complete control cannot be measured. They are without limit. But when we get to the crucifixion, we see the crowds jeer at Jesus telling Him to “save yourself and come down from the cross!” But we know that Jesus doesn’t do this. Does He no longer have the power to save? What is keeping Him from coming down from the cross? The crucifixion is incredible for so many reasons, but this is always one that hits me the hardest. Jesus gave His life; it was not taken from Him. And we know this because of his authority.
The Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. Mark 1:15
3. Faith marked by obedience
We have been told that we only need to believe in Christ to have salvation. And we have evidence for this in the Bible (see John 3:16, John 1:12, Acts 16:31 to list a few). But what does this really mean? Mark shows us that the demons acknowledge and know that Jesus is the Holy One of God. Do they have salvation? In James 2:19, James tells us, “even the demons believe and shudder!” Is there something more? Well, yes and no. In Mark’s gospel we see the command to repent and believe on several occasions. We also see Jesus say that those who do “the will of God” are His brothers and sisters. These seem like additional steps to salvation, but they aren't. In our culture we view belief as more of an opinion or a thought. But in Mark, this view isn’t compatible. Belief in scripture is marked by obedience to God’s Word. So if I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and He has the authority to forgive sins and He tells me to repent and believe and do the will of God, won't I trust Him and obey what He says? This is not a works-based theology. Our obedience doesn’t wipe out the debt that we owe for our sin. Christ’s blood does that, and his gift of salvation is extended to those who believe in Him, or to put it differently, those who repent of their sin and follow Jesus.