TODAY’S READING: MARK 1-3

 

OVERVIEW:

The Servant presented (chapter 1); the Servant in action (chapter 2); the Servant assisted (chapter 3).

 

HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:

As we were clearly able to see as we made our way through the Gospel of Matthew, everything in that entire Book was written to JEWS to present Jesus Christ as the KING.  In perfect contrast, everything we will see in the entire Gospel of Mark is written to GENTILES to present Jesus Christ as a SERVANT.

 

Because the Gospel of Mark is written to GENTILES, it has several distinctive features:

 

1)It does not begin with a genealogy because Gentiles are not typically preoccupied with Jesus’ lineage.  They have little interest because they have no blood connection with Abraham or David.

 

2)It does not have an abundance of quotes or references to the Old Testament as did Matthew, because Gentiles are typically unfamiliar with the Old Testament.  Mark builds his case not on “signs” and “scripture” like Matthew, but on the most powerful piece of evidence in a Gentile court – eyewitnesses (Mark 10:46; 14:3; 15:21; 16:1).  It is also the only Gospel that gives an explanation of Jewish customs and teachings that a Gentile might not be familiar with (Mark 12:18; 7:3-4; 14:12; 15:42).

 

3)It is the shortest of the four gospels, because God knows that Gentiles typically have a short attention span, and are more interested in action than words (i.e. “action movies” are popular not because of their plot, but because of their action.  Romans found it entertaining to go to the Coliseum to watch the gladiators — it’s action!)  Therefore, Mark emphasizes Jesus’ actions more than His teachings. For example, whereas Matthew took three entire chapters to record the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), Mark totally skips the Sermon which chronologically took place in chapter 1, and goes directly to the action that followed the Sermon.

 

4)It moves quickly and directly to the main event of the Book – the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, which of course, is the main purpose of a Gentile reader.  Mark’s emphasis is on being a citizen of the kingdom of God, not being a citizen of the kingdom of heaven.  Note that 40% of this gospel deals with the last 8 days of Jesus’ life.  That is what is significant to Gentiles. 

 

Because the Gospel of Mark is also written to present Jesus Christ as a SERVANT, it likewise possesses several distinctive features that reflect that emphasis:

 

1)No genealogy is listed in Mark, not only because of its Gentile audience, but because the record of the birth of a servant is unimportant and insignificant.

 

2)The key words in this gospel are “straightway” (19 times) and “immediately” (17 times).  These are words used to describe the actions of a servant.  A servant simply does WHAT he is told, WHEN he is told.  The WORDS of a servant pale in comparison to his WORKS.  It is interesting to note that it is only in the Gospel of Mark that the hands of Jesus are prominent (Mark 1:31; 6:2; 8:23, 25: 9:27).  Hands are symbolic of the work of a servant.

 

3)The key verse in the Book portrays Christ’s servanthood:  “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  Note that this verse also provides a perfect outline of the Book:

      The Servant’s Work (chapters 1-10)

      The Servant’s Sacrifice (chapters 11-16)

 

Though Mark clearly presents Christ as a Servant, it is more than apparent that the Holy Spirit directed Mark to emphasize the deity of Christ.  At least five times the “Servant of all” (Mark 10:43-44) is referred to as “Son of God,” “Son of the Most High God,” “Christ, the Son of the blessed” (Mark 1:1; 3:11; 5:7; 14:61; 15:39).  To confirm His deity, Mark records over 20 of Christ’s miracles, demonstrating His supreme power and authority over demons, disease, death, and nature (1:21-28; 1:29-31; 1:32-34; 1:40-45; 2:3-12; 3:1-6; 4:35-41; 5:1-20; 5:25-34; 5:22-24, 35-43; 6:31-44; 6:45-50; 6:51-54; 7:24-30; 7:31-37; 8:1-9; 8:22-26; 9:2-10; 9:14-29; 10:46-52; 11:12-14, 20-26; 16:1-11; 16:19-20).