“The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God…” (Mark 1:1)
This week we begin our reading of the Second Gospel, the Gospel of Mark. In Matthew’s Gospel, we saw an emphasis on the many ways in which Jesus fulfilled Old Testament Scripture. The way his words and actions were predicted by prophecy helped us understand that Jesus was the promised Savior. Like all the Gospels, Mark presents Jesus as the Messiah, but he does so in his own way. Notably absent from Mark is any record of the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth and early life (both of which factor prominently in Matthew and Luke). Instead, the Gospel begins immediately with the role of John the Baptist and Jesus’ early Galilean ministry. Hopefully, much Mark 1 will sound very familiar – since Mark 1 served as the basis for the Sundays of Epiphany we just finished celebrating!
Mark’s Gospel is the simplest, most succinct – yet vivid – account of the life and ministry of Jesus. In contrast to Matthew (which focuses on extended discourses of Jesus’ teaching), Mark is an “action-oriented” Gospel, emphasizing more what Jesus does than what he says. Mark moves quickly from one episode in Jesus’ life to another, often using the adverb “immediately” and his healing miracles are used to emphasize his special role as the Son of God come to earth to win the world’s salvation. The cross of Jesus – both the human cause of the cross (Mark 12:12; 14:1-1; 15:10) and the divine necessity of the cross (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33) – factor prominently in the Gospel. The Gospel prepares and empowers us as disciples of Jesus to suffer along with him as we see our salvation unfold according to the plan of our loving and gracious God.
May God richly bless you as you read the Second Gospel as we see the power and love of God at work in the words and works of Jesus!