Gospel Journey – October

Gospel According to Mark

The most obvious characteristic of Mark’s Gospel is its brevity. It is the shortest of the four Gospels (about two-thirds the length of Matthew) largely because of Mark’s omissions of Jesus’ genealogy, Nativity story, and most of the extended discourses.  Its lack of unique content is also immediately noticeable. After reading through Matthew’s Gospel, one cannot help but think, “Did I not just read this?”  That feeling is warranted as, in fact, only 7 percent of Mark’s Gospel is unique, that is, 93 percent of the material in the Gospel is duplicated (often in more detail) by Matthew and/or Luke! This fact is why some of the early church fathers such as Augustine thought of it as a mere abbreviation of Matthew and Luke.

What is the relevance of Mark’s Gospel then? If the value of Mark’s Gospel is not so much in providing new information about the life and ministry of Jesus, it certainly is in its vivid narrative style.[1]  The Gospel is full of actions.  Along with the intentional use of present tense verbs, Mark frequently uses “immediately” or “straightway” (more than any other writer in the New Testament[2]) to express how Jesus’ ministry was constantly strenuous.[3]  As a result, this makes it even more shocking to read the rejection and the crucifixion of Jesus.  How is it that the Son of Man, who “came not to be ministered unto, but to minister” (10:45), should suffer and die as a criminal?  The answer is that He also came “to give His life a ransom for many.”  These contrasting portraits between the Son of Man and the Suffering Servant of God declare that Jesus did not come merely to spread the Gospel—He IS the Gospel.

Mark’s Gospel is short enough that it takes only about 90 minutes to read through. Maybe sometime this month you can set aside time and read through the Gospel in one sitting, and allow the Gospel of Jesus to have a full impact in your life.[4]

[1]  This is perhaps reflective of the fact that Mark (or John Mark) was the interpreter of very lively, vocal, colorful Simon Peter.

[2]  The adverb εὐθύς appears 58 times in the New Testament, of which 42 times are in Mark’s Gospel.

[3]  It is noteworthy that Mark alone records that the Lord often had no time to eat because of the crowds of people thronging to Jesus with their demands (3:20; 6:31).

[4]  You can also watch Max McLean perform on YouTube at https://youtu.be/Un3gSYkd0ds.


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