Mark 1: The Beginning of the Gospel

Mark 1: The Beginning of the Gospel

I love the gospel of Mark. It is succinct, victorious, and celebratory. As I think about the book, its construction, and content, I find fewer than a handful of the polemic problems that were manifest in Jesus’ public ministry. It stands in stark contrast to Matthew’s account, written primarily to the Jews and about the Jews.

Whereas Matthew points to Jesus as the son of David and the son of Abraham, Mark cuts right to the chase in his opening line, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

Unlike Matthew and Luke, both of which provide some detail concerning the birth of Jesus, Mark begins with the ministry of John the Baptizer in verses 2-11, then goes right to the work of Christ.

Mark 1 presents Jesus as preeminently powerful, detailing three specific miracles and noting numerous others done in a single evening as an entire city is gathered to see this great power of God.

Mark 1 also presents Jesus as beholden to no one aside from His Father who sent Him. Despite His tremendous reception and popularity, Jesus refused to stay in one place very long. He understood the monumental task that lie before Him and the paucity of time in which to accomplish it (v 38).

Through the years, I have often heard men say that Mark’s gospel was intended for a Roman audience. I don’t know if this is true, (the Bible doesn’t say and its construction doesn’t necessarily imply or reveal it), but I can certainly see a case to be made for this view.

Those holding this view (of Roman recipients) point to Mark’s presentation of Jesus as an all powerful, yet compassionate leader. This is in contrast to the fickle, self-serving Caesars then reigning over the empire.

Additionally, Mark’s gospel never utilizes the word “law.” In it Mark explains certain Jewish customs and defines various Hebrew and Aramaic words (1:23, 5:41, 15:22, 34). Thus, his audience was unfamiliar with the Law and the customs of the Jews.

Mark emphasizes the Lord’s humanity and miracles and closes with Jesus continuing to exert his benevolent authority through His apostles (Mk 16:17-20).

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