Thursday, November 3, 2016

Six reasons why you ought to read Mark's Gospel

Image result for Gospel of Mark
Mark 1:1-3 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,“Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”

Today's post aims to offer a brief introduction, outline and six reasons why you ought to read the Gospel of Mark. If one were to read Mark in one sitting, it would take under 40 minutes. Whether reading Mark's Gospel or all four, the value of reading and studying the four Gospels is in meeting Jesus Christ. 

Unlike Matthew and Luke, which begin with his birth and early life as man; and unlike John's Gospel which introduces us to the Son as He has been from all eternity coming into our world, Mark's Jesus is introduced at the beginning of His public life and ministry. Below are some further details that will aid readers and perhaps Bible teachers in gaining an introductory understanding and outline of this wonderful Gospel.

Quick notes on Mark's Gospel
So what distinguishes Mark's Gospel from Matthew, Luke and John? Since Mark's audience was composed of practically minded Roman people, not much time is spent in details surrounding Jewish life and history like Matthew and Luke. Furthermore, since the Roman mind was more prone to short, sweet and to-the-point thinking, Mark's Gospel is the shortest and most quickly moving of the four Gospels. Early church history tells us that Mark recorded by Divine inspiration the Apostle Peter's preaching about Jesus, resulting in the Gospel of Mark.

The message and outline of Mark's Gospel
The key verse to Mark's Gospel is found in Mark 10:45 - "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Mark purposefully relied upon Isaiah's prophecies in his overall portrayal of Jesus' life, death, burial and resurrection.  In the opening of his Gospel, Mark attributes John the Baptist's ministry to predictions made by Isaiah - thus further demonstrating how much Mark saw the person of Jesus Christ as being the very fulfillment Old Testament expectation.  Below is a brief outline of the book:

           Mark's Gospel: Jesus the Divine Son of God came to 
                   serve and give His life a ransom for many
Preparation for Jesus' public ministry.  Mark 1:1-13
           John the Baptist's preaching about Jesus.  Mark 1:1-8
           Jesus Baptism and temptation.                   Mark 1:9-13

Public Ministry of Jesus.                       Mark 1:14-10:52
           Jesus' preaching and miracles - Cycle # 1 Mark 1:14-3:12
           Jesus' preaching and miracles - Cycle #2  Mark 3:13-4:41
           Jesus' preaching and miracles - Cycle #3  Mark 5:1-43
           Jesus' preaching and miracles - Cycle #4   Mark 6:1-56
           Jesus' preaching and miracles - Cycle #5  Mark 7:1-8:26
           Jesus' preaching and miracles - Cycle #6  Mark 8:27-9:13
           Jesus' preaching and miracles - Cycle #7  Mark 9:14-10:52

Preparation for Jesus' presentation as King.         Mark 11:1-10
Presentation and Rejection of Jesus as King.       Mark 11:11-13:37

Preparation for Jesus' crucifixion and death.         Mark 14:1-42
          Anointing of Jesus for burial                        Mark 14:1-11
          Jesus final meal with the disciples.              Mark 14:12-42
Jesus' crucifixion, death and burial.                   Mark 14:43-15:47       

Preparation by women to travel to Jesus' tomb   Mark 16:1-3
Women find empty tomb, Jesus is alive!             Mark 16:4-20

Closing thoughts:
So why should you and I become more acquainted with Mark's Gospel? Let me offer six reasons as we close out today's post:

1. First, Mark's Gospel is specifically focused on the public ministry and mission of Jesus. Though much the same could be said of the other three Gospels, Mark's brevity and intentional focus upon how Jesus, the Divine Son, came as the Suffering Servant gives us the specific point of Jesus' mission. 

2. Secondly, Mark's Gospel provides the most basic outline of Jesus' public life and ministry recorded in Matthew and Luke. Much has been written on the literary relationship between the first three Gospels. This author takes Matthew to be the first of the three, with Luke depending somehow on Matthew (likely as a result of Luke recording Paul's preaching what would had been familiar to him) and then Mark recording Peter's preaching from Matthew and a then newly written Luke. 

3. If we can get into our minds and hearts Mark's overall presentation of Jesus, we will find ourselves more able to navigate the bigger Gospels of Matthew and Luke. These three Gospels together are oftentimes referred to as the "Synoptic Gospels", with the word "synoptic" referring to how all three "see-together" a complementary vision of Jesus Christ's Deity expressed in perfect humanity. 

4. In addition to helping us better appreciate Jesus' mission, as well as the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Mark's Gospel provides excellent insights when read in concert with John's Gospel. Dr. David Alan Black of Southeastern Theological Seminary notes concerning this point: "In a far higher degree than in the Synoptics (remember, the Synoptics refer to Matthew, Mark and Luke), the whole narrative of the Fourth Gospel centers around the Person of Christ." When I want to look at Jesus, I think of Mark and John as a pair of binoculars. 

5. Mark's Gospel proceeds at a rapid rate over the life and works of Jesus in comparison to the more meditative longing gaze at the glory of Christ's person in John. Both together bring into focus the missions and majesty of Jesus. Since John's Gospel has been historically understood as a supplement to the other three Gospels, we can then include the details of Matthew and Luke to fill out the complete picture of Jesus Christ that we gain from a combined reading of Mark and John. 

6. The final reason for taking a closer look at Mark is because we meet the Master. Undoubtedly the same can be said of the other three Gospels. However, Mark's Gospel is often-times overlooked due to it's brevity. The Gospel of Mark contains some details of Jesus' life you wouldn't find in Matthew, Luke or John. To know Jesus better, one needs to include Mark in their overall regiment of Bible study.