The Gospel According to Mark! I’m excited to walk through this great story on a devotional level. I am going to work on being more intentional in suggesting responses that come from the text and encouraging you to respond in the ways the Lord would lead you in the specifics of those responses. My mission is to make disciples that makes disciples. We ought to be multiplying not merely adding disciples. This Gospel has much to teach us about discipleship!
When reading any story, the reader should seek to find out for what purpose did the author write this particular work. In this case, Mark makes it very easy to know his intent: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk. 1:1). The purpose is to show and tell “the beginning” of this great act in history which is still going on and will continue on until Jesus returns of the good news of Jesus Christ (King/Messiah), who is the Son of God! As you will become aware, if you are not already, this statement is very controversial. In particular, the fact that Mark claimed not only that Jesus was and is the Messiah but that he is the Son of God.
As the reader, you are required to read this gospel story to see if Mark proves his claim. The entire story, in fact every word and its arrangement, is intended to prove that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah and that he is also the Son of God. So, demand that Mark prove his case to you. You must carry this purpose with you as you walk through this Gospel.
The first place Mark goes to begin this story is the Old Testament (OT). If the OT had made very specific promises about the coming Messiah, then we need to see if Jesus fulfills all of them as they were given. A little side note, the OT must be understood as the long but unified story to explain who this Savior would be. In other words, the OT are “Promises Made” and the NT is “Promises Fulfilled.” The OT puts forth possible fulfillments but none of them ever measured up. Partial fulfillment is no fulfillment.
Mark’s story is meant to prove that Jesus ticks all the boxes perfectly. You must decide if he is right. It takes a lot of hard work to read this book closely. May the Lord give us eyes to see and ears to hear.
T’he background to these OT quotes is amazing. When an author quotes from a particular passage in the OT I think he would have us go and read the context from which he is quoting. I have a guest post forthcoming on seeing these amazing connections to the contexts from which Mark is quoting. Stay tuned for that one. It’s going to be great!
This Gospel According to Mark is a story, not a research paper to argue for his position. That means, by way of narrative, Mark is certain that the lifestory of Jesus proves his identity. Everything he did makes a statement about who he is. Also, the actions and responses of others around him make clear declarations too. Jesus’s life involves many others. From the very beginning of his ministry, he prepares for his departure. The ongoing advancement of the Kingdom rested on the simple but necessary process of discipleship.
I am going to briefly state that Mark’s quote says that the LORD is coming and a messenger will be sent ahead to make his paths straight. Take note that he said the LORD was coming. In other words, YHWH was coming! That is very important to see. God was coming to save his people. Only God can meet His own demands. And this messenger, who had specific details of who he would be, comes first then after him would come this One who is mightier than he.
In verse 9, the One who comes after John in the story is Jesus of Nazareth. Mark intends for you to say, “Hey, this must be the One.” Continue looking to see if he is indeed the Promised One. At Jesus’s baptism, a voice from heaven declares him to be “My Son.” This is understood to be the Father (who is in heaven) speaking to His Son. So, God is saying that he is His Son.
There are so many, that I must skip most of them. I want to wrap this post up with some big picture views. There is a huge emphasis on the wilderness which is supposed to make you think back to the wilderness scenes of the OT. Just a side note, we ought to understand that we are still in the wilderness. We have been promised eternal life with God in His Garden someday but that day has not come. But it will!
We get to see Jesus NOT FALLING in the wilderness which is the opposite of Adam falling in the Garden. That means he was still well pleasing to His Father. Jesus began his ministry in the wilderness. The first thing he does is proclaim the gospel. This is the only hope in this wilderness like broken world. We are broken too. The gospel is our answer. What we need is forgiveness: “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mk. 1:14-15).
Yet, while in this broken world Jesus encounters broken people. He has compassion on them. Even though the gospel is their only hope, he begins to heal diseases and cast out unclean spirits. One day he will completely rid the world of all of this but for now these acts point to his love and identity. For only God can do what Jesus does. Each act is to be understood as proof that he is in fact the Son of God.
With that said, Jesus’s main task was advancing the Kingdom. Not all the healings were meant to be seen as soul saving. Some of them were merely coming to Jesus for temporary fixes. The permanent fix for humanity is the gospel. And the primary way Jesus advanced the Kingdom was by teaching and preaching. He knows the answer to humanity’s problem is the gospel which involves the sacrifice of his life. That means there must be others who will continue the advancement of the Kingdom by teaching and preaching–discipleship!
If the gospel is the answer to our brokenness and the way to be saved from this wilderness like world to be with God in His Garden forever restored then we ought to have the same priority in making disciples and proclaiming the gospel. That does not mean we neglect other acts of love. But it does mean that must never neglect the speaking of the gospel.
Here are some suggested responses: See Jesus as who he is which would demand that we worship him as the Son of God! We are not worthy to untie the throng of his sandals. Let us bow before our King and follow him. And in following him, we get to participate in the advancement of our King’s Kingdom and salvation. Let’s makes disciples that make disciples. Let’s tell anyone who will listen the glorious good news.
So, let me share that gospel with you because we never get over our need of it. God created the world and everything in it. He created mankind so that He could put His love on display for us that we might worship and serve Him. However, humanity fell into sin. Adam and Eve were not satisfied with God. They sought to be happy in the things that He said would bring death. From the fall of Adam, every single person is born with a sin nature. You might say that isn’t fair. It is fair because Adam and Eve represent exactly what you and I would have done in the Garden.
But a promise was made the day they fell that involved this child that would come to crush the head of the serpent. The entire OT is telling us who this child is. We understand this Child to be Jesus! You see, God is just and holy. He must punish all sin. And if we are sinners, He must punish us. He cannot do otherwise. His justice demands it. However, God is also merciful. And in His mercy He sent His Son to pay the penalty of our sin in our place. God’s wrath is poured out on His Son so that justice is upheld and by faith we sinful creatures can be forgiven and counted righteous though we are guilty and unrightous.
Jesus’s perfect life, death, burial and resurrection is the answer for our brokenness. If you will receive the gift offered to you you will be saved! Repent and believe in Christ and your sins will be forgiven and you will then have a right legal standing with God by faith. By God’s amazing grace, we are now His adopted children. We are no longer enemies but friends. And now He is transforming us into the likeness of Jesus. We were created in God’s image but sin does not image God. The gospel restores that image and is restoring that image. Come to Jesus and he will save you!
What will you do with Jesus?
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”(Rom. 10:9-13)