Mark Part One Dive
GET READY – THIS ONE’S ACTION PACKED!
Have you ever asked yourself why there are four gospels? If Jesus knew we’d want the details of His life later on, why didn’t He just get someone to write everything down as He went? Or, better yet, why didn’t Jesus write it Himself? I mean, what happens if the disciples didn’t say the right thing, or if they wrote it the wrong way?
I ask myself these questions all the time when I read the gospels. How trusting was Jesus to let someone else write His story, the story that will change the world, the story that will live on forever? Jesus trusted humans to write His story and we are so honoured to have these stories still today; stories that we can learn from, that we can adventure through. They help us to feel like we are there, over 2000 years ago, walking with the man that changed the world! Each author of the four gospels writes Jesus’ story in a different way; like looking at a diamond, each different way you turn the diamond it reflects a different light. That is why there are four gospels; each reflects the story of Jesus in a different way. Matthew shows how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament and His sermons, Luke is the logical and orderly account, John is creative and points to Jesus as the Messiah, and Mark, the youngest of the gospel writers, shows Jesus in an action-packed life, focusing on what He did as the suffering Servant, rather than what He said.
When you read Mark, you’ll feel the pace of Jesus’ life, the pace of His mission, the pace of His heart as the suffering Servant that went everywhere, helping everyone and then paying the ultimate price for us all. I remember asking my students to try and read Mark in one sitting to really experience the pace of the book, and when I asked how everyone went one student said, “By the end, I was exhausted! Seriously, couldn’t Jesus have slowed down and stayed in one place for a while?”. That is exactly what Mark wants you to feel, this our action-movie-style gospel.
So how does Mark do it? The first thing I want you to notice as you read this gospel is the language he uses to show the pace of Jesus’ ministry. Mark uses the word ‘eutheos’, meaning ‘immediately’, over forty times (Chapters 1:30, 1:41, 2:8, 5:29, 5:42, 6:27, 6:45, 6:50, etc.). He also uses graphic and striking phrases that show Jesus’ emotion and gestures more than any of the gospels – highlight these also as you go. On top of this, Mark uses geographical markers to show you how much ground Jesus covered in His three years of ministry.
Trashing tip: Highlight all the locations Mark mentions as you read, and if you can, print a map and trace it out so you can truly grasp the distance Jesus covered. He was busy! Here’s a few to get you started…
In Chapter 1:5, He is in the Jordan River, Chapter 1:16 the Sea of Galilee, Chapter 1:21 Capernaum, Chapter 1:38 throughout Galilee, Chapter 2:13 beside the lake, Chapter 3:1 into the synagogue, and up a mountain Chapter 3:13.
So why is Mark portraying the story of Jesus in such an action-packed way? Why did we need this version of the gospel in our Bible? The answer is found in the time it was penned. Mark is the first gospel written, and Matthew actually uses Mark as a reference text, with over 600 of Mark’s 661 verses in his gospel. Mark is writing to a people who are being persecuted for following Jesus, living with the constant threat of death for being a Christian. He writes the life of Jesus showing that, just like them, Jesus was the ultimate suffering Servant, who poured out His life also unto death for the cause.
Mark 8:31 That the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
The pronouncement of suffering and death not only is repeated (Chapters 9:31; 10:32-34), but becomes the norm for committed discipleship: ‘Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me’ (Chapter 8:34). Now, we read this scripture and interpret ‘take up your cross’ very differently to the people it was written to. ‘Take up your cross’ means to be willing to literally die for Christ. For Mark’s audience, that was exactly what they were facing, living in the time of Nero, when following Christ meant death. Please, don’t water down what this means to make it more palatable for you. Today, this incredible action-packed story is challenging us to follow Christ, to pour out our lives as He did in His three years of ministry, with zeal and passion for us, even facing the ultimate price head on, with the hope of our redemption firmly in His sights.